By Kaleb Page
For the Ohio State football team the past few days have seen more adversity thrown their way than most teams might experience in an entire season. If you look at any photos, press releases, etc. the mantra for this team is “Power of the Unit.” A mantra that holds that everyone on the team makes the unit not just one single player, also that in order to be a success it is how strong of a bond the team has. This mantra is surely at its toughest test as we make it to the end of the college football season.
Saturday was something that everyone in the state of Ohio and Michigan would say is “The Game.” The rivalry was like most years of the game full of intense moments and a hard-fought match up despite the records. Despite the end result, with Ohio State pulling away late to win 42-28; the win felt empty.
In the fourth quarter J.T. Barrett was running a play he had run hundreds of times during the season. A read option play where he could hand it off or take off and in this case Barrett took off up the field. As he was tackled his leg fell under a Michigan player and then more fell on top. As the pile got up; Barrett did not. After being carted off the field it was discovered that Barrett wouldn’t be back for the rest of the season with a broken ankle, thus ultimately throwing another plot twist in already what was a season full of twists for the buckeyes.
Even though this could affect what Ohio State does for the college playoff and will be a test on how well the coaches can get the team to play despite a loss on the field, there was event prior to “The Game” that makes the one above pale in comparison.
Early Wednesday morning a walk on defensive lineman and wrestler at Ohio State went missing. Kosta Karageorge was known by teammates to be a funny, kind and a gentle giant. As a senior he was supposed to be honored at the final home game of the season against Michigan. Unfortunately for all the hopes and wishes to be found safely in time to be back with the team, Karageorge would not be there Saturday. This story ended with the ultimate sadness that Karageorge was found early Sunday morning dead of what was concluded to be a self-inflicted gunshot wound.
This heart-break and sadness will test this team in not just the way of losing someone to play. It will test how true this team is in its togetherness and ability to be there for one another. Urban Meyer said this week, “I can just say, this is an extremely close team that does a lot of things together and cares about each other.” If this statement is as true as Meyer says, then this team should be able to rally around each other in this tough time losing not only a teammate but a close friend forever. Something they will have to do relatively quickly for a big test yet ahead of them.
This Saturday night is the Big Ten Championship game between this Ohio State team and the Wisconsin Badgers. If Ohio State plans on making it out of Indianapolis with a win and the shot at being in the first edition of the college football playoff, then they better be as strong a team as they say.
One thing is for sure when it comes to this team in particular, they have all the reason to not show up Saturday. Whether it is because they have lost their second quarterback of the season, the pressure of doubters saying how can they even be in the playoff discussion or for the fact they lost more than a teammate but a friend forever over the holidays; this team has all the reason to fold in.
Hopefully they do play to their mantra of the “Power of the Unit” and show what it truly means to be a close-knit team willing and able to persevere through anything as long as they are together.