It's been over 10 months since Ohio State took the field, but in less than two weeks, the wait to see our beloved Buckeyes in action mercifully ends.
It's been a while, so you may be out of touch. The long winter, spring and summer months seemed longer because of the pandemic, which made the coming moment seem so impossibly far away.
I know that, and I'm here to help. You may need a little nudging to get your mind right — a reminder to set the tone for the season ahead.
With that in mind, here's a reason to hate every single team on Ohio State's regular season schedule.
They think we're friends.
It's no secret Nebraska was one of the Big Ten's most vocal programs to push back at the conference's decision to postpone football. Head coach Scott Frost was bullish on playing this fall, and eight of the team's players sued the league in the hopes of invalidating the cancellation.
Nebraska and Ohio State were arguably the loudest advocates for playing this fall. Buckeyes quarterback Justin Fields created an online petition to play that generated more than 300,000 signatures.
When the Big Ten reversed its decision and released its eight-game fall schedule, the Cornhuskers program felt quite chummy with Ohio State.
Ohio State responded accordingly.
Never forget the Cornhuskers' only win over the Buckeyes as members of the Big Ten in 2011. The reckoning Nebraska fought so hard for is less than two weeks away.
Penn State almost killed me and my brother Matt in 2008.
Hitting the rewind button over a decade ago, the undefeated No. 3 Nittany Lions were visiting ninth-ranked Ohio State in a key showdown that had Big Ten title implications. Freshman quarterback Terrelle Pryor had the Buckeyes surging in the polls, but he faced a stiff test in his sixth career start.
At 6 a.m. that morning, Matt and I departed from Canton, Ohio for the two-hour trip south to Columbus. We had scored tickets in the A-deck from my mom's boss, who randomly had some availability to an insane all-day tailgate party.
It was a long day and an even longer game that Ohio State dropped 13-6, in brutal fashion. Matt and I didn't get back to his car until well after 12:30, and we painfully settled in for the hike back home.
We had just made it outside Columbus city limits when my brother groggily turned to me and mumbled, "It's gonna be a miracle if we make it home."
He wasn't inebriated. He was exhausted. I was too, but I wasn't going to add literal death to the terribleness of the night.
I wanted to sleep on the way home, but I forced Matt to pull over and begrudgingly took over for the last 1.5 hours of driving time. I remember cranking up the Dave Matthews music we were listening to (leave your judgements at the door / in the comments) when Matt turned to me and said, "Turn it down I'm trying to sleep."
I was so tired I didn't even question it. I just turned Dave down and drove in misery.
Still hate you, Penn State.
Rutgers provides zero value.
The team was brought into the Big Ten in an effort to bring league action to one of the biggest television markets in the country, but the oversight the conference made is that no one in that television market cared about the product.
Rutgers' usefulness is more comparable to a "this product contains peanuts" warning on a peanut butter jar. There's nothing the program brings to the Big Ten that everyone doesn't already know. This is an automatic “W” for any team in the league with a pulse, and Ohio State fans can't even feel like it's game-week when the Scarlet Knights are on the docket.
Maryland is just Rutgers with slightly more value for the gig, but with fewer references. Throw both of them out and convince Notre Dame it's not as big of a deal as it thinks it is, and then kick West Virginia into the fold because the drunk friend always makes the party more fun.
"I feel like we're going to shock the world. I know we are."
That was Indiana quarterback Michael Penix, a perfectly suitable Indiana quarterback who played just six games last year before a shoulder injury cut his sophomore season short.
He was impressive during that stretch, registering more than 1,500 yards of total offense to complement 12 total touchdowns.
His comment above was made in response to the thought of playing Ohio State and other members of the Big Ten elite. During his impressive (albeit short-lived) sophomore campaign, he piled up his numbers against the likes of Ball State, Eastern Illinois, Michigan State, Rutgers, Northwestern and Maryland.
The quarterback from the basketball school needs an attitude adjustment.
Illinois made most of us feel during the 2011 season.
The Buckeyes, of course, were directly in the middle of the most challenging season they had faced in over a decade. Gone was the coach who had risen the program back to national prominence. Gone was the title contender that was supposed to be led by a senior and Heisman Trophy favorite quarterback. Gone was hope.
At least, we thought hope was gone.
A week after the Buckeyes embarrassingly collapsed in Nebraska, the Fighting Luke Fickell's made their way to Champaign for a showdown against Illinois. The Joe Bauserman debacle was behind them and Braxton Miller was firmly planted behind center as QB1.
Instead of letting their young phenom cook, Jim Bollman and company drew up a game plan that featured a single (one, 1) completion all game. The Buckeyes went on to beat No. 16 Illinois 17-7 despite finishing the game with 17 passing yards.
I watched every single second of this game, and I will never forget.
The Spartans made me a meme by association in 2013.
Reading that sentence probably took you back to the exact moment I'm referencing. Mark Dantonio and Michigan State stormed the Big Ten title game and handed Urban Meyer and Ohio State their first loss in 24 games — all while halting their chances of playing for the BCS National Championship.
Meyer was infamously photographed eating the saddest Papa John's pizza you've ever seen. Approximately 300 miles east in Canton, I was ordering a pizza myself to deal with the sad emotions while wrapping up my postgame coverage.
Post-game Urban Meyer eating some sad pizza. pic.twitter.com/ReboUClavf— Johnny Cobbler (@TopekaTalls) December 8, 2013
I always see myself in this picture of Meyer, and I hate both it and Michigan State for it.
If you need a reason to hate Michigan, you're probably lost.
But if that hate needs emboldened after the longest offseason any of us have ever experienced, let's flash back to a hilarious moment from this past March.
Most of us in Ohio had just begun to shelter in place as orders from the Governor came down in an effort to slow down the spread of COVID-19. So too were our neighbors to the north. With spring camp halted, coaches and players were sent home with orders to watch and diagnose film, workout and stay as engaged as possible.
Wolverines offensive coordinator Josh Gattis got a little carried away in his efforts. While watching a replay of Ohio State's 56-27 depantsing of his team, he recorded a clip of a rare Michigan highlight and posted this amazing tweet.
Corona may limit us to work from home...... but don’t think we’re sleeping! 2019 is over but the lessons learned live on! 2020 we won’t be so kind to beat ourselves ...— Josh Gattis (@Coach_Gattis) March 17, 2020
The BluePrint is out! We have only☝ thing on our ind! #ARealOne pic.twitter.com/OXdtM20S5H
Imagine if Day had tweeted out a video clip of Johnnie Dixon's touchdown against Purdue in 2018 (which cut the Boilermakers lead to only 15) with a comment as bizarre as this.
Our dear rivals remain so painfully out of touch.
Keep hating, y'all. It's almost time.