Ohio State came onto the field at Ross-Ade Stadium on Saturday night with all of the confidence in the world.
As the then-No. 2 team in the country, the Buckeyes came into the primetime matchup against Purdue not thinking about an upset, not thinking about the shortcomings that it had against Indiana and Minnesota, but expecting its eighth win of the season.
With this mentality, Ohio State fans remained confident. But as the clock ticked down to finalize the Buckeyes’ first loss of the season, a 49-20 upset to Purdue, the confidence turned to anger.
As Ohio State head coach Urban Meyer and a select group of players answered questions about what happened, what Purdue did right and what Ohio State did wrong, fans took to Twitter, calling the team overrated, calling for coaching and personnel changes — normal things to see after a loss for a team expected to make a playoff run.
Redshirt junior offensive lineman Branden Bowen did not evade the backlash.
Despite not even making the trip, recovering from a broken leg suffered last season against Maryland, Bowen received a direct message from a fan, which he posted on his Twitter page early Sunday morning.
“You better tell your O-line to start blocking you m—– f—–,” the direct message read. “I’m sick of seeing you guys lose big game. I want f—— Titles so shut the f— up and perform you f—— goon.”
The direct message also went on to call Bowen “soft” and to “Shut up and f—— give a s— and win me a title you p—-.”
After Bowen’s tweet was published, Ohio State fans filled Bowen’s direct messages, apologizing for what the offensive lineman proclaimed as the “minority,” saying he wanted to give an idea of what reaction he gets after Ohio State plays.
Bowen’s response showed that no matter the amount of positive responses he gets and the number of people who say “this doesn’t represent the entire fanbase,” this is nothing new. He called it a “Yearly PSA that we’re 18-23 years old.”
Redshirt senior wide receiver Terry McLaurin experienced both the Iowa and Purdue loss. Even though he said the loss last season hurt, based on being invested as an older guy, as one of the captains, Saturday’s loss “hurts even more.”
After experiencing a loss for the first time as a team, McLaurin said the message moving forward is clear.
“My main message moving forward is back to treating this like it’s life or death,” McLaurin said. “That type of mentality, where you are going into battle or someone is trying to knock you off. If you don’t come ready to go, this happens.”
However, there are fans following Ohio State who consider the performance of the 18- to-23-year-old players on the field as “life or death,” leading to reactions on social media similar to the one Bowen received early Sunday morning.
With the expectations that this Ohio State team had at the start of the season — Haskins leading a record-breaking pass offense to the Buckeyes’ third College Football Playoff appearance — McLaurin said plainly, the team was “hit in the mouth.”
McLaurin said a few players talked to the team after the Purdue loss, trying to recalibrate the locker room heading into the bye week.
“I just hope everybody is in there listening and looking how we are going to get better from this,” McLaurin said.
But the thing is, players aren’t listening to fans on Twitter, calling for personnel or schematic changes. Players are doing what the coaches have taught them all along: drown out the outside noise and expectation and focus on the next opponent.