If a team wants to win a National Championship, they must step up and make big plays.
Now you are probably saying "no-kidding" or "that's a no-brainer" or even "gee, you are really going out on a limb saying that general comment...give me a break." Say what you want, but it is true. You have to make plays. Sometimes being sound in the kicking game isn't good enough. Sometimes avoiding turnovers isn't good enough. Sometimes playing good red zone defense isn't good enough. We ran into a typical Barry Alvarez team in Madison and we played fairly sharp. We weren't fumbling, or throwing interceptions, or missing kicks. We definitely were not perfect, but our play wasn't at all ugly. We were chugging along doing our usual "keys to game" just fine, but we were behind in a Big Ten road test.
3rd and 7 on the OSU 15…Deep post caught by Jenkins with three defenders surrounding him.
3rd and 11 on OSU 29…Fade route picked off by Chris Gamble.
4th and 4 on OSU 26…74 yard punt by Groom.
Those are called big plays. Big plays are only made by special players. When the game was on the line, OSU made them and Wisconsin did not make them. We specifically recruit players that can make those plays. That is what separates OSU, Oklahoma, Miami, Michigan, Notre Dame, etc. from the mediocre Division I teams. I don't want to hear Wisconsin say we were lucky that Gamble picked off the pass or we were lucky when Jenkins caught the deep ball late in the game. We recruit those players to do that.
I didn't consider Michigan State lucky when Plaxico Burrress was winning jump balls against us in 98. He was a great player and he made the plays. I didn't consider Charles Woodson lucky when he picked OSU off in the red zone in 97. He was a talented player and Michigan brought him in to make those plays in big games.
The same holds true for the Buckeyes. We didn't win a fluke in Madison. We didn't squeak that game out. We went in there and did what OSU is supposed to do. When the play-calling is even, when the fundamentals are even, when the physical aspect of the game is even, you had better have some play-makers.
-Andy Groom - 50+ yard average.
-Dustin Fox - Broke up key passes that would have moved the chains for the Badgers.
-Chris Gamble - It is absolutely amazing that he can get so few reps at cornerback and make it look that easy. I just can't explain it. Chris looks so natural in those big situations. As a sports fan, I am really impressed. That is not vertical jump, or 40-yard dash, or shuttle run, or bench press…that is just unexplainable athleticism.