Ohio State's Ryan Day Preaches Consistency to Avoid Upsets


When Ohio State coach Ryan Day gets rolling, he can throw out cliches with the best of his profession.

Day talks all the time about toughness and execution, words spoken so often in his business they can lose their significance.

He also breaks out new terms like his offensive line being, "the tip of the spear," and having a, "white-belt mentality," which means saying focused on accomplishing the first step in a process as a discipline that leads to the ultimate goal.

And then Day will stress the importance of avoiding penalties, eliminating turnovers and other such fundamental elements of winning to which he applies his own coat of paint called a, "Plan to win."

It can all be viewed as eye-rolling coach-speak or the brilliant simplicity he's kept his Buckeyes focused on in their ascent to 7-0 and No. 3 in the country entering a Saturday noon kickoff against Wisconsin.

The irony is, now that the once-beaten Badgers are in OSU's immediate flight path Day has a fresh example to preach about what could happen if his team ever allows its concentration to wane.

Wisconsin's 24-23 loss Saturday afternoon at Illinois, some 15 hours after Ohio State put a 52-3 beating on Northwestern Friday night in Evanston, gives Day an arsenal of ammunition to provide cover for his consistent message that doing the little things will prevent the sort of head-scratching defeats in the Buckeyes' recent past.

Their lopsided losses at Iowa in 2017 and at Purdue last year -- inexplicable though they were -- couldn't match the Badgers' failure as a 30.5-point favorite at Illinois.

That ranks as the biggest upset in the Big Ten since 1982 and traced to Wisconsin:

  • Allowing Illinois to score two of its three touchdowns on plays covering 40 yards or more.
  •  Failing to score a touchdown in the fourth quarter on a possession that began with first-and-goal at the Illini 3-yard line.
  • Missing a 37-yard field goal attempt in the third quarter while leading, 20-7.
  • Throwing an interception on their final possession at the Illini 48-yard line.
  •  Giving star tailback Jonathan Taylor only one carry on the fateful first-and-goal possession from the Illini 3 and giving him only one carry on the series that ended with quarterback Jack Coan's crucial interception.

That's the autopsy which explains how Wisconsin, which steamrolled its first six opponents by a combined 225-29, can lose to a team like Illinois, which had allowed its first six opponents to score just shy of 40 points per-game.

So Ohio State's players can expect Day to continually emphasize the same themes going forward.

"I think that’s another art of coaching this generation is that I talk about, 'We have to be tough,' " Day said. "I think maybe they get tired of hearing it — they can’t get tired of hearing it because that’s what’s got us to this point, and we’re building that toughness.

"But toughness isn’t just on the field, it’s all these other things that are going to come in. It’s sustaining. That’s what toughness is. Can you sustain it throughout a season, then you are tough. If you can’t, then you aren’t as tough as you thought you were. That’s all the stuff that on a weekly basis we have to just keep hammering away.

"We’re not going to get away from that...It’s going to come down to how tough we are. If we can sustain it throughout the season, then we are tough. If not, then we’re not going to be."

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