By David Fong
COLUMBUS — After spending a glorious autumn afternoon duking it out with the No. 2 team in the country and one of the best defenses in the nation, Wes Martin had one thing on his mind following Indiana’s 38-17 loss to Ohio State Saturday at Ohio Stadium.
The Milton-Union High School graduate and Hoosiers’ starting left guard couldn’t wait to do it again two more times.
“Absolutely, I want to play these guys again,” said Martin, a redshirt sophomore with two more years of eligibility remaining following this season. “We’ve just got to make the big plays next time.”
It should come perhaps as only a mild surprise that Martin and the Hoosiers would want another crack or two at the Buckeyes — a team they haven’t defeated since 1988 and have beaten just 12 times in 88 attempts — because since Ohio State coach Urban Meyer’s arrival in Columbus in 2012, Indiana has given Ohio State fits.
In Meyer’s first year coaching the Buckeyes — while Martin was still a junior in high school — the Buckeyes held on for a 52-49 win in a wild shootout in Bloomington, Ind. In 2014 — the season in which Martin redshirted — Indiana led well into the second half before Ohio State pulled away late. Last season, Martin played as a redshirt freshman as the Hoosiers came within an incomplete pass of tying or beating the Buckeyes on the the final play of a 34-27 loss.
Even Saturday, the Hoosiers trailed by just one score, 24-17, in the second half and remained a threat until the Buckeyes tacked on a final score following an interception with less than two minutes to play in the game.
“We just didn’t make the plays when we needed to,” Martin said.
After redshirting in 2014, the 6-foot-3, 310-pound Martin worked his way into the starting line-up last season. He started the first four games of the season for the Hoosiers. He would end up appearing in all 13 games for Indiana, starting six. Following the season, he was a Big Ten All-Freshman team selection and a Campus Insiders honorable mention Freshman All-Amerian.
Saturday was Martin’s first time playing in the Buckeyes’ famed Ohio Stadium. Playing in front of more than 107,000 fans Saturday afternoon was one of the most intense experiences of his young career, Martin said.
“It was a cool experience,” he said. “Penn State was pretty loud, too, but this was probably the loudest stadium I’ve ever been to.”
Despite growing up in Ohio, Martin said he was never a big Buckeye fan growing up — and, in fact, is actually playing for his dream school. He said he became a fan of the Hoosiers when fellow Milton-Union graduate Mitchell Evans played for them from 2007-10.
“I was never a fan,” Martin said of the Buckeyes. “I kind of bounced around between teams until Mitchell Evans started playing at Indiana. Then I became and Indiana fan.”
Martin said he had about 20 family members and friends who made the trip from West Milton to Columbus, in addition to a number of friends who attend school at The Ohio State University and were at the game.
“I definitely heard from people a little more than usual this week,” he said. “It was a good experience.”
One he can’t wait to do again.
Contact David Fong at firstname.lastname@example.org; follow him on Twitter @thefong