OK, so it could have been 93-0 at the end of the first half with a few breaks. And what did the Buckeyes take away from their halftime change of strategy? They learned to fumble the ball directly to a teammate. That was an innovation.
But I am still stuck with the unenviable task of trying to say something punny about Drew Tate. I thought of "OSU drew and quartered him – for four quarters" but that seemed too classy. How about "Frus Tate" or even "DominTate"? Hit the Tater? No, no, the baseball stuff always seems odd, even approaching October.
I will tell you this: When Drew Tate curled his lip before the game and scolded the media that "We won last year and I don't see why we should change a thing" (or words to that effect), I knew he would be spending a long afternoon on his back looking up at rows CC and a long evening with some therapeutic balm. Lee Corso from ESPN Gameday winced when he heard Tate's Tantrum. "Based on what he said, I predict OSU will win by 20", Corso mused. No sir, these are not your 2004 Iowa City Buckeyes. This is the new and improved and…well, Drew your own conclusions – eh, buddy?
I will say that Drew Tate is Iowa's offense, win or lose. I liked his competitive fire, btw. And I will say that Michael Robinson is Penn's Tate. Ooh, now that was a clean winner…
Rain before the game…And then we saw a few more drops.
While Ferentz cried over penalties that weren't, and Drew got all twitchy about blocking that wasn't, OSU set about to play rugby on a football field, flinging that pigskin from side-to-side until there was just no more challenge to it. I haven't seen that many fumbles since an ESPN-researched story. And how many of you wanted to call up a friend and say, "Man, they could be up 31-0 at halftime". Plus – admit it now – didn't you want to beat that 33-7 score from last year? Yeah, me too…
Getting defensive again… OSU will never win the national stats battle that our first team defense truly deserves. Either because they send in too many reserves or just the game conditions dictate otherwise. So it goes. But check this out: Take away the first play of the San Diego State game and the last drive of the Texas mess, and the first team defense has given up 22 points in four games. Yes, the last 14 points in the opener was put up by Miami's first team versus OSU's third team. Two of the Texas points came on a safety. I know I am pushing "the point", but I am trying to impart my overwhelming admiration for this defense in a quantifiable way. Hey, 22 points given up against four good offensive teams. This wasn't a schedule like Iowa's or Minnesota's or Texas' that they play in their first four games. And that is my point.
Wild and crazy guys…When was the last time you saw:
1) A quarterback spike the ball after getting sacked?
2) The officials trying to figure out what penalty that was when the quarterback spiked the ball after getting sacked? (And then get it wrong.)
3) A cornerback (Jenkins) getting two penalties – one at the beginning and one at the end – of the same play on the same guy? Who says he doesn't cover tough?
4) Tressel putting Schnittker back in to game after he had fumbled for the second straight week on the goal line? Man, I thought they didn't build doghouses strong enough for that kind of long-term tenant!
5) Six fumbles while blowing out a top 25 team?
6) A punter dropping the ball so far forward that he had to run after it?
I know. Me either…
That team on that day…Those Buckeyes playing that way would have beaten Texas no matter how well Texas had played. That Buckeye team was the team we were projecting they would be after last year's bowl game.
And if they keep up that level of play, and keep fine-tuning their game – we are going to have some fun for the rest of this season.
Yes, people it is 2005 – and still The Year of the Buckeye!
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All right, then... The Buckeyes have now dispatched with the non-conference schedule and the opening game of the Big Ten, in a manner somewhat similar to what I said would happen some five weeks ago. Well, I got three-fourths of the predictions right and that would make me an absolute scion on the stock market.
What's peculiar is when my predictions are ever accurate, at all. Here at The Bucket, we believe that "accuracy" is highly over-rated as an attribute, and that "reasonableness" is the last vestige of the unimaginative. Here at The Bucket, we like to round up to the next possibility.
So the Buckeyes are 3-1 and dancing with The Revised Dream. Dancing with the notion of running the table and re-claiming their rightful place as national champs again. There is a lot of pressure in that dream. It's a big one and big dreams can consume you if you don't keep them in perspective. It's like they say about dancing with a gorilla. You don't stop when you are tired; you stop when the gorilla is tired!
But let the music play on, I say…
We now have a two-week respite from helping the coaches design their game strategy. I am sure they appreciate that! When you understand the deluge of mail and posts that Bucknuts receives with an inundation of facts, figures and minutiae, imagine the avalanche of stuff that goes to the coaching staff. Most of it is well intentioned, but – let's face it – how much is actually interesting?
And just like "accuracy" and "reasonableness" being traits that carry too much weight, I think that "interesting" and "entertaining" carry too little. Listen, I am not a journalist. I am a fan that tries to get across my opinions in an entertaining manner. People, we take ourselves too seriously already. Stop me if you ever catch me with that contagion.
I like to quote facts and figures that might be obscure, in a state of slumber or are simply downright irrelevant but sound like they shouldn't be. As examples…
Everyone will tell you facts and figures about the Hawkeyes and Buckeyes. But will they tell you that:
1) The largest margin of victory over the Hawkeyes was 62 points (83-21) in 1950.
2) Their largest margin of victory was last year! (33-7)
3) University of Iowa research once demonstrated that a duck's quack doesn't echo.
4) OSU's longest win streak against the Hawkeyes was 16 years (1963-1980).
5) Their longest win streak against OSU was two years (1959-1960).
6) An OSU dissertation proved the thesis that donkeys kill more people each year than plane crashes.
7) Despite being seen as "the best" coach in the Big Ten, in Kirk Ferentz's nine years of college coaching, he is now 56-54.
8) Tressel is now 178-69; in 18 seasons.
9) An OSU grad student discovered that no piece of paper can be folded in half more than seven times.
Call me if anything interesting comes across your desk that I can take seriously here…
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More news you can use… (And some musings on a more current topic):
There are at least 13 major award categories in college football and OSU winners represent the school in twelve of the thirteen. Here are the categories (and the envelope, please…)
Heisman Trophy (Winners from OSU – Les Horvath, Vic Janowicz, Howard Cassady, Archie Griffin (2) and Eddie George)
Outland Trophy for interior linemen (Jim Parker, Jim Stillwagon, John Hicks, and Orlando Pace)
Vince Lombardi for college lineman of the year (Jim Stillwagon, John Hicks, Chris Spielman, and Orlando Pace (2)
Walter Camp for nation's outstanding football player (Archie Griffin (2) and Eddie George)
Maxwell Award for outstanding offensive player (Howard Cassady, Bob Ferguson, Archie Griffin and Eddie George)
Butkus Award for best collegiate linebacker (Andy Katzenmoyer)
Jim Thorpe Award for best defensive back (Antoine Winfield)
Fred Biletnikoff Award for nation's top receiver (Terry Glenn)
Dave Rimmington Award for nation's best center (LeCharles Bentley)
Ray Guy Award for nation's best punter (BJ Sander)
Lou Groza Award for nation's best placekicker (Mike Nugent)
Doak Walker Award for nation's best running back (Eddie George)
And then there is the Davey O'Brien Award, which honors the best quarterback in the country and just finished its 26th year in existence. No Buckeye has ever won this particular honor. I am not projecting or implying anything. Hey - I just thought you would want to know…
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Can't stop the run…As has been noted in this space before, it's been quite a run at Glenville high school. Not only in their team momentum, but in their national recognition at the defensive back position. Three years ago, it was argued that Donte Whitner was the best DB in the country (and certainly a Top 50 player). Two years ago, Ted Ginn Jr. was the national Defensive Player of the Year as a DB there. Last year, Jamario O'Neal was ranked as high as the #20 player in the nation as, yes, a DB at Glenville High. And if Ray Small chooses to play defense in college, the run of Top 100 defensive backs would continue four years unabated.
But there might be a better Ohio state-high school link going on. How about one prep school producing the best college player in the country at his position, two years running? That would be your Centerville Elks who – last season – were recognized as the school du jour of Mike Nugent, the nation's best kicker. This year, the best linebacker in the nation – AJ Hawk – has shined a spotlight on his C-Ville alum-ship. Incidentally, you want to know how good an athlete AJ is? Despite Nugent's seriously strong leg in high school, it was AJ that did the punting!
Centerville has another great team this year but don't look for the current "run" to continue. Of course, Nick Mangold could win the Rimington Award (see above…) as the best center. And he hails from Centerville as well…
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Silence of the lambs…In following the Buckeyes 24/7/365, I have noticed the ebb and flow of fan fanaticism through the year. Of course, that is a natural occurrence. What seems almost un-natural is that the fanaticism doesn't always match up with the seasonality of the sport.
The height of erratic behavior and fan noise occurs, of course, during January and February – recruiting season! There is the moaning and whining accompanying spring football and then the crescendo builds and crashes…right before the season begins. It's fascinating. But does anyone else notice that it was peculiarly quiet last week – and often during the rest of the "real" season? Are we jaded? Are we over-stimulated? Is the foreplay that much more exciting than the act itself?
Maybe that's why recruiting is the Holy Grail to many college football fans. It is a "perfect" world where perfect players fit schemes in a perfect future that doesn't have the human baggage of potential or reality or the happenstances of actual life.
It's been said that the world comes down to how we interpret the silence around us. Before the Iowa game, that silence spoke volumes. The fans were uncomfortable and trying to decide which way to lean. The sounds of silence this week? Like one hand clapping. But the other one is getting closer!
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How some athletes get their kicks…I have made a point of it in these Buckets over the past few years, to marvel at how athletic some of our big recruits turn out, and those marvelous feats (and feets) that propel them forward. My first case in point was AJ Hawk, whom I mentioned in a bullet above. Two years ago, Marcus Freeman was leading the greater Dayton Area in punting most of the season despite being a muscular linebacker. His Coach Jay Minton wryly pointed out that Marcus averaged 45 yards a kick by kicking every other punt 70 yards. You can do the math and add up the inconsistency on the "other" kicks. Justin Zwick was a punter in high school at both Orrville and Massillon. And this years case-in-points (extra points not included with these kickers…)? It would be massive OSU recruit, Jake Ballard from Springboro. Jacob is 6'7" and 260 pounds, plays tight end and defensive end. And going into last weekend, he led the Miami Valley with a 45-yard average. Shades of Louis Irizarry (famous tight end punter from Ursuline…). Now, if Jake can just keep straight (his punts, at least)…
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If you have points, or simply aren't comfortable suffering in silence, feel free to share any of the aforementioned with Mr. Bucknuts at MrBucknuts@yahoo.com