I’m not sure who I’ve angered, but I’ve clearly picked up some serious negative Karma at some point. I apologize to them. I am a horrible person and I am begging for your forgiveness. Your vengeance has shown me the error of my ways.
There were signs all over the weekend that should have told me that OSU was not going to win that game. I’m not talking about the fact that everyone knew that this was, by far, the best D that Ohio State would face all season. Heck, it is likely the best D anyone will face all season. I knew they might cause some problems. Nope, the signs came as I experienced a comedy of errors that were, in retrospect, the Universe trying to clue me in on my eventual sorrow.
First, we had to make it through absolutely horrible weather to even make it to Indy due to Winter Storm Cleon. Next, the hotel had quite a bit of difficulty finding our reservation and it wasn’t looking good for a moment. Later in the evening, there was an awkward encounter with security near the ESPN Game Day set when we stopped for a brief moment to take a picture and subsequently got turned around in an attempt to get around their blockades. The next day, there was an embarrassing mispronunciation of Kenny Guiton’s name at the Buckeye Bash by OSU’s interim President that did not go over well with those in attendance. The list goes on and on and on.
It was all leading up to the big one.
The game looked bad and then it didn’t. OSU took the momentum and everything was coming up Buckeye. Inexplicably, however, Herman stopped going with what worked and everything kind of fell apart. I know, I know. This D consists of a secondary that has given Buckeye Nation nightmares for the better part of this run. We knew that was a problem, though. Who, however, thought there would be a shift in the offensive game plan from what was working?
More pointedly, what thought process was involved in the decision to go into QB draw mode? Yes, Miller had a few big runs. That happens a lot when he is making something out of nothing and the D is busy locking down potential receivers. That is where he shines because once he gets going and defenders try to stop him, they simply can’t because he is too fast and athletic. Miller just wasn’t getting past the line on the designed runs, though, and Hyde was. He was in a position to single handedly win yet another game for The Buckeyes. There were times when every person in that stadium, including the D, knew Hyde was running and he would still gain chunks of yards in impressive fashion. Stick with what works, control the game, control the clock, and, yep, keep the OSU D on the bench.
To hammer this point home, take look at the time of possession per quarter (OSU on left, MSU on right):
1st Quarter 4:15 10:45
2nd Quarter 9:11 5:49
3rd Quarter 9:04 5:56
4th Quarter 4:39 10:21
Now, look a the box score:
Quarter 1 2 3 4 Score
Ohio State 0 10 14 0 24
Michigan State 3 14 3 14 34
Ohio State started their push, after getting down 17-0, in the 2nd quarter. They reeled off 24 unanswered through late in the 3rd. They switched it up and never scored again. Gross.
I’ll be honest; if I hadn’t seen a second of the game and you told me OSU rushed for 273 yards, didn’t have a single turnover, held Sparty to 134 on the ground, and managed to pick off Cook when Sparty was driving, I would have assumed OSU won by at least 2-3 TDs. Of course, that’s not what happened. Instead, Sparty had 304 yards passing, OSU couldn’t control the clock, video of The Buckeye pass coverage could be set to Yakety Sax, and everything sucks.
Oh, hey, did I mention the 304 yards passing came in the form of a Jim Bollman offense being run by a redshirt Sophomore that wasn’t necessarily going to be the starter coming into the season? That in and of itself was a sign of doom. Such stats would have been nice during a couple of big games when Bollman was OC at OSU. I’ll go one further and say that the fact the OSU defensive coaching staff has been outcoached by Al Borges and Jim Bollman in back-to-back weeks is probably the most obvious indication of a need to mix it up on that side of the ball in the off-season.
I handled this loss much better than I have handled other significant OSU losses. I did not jump off a ledge, sob uncontrollably, or find myself listening to Backstreet Boy albums at 4AM as I sipped slowly from a can of cheap beer that had been in my fridge for a couple of years because it was hidden behind a tub of butter. Nope, I took it well. I was down, sure, but it wasn’t horrible. My spouse is even still talking to me, which is a marked improvement from past events.
Part of that is because I knew, deep in my heart, that the woes of the passing defense would eventually catch up to this team. I’m kind of glad it was at the hands of another B1G team. If this had happened in the National Championship game, I would have had to cancel my internet and DirectTv subscriptions. Clemson is a more favorable match-up for this team. It might produce video game numbers, but if they do not allow themselves to get down and actually show up, this will be a great chance to end the BCS era with a win. It will be one of the marquee match-ups and a chance to regain a bit of respect in front of a National audience as it will be the only game available to watch for college football fans desperately clinging to what few games remain.
Also, sometimes a team needs to lose. I realize how that might sound, but, this is going to be a very good, very talented football team next year, especially if a couple of key guys come back. I’ve had the feeling that next year was going to be OSU’s year for some time, even before this season began. The streak was going to end and ending next year would, in my opinion, have been much worse. A one-loss OSU wouldn’t make the top 4. There is too much negativity in the media surrounding the B1G for that to happen. While their schedule is arguably a little stonger next year, I like the odds better than I did if they had run through two straight B1G seasons. Losses stick with a team. It usually makes them a little better. It’s weird how being humbled does that.
“But, Krista, they could have won it all this year, have 26 straight wins, and that would mean they could get a repeat!” My response to that is to just refer to my point about the passing D. The loss needed to come at the hands of the B1G. If they ran the B1G, then got smoked by FSU, it would be the same old song and dance. That song and dance would very much hurt them in the rankings next year. Much in the same regard that I feel Oregon might not get as high of a ranking as usual due to their “we can’t be a strong D” habit. OSU’s “we can’t beat a top OOC team” habit is already hurting them, but it would decimate them next year. It would be a tough fight to get back up high enough to get picked by the council of elders or whatever you call the people who are picking the top 4.
It’s also worth noting there are many players in this system that were recruited because they fit another system entirely. The fact they were turned from 6-7 to 24-1 is amazing. It will only get better as the “new system” guys are plugged in. This will not be OSU’s last trip to Indy, I can assure you.
So, that’s how I’m going to look at this. You can disagree, but if you do, please don’t give me anymore negative Karma points. I’m still behind on cashing these out.