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COLUMBUS — Bradley Roby described it as buyer’s remorse.
After the All-American Ohio State cornerback decided last winter to return for his fourth season, some of his friends back home in Suwanee, Ga., could not believe he had bypassed NFL riches. Roby, too, began to wonder if he made a big mistake.
“You’re kind of used to a certain mindset, and people are treating you a certain way,” Roby said of the backslapping that followed the Buckeyes’ perfect 2012 season. “Then all of the sudden it’s right back to college, right back to getting yelled at. It was like, ‘Wow, I could be getting paid right now doing this.’ ”
Saturday, though, he got a clear reminder of why he stayed.
After missing the opener with a one-game suspension, the Roby of old was back as a bulwarked defense delivered a resounding statement in the No. 3 Buckeyes’ 42-7 victory over San Diego State. He started on the opening kickoff, took the field on the Aztecs’ third defensive play, and finished with four tackles and a pass breakup despite few challenges his way.
“Just getting back out there and playing with my friends, it was good,” Roby said. “I’m glad I'm back out there.”
Roby met with reporters afterward for the first time since he was charged in July with misdemeanor disorderly conduct for a skirmish at a bar in Bloomington, Ind. Though the charges were dropped, he was suspended one game — a detour that continued a less-than-perfect offseason.
Coaches, too, noticed that Roby, who was widely projected as a second-round draft pick if he chose to leave, was struggling through parts of the winter and spring.
“He catches a lot of people in his ear, people saying, ‘You know, you could have done this, you could have done that,’ ” coach Urban Meyer said. “Then after you’ve been told that for so long, I think that he went through a little bit of a funk.”
Time, though, ultimately lent perspective for Roby. He came back because he wanted to graduate and finish with the teammates in his class, and suddenly, with a national title in his sights, that pact again felt right.
“You have to realize it’s not about you,” Roby said. “It’s about your teammates. I had to realize that and not be that selfish. It was a phase I had to deal through.”
Roby said that phase is long past while coaches said he’s increased his commitment since the bar scuffle. He spent the past weeks tutoring Armani Reeves, his stand-in for the opener, then reminded everyone what the defense had been missing.
The return of senior safety C.J. Barnett, who missed the opener with a sprained ankle, and Roby allowed for a far more aggressive OSU secondary.
“I think he helped a lot,” said sophomore cornerback Doran Grant, who had a first-quarter interception. “San Diego State shied away from him. That shows the kind of respect they have for him.”
Roby’s only regret now is that he was suspended, though he hopes even that comes with a silver lining.
“If you forget what happened to you in the past, then you're bound to repeat it,” he said. “I just want to keep that in my mind. I use that on the field, use that anger and aggression from that whole process.”
STREAKING: Ohio State nudged further into history Saturday evening — its 14th straight victory matching the 1900 Buckeyes for the school’s fifth-longest winning streak.
They are eight wins shy of the school-record 22-game streak spanning from 1967 to a 24-12 upset loss at Michigan in 1969. OSU also won 19 straight games from 2002 to 2003 and 2005 to 2006, and 17 straight from 1915 to 1917.
This year’s Buckeyes hope to avoid the same fate as their 1900 predecessors, which had its visions of a 15th consecutive win doused in an 11-6 loss to Ohio Medical College.
WASHINGTON OUT: Meyer said starting defensive end Adolphus Washington is “day-to-day” after the sophomore left in the first quarter with a groin strain.
Washington’s injury allowed OSU to further tap a deep well of line reserves. Among those who played significant time at end included junior Steve Miller, who had two tackles and a sack, and freshman Joey Bosa.