Sunday, December 8, 2013

Reflections on a Championship Squandered

As I sit in line at a Bob Evans in nowhere, Indiana, I just can't stop shaking my damn head, and not because I'm jonesing for sausage gravy.

Ohio State's loss in the Big Ten championship just became the latest in the never-ending trail of gut punches suffered by (northern) Ohio fans.

What. The. Hell. Was. That?

It's not like I thought Michigan State would be a walkover. And I got all the pregame howls about the strength of the SEC and the weakness of the Big Ten. But I did not expect the Buckeyes to come out and shit the bed like that.

And by the Buckeyes I mean the defense/special teams and the coaching staff.

The extremely partisan crowd (I'd put it at 80% red, 20% green, which actually made it very festive for the season) was immediately put in a bad mood by two terrible pass interferences and a punt reception interference, three idiotic plays that no accomplished team should make. After the coaches went away early from the unstoppable Carlos Hyde, and the OSU DBs forgot to guard people, all of a sudden Sparty was up 17-0.

And yet I don't think many fans were nervous yet. With a couple quick scores and one more after halftime, all of a sudden it was tied up and soon it was 24-17 good guys.

So what did the brilliant OSU coaches do next? (And for once we are not picking on Luke Fickell.) Abandoned the horse they rode in on, the aforementioned Carlos Hyde. Even on busted runs up the middle Mr. Hyde gets four yards, and if he gets a head of steam it's more like eight or ten. Summarized perfectly up by trying a Braxton Miller run on the critical 4th and 1.5 that basically sealed the game for Michigan State, while Carlos could just block, and MSU completed its 17 point bookend and won, 24-17.

Inexcusable lapses by the coaches and defense. Heartbreaking walk through the cold for the throngs of long faced Buckeyes fans. And a long few weeks coming for the team, who has to know that they can beat Sparty 6 or 7 times out of ten.

And OSU would beat Auburn 8 out of ten times.  Although at this rate those games would be 70-63.

Whether Florida State or Auburn really is the best team in the country, nobody knows or ever will. But I suspect not.

Thank goodness for the playoff system starting next year. Even though Ohio State would likely be watching on television if it were in place this year.

Uggh. An Orange Bowl vs Clemson sounds about as much fun as the Sugar Bowl versus Texas A&M in January 1999. Which is after the last ridiculous loss to Michigan State.