Running up the score: Who cares?

“Because I couldn’t go for three!” ~ Woody Hayes

The above quote was in reference to a failed Ohio State two-point conversion at the expense of the Wolverines en route to a 50-14 beatdown in 1968. Later, Buckeye players revealed that there was actually some confusion and they botched the kick and Woody was covering for them. The statement has been recited in Buckeye lore for as long as fans can remember, but seems to hold some relevance to this day.

Sad about your score? Go play intramurals, brother!

Sad about your score? Go play intramurals, brother!

What’s the big deal about going for the jugular?

There was a time that it did seem a bit unnecessary as voters, fans and even recruits only cared about wins. Those days are long gone. Remember why OSU dropped in the polls the first time? It was because they didn’t beat Buffalo “badly enough” for the voters. Clemson and Oregon were thrashing opponents and jumped The Buckeyes. Winning, in the eyes of the pollsters, is no longer everything.

Yet while the Oregons, Bamas and FSUs of the world are being exulted for the beatdowns they are doling out, a funny thing is happening in Columbus. Ohio State’s beatdowns are resulting in incessant whining from the media about running up the score.

Why the double standard?

If a team cannot stop another team, what should happen? Should OSU have taken a knee the entire 4th quarter? Ohio State had a third, yes, third, string QB in at one point. Braxton was not padding stats, Hyde had long since been given the rest of the night off, and even Guiton was benched. If a team’s first string is getting their butts handed to them by the second and third string, well, that’s just unfortunate for that team’s starters.

Also, how condescending would a move like that be? If I am a member of a team that is getting walloped, I would be way more offended if the other team just quit playing. That’s a pity move. I don’t know of any competitive athlete who is a big fan of pity moves. If they are, then I would question their competitiveness. They will likely try harder, they may circle the next game on the calendar, but they do not want a show of pity.

Two things have been pointed to by the naysayers. One, OSU going for it on 4th against FAMU and Meyer challenging the PSU spot. In regards to the first instance, had they stopped OSU on a simple run play, they had great field position. In regards to the second, coaches gotta coach. Where was the whining when Louisville had Bridgewater in tossing 42 yard TD passes against EKU in the 4th quarter to go up 44-7? Where was the outrage when Mariota was tossing 17 yard TD passes in the 4th quarter against WSU when the outcome was far from being in doubt? Why is it a great show of strength when other teams do it, but horrible sportsmanship when The Buckeyes do it?

For the record, Ohio State kept it on the ground the entire second half against FAMU. OSU’s leading rusher that day? It was Ezekiel Elliott. Elliott is a true Freshman sitting about 4th on the OSU depth chart. Running up the score? Please. It was called playing a game. Elliott also made an appearance in the PSU game alongside the aforementioned 3rd sting QB, Cardale Jones. Man, look at them flexing their muscle with the starters!

Speaking of the PSU game, as you probably know unless you have been living under a rock and avoiding all coverage of that game, PSU beat OSU 63-14 in 1994. No one said JoePa ran up the score that day, even though JoePa had no issues piling on in the second half.

Interestingly enough, #1 PSU dropped in the polls after that win. Why? Well, #3 Nebraska beat #2 Colorado 24-7 and jumped them all the way to #1. Penn State also finished the season ranked second. History may very well repeat itself.

The only chance OSU has at a National Championship berth is for the teams ahead of them to lose. Period. Is the B1G as weak as the pundits say? Maybe. Maybe not. They haven’t looked sharp, but the fact that other teams get the “strength” nod based solely upon a ranking made by humans doesn’t really say much. They also have to win big. Close games against inferior opponents will only get them jumped by some one-loss teams. Some will whine about this, especially if Ohio State throttles Purdue, Indiana and Illinois by similar results and there is one “Urban Meyer made me feel bad” call in the game.

Hopefully, the whining is dulled by a B1G championship and either a Rose Bowl or National Championship. At that point, no one cares what the windbags at ESecPN have to say.

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