This has not been Ohio State's year in many respects, maybe not in any aspect.

Coach Urban Meyer was suspended three games before the season began for not properly monitoring assistant coach Zach Smith, who was accused but never charged with domestic violence during his tenure in Columbus.

A story emerged last week accusing Meyer of covering up a racial taunt from Smith aimed at a former player. To a man those with first-hand knowledge of the incident blasted it, including players, coaches and even their parents. Indeed, the Ohio State president called a foul on that goofiness. The piece was so ludicrous it had the shelf life of a day, but it was still a distraction. Par for the course this year.

Larry Phillips mug shot

Richland Source managing editor Larry Phillips

The Buckeyes lost defensive end Nick Bosa for the season in the third game. Bosa was arguably the best player in the nation and is a near lock to be a top-3 pick in next spring's NFL draft. Numerous injuries followed that one. Running back Mike Weber was the latest casualty, sitting out Saturday after gashing Michigan State's top-ranked rush defense for 100-plus yards last week.

The defense has been shaky all season, rivaling the 2013 outfit for the worst in Meyer's seven years at Ohio State. Purdue ripped the Buckeyes for 49 points. Maryland got them for 51 on Saturday.

Yet after Ohio State overcame a 14-point deficit three different times to beat Maryland 52-51 in overtime Saturday, the season remains on course. Michigan invades Ohio Stadium on Saturday for the Big Ten East Division title. All of those land mines and yet here the Buckeyes sit, right where they expected to be before this bizarre season even began.

Meyer was animated all day at Maryland, watching a defense that simply could not stop the Terrapins from scoring at will. Some pundits are insistent Meyer is letting the season take a toll on him, even questioning his health. It would certainly be understandable.

But that would be misinterpreting Meyer.

He's an emotional guy on the sidelines, always has been. After the double-overtime win over Michigan in 2016, he fell to his knees and face forward to the ground in relief. No one questioned his health then.

He routinely punches air when his power ground game grinds up a tough foe. No one questions his health then.

But stalking the sidelines as Maryland shreds his defense is somehow proof he's losing his grip? Nah.

Meyer all but laughed at that suggestion in the postgame as someone asked if this OSU team is exasperating.

"Not at all," the coach said. "I've done this for a long time, and we've had situations where one side's not playing very well.

"Last week against Michigan State, the offense was hanging on by a thread, and the defense kept us in it. That's just part of the game. And then the kicking game saved the day. ... So it's all part, it's up and down.

"Is it where we need to be? It's not. But we're 10-1. We're going to try to find a way to be 11-1."

In the end, that's all anyone will remember about this season. How did the Buckeyes fare against Michigan?

In the Meyer tenure to date, that's been a perfect slate, a 6-0 mark and at least a Big Ten East Division co-championship every year. This squad, deep in transition going from a power ground game to a throw-first mentality, isn't a national title contender. But a victory over the favored Wolverines would send OSU to the Big Ten championship game for a second straight year, this time against Northwestern.

More importantly, beating Michigan would cure most ills, as it usually does.

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