They gathered in front of the student section to sing Carmen Ohio one last time as teammates at Ohio Stadium.
Marcus Hall, Corey Linsley, Andrew Norwell, Jack Mewhort and C.J. Barnett stood next to one another, arms linked, five of the Ohio State seniors who have made history and are intent on making more.
A 42-14 victory over Indiana was their final one at home, and they set a program record with their 23rd straight win.
There wasn’t much drama against the Hoosiers, just as this season has been mostly one methodical steamrolling after another of overmatched opponents. Ohio State (11-0, 7-0) scored the game’s first six touchdowns. A defense led by linebacker Ryan Shazier’s 20 tackles shut out an Indiana offense — which had averaged averaging nearly 40 points a game — until the final six minutes.
If the hallmarks of last year’s undefeated team were grit and heart, this year’s have been steely determination and consistency. So as the Buckeyes sang Carmen Ohio, they let their emotions run only so far.
“It was pretty emotional,” Mewhort said. “I think the emotion from the game and adrenaline are still pumping. But the great thing about all the stuff right now is that you can’t get too sentimental because we have a big game next week.
“I think everybody is kind of pressing the brake a little on the emotional stuff until we win a couple more games, and then we’ll have more time to talk about it.”
Those would be games against Michigan on Saturday and against Michigan State in the Big Ten championship game on Dec. 7. The Buckeyes clinched the Leaders Division title by beating Indiana.
In some ways, the game was as one-sided as expected. Ohio State ran for 311 yards in 39 carries. Quarterback Braxton Miller had 144 yards and Carlos Hyde added 117, becoming the first running back in Urban Meyer’s 12-year coaching career to run for 1,000 yards.
Miller threw only 17 passes, completing 11. Receivers had zero yardage until Miller hit Devin Smith for a 39-yard touchdown with 10:37 left in the game for Ohio State’s final points.
“We were a little dinged up at wide receiver throughout the week,” offensive coordinator Tom Herman said.
The weather was another reason to keep it mostly on the ground.
“I went out there in pregame warm-ups, and it was certainly affecting a lot of the throws,” Herman said. “When Mother Nature tells you not to throw the football, you better listen, because she’s pretty demanding.”
Indiana (4-7, 2-5) felt no such reluctance to throw, partly because it didn’t have much choice. The Hoosiers gained only 122 yards in 39 carries.
Their fast-paced offense ran 92 plays to 56 for Ohio State. Yet even though Ohio State committed three turnovers to none for Indiana, the Hoosiers couldn’t score until far too late.
A year ago, Indiana scored 49 points against Ohio State, the low point for that defense.
“They stepped up to the challenge,” defensive coordinator Luke Fickell said. “This was as good an offense as we had seen in a while. They do a lot of things that make it really difficult for you. Our guys prepared like madmen and did a heck of a job.”
The Buckeyes jumped on the Hoosiers right away. They scored quickly on their first two possessions, with Hyde scoring on a 16-yard run and then Miller running for a 37-yard touchdown on a draw capped by a flip into the end zone.
A blocked punt by Bradley Roby set up Ohio State’s third touchdown. Miller lined up as a receiver, took a flip from Kenny Guiton on an end around and again vaulted into the end zone on a 5-yard run.
The Buckeyes made it 28-0 by going 69 yards in only 52 seconds just before halftime.
Afterward, Mewhort surveyed the stadium, soaking in the moment.
“It’s bittersweet,” he said. “... The next time I’ll be in that stadium, I’m going to be a visitor. I’ll be irrelevant.”
That, Meyer said, is wrong. He was a graduate assistant in 1986-87 and noticed that the great players would return because they knew they were part of the fabric of the program.
“The greatest thing that happened today,” Meyer said, “is every one of those players in that locker room is going to come back now and be part of this, because there’s going to be a special place for them around that facility and what they’ve done — the longest winning streak in Ohio State history.”