Urban Meyer didn’t console kicker Tyler Durbin with a big hug after the Ohio State Buckeyes beat Michigan 30-27 in overtime on Nov. 26. That’s not his style.
“I’m not the best `lifting up’ guy there is,” Meyer said. “I do love him. He will be our kicker in the playoff game, and he’s got all the talent in the world. He did miss two of them (against Michigan), but he came back and hit the one that got us there. He’ll be fine. We just have to, in our own way, lift him up.”
The fifth-year senior Durbin, in his first season as starter, made 17 of 20 field goals and 63 of 65 point-after attempts in the regular season. Against the Wolverines, he missed a 37-yard field goal in the first quarter and a 21-yard field goal in the fourth quarter. Then with one second to go in the fourth quarter, he made a 23-yard field goal to send the game to overtime.
When No. 3 Ohio State (11-1) plays No. 2 Clemson at 7 p.m. Dec. 31 in the Fiesta Bowl in Glendale, Ariz., the pressure will be on Durbin to show that one bad day was an aberration.
“After the game, I was a bit relieved we came out with the win,” Durbin said. “I was just thankful the defense was able to get a stop and the offense put me in a position to tie the game. I don’t really remember what happened before that last field goal. I was kind of out of it. I remember seeing it go through. I was pretty excited about that.”
Durbin blamed the misses not on nerves but on putting his plant foot too close to the ball. He made contact with the inside of his foot and pulled the kicks to the left.
Before the last kick, Durbin tried to tell himself to relax and that it was no different than any other kick, even though the entire season rode on his foot at that moment.
“I always want to be out there and help my team the best I can,” Durbin said. “Obviously, it wasn’t a good situation missing the first two kicks, but I was ready to put us into overtime.”
The Buckeyes leave Monday for the Fiesta Bowl. They land in Phoenix at 7:30 p.m. (ET), about 45 minutes after Clemson. The team will stay all week at the Fairmont Scottsdale Princess and practice three miles away at Notre Dame Prep Academy.
Press conferences will take place Tuesday through Friday at the JW Marriott Camelback Inn. Media Day will also be held there Thursday.
Durbin will be able to enjoy the week as much as anyone. He has put the two misses behind him.
“I’m good. I’m past that,” he said. “I was a little upset the next day or two, but came in and was ready to get to work for the next game.”
Durbin couldn’t enjoy the Michigan game as much as everyone else. Only now can he look back on it with fond memories. The reactions of his teammates and the fans to his misses helped with that.
“I don’t remember a single person saying anything negative to me on the sideline after the game,” Durbin said. “Everyone was really supportive. Even when the crowd rushed the field after the game, a lot of fans were patting me on the back and saying, ‘Kep your head up. Good job. You had a good season. Keep working.’”