Don't Step In It

By Jeff Beck on August 22, 2012 at 6:00p

The schedule. 

Treading RecklesslyQuite literally "stepping in it."

Every college fan scours it months (sometimes years) in advance. 

In the days leading up to that first weekend, everyone is undefeated. The optimism a clean slate generates causes fans to split upcoming games into two categories: 1. Definite win and 2. Winnable.

Fans aren’t the only ones taking part in this behavior. Players (and yes even coaches) are doing the same. While most in the program would never admit it outright, certain games are bucketed in the win column long before they’re played.

Sometimes that strategy fails to produce the best outcome.

To avoid less than the best outcomes against opponents who appear weaker in comparison, a team must take care of business; or as we like to call it here at 11W: a team must step around it, not in it.

What is “it” you might ask? “It” is that terrible, no good pile of upset that can leave a smell lingering long after the initial “stepping-in”. Don’t step in it; step around it.

UCF (9/8) 

A big heaping pile of UCFNot to be stepped in.

What stepping in it looks like: Fresh off of Urban Meyer’s first win in Columbus (a blowout of Miami of Ohio), the Buckeyes come in overconfident against a not-so-bad University of Central Florida team. 

A game removed from taking on the University of Akron, UCF’s travel time to Columbus is a fraction of what it would have been. The Knights look fresh after spending the week in Ohio (who wouldn’t?).

Ohio State scores early, but then unfamiliarity with the offense coupled with looking ahead to Cal allows UCF’s 2011 conference leading scoring defense to create turnovers. 

Ohio State’s D does everything they can, but working with a short field allows UCF to put points on the board. The Knights win 24-21 and Urban Meyer’s honeymoon is officially drowned by the tears of 106,000 Buckeye fans.

Catch up on everything you need to know ahead of the season kickoff.

What stepping around it looks like: The Buckeyes come back in their second week and simply take care of business. 

John Simon and company overwhelm sophomore starting QB Blake Bortles and shut down University of Miami (Florida) running back transfer Storm Johnson, who many Knight fans are high on.

After one week of executing plays against a defense not clad in scarlet and gray, the offense starts clicking en route to a 42-7 blowout. Columbus rejoices and Woody Hayes looks down from above and whispers the word “sublime” before galloping away on a horse with Lloyd Carr’s face.

@Indiana (10/13) night game

What stepping in it looks like: After opening the Big Ten season against two conference slobber-knockers in Michigan State and Nebraska, the Buckeyes head to Memorial Stadium looking for a much easier matchup.

Unfortunately for OSU, the good people of Bloomington show up in hordes to root for the Hoosiers in their first primetime game against a ranked opponent in 2012. The atmosphere is raucous.

Head Coach Kevin Wilson is looking for a statement game after going 1-11 last season, and he’s had Oct. 13 circled on the schedule since the day Urban Meyer was hired.

The former Oklahoma offensive coordinator calls a flawless game, and leans heavily on returning starters, including seven of Indiana’s top nine receivers as well as a defense that returns all four linemen and 3/4ths of last year’s secondary.

In a loss, Ohio State finally finds out what a Hoosier is. The answer is equal parts depressing and terrifying.

What stepping around it looks like: Ohio State comes in battle-tested after facing two of the toughest opponents on their schedule. 

With depth at a number of key positions, the Buckeyes are able to wear down the Hoosiers who are young and thin at nearly every position (they return only eight seniors, tied for the fewest in the nation). 

Urban Meyer takes affront to Wilson circling the matchup as a statement opportunity and decides this will be the Buckeyes' 100 point game

OSU scores 15 touchdowns and leaves Bloomington with 105 points and Indiana’s soul.

Purdue (10/20)

What stepping in it looks like:  I’ll just leave these here.





What stepping around it looks like: The Buckeyes realize they don’t have to play Purdue in the house of horrors that is Ross-Ade Stadium. Bolstered by the knowledge they’ll be playing the Boilermakers instead of the All-Star team that shows up every other year in West Lafayette, they go to work.

The high-octane aerial attack is too much for Purdue’s D, which was ranked 81st against the pass a year ago.

With no one on the scout team who can mimic Braxton Miller's abilities in practice, the defense appears unready for his athleticism. The lack of adequate preparation causes Purdue’s defensive backs to tackle a shifty number five far too often. Boilermaker defensive tackle Kawann Short plays like the stud he is (17 tackles for loss including 6.5 sacks in 2011) but it’s not enough.

In the waning seconds of a 35-3 game Meyer subs Miller back in to throw a TD pass, atoning for the sins of a year ago. As Danny Hope approaches Meyer to let him know the final pass was unsportsmanlike, Meyer throws Hope through Purdue’s giant drum and walks calmly off the field muttering something sounding vaguely like “boiler-up”.

There are certainly matchups on a team’s schedule that seem like an assured “W’. Fans know it, coaches know it, and even players on both sides (strong and weak) know it.

If the more talented team shows up to play, they’ll be victorious 99.9% of the time. However, if that team lifts their head, even for a moment, to eye something further down the path, they’re liable to step in something right in front of them.

Keep your head down; step around it.


Comments Show All Comments

Arizona_Buckeye's picture

I love post game Urban!!! Can't wait to see what he does to baby Bret in Wisconsin after the game!

The best thing about Pastafarianism? It is not only acceptable, but advisable, to be heavily sauced

CowCat's picture

As Danny Hope approaches Meyer to let him know the final pass was unsportsmanlike, Meyer throws Hope through Purdue’s giant drum and walks calmly off the field muttering something sounding vaguely like “boiler-up”.


"We get paid to score touchdowns, not kick field goals"
-- Urban Meyer

Ahh Saturday's picture

Buckeyes will not lose to Purdue or Indiana.  The UCF scenario, however, sounds frighteningly plausible.

CGroverL's picture

UCF is a good team. Since moving to Central Florida from Ohio, UCF football hasn't had tons to cheer about. Beating Georgia in a bowl game was just 2 years ago. UCF is solid, but they will not beat our beloved Bucks. It wouldn't surprise me to see a close score, though.

"I hope they're last in everything". One of Meyer's comments when speaking of TTUN after being hired at Ohio State.



ShowThemOhiosHere's picture

UCF game could be as close as 2 TDs.  It may be kind of "WTF" to fans who don't realize that UCF isn't that bad.  We should tear Indiana apart (not sure about 105 points, lmao), and Purdue - may the lord have mercy on their souls.

Class of 2010.

toledobuckeyefanjim's picture

UCF will give OSU a good game but the Buckeyes win by 7. UFM won't let a letdown happen.

Boom777's picture

I wouldn't be surprised if UCF lays an egg. Its a 800 + mile trip in a stadium that has only two stadiums south of the Mason Dixon to compare in size ( bama and tenn). Hope its a good game.

Wherever you are, there you be!

buckeye76BHop's picture

UCF may be the only game I'm really concerned about in the first 4 games.  Them or Cal...I just don't see UAB or Miami OH being much trouble.  Thanks for the memories of Purdue lovelies.  Should have thrown in Illinois at home like:  "Here you go, Illini. Have a Rose Bowl trip. It's on us,"by Ramzy himself lol ;-) Those both were difficult to watch...but this....will never get old.

"There's nothing that cleanses your soul like getting the hell kicked out of you."

"I love football. I think it is most wonderful game in world and I despise to lose."

Woody Hayes 1913 - 1987 

johnblairgobucks's picture

OSU will need to play well to beat Cal.

sloopy88's picture

As a Miami alum, I am hoping for the Miami game to be a respectable blowout, not quite as close as the 2005 game.  MU hasn't been consistently good (MAC standards) for awhile, but I hope they can get it together enough to make it a game, for many of the reasons listed above... giant blowouts are fun but I'd rather have the Bucks awake for UCF, etc.

cinserious's picture

Urban Meyer's "boiler up" comment had me WEAK!!!!! I really don't know why you threw in the Indiana game though. IU's offense is going up against Simon, Hankins, Roby, shazier,D-line, LBs, secondary, et all. Are you serious? Lets get back to reality here.

One day I will valiantly become a political prisoner of 11W jail.

DetroitBuckeye's picture

I disagree with you on some of your choices for the upset games, switch Cal with Ucf for the non conference.  Also switch Illinois with Indiana and you got it right, I don't think any of these will happen but definitely the most likely.

cplunk's picture

Cal might be a bigger name, but UCF is a better team than Cal. It's actually not even close.

DetroitBuckeye's picture

Not true at all, the only reason ucf is seen as a better team than cal is because of what ucf did two years ago not last year.  A team that loses to fiu is not impressive.  In fact, Uab beat this team last year.  On the other side of the coin, cal is a team that beat utah and gave Washington and Stanford fits.

cplunk's picture

Cal is also replacing both starting defensive ends, both starting safeties, and both starting inner linebackers, as well as their all-Pac 12 left tackle. They have one WR; the other remaining WRs and TEs have 4 total career catches among them.
Their defense is basically a shell of last year, and they were a middle-of-the-road team last year. 
This Cal team is not last year's Cal team. 

DetroitBuckeye's picture

Agreed, I personally don't think that either upset will happen this year.  To say that a cal team that admittedly isn't returning hardly anybody on defense, although they are returning quite a few on offense doesn't have a better chance than ucf is disingenious.  Ucf is a team that should have a ton of distractions to deal with, plus it is reasonable to think that cal's offense might take a couple steps forward this year.

Jeff Beck's picture

The idea wasn't to list mere upsets, but rather, games fans and even players would circle as already won. The scenarios were humorous and outlandish (possibly with the exception of UCF)  because the thought of them actually happening is equally outlandish. But that's the point. Look past an Indiana or Purdue and they might end up winning the game. I don't think any players or fans are "looking past" Cal or Illinois. But I agree with you, Illinois is a game that scares me for some reason.

Wil's picture

Anybody have details on what happened with Adam Bellamy and if it is likely that he will ever be back?

Crimson's picture

I think he has some personal problems, so he needs to get that sorted out and is welcome back when it happens.  They had a fun little discussion (it's completely not disrespectful :)) here:

JJB's picture

Columbus rejoices and Woody Hayes looks down from above and whispers the word “sublime” before galloping away on a horse with Lloyd Carr’s face.

...whilst a host of heavenly angels sing, and clarion trumpets call...

cronimi's picture

Sometimes that strategy fails to produce the best outcome.

While a decent example, you really should have used this one. I think that may be the ultimate example of stepping in it.
EDIT: My bad. Didn't see the reference to this game a couple paragraphs later.