By: Will Burchfield
Mark Dantonio is well aware how quickly opinions can change in college football. He knows how suddenly a head coach can fall out of favor.
Just last season, Dantonio was losing support at Michigan State. Never mind the fact that he had turned the program around since taking over in 2007.
Dantonio watched Urban Meyer go through a similar thing this past week after Ohio State lost its second game of the season. Heaven forbid.
“I look at Ohio State and they had lost two games, and I had to listen how poorly the media treated Urban Meyer this week, to be quite honest. I had to listen to all the things that he was hearing, which I’m sure I’ll hear now,” said Dantonio.
The Buckeyes dismantled the Spartans on Saturday, 48-3, and Meyer looked just fine on the sidelines. He’s won at least 11 games in each of his five seasons as Ohio State’s head coach and seems like a good bet to do so again in his sixth.
As Dantonio noted, the Buckeyes are still pretty darn good despite losing two regular season games for the first time in Meyer’s tenure.
“When you look at the (losses), the Oklahoma game was extremely competitive deep into the third quarter and the same thing happened in the game against Iowa,” said Dantonio. “They were right there and then something happened.
“Well, something happened to us today, too. Turnovers, not being able to run the ball, not being able to stop the run. You can look across the country right now and you can see that these things are happening to a lot of good football teams.”
Michigan State was overwhelmed by Ohio State on Saturday. They couldn’t stop the Buckeye’s up-tempo offense, which produced well over 500 yards, and they couldn’t contain their dynamic front seven, which racked up six sacks.
Asked if the Spartans had seen a pass rush of Ohio State’s caliber, Dantonio said, “Based on what I’ve seen this year, no. But we knew this coming in.”
Of course, it was an all-encompassing defeat.
“We didn’t separate with our receivers. We didn’t throw the ball accurately. We couldn’t protect the quarterback. We couldn’t run the football. Defensively, we didn’t tackle well. We didn’t pressure their quarterback enough and couldn’t stop the run,” said Dantonio. “Consequently, a meltdown happens.
From a psychological standpoint, Meyer said the Buckeyes needed the win after last weekend’s shocking loss to Iowa.
“College football, 18- to 22-year-olds, even more than I imagine the NFL, is a game of momentum. The browbeatings that take place, you need these kinds of things. You need a great performance, and they had a great performance.
“I think A to Z, it was what we needed and well-deserved. Players deserved that. They worked hard this week.”
For Dantonio, the focus has shifted to next week’s game versus Maryland.
“The major thing to me is the response that we give. What’s the response? The response won’t be known until next Saturday,” he said.
Meyer, meanwhile, can rest assured the response in Columbus this week will be much more favorable.