Sunday, January 11, 2009

Did Ohio State Regain Any Respect With Their Fiesta Bowl Performance?

Written by HD Handshoe
Founder—College Football Crack House
Featured Columnist for

Ohio State has a rich, storied football history and tradition, but recently, you almost wouldn't know it.

While the Buckeyes have won no less than 10 games in each of the last four seasons (43-8 overall) and just played in their fourth straight BCS Bowl game, they've come up short against several of the nation's best teams in the last two BCS Championship games, as well as the so-called "Game of the Year" this season—losing convincingly 35-3 to USC.

Many have speculated as to why the Buckeyes appear to not be able to win big games on the national stage.

Is it poor game-planning?

Perhaps just a case of bad play calling?

Does Ohio State—and the Big Ten as a whole, for that matter—truly lack the team speed of the SEC or Big 12?

The exact reason why the Buckeyes are not winning these games is debatable, but what seems to be the overwhelming sentiment is that they aren't winning them—and that means they're overrated and undeserving.

Even many spoiled Buckeye fans share this stance.

I've got news for those folks...

No team can play and win every game they ever play in, especially when it's against the caliber of the opponents Ohio State has faced.

The Buckeyes' last eight losses have been to eight teams all ranked in the Top 15, and in all but two of those losses, Ohio State was the underdog, while their opponent was then ranked No. 1, No. 2, or No. 3.

Here we are again.

In this year's Fiesta Bowl meeting, No. 10 Ohio State faced the No. 3 Texas Longhorns for the third time in four seasons. They split the first two meetings as Vince Young led the Longhorns to a 25-22 victory in Columbus in 2005. The following season, the Buckeyes beat Colt McCoy and No. 2 Texas 24-7 in Austin with unrelenting defense and in-your-face defensive pressure all game long.

As this year's BCS rematch neared, the default projection seems to be that No. 3 Texas, like every previous top three team Ohio State has faced, would win and win convincingly.

The Bucks have been seeking redemption since the 41-14 "massacre" in the BCS Title Game versus Florida.

They still have not completely found it yet, but with their gritty, hard-nosed performance on Jan. 5, they undeniably acquired some respect and restored at least of bit of their previously missing program luster.

Texas beat the Oklahoma Sooners by 10 points in the Red River Shootout, and yet Oklahoma, not Texas, is playing in the 2008 BCS Championship Game. Nobody called this game a blowout either, but when Ohio State lost as an underdog to LSU in the 2007 title game by 14, everyone called that a blowout. But why?

I'll stray from that topic, however, before I go off on a long and winding rant that may cause a serious carpal tunnel flare-up for myself and eye strain for my readers.

There is certainly a legitimate argument to be made that Texas could have been the No. 1 or No. 2 team and playing in the title game.

All things considered, in my opinion, Ohio State has earned back some respect by playing great defense and containing that explosive Texas offense.

Ohio State outplayed Texas the majority of the game, and took a 21-17 lead with 2:05 remaining in the 4th quarter.

On the ensuing drive, the Buckeye "D" dropped a game-clinching interception and then appeared to hold on 4th down and 3 but Texas converted by the skin of their teeth with under 40 seconds left.

Two plays later, Quan Cosby caught a quick slant pass over the middle and got behind the Buckeye defense and ran in the game winner with 16 seconds on the clock.

What a heart-breaker for the Buckeyes and their fans. Of course, they would prefer to see the team they were born to love win this game, but being objective and realistic, they weren't expected to do much, and no one gave them a snowball's chance in Hell.

Ohio State should and better receive their due credit for far exceeding expectations and for nearly winning this game.

In any college football game played, both teams obviously can't win.

Heck, in college they can't even get half of a win. (Even Donovan McNabb knows that!)

But they can put on a show and be competitive. They may have lost, but it was extremely close, that's all anyone can ask for.

Show up, play hard, and leave it all on the field, and no matter what, this guy right here typing on your behalf and the millions of other true Buckeye fans worldwide will always love you and cheer you on; win or lose!

So, did Ohio State regain any respect without beating Texas with their Fiesta Bowl performance?


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