BOOOOOOMMMMMM!!! (AP Photo/Robin Scholz)
Being a Buckeye fan is not always a peanut butter ball wrapped in chocolate, by now everyone of us should know this. We aren’t Buckeye fans to be front running bandwagoneers that suddenly have an semi empty stadium when the team doesn’t play well (like USC this year). But one thing that is so very much to prevalent among the throngs of scarlet and gray maniacs, honestly affecting the majority of them in the same way – and that is they tend to overreact to things. I have spent the past few days reading as many blogs as possible and talking about the game with other Buckeyes and it never ceases to amaze me that people can be so freaked out about a 5-0 team that is ranked #2 in the country.
So easy everyone, no need to run outside to look if the sky is falling, while binge drinking, with razor blades on your wrists, looking to proposition that girl you never thought you would get with, before you throw yourself off a cliff because the world must be ending. The season is still going just fine, we are undefeated and let’s not look past the brutally honest fact of ….we won the game. Was it pretty? No. Was it as any one of us expected? No. Does it mean that the play calling is not going to frustrate us? No. But get over it everyone – it was a tight conference opener against a team that traditional plays our toughest teams the toughest. Trust me – it wasn’t like it was a great game for anyone to watch. But sometimes that is the case on a windy afternoon in Champaign. What is unbelievable to me is that most of the time there is this much upheaval in the Buckeye Nation it comes after a loss – but we won. People were comparing this to Purdue Harbor, but we won this game by double digits, on the road.
Think about these points:
1) When you are ranked #2 – the target is already on you for all the teams on your schedule. All of them dream about knocking off the top dog. Illinois came out with a lot of fire to be sure, both the team and fans. This was evident right from the get go after we went three and out and the defense lineman high stepped off the field, and then when the offense hit the halfback pass to the Scheelhasse (who is going to be good) – that team pulled out all the stops right away. But eventually the dream came to an end and between the talent level off the Buckeyes and the overall undisciplined nature of the Zookers ending up in penalties – the better team prevailed. Regardless of weather or injury.
2) Speaking of injuries. Yes – of course losing Moeller for the year is about at the top of suck-o-meter. On so many levels this hurts – first of all for him, to come back from the head injury and become such a physical presence and emotional leader only to be put out for another season? More proof that at times life does not seem fair. Hopefully the NCAA does the right thing and gives him another year of eligibility. For our defense we lose a nasty hitter and one of the people who set the tone of the defense emotionally. Not to mention it is another blow to an already beat up secondary that wasn’t all that deep to begin with. Bryant filled in well for Moeller with a lot of energy and made plays. But he doesn’t have very much game experience. Nate Oliver is back this week from a hamstring so there is also the possibility to move Hines back to Star and Oliver to safety.
Then there was Pryor. The earth stopped moving in the scarlet and gray universe when TP stayed down after snagging a cleat on the field turf and going down somewhat hard. He was helped off the field and then went into the locker room. I have to admit my mind raced at what it was – he had literally been the offense up to that point breaking off Heisman worthy runs of 60 yards and 50 yards. Instead of watching Terrelle gallop all over the field at will we got to watch Bauserman come in and run something like 6 plays for 5 yards or whatever. Not to mention he did his trademark get flushed scramble to the sidelines and throw to no one in particular interception. TP eventually made the hero’s return to the huddle but Tressel buttoned it up and let Boom and the line do virtually all the lifting from there on out (3 passes?). It is hard to say how hurt TP is but I look at it as this – it is a quad strain which means he probably won’t be making 60 yard runs frequently for the next month. Get used to it. But that doesn’t mean he can’t get 8 yards when he has to, not to mention haven’t we all been saying that he is a better passer this year?
3) As for Tressel’s play calling – REALLY? The Vest has been our coach for a decade. On a windy day, with a quarterback playing with an injured leg, with a defense that after giving up an early touchdown had clamped down on the Illini – would you ever think for a moment he would air it out and take unnecessary chances? Come on. Wake up. And you want to know what else?
It worked. We won.
Seriously, I had absolutely no issue with it at the time. The only time that I can remember that I really think Tressel should have called a pass being when TP was obviously wanting to pass in the huddle. He is a competitor and I think he has earned the right to call his number on third and long would have been nice to see the Vest let him have a shot at it. But whatever – look at it this way too – eventually the line wore down the Illini defense and Boom got going. His nifty little hurdle kept the clock killing drive going and he iced it with a touchdown. There have only been maybe 2-3 games in 10 years where I really think Tressel’s play calling steered us wrong – this was not one of them.
Besides – at Ohio State we run the ball.
4) The final point is that all great teams have obstacles to overcome during the season which help to shape them into champions. If you look at the past four years of BCS Champions – all of them had close conference games against seemingly lesser teams. But it wasn’t the games themselves that defined where the team ended up but what happened at the end of the season that matters.
10/3/2009 – Alabama gets tested on the road against unranked Kentucky but wins 38-20. Wins BCS against Texas 37-21.
9/27/2008 – Florida loses to Ole Miss on the road 31-30 prompting Teboner’s epic speech. Wins BCS against Sooners 24-14.
9/22/2007 – LSU loses to Kentucky on the road 43-37 and Dorsey gets injured. We all know how this ended
9/16/2006 – Florida ekes out road wins against Vols (21-20) and Vanderbilt (25-19). We all know how this ended.
Sometimes it takes a close call to wake up a sleeping giant. I am not saying that the Buckeyes are going to win the NC. But I am not going to stop thinking they can’t. Remember 2002? How easy was it to doubt that team with moments like Holy Buckeye?
So buck up campers – Hoosiers come to the Shoe this week and then we head to Camp Randall. Now is not the time for the maniacal Buckeye Nation to lose the fever.