How we got here

Goalscorer9's picture
September 29, 2013 at 1:10p

It is late December 2006.  Ohio State, Michigan, and Wisconsin sit at 1, 3, and 5 in the AP rankings, respectively.  A large portion of the country is asking for an all big ten national championship in a rematch of the amazing 1 vs. 2 Ohio State Michigan game, as these were “clearly two best teams in the country”.  In a word, the Big Ten is atop the college football world, we were what the SEC is now.  As it turns out, both of these teams get absolutely destroyed in their bowl games.  You can blame Troy’s Heisman hangover, a long layover, Ted Ginn’s injury, too much Hype, a bad matchup against a great coach, whatever.  The fact is we got blown out that night.  I think if you play that game 10 times, the buckeyes would win 6, but that’s not how it works.  The kings had fallen, and they ripped their pants on the way down.  It was an embarrassing performance in two spotlight games for the big ten, and the country took notice.

A year passes.  An Ohio State team, coming off a home loss to Ron Zook’s fighting Illini, somehow finds their way into a national championship game.  At the time, all of us buckeye’s are beyond excited to have a chance at redemption against an SEC foe in the championship game.  In retrospect, it may have been for the worse.  A clearly overmatched Illinois team gets blasted by USC in the rose bowl.  Ohio State gets beat again, this time by LSU in Louisiana, and again the score looks bad.  Was the game closer than it appeared?  Probably.  A dropped TD pass and a few costly penalties made it look worse than it was.  But…that doesn’t matter.  The big ten, former king of the college football world, had lost 4 straight BCS bowls in blowout fashion, and a new king had stepped into their place.

The 2008 season begins.  Cue Michigan collapse.  The murmurs of an overrated Ohio State program ring ever louder.  Ohio State makes a trip out to Southern California in “the” game of the 2008 early season slate.  Ohio State is without star tailback Beanie Wells, and true freshman Terrelle Pryor is getting his first snaps in a meaningful game.  Ohio State get’s owned 38-3, in what was perhaps the most one sided buckeyes loss I have ever witnessed.  Suddenly, the murmurs become statements.  Statements made by everyone with a microphone across the country.  Ohio State is king of the big ten, an overrated, weak conference, that cannot compete with the nation’s elite.  Can you blame them?  What’s the old saying, once is a coincidence, twice is a trend, three times is a pattern?  Florida, LSU, USC.  Ohio State loses their other spotlight game of the season at night in the shoe against PSU, as freshman Pryor has a costly fumble late in the game.  The bucks still manage to get into the fiesta bowl, where they play a hungry Texas team, spurned that they were left out of the NC game, in very controversial fashion.  The bucks come close to making a statement, but an Anderson Russell missed tackle with less than a minute left allows the opportunity to slip away, relatively unnoticed by the nation.  Penn State loses by 2 TD’s in the rose bowl to USC.  The big ten is 0-6 in their last 6 BCS bowls.  The SEC has won all 3 NC’s in that span.  The king is dead, all hail the new king.  This perception not only hurts the big ten in the rankings, but also on the recruiting trail.  The problem snow balls.

The 2009 season rolls around.  Another early season statement game, another loss, this time the Trojans beat us at night in the shoe.  At least this one was close, with a botched 4th & goal TD call perhaps gifting USC the victory, but it is a sad day when Ohio State fans are left feeling “at least this one was close”.  Ohio State again advances to a BCS Bowl.  “Ohio State will get blown out by Oregon!”  “They can’t match up with Oregon’s speed!”  “Once again, the buckeyes will be exposed by the nation’s elite!”  The buckeye’s win in Pasadena.  Nobody outside of Ohio seems to notice.  Iowa also wins the fiesta bowl.

2010.  This year’s spotlight out of conference game is Miami (Fl).  Are they USC good?  No, but they are the #12 team in the country.  Ohio State beats them pretty handily, again, nobody seems to notice.  Ohio State loses one game all year, and finds themselves playing the SEC’s second best team, Arkansas, in the Sugar bowl in Louisiana. “Ohio State will get blown out by Arkansas!”  “They can’t match up with SEC speed!”  “Once again, the buckeyes will be exposed by the nation’s elite!”  The Buckeyes win.  Suddenly, a faint murmur is heard.

2011.  Tat gate.  The murmurs stop.  The team that the bulk of the nation sees as an overrated program that inherits a BCS bowl due to a week conference has been climbing back to the top, and here comes a reason to completely discredit that climb.  “Ohio State has still never beaten an SEC team in a bowl, they’re overrated.”  Ohio State, in disarray, has their worst season in a very, very long time.  With their flagship program out of the picture, the big ten struggles.

2012.  Limbo.  Urban Meyer takes over the buckeyes and leads them to an undefeated season.  Unfortunately, the schedule is weak and sanctions kept the buckeyes out of a bowl game, so the country could conveniently ignore it.  With their flagship program out of the picture, the big ten continues to struggle.  The SEC, meanwhile, has won 7 national champions as dormant contenders, Ohio State, USC, and Texas, continue to sleep, for various reasons.

And here we are. 2013.  The perception is still that we’re overrated and our schedule gives us no opportunity to prove the country otherwise.  Three games: Florida, LSU, and USC, the most recent 4 years ago, have left us in this spot.  Nobody seems to remember that we’ve won our last 2 BCS bowls against teams that the nation thought would “blow us out” because Tat-gate gave them a convenient reason to forget.  All we can do is wait and hope we get an opportunity to prove ourselves once again.

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DefendYoungstown's picture

I mean this as a compliment, no sarcasm at all. Very well written.  Wanted to give a visual thumbs up.

What we can't do in the air we'll do on the ground.

Hovenaut's picture

Nice post GS.

If college football has taught me anything, the sport is cyclical. It may be ever changing, but the power teams ebb and flow with some regularity.

It wasn't so long ago that USC and Texas were atop the world. Those programs are in transition, or soon will be.

Alabama was struggling to find some post-Gene Stallings stability. Ditto for post-Steve Spurrier Florida.

LSU clicked under Saban, who rode his momentum to the NFL before realizing he was just a great college coach, not a good professional one.

The financing, er, continuation of swag at the U has faltered in the 21st century.

Through it all, dating back to the mid-90's even, Ohio State has stayed strong (save a couple of bad seasons).

Our Buckeyes are on the rise again, fully eligible for the post season under a coach who has been there.

For all the love given to select programs in the south and out west, Ohio State is still in the mix.

Let them hate, the Buckeyes aren't going away.

Hoody Wayes's picture

Well-condensed and nicely written!
If you fit in the Urban Meyer storyline, including his expert campaigning on behalf of his Gators that had to help them get in over scUM, his preparation for our demolition, Tim Tebow, the Ole Miss loss en route to his second MNC, his loss in the SEC CG to Saban, his 24-hour retirement, his miserable last year in Gainesville and - particularly - his year-long research sabbatical at ESPN, I believe we will have a very compelling story to read, some day.

buckeyedude's picture

Strangely, the loss that sticks out in my head the most is the 2006 beat down vs. Florida. I hate to admit it, and I hope this doesn't sound overly dramatic, but that loss was traumatic for me as a fan of the B1G. For the first time I had to admit maybe there was something to this "SEC speed" thing.
 I don't remember a lot, nor do I want to, about the loss to LSU and USC.
But the loss to Florida was an epiphany for me and I'm sure many other B1G fans, not just Buckeye fans.
I still think having Urban Meyer as coach helps the entire conference, whether or not the second tier schools like Purdue, Minnesota, Illinois improve or not. But Ohio State is going to have to slay that dragon if the conference wants to get the monkey off it's back(to use to overused cliches).



Goalscorer9's picture

that one was probably the biggest.  But if we come back and win the NC the next year, and follow up with a win at USC the next year, the Florida game would have probably been forgiven.

extemporary08's picture

I was musing last night at how satisfying it was yesterday that our beloved Buckeyes win, LSU got their hearts ripped out, and USC got blown out...incredibly satisfying day yesterday...

Toilrt Paper's picture

And the Browns pound the Bengals today, being lead by a St. Ignatius grad and are in 1st place in their Division. And the Indians win their 10th game in a row game today, the first time in team history a team has finished the season on a 10 game win streak and will play the Wild Card game in Cleveland. It's been said almost 40,000 tickets are sold for that game at this time.

ATXbucknut's picture

This is good perspective.

WildBear Buckeye's picture

I don't remember anything about the 2006 Florida team - I had no reason to pay attention to them and I didn't. OSU spent the season as wire-to-wire #1 and I was kinda preoccupied with that. Does anyone remember if that team seemed as vulnerable as this team seems (sorry, but I'm saying what many of us are thinking) during the season? Capable of great things, but susceptible to lengthy spells of 3-and-outs and giving up yardage to opponents in large chunks. I remember the 2008 and 2009 Florida teams were every bit the juggernaut Bama is today. And I really hope Meyer can get OSU to that level in a year or two. But not there yet.

Toilrt Paper's picture

I pity the team Ohio State plays in the Rose Bowl if Oregon and an SEC team plays in the BCS Title game. 25-0, no BCS Title Game and only one Bowl Game in the past 2 seasons.

Wilkins78's picture

This is what I was thinking.  If this happens, my guess is there is no going conservative/slowing the game down in the Rose Bowl and we'll really see some points.

UrbanCulture's picture

Man that swing after the Robiskie drop was very depressing. Could have been 17-3 and ended up being 10-10 right? Gah..

WildBear Buckeye's picture

Remember that interception Wisconsin ALMOST had the play before the touchdown at the end of the first half? They outscored OSU in the second half, so what might have been ...
This is a fools errand. Games are 4 quarters long. It's a long time. If your defense can't get your opponent's offense off the field for an entire quarter and time seems to fly by in a flash (just as an example), the problem wasn't that dropped pass or missed interception. It was the fact that your defense couldn't get the opposing offense off the field.

UrbanCulture's picture

I'm just saying the score swing was brutal not that it would won the game.

FitzBuck's picture

I'm bookmarking this post for my SEC based co workers.  Well done sir.  

Fitzbuck | Toledo - Ohio's right armpit | "A troll by any other name is still a troll".

FitzBuck's picture

One thing I think if we play that first NC game against Florida 10x we lose 9-10 of them.  Sad to say our o line and d line were outmatched.  There was a ton of talent on that team (look at the talent taken in the draft after that game). Regardless of a healthy Ginn, Troy couldn't get 2 secs and leak had all day.  

Fitzbuck | Toledo - Ohio's right armpit | "A troll by any other name is still a troll".

Goalscorer9's picture

You very well could be right.  We'll never know, they won the only one that mattered haha

I would add though, if we get off to a better start, that's a totally different game.  Our run game was rendered useless once we got in a hole allowing their d linemen to put their ears back.  We weren't able to hit ginn on little screens and quick hitches, to slow down the rush, because he was out.

Wilkins78's picture

Not only that, but the Florida D didn't have to account for Ginn, so their safeties could cheat up a bit more.

OSU_ALUM_05's picture

The Buckeyes are in an interesting spot in history here.  No one else in the B1G is ready to compete with the big boys of college football on the national stage.  Heck, I'm not even sure we're quite there yet.  However, we're the only team from the B1G anywhere close.  Forget Oregon.  Forget Stanford.  Forget Clemson.  Forget Florida State.  Forget Louisville.  Forget all that noise.  We won't get any respect unless we beat the SEC champion in a national championship game.   I just hope we get a shot. 

Yeti's have feelings too.

Jonnferrell's picture

Excellent post.  That is how we got here, that's for sure.  The road back is laid out.  Just win.

"I miss Brady Hoke."