A WACKY WEEK (AND YEAR) IN COLLEGE FOOTBALL
From the top down…According to pundits nationwide, there was only one great team in college football this year: the Miami Hurricanes. They were invincible; a team even better than last year's undefeated national championship group. They were so good that - wait - they were 13 points down in the fourth quarter at home and for their homecoming? And they needed a last second miss by another cursed FSU kicker (Wide Left I), to sneak out of the Orange Hole with a win?
FSU missed by a point to beat the unbeatables. And my point? Well, OSU fans are a complaining lot - in victory and in defeat. As OSU has raced off to a 7-0 start, the complainers amongst us say we can't really compete on That Level. Let's take a look at some of the That Level inhabitants:
Texas (with the combined negative karma of Mack Brown and Chris Simms) pulled their annual El Foldo against Oklahoma. How bad was the Heisman candidate for the once-#2 team in the nation? Three interceptions in crunch time. How about the vaunted Okie offensive machine? Their guy threw four INT's. OK, we also saw the talent-laden Virginia Techsters escape Boston College 28-23. And Notre Dame - maybe the luckiest team in the history of college football - got by an average Pitt squad 14-6 with the ND defense basically outscoring the ND offense. Again. Notre Dame was out gained 402-145 but still won and still fantasizes BCS fantasies. The truest measure of how the mighty keep falling has to be Florida. They get blown out by 27 - at home - to slip to 4-3 but the pollsters don't know how to handle that so they vote them in as #25 in the country. Gad Zooks. Can OSU play with these teams? I think so…
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A couple more Hurricane tales…Last year Ken Dorsey did not get sacked. I posit that it's a heckuva lot easier to throw behind a line full of NFL blockers. He's got another great line this year. But did you see some of those flutter balls and odd decisions? I'll guarantee you that the NFL scouts did. And how does this team get 58 of the 61 first place votes after squirming out from underneath that FSU rock? Are you saying that if the last FSU kick is ten feet further to the right, then there are 6-7 teams better than Miami? Ridiculous system. Yes, Virginia (and Virginia Tech), we need a playoff…
And the wacky Big Ten…In the end, it might come down to OSU-Michigan again. But in between…whoa, Nellie! Check this out: Wisconsin warms up for their big OSU showdown next week by blowing a 19 point lead to Indians, and losing 32-29. This is the same Hoosier squad that OSU nipped 45-17. And Michigan State - an early season dark horse to win it all - slipped to 3-3 by getting "edged" at Iowa 44-16. Another early-season-dark horse-turned-donkey is Purdue, who went down to Illinois. This is the same Illini team that lost - at home - to San Jose state. That is the same SJS team that the Buckeyes dispatched Saturday by 43 points.
Should we fans be complaining? Who's there to listen?
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Two of the great coaches of our era, squaring off in a huge Big Ten match up. Joe Paterno, trying to convince the nation that he hasn't lost the edge. Lloyd Carr, trying to convince fans that he ever had one. Now, its crunch time - seconds to go. On the road with a chance to win in regulation, JoePa punts away and resigns himself to OT. At home and with a chance to win with a field goal, Carr runs out the clock to let his offense know that they scare him to death. Dare to dream, dare to be great. A lot of teams are losing, as they play not-to-lose…
And our beloved Buckeyes…We get no respect, no respect at all. Our Much Maligned Defense is now giving up 9 points a game after starting off the season against five chuck-and-duck spread offenses. SJS must have set some kind of a record Saturday by completing 31 passes in the first half for a grand total of 7 points. And the Buckeye rushing D - which ranked sixth in the nation going in - gave up a total of "zero yards" against the Spartans. San Jose came into the game #1 in the nation in turnovers with 24 takeaways. So what does our MMD do? We get four (to their none) in the first 33 minutes!
Maybe we'll lose next week at Camp Randall Stadium or to Purdue on the road or against Penn State in two weeks…it's a long season and we're only halfway home. But what a great time to be a Buckeye!
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We got away from that damn "38 point curse" finally. Against Texas Tech, we were up 38-7 and let them score enough to make it look competitive. Against KSU, we were up 38-0 in the second quarter (!) and let the reserves out to battle the Flashes even up. At Indiana, it was 38-10 before the fates demanded respectability. So, this time Tressel confounded those fates. He kicked an early second half field goal so that we skipped the 38 spot and got the Spartans down 41-7. Then we were able to cruise from there…
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It was frustrating watching SJS throw those little 3 and 4 yard completions but I kept thinking, "Man, that's got to hurt the little receivers " who were getting tattooed by a soft-zone-and-frustrated OSU secondary. Sure enough, the Spartans started getting alligator arms in the second half and were listening attentively for DB and LB footsteps. Sooner or later, those hits take their toll…
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And to bring it back around to Miami…I was watching the game with a Miami fan who opined to me, "Ya know, if that 'ol boy Tressel you got there as coach, if he runs the table this year, you guys'll probably name the state after him". And after all the complaining we do, perhaps we should.