The Buckeyes are favored to win their first game of 2018 by 38 points.
Seems like a comfortable way to begin a football season with a 1-0 record. It's been nearly two decades since the Buckeyes dropped a season opener so there's very little anxiety about what should be a fun day in the sun against the Beavers, who are getting the most points Ohio State has given to a team since it visited Iowa City last November as nearly a three-touchdown favorite.
That's a fun memory. Let's talk about the rare, remote and potentially catastrophic threat that Oregon State will bring with it to Columbus.
|1974||OHIO STADIUM||OREGON STATE||W 51-10|
|1984||OHIO STADIUM||OREGON STATE||W 22-14|
|1989||OHIO STADIUM||OKLAHOMA STATE||W 37-13|
|2004||ALAMODOME||OKLAHOMA STATE||W 33-7|
|2018||OHIO STADIUM||OREGON STATE||??????|
Ohio won the War of Initials long ago, by land and sea, in courts and by URL procurement, through national recognition and its dense population (pun, sure we can take it). Ohio State is the implied O.S.U. in most parts of the republic and world, and the only threat to losing the The is to lose to a) another Ohio school, or b) any other OSU in football.
September presents only the fifth opportunity for an An to take down the The. Most recently, The went down to San Antonio to face Les Miles' Oklahoma State Cowboys in the Alamodome with a gimpy Justin Zwick in place of a suspended Troy Smith at quarterback and only Todd Boeckman with his redshirt soaked in kerosene available to back him up.
Despite the advantage, that night ended poorly for An. It's the most recent OSU-OSU battle on record.
Previously, Barry Sanders won the Heisman Trophy in 1988 and created much excitement for John Cooper's 1989 season opener, but the NCAA hammered An during the offseason and after saying he would return regardless of sanctions, Sanders declined to participate in a senior season, a layup second Heisman Trophy campaign - and a potentially competitive OSU-OSU clash, which The won in a laugher.
As for Oregon State - the FBS' only other An, and The's next opponent - it has visited Columbus twice, once with an eventual three-win team in 1974 and the other time ten years later with one that ended up winning twice. This season's edition is coming off a one-win campaign, where slipping by the FCS' winless Portland State was the sole season highlight. The roster was largely built by Gary Andersen, whom you last saw in Indianapolis getting run out of the conference by his mentor.
Evidence suggests the third OSU-OSU battle between these two should be less than competitive. Still, the gravity of losing The supremacy makes even the slightest threat a serious one.
While the stakes are high, the Beavers pose only a small threat to The's cherished arrogance and iron grip on shared initial recognition. The best-case scenario for the OSU-OSU clash is a participation report that contains north of 55 Buckeye player names, a game film for future opponents that is either too basic or chaotic to discern any tendencies - and a clean bill of health post-game.
The worst-case scenario? Well, the roster in Corvallis is almost entirely composed of 3-star recruits, similar to the one that operates out of Iowa City. It's an athletic department that prides itself on the generational upset. But the Horseshoe isn't Kinnick, September isn't November, and the gradient separating the best 3-star football player to the worst one is as wide as the distance from Oregon to Ohio. Respect the threat, keep the anxiety in check and resist the urge to look ahead to Rutgers.
So give the Beav the 38 points and nice check for flying across the country to play in a 9am game in their body clocks. And above all else, keep the The where it belongs.