I missed watching the Ohio State football season opener, once, and the level of anxiety that it caused me was immense, and also completely inappropriate given the actual amount of drama that the game itself generated. Which was none. There was no drama.
There have been some pretty great season openers in the past. It's hard to deny the thrill of kicking things off with a bang in Blacksburg in 2015, or even the unexpected challenge from a team like Navy in 2009 (although some would say that game sucked for entirely different reasons). And it's tempting to believe that everything about the first game of 2017 is set up to be entertaining: an early conference game, on the road, at night, on an unusual day could be just the right ingredients for a thrilling start to the season.
Or, you know, maybe not. It could suck. Indiana is a mediocre team with a new coach, and Bloomington is not exactly what anyone might call a hostile environment. Still, even if the matchup between the Buckeyes and the Hoosiers is a mind-bendingly awful piece of sporting entertainment, there's enough fun and hype surrounding it that it'll still be mostly worth your time, even if by the fourth quarter you find yourself checking your watch because you suddenly remembered that dammit, you've got work in the morning.
Not every start to the season has had that kind of baseline level of general entertainment. Some games have been... bad. Really, really bad. What follows is a reminder of why it's not always the worst thing in the world to put your trust in the DVR, even if you've been waiting months for the return of football.
YOUNGSTOWN STATE, 2008
What's even better than a game that features five field goals and vintage Todd Boeckman? Well, a lot of things, actually. This 43-0 win against Jim Tressel's past and (unknown to fans at the time) future ended up being a reminder of how bloated college football schedules have gotten in the last 15 years or so. The longest offensive play was a 54 yard field goal, and the second longest play was a 50 yard field goal.
Remember, Ohio State played Youngstown State twice.
Braxton Miller and the Buckeyes knew that Buffalo had at least one really, really good player in Khalil Mack, but after putting up 23 points in the first quarter, they went to sleep and forgot how to play football for the remaining two and a half hours of the game. Only Jordan Hall (remember him?) managed to do anything of note, racking up 159 yards on the ground, which was overshadowed by freaking Buffalo outscoring the second-ranked team in the country 22-17 in the last three quarters of the game.
NORTHERN ILLINOIS, 2006
Ah yes, another fine example of a single player making what should be a comfortable win feel extremely uncomfortable due to Ohio State's utter inability to stop them. Yeah, the Buckeyes won 35-12, but in 2006 Garrett Wolfe made the Silver Bullets look absolutely foolish; Wolfe, despite being literally the only functional part of the Huskies' offense, racked up nearly 300 yards rushing and receiving against Ohio State. Had they been paying attention, fans might've taken more notice at how a faster running back was able to run circles around the Buckeye defense and how that might have ramifications later on in the season. They did not.
I still contend that the Akron game in 2007, the second game of the season and in which Ohio State led by a halftime score of 3-2, is by far the worst Buckeye victory that I've ever seen in person. Had I been at the 2011 game, however, that might've given it a run for its money.
The Buckeyes won the 2011 tilt 42-0, which is actually a pretty fun score as long as there are some fun plays to break up the monotony, but in this case extenuating circumstances make this season premier one of the absolute worst. Played in temperatures reaching almost 100 degrees, most of the crowd in Ohio Stadium wisely avoided sunstroke and left before halftime. Referees had to be carried off the field, and 20 fans had to be treated for heat stroke.
But hey, at least all that suffering was worth it, because the fans that stayed got to see the coming out party for both, uh... Joe Bauserman and Jake Stoneburner. Huh.
One thing that I have to commend the athletic department at Ohio State for is that at least they've started to acknowledge the importance of starting the season off with a bang. Indiana may not be a formidable opponent, but the powers-that-be have done everything they can to at least make the conditions interesting.
Will it work? No. Probably not. But it'll take either a serious upset, horrific weather, slow, boring football, or some combination of all three for Ohio State/Indiana to reach the depths of some of the games that Ohio State fans have seen in the past ten years or so.