Revenge Tour: Former Ohio State Buckeyes recall fire needed to avenge loss to Michigan

CLEVELAND, Ohio — Former Ohio State wide receiver Roy Hall had a stomach ache after contracting COVID-19.

He wanted to throw up like he didn’t want to do anything.

He felt like he lost to Michigan.

“I would argue that the feeling you get when you lose to That Team Up North is similar,” Hall told this week. “You don’t want to go public. You don’t want to talk to your family members. You don’t even want to confront your teammates because you feel so awful after losing this game.

Hall, a 2002-06 Buckeye, lost just one game to the Wolverines in five seasons. But he, along with former teammates Nate Salley (DB, 2002-2005) and Tyler Everett (DB, 2002-2005), still carries the pain from their defeat in 2003. It resurfaced last year after watching how the 2021 team ended its winning streak after eight games.

Salley said last year’s weather reminded him of 2003. Also, the way OSU lost — “they laid an egg, and that’s what we did.” And the ’21 Buckeyes probably felt the same locker-room malaise that Salley, Everett and Hall felt 18 years earlier .

“It was quiet,” Hall recalled. “It was quiet and then you made people cry, especially the seniors, thinking four or five years of blood, sweat and tears in scarlet and grey. Losing the last game of the regular season against That Team Up North isn’t the best feeling. The boys were angry.”

ESPN analyst (and former OSU quarterback) Kirk Herbstreit also recognized the anger at the big house last year. But he saw it in Michigan and it reminded him of 1992, the year he led OSU 8-2 to a tie against Michigan 8-0-2, a season after losing to the Wolverines 31-3 (the Buckeyes’ fourth straight loss). in rivalry).

Herbstreit recalls that energy hitting him on the morning of The Game in 1992.

“You go out on the field to warm up and you just feel that extra, ‘Whoa, whoa, that’s powerful,'” he said.

Herbstreit called that feeling a “controlled rage,” and he saw it on last year’s UM team from the opening kickoff. Watching them run after OSU ball carriers “was like a feeding frenzy,” Herbstreit said.

“They had so much energy and they were just so tired of losing and so tired of hearing about it,” he continued.

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The silent OSU locker room of ’03 could relate. While the seniors mourned their worst-case final, the younger players thought of revenge. That team defeated Kansas State 35-28 a few weeks later in the Fiesta Bowl, but everyone felt they should have played USC in the Rose Bowl.

They should have beaten Michigan. Had “no business” to lose the team, said Salley, a Ft. Lauderdale native who grew up in the state of Florida-Florida.

“That’s when I started hating Michigan,” Salley said. “It just became, hey, I don’t care what happens, we can never play bad in this game again. And we can never allow them to win victory over us.”

This mantra fitted the ’04 team, which made its way into The Game in November. Losses in Northwestern, Iowa, Wisconsin and in Purdue the week before Michigan laid a shaky foundation for their revenge spree. But from January through November, the Buckeyes eyed the clock in their weight room counting toward their chance.

days, hours, seconds, minutes.

“We didn’t have to say it,” Salley said. “It was understood. We had unfinished business.”

When they finished with a 37-21 win in the Horseshoe, they didn’t celebrate. Why?

“If you know that’s what you’re supposed to do, it’s not a big celebration,” Everett said. “We had that unfortunate mishap in 2003, but we all knew it wasn’t supposed to happen.”

It didn’t for 15 of the next 16 years. The only OSU loss between 2003 and 2021 came in 2011, Luke Fickell’s midseason. Former OSU defender Chimdi Chekwa, who played his last The Game in 2010, said he didn’t count that loss – “we were in transition,” he said.

However, the last year counts. It hurts too – just as bad as ’03. Last year’s Buckeyes were good in the college football playoffs, maybe good in the national titles, but they never got a chance to find out.

They’ve spent the year digging into it, as have Salley, Hall, Everett, and Herbstreit. The former Buckeyes see a familiar fire this year and hope OSU deserves their penance as they do.

Because the pain of losing never leaves you – not even after order is restored.

“Even today, if I’m driving and I see a Michigan logo or sign, it’s like ‘ugh,'” Salley said. “It just takes me right back there.”

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