College football coaches are always on the lookout for signs of complacency, real or imagined, by their teams. Football coaches always preach to their respective teams to never underestimate their opponent. Any Michigan fan can tell other college football fans what it was like to be upset by teams such as Appalachian State in 2007 or Toledo in 2008.
Ohio State coaches have been stressing to the team that Navy has played and defeated other top programs such as Pittsburgh or Notre Dame in 2007, or last season when Navy defeated Wake Forest. All of these victories by Navy occurred in the opponent’s home stadium, so Navy will not be intimidated coming into Ohio Stadium.
If Ohio State coaches are concerned about possibly complacency by their players, all they have to do is go back into their own video or film archives and look for a tape titled, “1990 Liberty Bowl”. Yes, I know that it has been almost nineteen years since that game was played. Yes, I know that many of the players on Ohio State’s roster were not even born when this game was played.
The 1990 Liberty Bowl came on the heels of John Cooper's third straight loss to Michigan as Ohio State's head coach. If Ohio State had won that game, Ohio State would have gone to the Rose Bowl. Instead, Ohio State was sent to Memphis to play against an Air Force team that barely qualified for bowl eligibility.
The circumstances are different - the upcoming game against Navy is the 2009 season opener for both teams, while the 1990 Liberty Bowl was a bowl game at the end of the 1990 season. Ohio State's players on this year's team are looking forward to beginning this season, while the 1990 squad was simply looking to end a disappointing one.
Similar to the 1990 Air Force team that defeated Ohio State, the 2009 Navy Midshipmen are running an option offense that is difficult to simulate, thus difficult to prepare for during practices leading up to the actual game. Navy is extremely well-disciplined and fundamentally sound, a tribute to its academy lifestyle. And Navy, like the 1990 Air Force team, will not quit until the final whistle is blown.
Do I believe Ohio State will win against Navy on Saturday? Yes, I do. But I do know that if I was on the Ohio State coaching staff, I'd make a point of showing this year's Buckeyes what fate their predecessors on the 1990 team suffered the last time Ohio State played a service academy.
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