Ohio State quarterback C.J. Stroud tried to stay away from the storm of negativity that brewed on social media after the Buckeyes lost to hated Michigan 45-23 in November. It found him anyway.
"I don't really look, but people have the audacity to call me and tell me what people say," Stroud told reporters Thursday. "So, I do hear it, and it is what it is. It comes with the nature of the beast. You can't accept the good and not accept the bad."
Stroud threw for 349 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions in the loss, which, at the time, seemed as though it would end Ohio State's College Football Playoff hopes. It was also the second straight year he and the Buckeyes failed to beat the Wolverines.
"People talk bad on people, they don't understand we're young," cornerback Cameron Brown said of the negative online reactions to the loss. "Grown people are talking crazy about children because something didn't go right. We tried not to look at our phones because it's going to make us think bad about people we don't want to."
But USC's loss to Utah in the Pac-12 title game opened the door for the 11-1 Buckeyes to get back into the playoff. Awaiting them will be the defending champion Georgia Bulldogs, winners of 15 consecutive games dating back to last season.
Stroud—who was a Heisman Trophy finalist for the second straight year after throwing for 3,340 yards, 37 touchdowns and just six interceptions—is ready to make the most of Ohio State's second lease on life this season.
"If you watch the tape, I think that I've really tried to do everything I could to win games in my career and if that means I didn't get it done, it is what it is," he said. "Everybody's entitled to their opinion. I'm going to keep moving forward and learn from it. I really thank God for having a second chance, and I think we deserve to be here, regardless of what happened that day. But we've moved on. Our focus is on Georgia now. I'm just taking it as a lesson and try to learn from it."
Beat Georgia, and Stroud could potentially get a second shot at Michigan, with the Wolverines facing TCU in their own semifinal matchup. Both games are scheduled for Saturday, with the national championship game on Monday, Jan. 9.