Old narratives die hard in college football.
New ones are even more persistent in the age of social media, instant reactions and short attentions spans.
Hence Ryan Day being asked how Ohio State avoids a letdown this week at Indiana after a surprisingly decisive 42-0 win over Cincinnati.
The Buckeyes have a new head coach, but they still have to answer for shocking blowout losses to Iowa in 2017 and Purdue last season.
Day's response Tuesday was essentially this: Ohio State strives to be the best team in the country, so the Buckeyes must strive to be at their best against any team in the country.
“The message to the team is that the issues are still in the film, whether you win, you lose, whatever it is,” he said. “The immature player, the immature coach looks at it and says everything is good, we won. We won pretty handily. The facts of the matter are that the issues are on film.”
While the Bearcats, who won 11 games a year ago, were expected to provide a more stern test than Florida Atlantic in the season-opener, that did not turn out to be the case.
In each game, Ohio State ran out to a 28-0 lead. While they lost focus against the Owls the rest of the way, ultimately winning 45-21, the Buckeyes put the hammer down on the Bearcats.
That left a better taste in their mouths, but it was far from a perfect performance (as if such a thing exists).
Day still wants to see his young quarterback, Justin Fields, refine his reads and decision-making while the defense continues to get used to a new scheme and roles are defined for different players.
“As the level of play increases through conference play, as the season goes on, those issues aren't going to go away,” Day said. “The seasoned coach, the veteran player, can identify that, be critical of themselves. Again, you've heard it before. If you're worried about the process as opposed to the result, you're going to be more focused on that.”
The situation does not make a perfect comparison to the debacles in Iowa City and West Lafayette, but there are some similarities.
While those games were both in the second half of the season, they were against middle-of-the-road Big Ten teams.
The Hoosiers fit that description, having won five or six games each of the last four seasons.
Third-year coach Tom Allen could use a signature win, as was the case for Jeff Brohm of Purdue a year ago (then in his second year).
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And in all three cases, the key to an Ohio State win is probably showing up and executing the game plan.
“The mentality we have is if you're the champ, you're the boxer, they're going to try to knock you out every time you go in the ring,” Day said. "We're going to get everybody's best shot, we know that. Don't be surprised.
“We have to bring it every single week. The only way to do that is to make sure you're preparing this week just like you did last week, find a chance to be a little bit better. If we ever take the shortcut on something or don't do it the way we did it the week before, then we set ourselves up.
“That's physically, emotionally and mentally. Physically we have to be ready to go, we have to have energy, get rest, recover. Emotionally preparing for the game. Then mentally making sure we know what we're doing. We have a good scheme through the coaching staff, then the guys can execute it when they get on the field. If we do that, follow the plan to win, then we're fine.”
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