The Eleventh Hour

Imagine that you've been asleep since August 24 and you just woke up today (i.e., you're a customer service representative at your cable company).  You pick up your paper and see that the OHIO STATE BUCKEYES ARE 11-0 AND #1 IN THE BCS!  But you know no details of the season so far – all you know is that the Buckeyes haven't lost a game yet.  You're thrilled, right?

Certainly.  You're thrilled and fearful that you have woken up at the worst of times.  You've seen 11-0 seasons before and they've ended about as well as Rosie O'Donnell's magazine/show/diet/haircut (choose one).  Before you fell asleep in August, you saw that there were 13 regular season games on the schedule.  Undefeated seasons are no good if you're a Buckeye fan and it's not Thanksgiving yet. You're conditioned to fear this.  However, you are still intrigued that the Buckeyes are thus far unscathed and you wonder how that could be, because in August Ohio State was essentially breaking in a new starting quarterback.  Plus, they had more questions in the defensive backfield than a five-year old at Hooters.  Add to that a fat, sloppy and very inexperienced offensive line corps with little depth, and you were expecting no fewer than two losses at this point.  But that's not the case.

11-0?  You knew they were going to beat Penn State, since they always obliterate the Lions in Columbus.  Winning at Wisconsin is tough but somehow a regular occurrence for Ohio State.  At Purdue – sure, that's not too big a shock.  The crappy teams on the early Fall schedule – givens.  But that offensive line…those defensive backs…is 11-0 amazing or expected? 

Now that you've been awake for awhile, we'll break it to you – the answer is both.  The schedule has definitely been a blessing thus far.  The Washington State win has become even more huge it was September 14 – consider that this is a team whose coach complained about OSU keeping their starting running back in at the end of the game, and that this is currently a top 5 BCS team we're talking about.  Penn State is in the top 15 of BCS.  Nobody else is even close, except Michigan, who they have not played yet.  Michigan, who they have not played yet.  Michigan, who…wait, this is vaguely familiar.  This is no good! 

Now you've had a chance to surf the Internet, check out some team message boards and watch ESPN.  11-0 and #1 in the BCS should mean something, but somehow it seems that Ohio State isn't deserving if you buy into many people's opinions in the media and on the Web.  Apparently Iowa, a team that before you went to sleep had celebrated a landmark victory in the mighty Alamo Bowl last year, suddenly got good.  Granted, they lost this season to what looks like this year's Alamo Bowl representative – Iowa State – at home, but it still seems the consensus is that they would beat Ohio State if the two teams played.  The prognosis is that they're way to good offensively for Ohio State.  If you're understanding this correctly, this means that the teams that Iowa outscores – those same teams that Ohio State completely shuts down – are beaten worse by Iowa than by Ohio State, and this makes Iowa better.  This is the reasoning.  And Miami, who has won 400 games in a row, is somehow #2 in the BCS.  Well, this actually doesn't make sense to you, but the Iowa argument is just stupid.  Sure, Iowa could beat OSU if they played.  Florida State might as well.  And USC, and Georgia, and maybe Texas A&M on a good day, but what does that matter?  Iowa lost and Ohio State didn't, and college football's championship works the way it works, so what's the purpose of even proposing that kind of consolatory waste on the Internet and television?  Iowa and Ohio State haven't been scheduled to play in 2002 for a few years now – this isn't news.  We knew they wouldn't play each other last century.  Maybe Iowa shouldn't have been God awful since 1997. Maybe if Iowa beat Ohio State more than once every 10 years, they might have a legitimate beef in a year where both teams are clearly the best in the conference, but don't meet on the field. 

Now that you've wiped the crap out of your eyes and have seen the national perspective, consider the details – Ohio State football.  The offensive line is fatter and sloppier than you remember it.  The defensive backfield has been salvaged by a former (current?) wide receiver and a sophomore would-have-been-a-safety-if-it-weren't-for-depth.  The two safeties have been the biggest liabilities in pass coverage.  The front seven is absolutely carrying the team.  The quarterback is refreshingly better than…no, you cannot remember who the las

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