Shootout? Brent Venables bristled at the thought of it this week, but through almost 50 minutes Friday night, he had just that with the Buckeyes up 35-34.
The final 11:35, however, was exactly what he expected from his defense.
A one-possession game to the end, a constant Clemson pressure had taken its toll on Ohio State quarterback Braxton Miller, rising slowing from each blow. Bashaud Breeland almost struck the knockout punch on a blitz from the edge - jarring the ball loose and into Spencer Shuey's arms. A Tajh Boyd interception kept the game in play with 1:27 to go.
There to cap a monster night, though, was junior middle linebacker Stephone Anthony. Feeling phantom pressure, Miller forced a throw over the middle that seemed destined for the Polkton, N.C. product, and he secured it to seal the deal.
"They've got a lot of pride and worked incredibly hard," Venables said. "I feel like we've been a pretty solid unit all year and gotten better. Certainly haven't been perfect, but at the right time we had to make the perfect play. So happy for those guys and certainly for our whole team the validation that it gives them, going against a very experienced team and very good football coaching staff.
"We are too. We belong and have earned that right. We're still working. We're a work in progress, but we're going to get to it."
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Game breakdown: Showed fight man. That was a fun game to be a part of and watch those guys work and make plays. The double-post wheel route snuck it out on us like four times, but I really liked how we were playing believe it or not. We were giving up the big plays and chunk yards, but I felt like we were in control - whatever that means. Playcalling and as a unit. There's some games where you're just looking to get the last stop, but it was kinda that way and not.
I thought our guys were owning them up front and leveraging the football incredibly well. We missed a tackle on one fourth-and-short. (Carlos Hyde's) a great player and I'm really proud of our guys and so happy for them. Playing the game is tough and our guys lost a tough one to South Carolina. To see them go out as winners - that's well deserving.
Sealing the game on defense: It's fun. You'd rather - you want to win no matter what, but that was fun to watch those guys. Watch those guys executing and make it right. It was pretty special.
Tigers show 'it' factor late: Responding to the adversity, can't coach that. You try to foster and nurture that tough mindset and 'Hey, whatever it takes. No matter what. No matter the circumstances, worry about us. Our guys have the willingness and the attitude and the toughness that it takes. They're playing well together and it showed tonight. The sideline was awesome all night with adversity - some of it self-inflicted and some them. Our guys really never flinched and stuck together.
Responding from South Carolina loss: I think it says a lot about our team. When we play well together and make timely plays, you have chance to win games. Force turnovers and create big plays and work together as a team. You have a chance to win. We're talented enough and good enough to do that.
I think it says a lot about the group of guys that we have and the program. Not listening to naysayers. That criticism is deserved. You lose and that's what happens. You can't run and hide from it - you've got to face it and move on and try to learn from it. Become tough from it. Respond, that's your job. It's a tough game and we're good, talented and tough.