On Friday, I heard this question asked on The Fan: If Ohio State could only beat USC or Michigan this season, which one would you choose?
I actually posed this one to two diferent fans this weekend and received totally different answers.
For our purposes here, we will assume that the Buckeyes would win their remaining 10 games—a dangerous assumption, I know, but one that is not totally out of the realm of possibility. The responses of the callers were mixed. While I am not suggesting I have the right answer, I did not have to think too hard about it.
Ohio State has to beat USC.
1. Ohio State—fair or not—is the flag bearer for all things Big Ten football. When the Buckeyes lose a big non-conference game (and they have lost four straight) the entire league is shamed. When Michigan scores at will while beating Florida, no one notices.
2. I know many of the old-schoolers would say that you always have to beat your rival, but a loss to Michigan would help rejuvenate the rivalry. We know that the games in 2001, 2002, 2003, 2005, and 2006 were as great as any rivalry could wish for.
But Tressel's 7-1 record combined with the last two games has diminished the rivalry in many outsiders' minds. If you doubt that, try to remember how you felt about the Auburn/Alabama games until 2008.
3. I know some people cringe at the thought of losing to a sub-par Michigan team with a birth in the BCS title game on the line. But in my mind, a loss to either team ends the Buckeyes' dreams of a championship appearance. There is simply no way that voters would place Ohio State in the top two if they lost at home to USC.
And, in a weird way, a win over USC would pave the way for 2010. With the big-game monkey off their back, thanks to Pryor no doubt, the Buckeyes would be poised for great things.
Anyway, what do you think?