A Rose Bowl win is in our future…..believe it.
It has been too long since my last blog and much has transpired. A visit back to Cbus to commune with the family for a week (ten days actually) and college football bowl season will do that. Throw in the fact that we are only three days away from the Rose Bowl game, the Buckeyes have already been through their first two practices in Socal, media day, Disneyland, and so forth – it is hard to know where exactly to start.
Going back to Cbus (Marysville actually) to visit the family over the holidays is always an adventure to be sure. Being as I live on the west coast (great for the Rose Bowl BTW) my wife and I split the holidays of Thanksgiving and Christmas between the families – one with her family in Los Angeles, one with mine in central Ohio. For the most part this setup works really well and provides me with the ability to spent time with my family when they all get together; however, it is dramatically different than when we spend time with her family in LA. For example – Ohio involves two full days of travel cross country and regardless of it being Thanksgiving or Christmas it seems as though that is – 1. An expensive time to travel and 2. Very crowded. Once in Buckeye-land it seems as though we spend about half of the time back in a car riding around the state to visit grandmas, aunts, uncles, cousins at family gatherings all while it is basically crappy weather (21 freaking degrees – really?) and eating without exercising for basically a solid week. I love my family incredibly, miss them something awful all year long but this is not an easy outing by any means. This year was even a little more frenetic of a pace with a nephew and niece playing JV and junior high hoops respectively at North Baltimore so that meant a little more car time to some of northwest Ohio’s finest gyms of McComb, Hardin Northern, and a home stand at the Tigers. Also – there was the outing with old high school friends to Benny’s Pizza which basically ended up with several unnecessary Yeager shots and me drunk as hell and making my wife (from California) drive me and two drunk friends home on the one night it snowed (not a good way to please a woman FYI). Needless to say I can offer the below tidbits of my travels there and back again to the Buckeye motherland:
1) I love my family – mom, dad, brother’s family, sister’s family – all of them more than I could ever describe and it is hard to be so far away. But damn Ohio is cold in the winter. Snowbird I am.
2) Junior high girls basketball is part basketball, part full court sprints, part wrestling for the ball with very little scoring and an incredibly sore bleacher ass for the fans.
3) When going out with high school buddies to “reminisce” – always, always, always – leave your significant other at home. Find another way home or sleep on the floor of a friend. Trust me – everyone will be happier for it.
4) There come a point in one’s life where shots are no longer a good thing – I am there.
5) I still love being back home for the holidays – nothing like Christmas dinner at Mama’s with turkey, mixed vegetable casserole and homemade cookies.
I guess the second most incredible thing that has transpired since my last blog has been the bomb that Urban Meyer quit, then un-quit but indefinitely absent as the Florida Gators coach. In the strangest moments since Tiger Woods it was a story that took everyone by surprise as Meyer stated health concerns – most likely related to the chest pains and trip to the emergency room after the SEC title game. I actually was torn – glad to see him put family first and want the Ohio guy to be okay after all but he did provide a nice SEC nemesis to dislike. In some ways I felt cheated that the Buckeyes never got the chance to deal him a first rate payback for Glendale. I thought about what it would mean for Florida to lose Meyer and Tebow of Nazareth all in one year. Then in true choad-like fashion he goes to a practice and then comes back but on indefinite leave with his O coordinator to steer the boat for who knows how long. Whatever. I am sure that it would be so awesome to berecruit and instead of playing for a two time BCS championship winning coach you are playing for a guy who was last a head coach at the high school level, but Meyer may come back anytime. Regardless – since it is Meyer’s last game of sorts and Saint Tebow is going to have to remove the cloak of Florida for the last time I think that the Gators are going to deal a serious beat down on the Bearcats. As much as I hate to say it – fine by me. I normally would pull for any Ohio team but all this yapping about how Cinci is now Ohio’s #1 team has grown quite bothersome. A nice shut the hell up score will take care of that for sure.
Finally there are the Buckeyes, who since Christmas Day have been in southern California basically doing everything that the teams do when they come out to the Rose Bowl – practicing, taking in Disneyland, staying on the Avenue of the Stars, filling up at the Beef Bowl at Lawry’s in Beverly Hills, etc. And of course there was media day. A no show at the Lawry’s because he didn’t have the right attire, and the dropper of the biggest bombs on media day was Pryor when he came out and said that he had been playing the last part of the season with a partially torn PCL in his knee that he injured against New Mexico State and the fact that he expects Oregon to bring heat against him because he has been rattled in the past but that he is looking forward to the pressure because he has “grown up” in the offense. First on the injury – it is crazy that what was told before was that it was a pulled hamstring, tweaked ankle and turf toe – no wonder he did not move as well in the later games. The good news is that from what I have read online is that minor PCL injuries heal with time so hopefully the 30+ days off have helped to heal TP as he said that when he is playing he doesn’t even think about it. Some have commented as to why he would bring it up now as it might tilt the strategy in Oregon’s favor but I don’t buy into that – if Tressel has his way Pryor will do more handing off to the running backs and let the power running game do the work. Similarly about the “ready for heat” comments – he will only face heat if the game plan puts us in that situation, so the comments don’t bother me that much – plus he kinda has to say that, he can’t say “yes they may pressure me and I am scared shitless”. What I do really like is for the most part I have not heard about any off field issues with the team (curfew, etc.), no real bulletin board material from anyone else, and most of all – not one In and Out Burger story.
Here are some basic feelings about the matchup:
Oregon (The Good) – as mentioned above the two losses that Oregon has this year – Boise State and Stanford – both used the power running attack to beat them. Considering this is exactly the recipe that was used by the Buckeyes to clear out the final four games with an average of 200 yards rushing. Finally a bowl team with that is seemingly available to exploit with the Tressel-ball strategy. Also good that while Oregon may have a statistically prolific offense with Masoli, James, Blount but the stats have not come up against anything like the Buckeye defense which has only allows about 90 yards on the ground on average. If the defense can flex its’ muscles and keep the Duck offense off the field, and the Buckeye O line can mash off tackle plays at their smallish defensive front we should be good. Also – based up on the media we are huge underdogs coming into this with most “experts” thinking we will again be exposed – hopefully this provides enough of a reason for the Buckeyes to come in with that chip on their shoulder swagger. If that isn’t enough it seems as though the Duck fan base shares the over confidence as well as witnessed by these lame videos here and here.
Oregon (The Bad) – bottom line, if they can shake loose against our defense with Masoli running the spread option with James and Blount the we are in trouble. And make no mistake this offense is dangerous and can put up a lot of points in a hurry. Definitely the best offense we have seen all season, so the Bullets have to be ready. If Oregon can move the ball consistently then more of the outcome depends on Pryor (and his arm) because off tackle plays, no matter how successful are no way to play catch up. If that happens we will get to see if the knee injury is fully healed and also if Pryor truly has grown up enough in the offense to have one of those springboard type games.
Only two more days and I get to go and see firsthand the outcome. My inaugural Rose Bowl experience and I honestly have a great feeling about it. Cannot wait.
Here is to ringing in the new year with a Rose Bowl WIN and Deliverance is ours! GO BUCKS!