Showing posts with label Ohio State. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Ohio State. Show all posts

JT Barrett

JT Barrett

I recall reading a tribute to Kobe Bryant in the L.A. Times and a line by the author stuck with me (paraphrasing slightly) "Winners are complicated people. They don't often arrive to us agreeably or untethered to flaws. They anger us. Confound us. Infuriate our senses. They leave us gasping for good and bad reasons. But when the sun sets on their chance meetings with us, we can undeniably say this much about them. They were winners. Dammit, they were winners."

That commentary pretty well sums up J.T Barrett’s career at Ohio State. He was complicated, he had flaws, he confounded us, he angered us, and left us gasping whether it was bad or good. But at the end, he was a winner, whether we as Buckeye fans wanted to accept it or not. 

For me, ever since after his freshmen season, I steadily grew dissatisfied with him. I felt he was the reason why Ohio State couldn't achieve their full potential. I lost count how many times I cursed under my breath whenever a pass sailed over a reciever's head, throwing for 3 yards, or standing in the pocket too long. I sit on the couch with a disgusted look on my face. Whenever they showed head coach Urban Meyer's face, I would yell 

"How long is this shit going to last? Bench him!"

But Urban would never do it, no matter how loud we yelled, bitched or cursed about it. He was loyal to a fault and Buckeye nation was getting fed up. 

Barrett was complicated. He's a humble quiet kid from Wichita Falls, Texas. Despite being that, he was a well respected leader in the locker room. His coaches and teammates loved him. He was a three time captain which has never happened in school history. However, he never had that same respect from the majority of fans who over the past two years started to sour on his performances on the field, especially in big games. Many felt he regressed as time went on. 

On the field, he had flaws. He was a great read option quarterback and ran Urban Meyer's spread offense well. But when it wasn't not working, the offense struggled mightily. Barrett's weakness was his arm and it wasn't particularly strong or accurate. When the passing game wasn't there, the offense became very vanilla. I still believe to this day, had he not been injured during the Michigan game. Ohio State probably doesn't win the national championship, because Barrett couldn't stretch the field like Cardale Jones did. 

Barrett with his broken ankle healing, watched Jones from the sidelines dismantle Wisconsin in the Big Ten Championship. They made it into the college football playoffs as the number 4 seed and were huge underdogs against number 1 Alabama. The Crimson Tide had no answers for Jones and his cannon for an arm as he brought them back from the brink of defeat and eventually won the Sugar Bowl. For the finale, the Buckeyes defeated the Oregon Ducks and won the National Championship. The 3rd string headcase that orchestrated one of the most remarkable playoff run in sports. He would be forever immortalized in Buckeye lore. Barrett would have to wait for the following season to get his shot at a title. 

Sadly, that never came. In 2015, he lost his starting job to Jones. But, Jones struggled and eventually Barrett got his job back. All looked great until the team suffered a devastating last second loss to Michigan State, eliminating them from the playoffs. The following year, Ohio State made into the playoffs even though they didn't win their division. They go up against Clemson who are the number one ranked team. The Buckeyes are humiliated 31-0 and Barrett is the scape goat as the team fails to generate any offense. After the season is over, Barrett who has graduated is free to play anywhere. He announces that he's coming back for his 5th season. Some fans are not happy, many want a new quarterback as they felt Barrett wasn't the answer. Others are optimistic as head coach Urban Meyer has overhauled the coaching staff on the offensive side of the ball. 

This past season was Barrett's last shot and it doesn't take long for the fans to turn on as they lose to Oklahoma in week two. He struggles to pass the ball and is inaccurate. Once again, fans want a change, but Urban Meyer continues to stick with him. What sends the rest of the fan base over the edge is the embarrassing loss to unranked Iowa. The week before, Barrett rallies the Buckeyes to a huge comeback win against Penn State. With 2 losses, the odds of them getting back into the playoffs is slim. They go undefeated for the rest of the season and win the Big Ten championship. The win is underwhelming as Barrett has an average game. The playoff committee announces their decision and Ohio State is not in the playoffs. In bitter twisted of irony, Alabama gets in, even though they didn't win their conference. The Buckeyes settle for the Cotton Bowl. 

The Cotton Bowl was Barrett's swan song. Ohio State defeated USC on the strength of the defense. Barrett on the other hand struggled and many fans were just happy to see the last of him. Barrett was a good quarterback against lesser opponents, struggled against good defenses and was demolished against elite defenses. However, there's no denying Barrett's accomplishments. He holds virtually ever record at Ohio State and the Big Ten as a quarterback. 

  • 769 of 1,211 passing, 9,434 yards, 63.5 percent completions, 104 touchdowns, 30 interceptions.

  • 656 carries, 3,263 rushing yards, 5 yard average, 43 touchdowns.

  • 147 total touchdowns, 12,697 total yards, both Big Ten records.

  • 50 games, 44 starts, 38-6 as a starter.

Amazing stats, but there's that sense of he never really accomplished any worthy other than winning a Big Ten title and a couple bowl games. When he came out and said he was going to come back last season, I knew Ohio State's chances at winning a national title were gone. Ever since offensive coordinator Tom Herman left, he regressed. That was even more so when Tim Beck was the quarterback and co-offensive coordinator. The fact was very clear that Barrett was one demensional. His lack of arm strength and accuracy, is what kept the Buckeyes from being that elite team. Unlike his opponent in the Cotton Bowl, USC's Sam Darnold who is projected to be the number 1 draft pick, Barrett will most likely go undrafted in the upcoming NFL draft. His performance especially in the 2nd half was so bad that I couldn't even stay awake to watch it. The next morning I read the box score and I wasn't surprised. He was a pedestrian 11 for 17 for 114 yards and was the leading rusher for 66 yards. He just did enough for his team to win which was the case most of the time.

That would the last memory for many Ohio State fans, the most winningest quarterback in school, who set all of the records, never delivered that title. He will be a lighting rod for debate whether he's one of the best players to wear a Buckeye uniform. But dammit he was a winner.

We Did It! - National Champions!

OH-IO! The team of destiny finally finished off a fairy tale of a season. It was something right out of Hollywood. A young team that dealt with adversity from day one and was never given a chance of winning it all. They proved their critics wrong and put together one of the greatest stories in college football. It was a bittersweet victory as they brought home their first national title since 2002. Head coach Urban Meyer, a native of Ashtabula, Ohio was hired back in 2012 and many felt he would be the coach to bring another title to Ohio State. In his third year, he delivered the goods with probably the best coaching job in college history.

Unlike the Sugar Bowl game, I was fairly confident that Ohio State could beat the Ducks for two reasons. Ohio State's record against Oregon is 8 and 0. The second reason is Oregon has never been able to win against teams that play smash mouth football. For years, their rival Stanford was able to beat them because they were a big physical team. I remember watching the 2010 Rose Bowl against Oregon and Ohio State neutered Oregon's high-octane offense by controlling the line of scrimmage, pounding the rock and wearing out the Ducks defense. Ohio State had a stable of stud running backs, a monstrous quarterback in Terrelle Pryor and a punishing offensive line that turned the Quack Attack into foie gras. It was old fashion Big Ten football and Ohio State set a Rose Bowl record for time of possession, controlling the ball for over 40 minutes. It was an epic ass kicking. 

This time Ohio State would be facing the Heisman winner in Marcus Mariota. Last week, his team blew out last season's national champs Florida State and many had them winning their first title. The Buckeyes had beaten the two other finalists in Melvin Gordon and Amari Cooper. Both of them were held in check and never factored in their games. Could Ohio State pull off the trifecta? 

The Buckeyes didn't make it easy for themselves as they turned the ball over four times. But the defense held the high-speed Duck offense to 10 points from those turnovers and only allowed them to score 20 points. Oregon could sneeze and score 20 points. The closest Oregon got was when the score was 21-20. Ohio State hunkered down and put together two long drives. They were up by two touchdowns and the Ducks couldn't stop the run. Oregon made a last stand deep in their zone. Mariota threw an incomplete pass and the Ducks turned the ball over on downs. I whooped and hollered as I knew the game was over. Ohio State tried to use as much time as possible, but Oregon still has two timeouts. The Buckeyes were short on 3rd down, but the Ducks were called for offsides. Ohio State was 1st and goal with less than a minute and everybody thought - take a knee and celebrate. Not Urban, he had Ducks by the throat and finished them off by snapping their neck. Elliot barreled in and the final score was 42-20. Another Heisman bites the dust.

The true unsung heroes were the Slobs - the Buckeyes offensive line. Four of them were first-time starters and during the Virginia Tech game, they were clearly overmatched. But as the season progressed, they got better as a unit. The Slobs mauled the Ducks defense and cleared holes for Ezekiel Elliot who went into full beast mode shredding them for a national championship record for 246 yards of rushing and scoring 4 touchdowns. This was Elliot's third consecutive game with more than 200 yards of rushing. As for the defense, both coaches Fickell and Ash called a brilliant game. They rotated players and they held their own against the up-tempo pace of the Ducks. I take back every bad thing I said about Fickell, because last year, I wanted his head on a platter. 

As the clock hit zero, the Buckeyes stormed the field. While this game didn't have the drama and suspense of the 2002 game, it was a game for the ages. If you asked me back in August after Miller was lost for the season, if Ohio State would have won the national championship, I would say you're full of it. They were never respected, never given a chance and always viewed as inferior. But they sneered and played with a chip on their shoulders. Urban Meyer made them believe that they were the best and all he wanted was for them to give their best effort. The new playoff system worked because if it was the old BCS system, it would have been Alabama and Florida State. The Buckeyes peaked at the right time and no pun intended took the ball and ran, never looking back. Somewhere Mark May one of the ESPN college football commentators and resident Ohio State hater was served a huge helping of crow as many others were. 

Cardale Jones will be forever in Buckeye lore. A troubled youth from one of the poorest neighborhoods in Cleveland, he came off the bench with no starts or experience and won the Big Ten title, the Sugar Bowl, and the National title. He beat three of the Heisman finalists. On Thursday, Jones announced he would be coming back to Ohio State, instead of entering the NFL draft. Only a handful of starters will be graduating and none of the underclassmen declared for the draft. That means the majority of impact players will be returning. This team will be stacked and Meyer won't let them become complacent. The future looks really bright. Can't wait for the beginning of the upcoming season when they play Virginia Tech. 

Buckeyes Hold Back the Tide

The Buckeyes slayed the giant of college football, the Crimson Tide of Alabama. It was an inspiring and nerve-racking win as the young Buckeyes dealt with adversity and overcame challenges even before the season started. Here's a timeline of what happened
  • Two-time Big Ten offensive player of the year and starting quarterback Braxton Miller blows out his shoulder 12 days before the season starts. They were ranked #5
  • Redshirt freshman quarterback J.T Barrett wins the starting job even though he hasn't played football in two years
  • They get pummeled by Virginia Tech and drop in the rankings all the way to #22
  • Penn State takes them to double overtime and they pull out the win
  • They beat #8 Michigan State and take over the Big Ten East
  • They beat Indiana and win the Big Ten East division
  • Player Kosta Karageorge commits suicide before the Michigan game
  • The last game of the season, they beat Michigan. The win is costly as J.T Barrett, now a Heisman candidate breaks his ankle. Before his injury, Barrett breaks Drew Brees Big Ten record for most touchdowns in one season with 45 and passes for over 2800 yards
  • They end the regular season 11-1, and 8-0 in the Big Ten
  • They go into the Big Ten Championship game with their 3rd quarterback Cardale Jones, who's never started a game. 
  • They annihilate Wisconsin to the score of 59-0 after many (including me) thought they wouldn't win. Jones passes for 257 yards and 3 touchdowns.
  • They held Wisconsin's Melvin Gordon - the top running back in the nation and Heisman finalist to under 100 yards
  • They make it into the playoffs as the playoff committee votes them in as the 4th seed
A lot of teams would have folded like a tent if they had a season like Ohio State had. But a lot of teams don't have a coach like Urban Meyer. If you told me at the start of the season Barrett would have the season like he had, I would say lay down the crack pipe. I had them winning maybe 9 games and it would have been a case of better luck next year. But as the season progressed, they got stronger and stronger. Meyer has done a masterful job of guiding this young team, mostly of freshman and sophomores. He never allowed them to feel sorry for themselves or making excuses. How he didn't win coach of the year is beyond me. 

Despite hammering Wisconsin with their third quarterback, the national media still had reservations about having the Buckeyes in the playoffs. The 800-pound gorilla was the loss to Virginia Tech. That loss was the second game of the season, with a new quarterback and four new starters on the offensive line. That loss happened so long ago, that it becomes irrelevant. I couldn't name one team that could put out their third quarterback and win in a pressure cooker like a championship game. For weeks the talking heads debated furiously who should be in and should be out.

The day after the win, the committee made their decision. Ohio State was ranked 5th, Baylor was 6th and TCU was 3rd. The playoff committee came out the four seeds - Alabama, Oregon, Florida State and Ohio State. There were howls of protest

"The Big Ten is the weakest of the five power conferences"

"They only got in because they're Ohio State, it's all about the money"

"TCU drops from 3rd to 6th, how's that possible, they blew out Iowa State?"

"The Buckeyes will be humiliated once again"

The haters couldn't hide their disdain for the Buckeyes as many said Alabama would destroy and humiliate them on the national stage. Alabama was the number one seed and they won the SEC title. I thought the Buckeyes would lose a close game. Some people would call me out for not being a true fan, but I see games in black and white. Saban was the best coach in college football and the Tide crushed Missouri in the SEC championship. But a friend of mine told me Ohio State was a team of destiny. It made me pause for a second - team of destiny, interesting. The media and other fans also gave the Buckeyes a snowball chance in hell of beating Alabama. After all, they've won three national titles in a five-year period. Most predicted a massacre and the game would be over quickly. 

It had all the makings of a massacre early on as the Buckeyes turned the ball over twice and Alabama scored on those turnovers. The score was 21-6 and Ohio State seemed lost. Jones seemed to struggle and I wondered when he would succumb to the pressure. I chugged a beer and muttered

"C'mon, guys you have nothing to lose"

Eventually, they settled down and started fighting back, showing that resolve they've displayed all season long. I started to get back into the game with more interest. Near the end of the 1st half, they pulled a play out of the bag of tricks. Both quarterback and the running back did a double reverse and then wideout Evan Spencer throws a beautiful pass into the end zone. Wideout Mike Thomas makes a highlight catch as he leaps in the air and snags the ball. He lands on one foot with an inch to spare on the line. The score was 21-20, it's a game again and the momentum has swung. I remember what my friend said about a team of destiny. Maybe the football gods have decided that Ohio State is the chosen ones, but they must finish the game. 

In the second half, they scored again taking advantage of Alabama's only weakness - their secondary. Jones throws a 55-yard bomb to Devin Smith and Ohio State is up 27-21. I crack open another beer and start thinking

"Shit, they might pull this off"

Alabama quarterback Blake Sims throws an interception and defensive end Steve Miller rumbles in for the score 34-21. The breaks are going Ohio State's way, but anybody who follows football knows that momentum can shift quickly. Alabama scores late in the third and score is 34-28 with the fourth quarter starting. I'm starting to sweat, my heart is racing a little faster and the beer goes down faster - 15 minutes until the game is over. The Buckeyes offense stalls and they couldn't move the ball. They go three and out and they're pinned deep. Then a couple of penalties are called against them, making it even worse them. Are the gods going to deny them or are they going to hand them another break? They punted deep in their end zone with barely any field to work with. The punter gets it off fast and it's a terrible punt. The ball barely gets out and it takes a Bama bounce - all the way back to their 23-yard line. It's a gift-wrapped touchdown for the Tide. I'm stunned and blurt out

"We're so fucked"

Only a fumble or an interception would save them. Sims throws an interception on the first attempt at the 1-yard line. The team of destiny dodges a bullet. I'm texting back and forth with friends and none of them can believe what's happening. Neither team can muster any offense. I look at the clock, under four minute which in football feels like an hour. Ohio State starts to move the ball and the momentum swings big time. Ohio State's running back Zeke Elliot blows through a hole and runs 85 yards for the touchdown. The Buckeyes fans in the Superdome go crazy and the Tide fans are stunned. Ohio State goes for the two-point conversion and gets it. The score 42-28 with less than three minutes. Most people think the game is in the bag right? I've watched enough football that I know the game is over when the clock shows zero. Alabama is one of those team that scores very fast and I'm sweating a little harder. The Tide marches down the field and Ohio State gives up a huge play as one of the Tide wide receivers blows by two Ohio State defenders. 


It sets up a touchdown and score is 42-35 and it becomes a one-possession game with less than 2 minutes. Alabama attempts an onside kick and it's a textbook kick. The ball bounces high and Even Spencer leaps high and with the tips of his fingers grabbed the ball. All Ohio State has to do is move the chains and run the clock out. That seems logical right? Urban Meyer then picks the worse time to have a massive brain cramp - he throws on first down and Jones goes deep. I'm stunned

"What the hell is he doing?"

The pass is incomplete and they barely used any of the clock. I screaming

"Pound the rock!"

Alabama is too good of a team to give them another chance. That cute play might come back to bite Meyer in the ass. Ohio State goes three and out. I'm getting sweaty palms as Alabama once again starts marching down the field and clock is moving far too slow. Ohio State's defense makes a couple key stops, but there's less than 30 seconds left on the clock, plenty of time to score and tie the game. Alabama moves the chains and they're at midfield. Sims throws a deep pass to the end zone and two Buckeyes deflect the ball. I look at the TV and there are 8 seconds left and Alabama has no timeouts, everybody knows what's coming - the Hail Mary. Sims moves out of the pocket and chucks the ball with all his might. I watch it sail high, making its way to the end zone. The entire stadium is standing and Buckeyes fans across the country are at the edge of their seats. There's a group of players waiting to jump. I'm at the edge of the couch choking the beer bottle. The ball continues on its downward arch and I hear Brad Nessler's play-by-play

"Deep - Hail Mary! Not answered! Intercepted"

The ball goes right into the hands of Ohio State's Tyvis Powell. He grabs it and runs out the end zone, I see the clock - 0:00

I erupt with cheers and a volley of f-bombs. Buckeye fans are in delirium. They pulled off the upset, they beat the supposed giant of college football. Ohio State punched their ticket to the national championship to play against the Oregon Ducks. The team that a lot of people counted out at the beginning of the season, overcame the odds. I really believe this is a team of destiny, we'll see what happens next Monday in Dallas.

Wasted Season

So much for the 24 game winning streak. The past two losses was all the ammo needed for the Buckeyes haters.

"You guys played nothing but cupcakes"

"OSU stands for Overrated State University"

"The Big Ten sucks"

"Urban Meyer is going to have another health crisis and retire, you watch"

"FSU would of destroyed you in the National Championship game"

Yeah, yeah we get it. Maybe the haters were right. I'm a big Buckeyes fan and I knew when to put down the Kool-Aid and take off the rose colored glasses. Ohio State was a unsound team, there I said it. I thought they were going all the way to the beginning of the streak. I was at the Cal game back in September of 2012 and Ohio State won despite giving up over 500 yards of total offense. The 2nd half was a disaster and a long bomb from Miller sealed the win late in the 4th. It was as ugly as a win as you can get. The won several tight games against Michigan State, Purdue, Indiana and Michigan. Some how, some way, they found ways to win. A lot that was from new head coach Urban Meyer. He coached a team that didn't have a chance to play for a championship because of NCAA infractions. Every game he was able to keep them focused. They finished the season undefeated and it was miraculous considering the year before Tressel had resigned, disgraced star quarterback Terrelle Pryor bolted for the NFL, and sanctions and player suspensions crippled the Buckeyes to a 6-7 season. With much of the team intact, Buckeye nation was thinking of a shot at a national championship the following year. 

Looking at the schedule, I thought they had a chance to undefeated again. The only real threats were Wisconsin and Michigan, who always played the Buckeyes tough. Just like every other elite teams in division I, they had several cupcakes on the menu. The first three cupcakes were dispatched fairly easily. Then chinks in the armor started to appear when they played Cal. The Golden Bears are the Bad News Bears of the PAC-12. Even without starting QB Braxton Miller, the Buckeyes would be able to fend off them off. They certainly did that in the 1st half as the explosive offense scored three touchdowns. Then Cal started to chip away at the lead and the secondary got caught with their pants down. There wasn't any sign of pass rushing from the front four or blitzing. I watched and couldn't believe how many 3rd down conversions they were giving up. The only thing that kept the Buckeyes from losing was Cal's defense - it even worse than Ohio State's. The Buckeyes running backs blew through holes and scored without resistance. The final score was 52-34 and the Buckeyes put up over 600 yards of total offense. However, they gave up over 500 yards just like the year before. Buckeye nation wasn't too worried, they figured the coaching staff would fix the problem before they played their conference or we hoped.

It seemed game after game, the secondary got man handled and beaten. Wisconsin passed for nearly 300 yards. Northwestern almost pulled off an upset as they torched them for 343 yards through the air. I cursed and watched in disgust. The eggheads of Evanston usually get stomped.

"We do have a pass defense, right?"

"What the hell is Roby doing?"

"Is Fickle even awake? What's with the soft coverage? Assholes"

I wanted to fire a brick through the TV set. At one point I turned the game off. I couldn't stand it anymore, the suspense was killing me. I took a deep breath and turned on the TV. The Buckeyes scored and were down by seven. Running back Carlos Hyde was a wrecking ball in the second half. He smashed the Wildcats defense and wore them down. They took the lead in the late 4th quarter and a Northwestern fumble in the end zone at the end of regulation secured the win. They gave up 30 points and lived to fight for another week. 

The boiling point for me was the Iowa game. Iowa is a middle of the road team in the Big Ten. They were always good for 7 to 8 wins a year. Once in a while, they would catch a better team with their pants down. Today it was the Buckeyes turn. The Hawkeyes dominated them in the first half. They marched down field and the defense couldn't stop them. 

"Here we go again, same shit different week"

I could hear the scattering of boos from the stands. The fans were getting restless and pissed. At the end of the 2nd quarter they were trailing 17-10. I hoped Meyer would rip them new assholes. Whatever was said in the locker room, seem to work, because they came out in the second half as a different team. They ran the ball with a sense of purpose and the defense made a key interception late in the 4th quarter. They squeaked out a win. It seemed they turned the corner when they hammered Penn State 63-14 and Purdue 56-0, in both games the defense played well. A lot of happy faces throughout Ohio or we thought. Then the gremlin reappeared during the Illinois and Indiana games. 

"C'mon, it's Illinios! A high school team could beat these clowns!"

They gave up over 30 points to one of the worst teams in the Big Ten. I was at the point that the coaching staff had no answer for the pass defense. I guess their philosophy was score fast and score often. Last year, Indiana almost gave the Buckeyes a heart attack as they almost pulled off the upset in the late 4th quarter. Indiana played the spread and they had one of the most explosive offenses. They also have one of the worst defenses in the nation. But the Hoosiers took advantage of the shaky Ohio State secondary. They moved the ball with relative ease. Being down by 28 points, the Hoosiers had no choice but to go for it on 4th down. Ohio State gave them plenty of chances and they couldn't convert. The final score made look like Ohio State stomped them, but had they converted on those 4th downs, who knew. Most of fans didn't give a shit, because scUM was next and the perfect season was on the line. 

Ohio State has owned scUM for the last 12 years as they won 11 games against them. Michigan this year has been awful. They almost lost to the pathetic Akron Zips and UConn. How pathetic were the Zips? They won 3 games in 3 years. The Appalachian State loss was still fresh in Michigan fans memory. Akron had them on the ropes with seconds left and couldn't score. I taped the game on the DVR and went fishing because I knew I would never be able to watch it. I would have a meltdown if they lost. I would periodically check the score as I fished. The game was tight in the 1st quarter and then the Buckeyes took the lead. On the way home, I listened on the radio and my frustration started to mount. The pass defense wasn't able to contain Michigan's QB Devin Gardner, who this past season has taken more hits than a tackling dummy. A couple weeks ago, Michigan State made his life a living hell as they pummeled him all game long. Little brother kicked the living shit out of big brother that day. The game when back and forth, just like any rivalry should. I arrived home and turned on the TV and the Wolverines fought back and tied the game with 30 seconds left. I sat at the edge of the couch, choking the remote and broke into a sweat. Michigan was going for the win. No tying the game or going to overtime. Michigan coach Brady Hoke rolled the dice and went for the 2 point conversion. 

"Fat bastard has balls to go for it, he'll regret it"

Buckeye fans across the nation held their breath. The entire season was on the line as was the chance of going to a national championship. I watched Gardner threaded a pass right into the chest Ohio State's Tyvis Powell - my heart stopped. Powell was tackled and the entire stadium fell silent. I watched thousands of Michigan fans with their mouths wide open. Michigan did the on-side kick and Ohio State recovered. The Buckeyes ran out the clock and the final score was 42-41. It wasn't pretty and the stat sheet told the story 

1st downs - 31
3rd down efficiency - 8 of 14
Passing yards - 451 
Rushing - 152
Total yards - 603

Pathetic, not what you want going into the Big Ten championship. They ended the regular season undefeated. They almost lost to a bad Michigan team. If Ohio State was a cat, they used up the last of their nine lives. 

Then they got hit by a truck called the Michigan State Spartans. They had the number one ranked defense in the nation and Ohio State had one of the top offenses. It was dubbed the unstoppable force against the immovable object. Something had to give. Ohio State's offense was based on Braxton Miller and Carlos Hyde. All Sparty had to do was put the defenders in the box and dare them to run. The Buckeyes stumbled and when it looked it all was lost, they  overcame a 17 point deficit. 

"Meyer is getting out coached"

" Why the hell aren't they running Hyde? This shit is getting old"

In the second half they were leading, but that porous pass defense couldn't stop them. Ohio State's defense made Michigan State's QB Conner Cook look like Peyton Manning. Cook wasn't even projected to be the starting QB at the start of the season. As a high school player, he was a 2 star recruit and his home state Buckeyes wouldn't dare waste a scholarship on such a lowly ranked player. Once Sparty shut them down offensively, their chance for a national championship started to fade. In the fourth quarter, I watched Hyde standing on the sideline. His expression mirrored mine - frustration. I felt disgusted because they had all season to fix the pass defense. They had true freshmen, Vonn Bell a 5 star safety, who saw limited action all season. He was the prized recruit that the Buckeyes wanted. At least, they could of shaken up the defense and sent a message - If you can't get the job done, somebody else is going to do it. Too little too late. They couldn't convert on 4th down and Sparty put the dagger in their heart. Miller got stuffed as he couldn't get two measly yards. Hyde was on the sideline. The 24 game winning streak was over. I was actually glad they lost, because they weren't a championship team. Ohio State had to lick their wounds and wait for the rankings. Most likely they would get a decent bowl game and that something Buckeye fans didn't want to hear. 

As expected they dropped in the rankings and settled for the Orange Bowl against Clemson. It was two offensive powered teams that had high hopes in the beginning of the season and both had disappointing finishes. Ohio State was missing a couple of key players in Spence and Roby. It was a sloppy game and it could of went either way. 

"Seriously? They had a month to prepare"

"Tressel would never put up with this bullshit"

Both teams made mental errors and they slugged it out. It went back and forth, like two fighters trading blows. But in the end, the knockout punch was Miller throwing an interception late in the 4th quarter right after the Buckeyes picked off Clemson's quarterback. That sealed their fate and they fell short and lost by 5 points. The box score showed why the Buckeyes lost - 576 yards of total offense and 376 of it was through the air. Unlike the last game, Urban Meyer wasn't seen sitting on a golf cart stunned and eating cold pizza.

Ohio State's 24 game winning streak has lost a lot of its luster. What did the winning streak accomplish? Nothing, because they have nothing to show for it. Braxton Miller has been voted the Big Ten offensive player of the year twice. But he has no Big Ten championship or bowl win. He's coming back for his senior season to prove that he can be a winner. That might be a tall order as the Buckeyes are losing 4 members of their stellar offensive line. Stud running back and team MVP Carlos Hyde will be gone. On defense, they lost their best player in Ryan Shazier who was a beast for the past two seasons. Also gone are shitty safeties Corey (Pitt the Pylon) Brown and CJ Barnett. Both were practically useless all season long. All American cornerback Bradley Roby is also leaving for the NFL and his draft stock dropped like a rock as he struggled all season long. Defensive end coach Mike Vrabel left for a job in the NFL. He did a great job with the front four and they stuffed the run in a lot of games, plus he was voted the best recruiter in the nation. That leaves defensive coordinator and team numb nuts Luke Fickell. Why he hasn't been fired yet is beyond me.

I hope for the love of god that Fickell is fired and fired soon. For the past two years, I've watched this dolt stand on the sideline chewing his cud playing soft zone coverage and not blitzing enough. He's without a doubt the Achille's heel of the Buckeyes. They have the talent, but if you can't coach the basics, then it's a waste. Urban Meyer has to fix the defense and that means going after the best coaches that are available or Ohio State will suffer another lost season. 

Ohio State is going into the 2014 season on a two game losing streak. The Big Ten has shuffled the divisions again and Ohio State is in the same division as Michigan State, Michigan and Penn State. If they lose out in their division, a lot of people are going to start questioning Urban Meyer. There was a lot of hype when he got hired and many thought the Buckeyes would be bound for a National Title in the near future. He's considered one of the best recruiters in the nation and Ohio State has the second best recruiting class for the upcoming season. This will be his third season and many are expecting him to lead them to a National Championship soon- we'll see.


September 15th was a date that was circled on my calender. It was the Ohio State vs California game in Columbus. This was going to be my first live college football game. I've always been a big fan of the college game and preferred it over the NFL. The student athletes play with more passion, the traditions, the game is more pure, and the atmosphere is electrifying. 

This is the first season under the tutelage of new head coach Urban Meyer - the 2 time national champion at Florida. This is a home coming for Meyer as he's a native of Ashtabula, Ohio and started his coaching career at Ohio State. He replaced Jim Tressel after he resigned during the tattoo scandal that eventually cost the Buckeyes all of their 2010 wins and Sugar Bowl victory and their first losing season since 1988. I was never a big fan of "Tressel Ball", so I wasn't terribly sad to see him go. This year, they're banned from a bowl game and many consider this a rebuilding season. Meyer is considered one of the best recruiters and he has secured some of the best talent in the nation so the future looks bright for Buckeye Nation.

We left Rocky River early Saturday morning and it was a beautiful warm day for a game. We headed south on I-71 to Columbus and on the drive down we could see many Buckeyes fans dressed in scarlet and gray. We exit the freeway and it was a wall of traffic. As we walked to the stadium, we could see groups of people tail gating and off in the distance we could hear a live band playing. Everybody was in a festive mood, people tossing a ball, playing corn hole, pounding back beers and grilling food. In the distance, I could see the fabled horsehoe. The Shoe is considered one of the best stadiums to watch a college game and it's steep in history. We were in a sea of scarlet and gray as hundreds of fans of all ages walked through the tunnel hooting and hollering towards the rotunda. Mixed with some of the chants were the famous "Fuck Michigan". 

Our seats were in the D level under the press box. After a long climb up to the section, we settled in as the Ohio State marching band came out getting ready to perform the Buckeye Battle Cry. The seats were great as we were on the 35 yard line. As they assembled on the field, the crowd was getting worked up. Then the drum major ran out to the middle of the field got the band started. Over 100,000 people started singing the Battle Cry and it was amazing. That's what makes college football so special, the tradition unique to a particular school and Ohio State's is their marching band and its fans. They put on a spectacular show of precision as they performed "Script Ohio". After the national anthem, Cal entered the stadium to a chorus of boos and when the Buckeyes came running out, the place erupted. 

The Buckeyes raced out to take the lead but as the game progressed Cal started chipping away and eventually took the lead. The Buckeyes struggled in the 3rd and 4th quarters. With minutes left in the 4th quarter, quarterback Braxton Miller tossed a perfect ball to wide open Devin Smith and ran it 70 yards to secure the win. It was an ugly one as they gave up over 500 yards of total offence. This year they might win 10 games but it will be seen whether they can hang with the big boys of the Big Ten - Nebraska, Michigan State, Wisconsin and the hated Michigan Wolverines. But a win is a win in my book.

We hung around after the game and watched the band perform several songs before playing the battle cry one more time as they marched their way out through the tunnel. After the game we wandered along the street and many of the bars were packed with fans looking to celebrate and quench their thirst. We drove to High Street and my urbanspoon app picked out a bargain gem a place called the Press Grille. It was a little quaint cozy restaurant filled with students and young professionals. The food and beer was delicious and I soaked in all of the experience and I'll never forget it. We made the long drive home and I'm grateful that my fishing partner Bubba - a former player was gracious enough to give us tickets. It's an experience that any college football fan should do and it was one of those things on my bucket list. I'm looking forward to attending another one in the near future.