Besides being two of my favorite teams, the Ohio State Buckeyes and the New York Giants have much in common. If I had to list them, it would be: disappointing 08-09 expectations, the wide receivers, the running game, QB hype and general 09-10 expectations.
Disappointing 2008-09 expectations
When the Giants walked into last season, many expected them to win it all again. As their offense proved throughout the year, they were the best team in the NFL...that was until they lost Plaxico Burress (9-1 with Burress, 3-3 without).
Despite the fact that he was a criminal and disrupted team chemistry, he was still a major offensive threat that kept the defense from stacking the box against Earth, Wind and Fire. The Giants still made the playoffs as a No. 1 seed, but were upset quite easily by the Eagles.
Similarly, the Buckeyes also appeared as 2008-09 favorites to win the BCS title (along with Georgia). They didn't suddenly lose a key player in the middle of the season due to injury/criminal charges, but they did lose the focal point of their passing game: Todd Boeckman.
After his benching, Terrelle Pryor did fill in admirably (hey, you can't expect him to go from high school to precision passer after arriving in July) but he wasn't quite enough to keep Penn State from putting seven or eight men in the box at all times to shut down Beanie Wells.
Due to this, the Buckeyes lost their shot at redemption and a solo Big Ten title (although I can say I'm glad they didn't go on to face USC in the Rose Bowl, which they would have definitely lost by more than three points).
The Wide Receivers
Last year, Plaxico Burress and Amani Toomer were the top WRs, which kept opposing defenses honest against the run. This year however, they walk in without either of those players.
A bunch of hyped rookie wide receivers and some relatively "experienced" wide outs in Steve Smith, Domenik Hixon and David Tyree (well, he's pretty experienced) are all they have (sorry). I won't deny that they have potential, but just about every other rookie does too.
The Buckeyes coincidentally also have just a bunch of hyped rookie WRs and a few "veterans." Big possession receiver Dane Sanzenbacher (who actually recorded the same number of receptions as Brian Hartline, albeit for fewer yards) and perennial doghouse member Ray Small (who is quite good on special teams) are two experienced returning receivers.
I'm not going to lie, I expect a lot out of this motley crew, but only time will tell. But then again, the Buckeyes can't really get worse than last year's passing game.
The Brutal Running Game
Both the G-men and Bucks have been known recently for their brutal running game that consistently sets up play-action bombs.
Last year, each team had it's star "Hammer" (Jacobs for the Giants, Beanie Wells for the Buckeyes) and a quick second back (Ward for the Giants and "Boom" Herron for the Buckeyes) to provide a quick one-two punch.
Interestingly, both Wells and Jacobs missed three games and relied on the end of the season to break 1,000 yards (just a little more similarity).
This year however, the G-men have lost Ward (who averaged an astounding 5.5 yards a carry last year) to the Bucs and the Buckeyes have lost Wells to the Cardinals. Do I need to also point out that the Bucs and Cards both finished 9-7?
Eli Manning is now the highest paid NFL player (through average yearly salary). While it may surprise just about all of America, he hasn't exactly lived up to that salary yet (although the Super Bowl Ring is nice).
Walking into the 2009 season, he has to prove he's worthy of that price tag with his only weapons being a motley crew of relatively inexperienced wideouts.
Similarly, Terrelle Pryor has been advertised in Ohio as the best thing since Vince Young. And I can say that right now, I'm kind of a believer.
His spring game clips show that his throwing mechanics are worthy of talking about (I'm doing it right now aren't I?) and unless he's gotten slower since last season, his legs will be just as threatening as they have always been.
If anything, I say that he'll have an easier time than Eli this season, as all Buckeye fans want is a Bowl win (the BCS probably won't let OSU into the championship even if they run the table in the Big Ten).
Nobody expects either team to be wildly successful this year. The predictions are usually either horrible, or above average.
Basically, the Giants either go under .500 or probably lose in the playoffs before the SB and the Buckeyes either go around .500 or win a bowl game by a decent margin.
I can't honestly say that either team has championship hopes, but they have a lot of talent that could be capitalized in the 2010 season.
I bet you didn't think the two teams had that much in common did you?
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