If you think that the National Championship is all the Buckeyes are playing for, you couldn't be more wrong.
These Buckeyes are playing for personal pride, conference pride, state pride—and most importantly, national recognition.
Right now, the Buckeye Nation feels as though the whole world is against them—except Lou Holtz.
These players have heard for almost 365 days how slow they are, how the SEC is far superior to the Big Ten, and how they do not deserve to be in the National Title game.
Some have even gone so far as to say that if Ohio State loses this game, they should not be allowed back into the Championship ever again.
The embarrassment suffered at the hands of Florida last year changed the nation's perspective on Ohio State and the Big Ten. I can't remember before that game hearing anything about how slow OSU was or how poor the Big 10 is. In fact, I remember that prior to the Michigan-Ohio State game, people were saying the loser could possibly play in the title game for a rematch.
The only way for the current negativity to subside is for Ohio State to beat LSU, and do so handily.
I have trouble understanding why one game so fully changed the assessment of a team and program. Oklahoma has been a bust in BCS games since the turn of the century, but every year they are talked about as potentially the best team in the nation. I may not be an expert, but four losses out of BCS tries doesn't seem to be National Championship material.
Now, don't get me wrong, I love Oklahoma—after all, Stoops is an Ohio guy.
But why is it that everyone is convinced Ohio State is slow and pathetic?
I am sure nobody was spewing these accusations after the 2003 National Championship, 2004 Fiesta Bowl, 2006 Fiesta Bowl, or the Texas game in Austin. It is as though that Florida game set the Buckeyes back 50 years.
Well, it is time to change the national perception. This game will be a coming-out party for the Buckeyes—a pedestal to show the sports world that last year's game was the result of an unprepared, overhyped team playing against a team which felt disrespected and was playing against all odds.
Sound familiar, Buckeyes? If you don't think these kids have a lot to play for, then you just need to tune into the TV and radio. You'll hear every reason to suppose the weight of the program's future is on the shoulders of these 2007 Ohio State Buckeyes—and they are hungry for redemption.