I can feel it coming, like a prelude to a particularly stinky fart. It's been building all season, this impending sense of doom that the 2013 Ohio State Buckeyes are destined to drop a game.
Blasphemy, right? How dare I imply that a team that's allowed 24 passing plays of 30 yards or more this season might be victimized late in games by long bombs over their secondary? How could I possibly insinuate that a team allowing opponents to convert red zone opportunities into touchdowns almost 60% of the time might not be able to get crucial stops at the end of games? Why is it even relevant that Ohio State is currently 80th in the country in pass defense, allowing over 240 yards a game?
Notice how a lot of that has to do with passing defense? Good thing in the coming weeks they only have to play one of the best young QBs in the game, the 9th ranked passing offense in the country, and a highly erratic dude who still somehow managed to pass for over 500 yards last week somehow.
Maybe it won't happen. Maybe the team shifts just right in their metaphorical chairs and the fart never comes. But if it does and Ohio State somehow drops a game, SPITTING IN THE FACE OF ALL THAT ABRAHAM LINCOLN DID TO SAVE THIS COUNTRY, I want you to be prepared. Which is why this week I've made a disaster readiness checklist of sorts to help get you through potential tough times. Read on, and pray you don't have to take any of these drastic measures anytime soon.
Step 1: Ignore your baser instincts
The Buckeyes have just lost a game, and even worse, they lost to a team they should've (in your eyes) beaten. Jaw clenched in rage, you immediately storm over to your computer to memorialize your rage for all eternity on the internet. One thought is racing through your head. It is a thought born from semi-coherent reasoning and kinda sorta unbiased opinion, but right now you're in all caps mode and the world needs to hear that LUKE FICKELL NEEDS TO BE FIRED RIGHT NNNOOOOOOOWWWWWWWW!!!
Except: you don't want that.
Yeah I do, dude. He sucks. I hate him and want him fired.
Okay, maybe you do want that, but the point is that you don't really want that. Firing coaches in the middle of the season when the team isn't performing at a Longhorns level of badness is generally a poor decision, and really not one you want to see your head coach make because of public outcry. That implies that there is something way, way more problematic in a football program than a crappy performance from a particular unit on the team.
Plus, it's week 8. At this point it's pretty much ride or die with who we've got; you can compile an enemies list after the end of the season, but right now it isn't super helpful.
Step 2: Steel thyself
One thing you might want to remind yourself is that most football fans aren't in the same position as you are, being an Ohio State fan, and have very little sympathy for your team losing one game versus their team's six. This is also referred to as "jealousy," and it can be pretty funny as long as you don't take it too seriously.
Of course, it's not just fans that will get on your case; I promise you that at least three national sportswriters already have an "OBVIOUSLY Ohio State was overrated" piece planned out in their heads in the event that the Buckeyes screw it up. It'll be a rushjob and poorly worded with a ton of one sentence paragraphs, but the comment section will probably approach five thousand posts as Alabama fans gleefully run their marginally better schedule in your face.
It will all suck, but the last thing you want to do it engage with any of it. Winning is the only remedy to an infection of schadenfreude. Oh, and speaking of which...
Step 3: Take joy on the misery of others
Let's say Ohio State loses to Penn State this weekend. Or maybe against Purdue after a deadly MRSA/flesh eating virus/spontaneous combustion combo ravages the team. Or Michigan. Whoever.
The prudently paranoid football fan will have several articles in his or her bookmarks, ready to soothe a weary soul. I'm partial to basically any post from MGoBlog after a loss to Ohio State, but hyperbolic message board posts from Rivals.com do the trick nicely as well. Just remember that college football is a shared experience, and in a way, your temporary misery is really just a way to help others in the same situation. It's the circle of life, Simba.
Step 4: Let Go
The hardest step. One of the things you need to do after a loss is to take stock in what you have as an Ohio State fan, and look at the long path of history that has afforded your ability to be so mad after one measly loss.
Know this: Ohio State has had FOUR losing seasons in the last sixty years. The current college football top dog, Alabama, has had twice that in the same time frame. And hell, as long as we're comparing ourselves to the Tide, remember how angry some of us were that we had to vacate our wins from the 2010 season? Yeah, Bama has had to do that four times since 1993 (and have been placed under a bowl ban three times in that same timespan).
The best part about letting go is that you gain perspective, that difficult, smug quality that allows you to be the old man of your friends, arms crossed and eyes rolling as you sigh at their angry monkeyshines. BECOME THAT OLD MAN.
I don't think that Ohio State will lose to Penn State tomorrow. A night game plus a healthy Braxton plus El Guapo plus alternate unis plus Pick Six U plus whatever else probably spells a win for the Buckeyes.
But sooner or later at some point they are going to lose a game. It will be stupid, the team will play like crap, and it will in all likelihood come against a team that Ohio State should have beaten. There have been six perfect seasons in nearly 125 years of Ohio State football. The odds of you not having to deal with internalized rage are somewhat low.
That's okay. Just because a team isn't perfect doesn't mean that it isn't a hell of a lot of fun to watch, and it doesn't discount their accomplishments. Good and bad can still coalesce into a hearty stew of greatness, and ultimately the only thing that determines how much enjoyment that you get from watching Ohio State football is yourself.