I cannot do this alone. I need all of you to be my support group today, because although I've been doing ok for five weeks, today I'm a nervous wreck.
Today is the day our beloved Buckeyes are taking on an SEC team in a bowl game for the 10th time. You would think the law of averages would have already provided us ONE stinkin' win in the first nine tries. True, some of those Buckeye teams weren't very good. Four of those teams had at least four losses, while only the 2000 Gamecocks had as many as four. None of those nine came against a team with more losses than Ohio State at the end of the season and the Buckeyes had more losses in each instance except three times, when the teams had the same number of losses (not that anyone ever talks about that). All but one of those nine losses came in the SEC's back yard, with the other coming in the desert on a night when I'd rather pretend everything that happened after the opening kickoff didn't happen at all. But the law of averages has treated us like The Sisters treated Andy Dufresne in The Shawshank Redemption. But I digress.
It's not that I'm not optimistic about tonight's game. I think this is the best matchup we've had against the SEC in awhile. I think we have a pretty talented offensive group that has proven it can win games in a variety of ways - power running, big plays, dink-and-dunk, TP scrambling every other down, you name it. I like our defense, even though they occasionally make my aorta want to explode with their lack of a killer finish by the D line on third down (the last Iowa series is the first time I can remember a clutch sack all year). Devon Torrence made me throw up in my mouth a little in the first half against Penn State, but aside from that they've been pretty good. If I had to put a percentage on it, I'd say tonight's game is pretty close to 50/50, with the team committing the fewest turnovers being the likely winner.
So what exactly has me wanting to chug Maalox? It's this damn national perception thing, I think. It's just the intense NEED to have ESPN and the rest of the media sheep SHUT THE HELL UP about Ohio State's SEC bowl record, the Big Ten's struggles and above all, the entire stupid lack-of-speed argument. Just once, I want to watch Mark May choke on his tongue, talking about how Ohio State came out and took care of business and that our opponents couldn't match up against US. I guess I'm just craving an end to the complete lack of respect that we and our conference have sustained for the last...I don't know, 8-10 years or so. Some of it is no doubt deserved (Leaders and Legends, anyone?), but a lot of it is unjust and I'm filled with butterflies just thinking about how tonight could be the night we turn it around. But we said that back in 2007 before the LSU game, too.
There's another thing, too. Remember Neutron Man, the dancing fat guy who would shake it when the OSU Marching Band played "Neutron Dance" in the Horseshoe? He's no longer with us. Neutron Man died without having seen his beloved Buckeyes defeat an SEC team in a bowl game. I'm 44 years old and I do not want to be like Neutron Man.
I know that these are my own personal neuroses and that it's only a f#$%ing football game. I know I shouldn't allow it to affect me like this and that I shouldn't care what ESPN or anyone else thinks. I don't know if any of my fellow Buckeye fans out there are feeling quite as nuts or as nervous about the whole thing as I am. But, if you're out there, I need your support. We're all in this together. Aren't we? Or am I alone in this anxiety-filled purgatory?
What say you?
Thanks for listening.