Mr. Bucknuts Bucket Of Bullets

Mr. Bucknuts posts THE column from THE game for THE Ohio State University fans. He is hoarse, but the fingers are still willing. He not only posts his thoughts, but a few others as well in this week's Bucket of Bullets.

Ohio State 42 Michigan 39

Great galloping ghosts of Chic Harley, Tippy Dye and Tom Harmon. Who would a thunk it?

It reminds me of…

You give your teenager the car. He promises to be home at 10. At a quarter after ten, you are irritated. At 10:30, you're going to kill the kid. At 11, you now only hope that he's safe. And by 11:30, you realize how much you love him and all is forgiven if only…

That was The Game. Implausible, inexcusable, indescribable, emotional. In the end, all is forgiven – forget the trashing of season long statistics and expectations. Just get home safe. Just win, baby!

It reminds me of…

A heavyweight championship bout, with the whole world watching. Two undefeated fighters going toe-to-toe. The underdog floors the favorite early in the first round. But – quickly, "tunder and lightnin" – down goes Michigan, down goes Michigan, down goes Michigan! As OSU lands haymaker after haymaker. But in round four, Michigan battles back with a quick sneaky right cross that isn't covered. Yet – once again before the bell of round seven, the Buckeyes knock them down at 28-14. Knock them out? Hardly!

As the second half of the fight unfolds, OSU goes into cruise control and Michigan hammers them over and over. Are you kidding me? These two heavyweights that have already thrilled the world with their defense and composure? Throwing roundhouse lefts and rights. Selling out completely! It's gonna go the full 15 rounds, folks!

And when the Bucks finally seemed steady and certain and the Wolverines were staggered with puffy eyes and blood streaming – it still wouldn't end. They charged back across the squared circle for one final gasp. But the favorite clinched in the end, held on as time ran out. "You're not gonna get a re-match". "I don't want a re-match…"

If you would have told me that Michigan scored 39 points…

I would have told you that the Buckeyes had lost by two touchdowns.

If you would have told me that Ohio State had scored 42 points…

I would have told you that Michigan had lost by three touchdowns!

Hey – everybody that predicted the scores basically got it right – at one time or another. I said 24-13 and they had that score midway through the second quarter. And it just kept going! At 42-31 I took solace in the fact that the Bucks were going to win by 11 (just like I said…). But it just kept going. It was like a bingo all-cover card. Or 11 thoroughbreds tied for first, on a wheel bet. Every possibility was included. Spin it any way you want.

As for "The Best Damn Analysts in the Land"? They all missed it. Because it was a shoot-out. And it was a defensive struggle. And both teams lost composure at different points. And they still came up big at other points. Our network sister site, WhatIfSports ran a computer modeling of the game; and ran it 1000 times! They had OSU winning 65% of the time at an average score of 27-20. And no matter what standards of deviation, no matter what bell curve they could have used, they couldn't have modeled the madness that we witnessed on Saturday.

Where were those scripts? Where were the smug pundits that are so good at analyzing such public spectacles?

  • Michigan - the best rushing defense of all time? Beanie Wells, on just one run, doubled the average total per game Michigan was used to giving up. Then Antonio Pittman did it again!
  • Ohio State - the #1 scoring defense in the country? Michigan scored more than the last six teams Ohio State played - all combined!
  • We haven't been beaten by a deep pass all year? They seemed to come in hailstorms with Arrington completely uncovered at the end of the half then two more wide open deep receivers that Henne just missed completely.
  • One of the best turnover-ratio teams in the land? We gave it away more times in the 15 minutes  than we had done in 11 of the previous games – total game!
  • Senior-laden teams of experience and composure? Ohio State probably played the worst third quarter in a meaningful game since Coach T got here in 2001.
  • Penalties and mistakes and gaffes and personal fouls and atrocious calls and the whole world was watching. The most precise part of the entire evening was the band's near-perfection at halftime…

We were all talking some heavy smack at the intermission. Troy Smith had sewn up the Heisman, man. After two of the greatest games against Michigan ever, he now had the greatest half against Michigan ever! Then he went out and had the worst quarter against Michigan that you could possibly imagine. But then there was that last quarter, too…

Very little went according to the so-called experts' so-called calls. Turnovers would determine the win? We had three horrible atrocious and incalculably bad-timed turnovers – and won. Can't stop Mike Hart? The Wolves only had 37 yards rushing in the first half. Then Hart ended up with huge yards for the game. What we couldn't stop was his mouth, which he ran after the game, losing not only the game, then, but also his previous reputation as a class act. Building on his reputation as a punk – Shawn Crable single-handedly turned the game when the Massillon turncoat hit Troy Smith so far out of bounds that the ushers had to scatter. One of the biggest plays for the Buckeye defense? The turf. Yes, on an improbable fourth and long with Michigan going hell-bent-for-leather, the receiver was wide open; he cuts, and falls down. There is a reason that tOSU has the greatest Agriculture school on the world…

There was an entire afternoon and evening of moments like that, of course. All the careful scripts? Out the window. All the paralysis by analysis? Ignored. Win one for Bo? Not a factor.

But, in the end, we have the coveted "W". And you can add another "L" to Lloyd. Ohio State played great – along the way to get back home. Michigan played great. But too little too late.

And like I told my boy – just get home safe.

‘Cause we're all going to the desert in January, son!

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Priorities? What priorities?...With a quarter million people trying to get safely out of the stadium area, it was re-assuring that a few hundred cops and cop-alikes were assigned to guarding…the goal posts – after the last game of the year! Yes, they greased them up, they protected them like they were Charlie Weis's weekly meal plan. But – and here's the irony – the fans took just about all of the stadium turf as souvenirs. Kinda like: "You're teeth are fine but your gums have to go". $150,000 to replace the turf twice in six weeks but the real priority was saving those goal posts. In that case, mission accomplished…

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Something old, something new, something borrowed and something blue…

In the spirit of the season (the Michigan season, that is…) most of the rest of today's Bucket is force-fit together with a raft of opinions from others, some pseudo–plagiarism and some outright theft. Thus far, we have something old (beating Michigan like a rented mule), something new (our first win over them as a #1 vs. #2), something borrowed (much of the rest of this column) and something blue (the maize and blue – for the fifth time in six years).

Life is good. Read on:

From Bucknuts columnist Bill Greene a few weeks back:

The [OSU] coaching is so good that it gets overlooked at times, but not by me. I've said it before and I'll repeat my thoughts on Jim Tressel. The BEST coach in the country. The BEST game day coach. The BEST big game coach. The BEST recruiter in the country, not at gathering 5 star studs, but at selecting the type of players that will help OSU win championships. Mix in the 4 and 5 star guys, but the backbone of this program are the guys that make the recruiting gurus scratch their heads. In the future, Jim Tressel will be the face of Ohio State football, not Woody Hayes. Count on it and I LIVED through the Woody years.

From Nevada Buck in predicting the Michigan game:

We [OSU] are peaking--at just the right time. We are playing our best football of the year---and with as much confidence as any time all season. We are healthy---we are coming home---and we are playing for our place in OSU and college football history.
Troy was born for these moments---and he has played his best football in exactly these situations. JT was born to coach these big games----and we will have a game plan designed especially for Michigan.
Michigan does not match up well against us. They have an immobile quarterback on offense and a questionable defensive secondary on defense. Henne's first big game will be his, well, FIRST big game. Hart is not overly fast, and really lacks breakaway ability.
We will attack their defense by spreading them out---and Troy's running ability will be their Kryptonite. This will negate the strength of their defense--their front 7----and will open up some big play opportunities.
I know this team. I knew early on that this defense was special. I went out on a limb and wrote an article on it, stating that this defense was better than last year. That article was extremely controversial at the time---but at this point, is there ANY DOUBT????
I know this team. This is a GREAT team. This team is treating us to one more home game---so let's all sit back and enjoy the show. Let's watch Troy and Teddy for the last time, and let's marvel at how far they have come.
I hate to see it's been a marvelous ride....we may never see another quite like it in our lifetimes

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From a message board before the game: These are two teams not used to "playing from behind. Through the first 11 games this year Ohio State has been behind only 29 minutes, 34 seconds. The Wolverines are better front runners even that that – they have trailed only 17 minutes, 15 seconds the whole season

From our friend Pete Fiutak at College Football News…Since the "Bozo Quotient" at the NCAA is so high, and since the Weenie Presidents Association is so pervasive, I don't expect he obvious solution of PLAYOFFS in my lifetime. Given those criteria, Pete Fiutak pretty much sums up the game last Saturday (he wrote this prior to the game, in which he picked TSUN 17-16…

"Let's save the time, the effort, and the energy
1. Bring the national championship trophy to Columbus this weekend and just give it to the winner of the Michigan – Ohio State game. Enough is enough this year. Has Florida looked even remotely like a national title caliber team? USC lost to an Oregon State team that just got thumped by UCLA. Does Arkansas really belong in the national title considering it got obliterated 50-14 at home by the Trojans? Sure, that was a lifetime ago, but the loss has to still count for something. Notre Dame needed everything in its bag to beat Michigan State and UCLA and, in case you forgot, got its doors blown off by Michigan. Rutgers? I know, cute story, but come on. Texas, Cal, Auburn … thanks for playing. And no, there shouldn't be a rematch no matter what happens next weekend. What happens in Columbus, stays in Columbus.
Not only have Ohio State and Michigan had the two best teams all year, there isn't anyone else deserving to be in the picture. In the storied history of college football's greatest rivalry, and it is college football's greatest rivalry, this will be the biggest game ever played between the two. That makes this, arguably, the biggest regular season game in the history of the sport. So let this weekend be it. Crown the winner the national champion, and let's get the talk about the 2007 season going. USC, Florida or Arkansas as the preseason number one …"

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The oft-discussed and cussed re-match…Another scrivener friend, Marc Katz, weighed in from his lofty perch at the Dayton Daily Noose a few weeks back. Marc covered the Buckeyes all the way back through Woody and has a, well…unique perspective on the team and on Tressel. All of that notwithstanding, he opines about a possible "Rematch" saying: "I say let ‘em play again, and there is some precedent".

"In a previous configuration, there was a Bowel Alliance, and in 1996, after No. 1 Florida was knocked off by No. 2 Florida State, 24-21, in the last regular season game…Meanwhile No. 2 Ohio State was upset by Michigan 13-9, and No. 3 Nebraska was upset by Texas. The Sugar Bowl chose to match Florida and FSU a second time, giving the Gators a chance at revenge, which worked splendidly in a 52-20 thumping of the Seminoles."

Oho State, of course, went on for some vengeance of its own, beating Arizona State, 20-17, in a Rose Bowl thriller.

Marc admits that he figured Ohio State had as much right to lay claim to the title as anyone and – as an AP voter – filled out his ballot that way. "Turns out, I was the only voter in the nation that thought so."

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And from different posts on our always inflammatory (and occasionally toxic) message boards…This involves a question that is asked me by at least two e-mailers every week. Faithfully. And not the same two! Let's call it:

The Big Least and an SEC investigation

From the message board, responding to the preposterous allegations that no SEC team could possibly get through their torturous scheduling and ever make it to a BCS game…

Yet, history would seem to disagree. BCS Championship Game Appearances, by conferences at the time the game was played:
Big 12: 5 - 1 Title
Big East: 3 - 1 Title
ACC: 3 - 1 Title
Pac 10: 2 - 1 Title
SEC: 2 - 2 Titles
Big 10: 1 - 1 Title
The SEC has won more BCS titles than anyone since the BCS went into effect in 1998! They have been to as many title games as the Pac 10 and more than the Big 10. So Auburn didn't get to go; they should've thought about consequences of scheduling Louisiana-Monroe, The Citadel, and Louisiana Tech for their OOC games that year under the BCS system.
I love how the conferences/schools have adopted this system that is short of a playoff and is intended to "correct" the "errors" of the human polls, yet when things don't go the way people like or God forbid the system do what it was intended to do by "correcting" the human polls (USC in 2003) people whine about how the system is unfair or wrong.

What top 10 out-of-conference teams did the SEC "powerhouses" play this year?

When mediocrity meets mediocrity you end up with parity.

And from another opinionated poster (if that's not a redundancy):

The SEC is a conference of middle teams with mediocre QB's. There isn't a great team among them.
The SEC 'highlight' game (Fla vs Auburn) featured a winning team that scored zero offensive points. That's B10 circa 1970 football. The coaching isn't up to par with the B10. They no longer have a major advantage in speed. They no longer have a virtual monopoly in recruiting southern players.
Their inbred scheduling is hurting them....both in terms of comparing themselves to football in other regions and in recruiting. They can't or don't recruit nationally....while northern teams have made inroads into their recruiting base.

I've been debating this very topic on another board for the last week. Since 1960, 25 times an SEC team has gone undefeated thru the conference schedule. That's 25 out of 46 for those counting, so if something happens better than every other year for almost half of a century, is it really that hard to do.


My own (ahem, the Mr. Bucknuts' perspective):

Big East can say the same thing… The SEC coaches have taken turns whining this year that their conference is just too tough, the rest of the country isn't capable of understanding. No team could go through the SEC schedule and emerge undefeated; that their one-loss teams are better than most undefeateds and yadda yadda yadda. Last I checked, it's the teams you beat that determine your season, not the teams you lose, too. Plus, if the SEC is so tough, why don't those southern schools schedule some OOC games up north here, particularly in the winter months?


And from colorful Bucknuts columnist Ramzy;

The circular logic over the past couple of seasons that the SEC is the best conference because "all of the teams beat up on each other" has gone from annoying to just funny. If this were true, their bowl games this year – which are de facto home games – should be another sweep like last year. If northern schools ever lost games in Chicago or Detroit against southern teams you would never hear the end of it.

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Michigan - Ohio State stat infection:

  • Troy Smith's stats in three Michigan games: 857 yards passing, 194 yards rushing, nine touchdowns and THREE WINS.
  • Now 19 straight wins for the Buckeyes, three short of the 1967-69 team record of 22. OSU has also now won 14 straight Big Ten games and 12 straight home games since last year's loss to Texas
  • Lloyd Carr is now 6-6 against Ohio State and Jim Tressel is 5-1 against Michigan. OSU is 38-10 in Big Ten games, 38-4 at home, 25-7 against ranked teams and 8-2 against top-10 teams
  • The Bucks had eight straight passing plays in the game before they attempted their first running play.
  • For the seventh straight season, the Michigan-Ohio State season finale had a direct impact on the Big Ten Championship race. In every year since the 2000 campaign, at least one of these two teams has entered this game with a shot at the conference crown.
  • Smith became the first OSU quarterback to throw for four touchdowns against Michigan and also became the first to go 3-0 against Michigan since Tippy Dye in 1934-36. Smith set a new OSU single-season touchdown mark with 30 TD passes, eclipsing the 29 set by Bobby Hoying in 1995
  • OSU's win over Michigan now equals the best stretch ever against the Wolverines. The Buckeyes have won 5 of their last 6 over the Wolverines, a feat that matches Woody who won the 1958 game, lost in 1959 before winning from 1960-1963.
  • Tressel's 5-1 mark against Michigan gives him a .833 winning percentage- the best for a Buckeye coach against the hated Wolverines. At the 6 game mark vs. the Wolverines, Woody was 3-3. Earle was 4-2.
  • In the past two games against Michigan, OSU is -5 in the turnover department, yet victorious in both. In the four previous contests, OSU turned over the ball just two times and forced 10 turnovers
  • Troy Smith ended up with a total of 328 yards of net offense and 4 touchdowns. He threw to 8 different receivers!
  • OSU played 50 players. Not to be outdone, Michigan played even more, playing 55
  • Troy was sacked once. Henne was sacked 4 times.
  • Michigan scored four of its five touchdowns by scoring on the first and last of their drives in each half.
  • STAT of the Year: The "Pick Four" in the Ohio Lottery Saturday? 4239

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1091 days and counting…Yes, Buckeye fans, that's how long it has been since Michigan last beat Ohio State. And it will be another 364 days until they get their next chance (I hope since I am an anti-rematch kind of guy…) – November 17, 2007 in Ann Arbor. That's a lot of days between drinks of water. Or whatever Wolverines drink. From the looks on LLLLLoyd Carr's face, must be prune juice.

Ohio State has broken the 50 year tie, where before Saturday, the last 50 games had been split 24-24-2. There were an awful lot of guys out there on the Tunnel of Pride yesterday who played in an awful lot of those fifty games. One guy that played before the fifty was Tippy Dye, a quarterback that beat the Wolves three straight in 1934-1936. One that wasn't in the Tunnel was my Uncle Orby, who played center for the Bucks in 1927-29. He played in the dedication game to open Michigan Stadium. And his family has had season tickets since 1932.

Before Orby died in 1997, he wanted to be part of the Tunnel of Pride and the school invited him out there, but he said he wouldn't do it in a wheelchair ("Just not right for the other fellas"). Jan White said something similar last week when he remarked, " Basically, all of us old guys try to stay out of the way and not get stepped on. But I'll tell you, when we get out there, our knees don't ache, our hips don't hurt as much. The enthusiasm transforms you".

As for watching The Game, this team transforms us. Jan, Orby, you are not in the way. You are the way. And many of us will be following our1455 day win streak when we continue the new tradition of beating Michigan year in and year out, next year in Ann Arbor.

Thanks to all of you…

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And in that glowing spirit of Thanksgiving, if there are things that you, too, want to share with Mr. Bucknuts, you can reach him at  

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