Join us and the leading lights of the Buckeye Bloggers’ Network as we discuss the ins, outs, what have yous, and the finer points of game as the Fightin’ Buckeyes of the Olentangy do battle with the Fightin’ Dantonios of Ingham County.
What hasn’t been said already about Sparty’s defense? It leads the nation in total defense and rush defense (238 and 65 YPG, respectively). They’ve blown up offensive lines and blocking schemes all year, also leading the nation in negative yard plays. While yards per game matter, they perhaps aren’t the most useful measure of a defense, because they don’t list them on the scoreboard. That said, Sparty is third in the nation in points allowed, metering opponents to a stingy 11.8 PPG.
But the raw statistics may be misleading. Sparty’s defense has looked good primarily because it’s faced some atrocious offenses. The strongest offense they faced all year was Indiana (no, really), who put up 28 points on them. It’s well known that the biggest strength of the Sparty D is against the run, but the average rank of the rushing offenses they’ve faced is 54th. And that doesn’t include week 3 opponent Youngstown State, who isn’t even an FBS school. When they have been up against strong offenses, as against Indiana and Nebraska, they’ve shown some vulnerability. The Hoosiers put up 351 yards and 4 touchdowns against the vaunted East Lansing D, while the Cornhuskers tallied 392 for 4 scores, including 182 yards on the ground.
And they’ve never played against a running attack like the twin spears of Carlos Hyde and Braxton Miller, not to mention Jordan Hall and Dontre Wilson, who round out the nation’s 2nd best rushing offense.
On the other side of the ball, playing against strong defenses is nothing new for the Buckeyes. Let’s not forget that Ohio State has already dispatched Iowa and Wisconsin, who have the 11th and 6th best defenses in the country. We put up 31 against Wisconsin and 34 against Iowa. We think the question is not “can OSU score against Sparty’s defense,” but “can Sparty run with OSU’s offense.” Sparty averages just 29.4 PPG to Ohio State’s 48.2. The one area that OSU hasn’t struggled on defense is against the run, where they’ve only allowed 100 YPG, 86 less than MSU’s offense produces.
Simply put, OSU has played successfully against strong defenses, while Sparty has only played one decent offense, two mediocre ones, and a whole lot of terrible ones.
While it’s true that we looked shaky last week, never underestimate the power of a wakeup call. The Buckeyes were heavily favorited against TTUN, and they went up there and had their eyes opened, courtesy of the enemy playing the game of their lives, at home. Any time Devin Gardner is completing leaping, back-foot passes across his body, you know somebody’s hit the code for God Mode. Fortunately, we still pulled out the win, and the difficulty with which the victory was achieved will serve to focus and galvanize Ohio State on both sides of the ball tomorrow.
By contrast, everybody (we included) thinks tomorrow will be a hotly contested affair. Actually, that’s putting it too nicely. We’re sure it’ll be a dogfight from end to end, and some of the most interesting battles will happen on the sidelines, as coaches and coordinators try to counter each others’ schemes and find weaknesses. If one side succeeds, the intensity of the fight may not show up on the scoreboard.
The fewest points the Buckeyes have scored all year is 31. The most points Sparty’s defense has allowed is 28. Something’s got to give. We forecast that Sparty’s offense will sputter when their running game fails to produce, and their defense will tire of getting run over by Carlos Hyde, and run past by Braxton Miller. If all of that happens, we’re looking for a Buckeye victory, 35-24.
There is too much talk right now about which teams should be playing for the national championship. Many wise folks, Urban F. Meyer among them, are focusing on the task at hand: Winning the Big Ten Championship Game. As can be seen in a perusal of Ye Olde Buckeye’s previous posts, we like to look back at history and the record books when writing about football. This is no exception, except that the history of the Big Ten Championship Game only goes back to 2011. The previous two Championship Games (comprising the entirety of the Championship Game’s history) have been won by Wisconsin. This has been extremely annoying, considering the seasons we’ve had the past ten years or so. It’s not The Game (and nothing else is), but we still want our names all over that list of Big Ten Championship Game winners. Here is our chance to get the ball rolling.
As for our illustrious opponents, we do have some hatred stored up for them. Again, this will never be in the same realm as The Game, but there is some hatred. Switching over to the personal memoires:
I was a student at The Ohio State University (established in 1870) in 1995. I was at home in Dayton watching in horror as T8-3TUN spoiled our perfect season.
I was a student at The Ohio State University (established in 1870) in 1996. I was in Haverfield House watching alone with building rage as T7-3TUN spoiled our perfect season.
I was a student at The Ohio State University (established in 1870) in 1997. I was in the Big Shit House watching David Boston tussle with the traitor Charles Woodson, hoping that we would take our turn at spoiling a perfect season for them. Hatred was cemented.
But I was also a student at The Ohio State University (established in 1870) in 1998. I was in East Lansing for a volleyball tournament while our football team’s perfect season was spoiled by Sparty down in Columbus. Our team and Michigan State’s team (along with some random Notre Dame players) went to a room with a tv in their athletic facility between our volleyball games. We were mocked the rest of that terrible day. Even when we stopped at Subway on the way home, we were still wearing our Ohio State warm-up gear and were made fun of by some very unprofessional sandwich artists.
So, it’s nowhere near the history, hatred, and intensity of The Game, but we do have some recent history with Sparty playing the spoiler. This game is huge. And we want our names on that Stagg Championship Trophy. Go Bucks!
This is a very special moment. Now that the regular season is over, most of the worst teams in college football are finished with their seasons, mercifully for their fans. Still, with all the talk of “Conference A is better than Conference B” and “Team A would have lost three more games if they’d played Team B’s schedule” there’s not a lot of talk about who is really horrible.
Our contributors voted on this very matter and what follows are the results of this, the first annual Buckeye Ninja’s Bottom Five Poll.
#5 - Virginia (ACC) 2-10 (0-8)
#4 – Kentucky (SEC) 2-10 (0-8)
#3 – California (Pac-12) 1-11 (0-9)
#2 – Purdue (B1G) 1-11 (0-8)
And the worst team in college football this year is…
That was some week, eh?
Clemson dropped big and three Pac-12 schools jumped up. Not really because we collectively think they’re better but because seriously what the hell this season?
Dropped out: Fresno State, Wisconsin
Also receiving one vote: Oklahoma
Discuss among yourselves.
The 110th edition of The Game was one for the ages. It had everything, from flashy offense, to clutch defense, to nervous tension, to flaring tempers. It ended with a one point margin, defied everyone’s expectations, and thrilled fans of all persuasions. But in the wake of such a game, the grousing from “fans” of TTUN has reared its predictable, ugly head.
I spent part of the game in the den of the enemy, courtesy of a holiday trip to see my in-laws in Virginia Beach. They’re all (supposedly) fans of TTUN, but when it came time for The Game to start, they were making pancakes. Pancakes. At kickoff. They paused The Game and went about their business making brunch, leaving time suspended on the television for nearly an hour. The only conclusion I could draw is that they aren’t really fans out of devoted passion, but out of disgusting habit, something I’m finding to be typical of their ilk.
But The Game is not a sitcom, to be DVR’d and watched at your convenience. It is the culmination of a season of work, an annual ritual more sacred than any other secular event, and it is not to be ignored while it is happening. Certainly not for pancakes and mimosas, anyway. I did what I could do in the face of such a travesty, pulling up a live stream on my laptop and watching, as quietly as I could, as an all-out gridiron war ensued.
Halfway through the second quarter, after the teams had exchanged blows both on the scoreboard and on the field, they finally sat down to watch, from the beginning. I knew what I was in for… Endless replays of the fight, finger pointing, jeering and baseless accusations regarding the conduct of my beloved Buckeyes, all while the game marched on in real time, ahead of where we could ever catch up. So I did the reasonable thing, and when The Game went to commercial, I gathered my wife and left, heading over to the local BW3 to watch the remainder in relative peace, and preserve whatever familial harmony might be left.
There were a respectable number of Buckeye fans at the bar, and when the game ended as it did, the place erupted in pandemonium. I was high fiving strangers, hugging our waitress (who hailed from Akron), jumping and yelling and dancing… And so was everybody else, save the two token Michigan fans at the table behind us. The agony of The Game was relieved by the ecstasy of a narrow, last-minute victory. We would have hung around for the Iron Bowl, had not the table next to us been filled with apparently illiterate GOBAMAROLLTIDE fans, who tried chanting S-E-C through tobacco-stuffed lips, over the roar of the Buckeye faithful after the win. They would be more insufferable, I thought, than returning to my in-laws, so we went home.
Of course, given how that game ended, we should have stuck around just for the comedic value.
I digress. By the time we arrived back home to Ohio last evening, my timelines were full of petty grumbles and meaningless recriminations, almost exclusively from demoralized followers of Ann Arbor’s Abomination. Say what you want about Ohio State fans; that we are grumpy, obnoxious, pessimistic, hatred-filled jerkfaces. But when we lose, we own it. TTUN, on the other hand, loves to play the victim, and so do their fans. Let’s wade into some of their whining, shall we?
Or maybe the thuggish behavior of a classless Michigan team precipitated exactly the reality they wanted. Maybe the coaching staff in Ann Arbor has failed to instill respect and discipline in their own team, things you should display at all times, especially in front of your home crowd.
Maybe a senior in college, playing in one of the most important games of his career, against his team’s arch rival, in their stadium, reacted to being tossed for a fight he didn’t start by being upset. Crazy, right? And maybe while exiting the stadium, amid the raucous booing and hurled expletives from tens of thousands of (classy?) opposing fans, he decided to vent his emotion the best way he knew how.
Maybe I’d have done the same thing. Maybe, just maybe, you would have too.
Or maybe it’s harder than one might think to walk into one of the loudest home fields in the country, against a rival that you’ve played 109 times, who has ruined your season more times than anyone cares to remember, and pull out a victory. Maybe an honest assessment of The Game and its history by a rational observer would say that any team who walks out with a victory earned it, especially stealing it on their opponent’s home soil.
Maybe an honest assessment of the performance of ESPN’s favorite conference (the SEC, in case you hadn’t noticed) this year would show that they’re just as mediocre as everybody else. That Alabama lost because, well, they just aren’t that great this season, and Auburn has won twice now on blind luck and their opponents’ mistakes. Maybe we should call conferences beating up on their own parity, or mediocrity, but be consistent with whichever label across all conferences.
Or maybe people just conveniently forgot that Auburn lost to a very middle-of-the-road LSU team this season, and Ohio State hasn’t lost in 24 games.
Or maybe almost nobody in the top 25 has a schedule that’s worth a damn this year. Maybe, when evaluated statistically, a bunch of the top schools, including Alabama, Florida State and Ohio State aren’t even in the top 50 in strength of schedule. Winning programs play to win, and that includes when they sit down to write their schedules. Even after the 1-point win on Saturday, the Buckeyes’ average margin of victory is nearly 28 points– that’s 4 touchdowns, for those of you in Ann Arbor– second only to the Florida State juggernaut (whose rank of schedule is a whopping 66th, 5 places behind the Buckeyes) and Baylor, who is busy falling on their own sword.
The facts are these: A bunch of blue-and-yellow thugs surrounded a tackled Ohio State player with the expressed intent of intimidating him. That precipitated a shoving match in what was already a very charged atmosphere. Hard to blame Dontre Wilson for that. Then someone ripped his helmet off and threw it, and someone else headbutted him. So the threw a punch. In his shoes, if you say you’d do different, you’re a dirty liar (and probably a Michigan fan). Also, if you’ve never wanted to walk out of your job after a rough day doing a Marcus Hall impersonation, you’re a dirty liar (and probably a Michigan fan).
Ohio State’s defense had its worst game of the season in Ann Arbor, and TTUN’s offense had its best by far. These sort of things will happen in The Game. And we still won. Alabama lost, like they’ve been trying to do all season. With all respect to a resurgent and exciting Auburn team, they’ve been riding on some very thin luck for two games in a row, and when Lady Luck didn’t show up earlier this season, they lost to LSU.
Next week may or may not lend clarity to the national title debate, as the Buckeyes will face Sparty’s rowdy defense, the Seminoles will probably clobber the Blue Devils, and Auburn may just get punched in the mouth by a ruthless Missouri team. But whatever the outcomes, nothing will remove the joy from the hearts of the Buckeye faithful from stealing one in Ann Arbor. Roll on, Indianapolis.
The last Saturday of the regular season in college football is known around the world for one game. Sure, it’s Rivalry Week in general, but the rivalry universally acknowledged as the fiercest, toughest and best is always between The Ohio State University and Michigan. Enough has been said about the history and tradition embodied in The Game, but what has been interesting this year are the personal accounts of what it means to each Buckeye fan.
If you haven’t been in our shoes, maybe you can’t know what this game means to us. If you haven’t lived through the pain and humiliation of the John Cooper era, had your dreams crushed and watched talent wasted through your childhood, maybe you can’t understand how deep the hatred of That Team Up North can run.
I have never attended a single class at The Oho State University. But that hasn’t dampened my affection for my beloved Buckeyes. There is not a time I can remember when I wasn’t an Ohio State fan. It may have happened at birth, when I breathed that first breath of sweet Ohio air. It may have happened when I was a boy, when the only thing that broke up the drudgery of school starting in the fall was Ohio State football on Saturdays.
Saturdays in the fall meant football to me, but they meant the last chance for house work, to my parents. Our little house in Fairborn had wood slat siding that required painting every few years. The shed out back needed a new roof. I was an able body, and so I was expected to work, football or no football. But I had a little pocket AM radio, and while I scraped and primed and painted and nailed, I listened to the games, entranced by the pace and emotion of the broadcasters. Sometimes when the game was over, I’d look back and have no recollection of the last 3 rows of shingles.
I learned in those years to respect the stronger Big Ten teams when they came up on the schedule. The Iowas, the Wisconsins could never be trifled with. But I feared Michigan. They were the lurking shadow waiting at the end of every season, and with Cooper at the helm, our odds were never good. To make things worse, my parents had inexplicably become sympathizers for the enemy. And when we lost, which we often did when I was young, it left a lingering bitterness in my mouth that lasted until the following August.
Losing to the skunk weasels represents every childhood disappointment, every broken promise, every gloomy, rainy day. It is the scoop falling off the ice cream cone onto the filthy pavement. Beating them is a surprise trip to DisneyLand on a private jet to ride jet skis on a school day. It means that everything is right with the world for the next 9 months, no matter what happens in any other sport. To the Buckeye Faithful, it is the only game that really matters all year.
The struggle between The Men of the Olentangy and the whores of Ann Arbor is the struggle of good against evil. Winning is a moral imperative. Beating Michigan should be done without remorse. Evil deserves no mercy, and so Buckeye fans want blowouts. We want to walk into their house and humiliate them. We want 1000 yards of offense for the good guys, and negative yards for the enemy. We want domination.
This year carries even more weight. We’re on the nation’s longest winning streak, but still underdogs to the expectations of the national media. We face tough postseason prospects against Michigan State and (probably) a Rose Bowl opponent, and we have to win today to make it there. But none of that matters today. Today, we must beat Michigan, and ensure all remains right with the world.
Join us and the leading lights of the Buckeye Bloggers’ Network as we discuss the ins, outs, what have yous, and the finer points of this particular salvo fired off by the Fighting Buckeyes of the Olentangy in their campaign to spread Urban’s gospel to the filthy unbelievers of the Midwest and beyond.
Yesterday Michael at Eleven Warriors wrote a phenomenal post about why he hates That Team Up North. Our hatred doesn’t go back that far, mainly because we don’t remember FDR as President (YOU’RE OLD, MICHAEL! YOU’RE OLD!) As time continues to flow inexorably towards Armageddon or The Rock or whatever Michael Bay film is closest to the end of time, we realize that we have a pretty solid hatred of TTUN built up ourselves. For damn good reason.
That Time Shawn Springs Slipped
* – The same Brian Griese who spent the entirety of Ohio State’s 60-35 win over Illinois a few weeks ago being paid by ESPN to bash the Buckeyes and all but beg voters to jump Baylor, Stanford, Notre Dame, and Eastern Illinois ahead of them. For “struggling” in a game they scored 60 points and won by 25. Suck it, Brian Griese.
That Time Charles Woodson and David Boston Got Into It
* – The next time we write about how dumb college students are remember this and remember that we know that about which we speak.
When Tom Brady and Then Drew Henson Beat Us
The Time We Lost The Year After We Won The National Championship
The Time They Made Our Whole Conference Look Bad
* – Can you believe that TTUN team went 9-4 and beat Florida in the Citrus Bowl that year? That Florida, quarterbacked by Heisman Trophy winner and Korean Baptist Church heartthrob Tim Tebow and coached by …umm let’s not talk about that now.
The Time They Made Us Almost Feel Sorry For Them
The Time They Beat Luke Fickell
* – Yes, they won the Sugar Bowl but it was over a weak Virginia Tech team. And yes, we lost in the Gator Bowl that year – thanks Gene! Outside of bowl season the only ranked team they beat was Nebraska. At home. Seriously, look at this schedule. It makes ours this year look like LSU’s in 2007.
The Time Brady Hoke Ate A Baby
So there it is. If that’s not reason enough to hate That Team Up North, we don’t know what is.