Well, it's the end of the year and we'd lose our publishing street cred if we didn't at least attempt to put together a list of top moments from 2007. We've given this a lot of thought, but no doubt you'll disagree with some points. That's what the comments are for, yo.
On to the goods.. but take a minute to appreciate all of the great moments of 2007.
11. Oden Taken #1 in the NBA Draft
On June 28th, the Portland Trailblazers took the Buckeye center with the first overall pick in the NBA draft and the start of the Rip City Crush began.
Although Buckeye fans would have loved for him to have stuck around for another year, Oden became the first Buckeye ever taken at #1 and was part of the group to put Ohio State basketball back on the map for the first time in four decades.
Joining Oden as first round selections were Mike Conley Jr (#4) and Daequan Cook (#21) -- easily the highest number of Buckeyes taken in the first round of a draft that didn't involve a pigskin.
Granted, Oden's rookie season hasn't exactly gone as planned, but look for the old fart to drop some of those pounds he has recently put on and get back to doing what he does best next season -- dominate the glass.
10. The Return of Gordon Gee
This may seem like an odd choice, but when news broke in early July that E. Gordon Gee was returning you just had to break out into a little dance.
The school was having makeup sex with the guy that let Andy Geiger go off like a kid with a brand new set of Legos in his previous stint -- the guy understands the value of big-time athletics.
At the same time, he's a renowned academic with stops at Brown and Vanderbilt and will waste little time funneling scratch from the athletic department into the class and research sectors. This will continue the improvements the school has gained on the, well, school front (87% of freshman in 2006 had 24+ composite on the ACT or 1090+ on the SAT).
Best of all, Gee ended the disastrous reign of Karen Holbrook -- last seen discussing drunken orgies at an interview for a job she couldn't get. That's what happens when you let a Badger run the show.
9. Buckeye Soccer Makes a Run
We're not the biggest footy fans in the world. In fact, we've never even published a soccer-related post. Yet we have to tip our caps to the run the men's soccer team busted out this winter.
After starting the season unranked, Coach John Bluem's squad reeled off a 15 game unbeaten streak before finally losing to Wake Forest in the NCAA championship game. The Demon Deacons, a 2 seed after having spent some of the season ranked #1 in the nation, scored two second half goals to come from behind for the 2-1 victory.
Yes, if you're counting, that's 3 championship game losses in '07 for the Buckeyes, but the soccer run certainly had what the other two did -- excitement and pride in spades.
Goalkeeper Casey Latchem, who set a school record with 14 shutouts, is on target:
â€œWe want to be able to prove ourselves. Yes, football in Ohio at Ohio State is the biggest thing. We just want to be on the same map as a great team and one that contributes to the stature of Ohio State University.â€
8. Robo's Catch
A young Buckeye football team headed West to Seattle for their first test of the season. Amongst the chattering classes on ESPN, it was downright fashionable to predict a Husky upset. After all, Ohio State had looked awfully darn sluggish against Akron while Washington was coming off a good victory over Boise State, snapping the nation's longest winning streak.
After giving up a late touchdown pass to head into halftime trailing 7-3, the Buckeyes were courting more trouble when Washington took the opening kickoff of the 2nd half and promptly drove down the field to set up a field goal. Chris put it best in his recap:
Locker led his offense to the Buckeye 19 yard line but the defense stiffened forcing three straight negative yardage plays and a blocked FG attempt giving OSU the ball at its own 29. After a first down run, Todd Boeckman hit Brian Robiskie in stride for a 68 yard TD pass to start the onslaught.
The Buckeyes would go on to score 30 straight 2nd half points on their way to a convincing 33-14 victory and the youngsters suddenly believed that they could be a very good team.
7. War in Chicago
After dispatching Michigan and Purdue in the opening rounds of the Big Ten Conference Tournament, the Buckeyes got their rubber-match with Wisky. To the winner went the tournament championship, with the Buckeyes looking to add to their regular season crown.
In a hard fought battle, one in which Greg Oden was held to 0 first half points, the Badgers found themselves down only 5 with a little over eight minutes to go.
From their, the Buckeyes used a 23-11 run, powered by some of Mike Conley Jr's 18 points, 8 assists and 6 rebounds, to put the Badgers away 66-49.
The Buckeyes would go on to win their first five games of the NCAA tournament, bringing their overall winning streak to a sick 22-straight games before falling to, who else, the Gators in the NCAA finals.
6. The Darkest Day in Wolverine History
No, not technically a Buckeye moment, but damn if it didn't feel great. You have to understand that this team destroyed our formative years. John Harold Fucking Cooper. At least 10 of the most depressing Saturdays of our lives.
Schadenfreude. Yummy tears. All that.
5. The Miracle in the Alamodome
In a game for the ages, the Buckeyes overcame a 49-32 halftime deficit to nip Bruce Pearl's Volunteers by a whisker in the Sweet Sixteen.
The game was in doubt until the very end. After Conley hit the first of two free throws to give Ohio State a 1 point lead, Tennessee's Ramar Smith drove the length of the court only to be swatted away by Oden as time expired.
With Oden seeing limited action once again due to fouls, the team again proved that they were able to defeat top-notch competition without him. Senior Ron Lewis was huge with 25, Conley Jr had 17 points and 7 rebounds and the Buckeyes got strong bench help.
The win gave Matta his 2nd over Pearl on the year and propelled the Buckeyes into an Elite Eight matchup with Memphis.
4. The Dismantling of Penn State
With bad weather looming, the Buckeyes were heading into Happy Valley. At the time, also known as the last place the Buckeyes had lost a regular season game. The Penn State students were fired up, piss balloons stocked and a 110,000-strong whiteout was ready for a monumental clash of great defenses.
Only thing is.. it didn't go down quite like that. Behind the flawless passing of Todd Boeckman and the bruising running of Beanie Wells, the Buckeye offense put up 200+ yards on each front on the way to a 37-17 blowout. For one night it all came together.
Pretorius hit a 50-yarder to start things off and Boeckman answered Penn State's opening scoring drive by tossing a touchdown to each of the Brians on the way to a 17-7 halftime lead. Things got as bad as 37-10 before a late kickoff return by the Nittany Lions made it look somewhat respectable. You may have also remembered this game for leading to the 72 hours of "Boeckman for Heisman" nonsense.
Perhaps what's most impressive is the fact that Penn State actually played pretty good themselves on the offensive side of the ball. The Buckeyes just played perfect.
3. Final Four Win over Georgetown
Forty-five years is a long time.
Despite Greg Oden once again being limited due to fouls (three first half minutes), Mike Conley Jr continued to pad his draft stock by chipping in 15 points, 6 assists and 5 rebounds in the Buckeyes 67-60 win over a talented Georgetown squad to advance to the NCAA title.
The victory marked the first time since 1962 that the team had advanced to the final game and came against a pretty confident Hoya squad that had beaten down North Carolina to get to the Final Four.
Oden finished with 13, Butler with 10 and Harris with 9 points and 7 rebounds as the Buckeyes received consistent play thoughout the game to put away Georgetown.
All-everything Georgetown guard Jeff Green was held to 9 points on only 5 shots, which meant that despite a stone-cold 29% from behind the arc, Ohio State advanced to play Florida for the NCAA Championship.
2. Oh! He Ties it at 62!
Words not needed.
1. The New King of Ann Arbor
The elements were in place for the let-down.
The Buckeyes had just lost at home to Illinois, squashing any hope they might have had to avenge the embarrassment of Glendale, only 10 months earlier.
The Wolverines were losing their coach and their players rested, hoping to win one more home game for the man the all held in such high regard -- against the team that had been nemesis for the better part of the past 5 years.
Everything was in place, but someone forgot to clue Beanie in on the script.
On a cold and rainy day in which Boeckman looked as if he couldn't hit the broad side of Mark Mangino, Tressel turned the offense over to his stud tailback. The sophomore responded by rushing 39 times for 222 yards and 2 touchdowns to power the Buckeyes to a 14-3 victory and one final goodbye kiss for Lloyd. No Buckeye back had ever gone for as much against the Wolverines.
During a three hour span, Wells put his team back into the running for the national title, etched his name into school lore and into the hearts of Buckeye fans everywhere.