Ohio State: THE Runner-Up University
The football team has lost two straight title games to SEC schools, getting blasted by Florida and pummeled by LSU—whose coach, Les Miles, is of course a Michigan graduate.
More alarming, however, is that OSU is now 0-9 vs. the SEC in bowl games, seemingly putting to rest the old SEC vs. Big 10 debate.
A little less than a month ago, the OSU men’s soccer team took a 1-0 halftime lead in the title game, but the Buckeyes ended up losing 2-1 to Wake Forest.
Interestingly enough, OSU entered the contest undefeated when scoring first, and unbeaten when leading at halftime.
And, finally, last season saw the Buckeyes basketball team taken apart by the Florida Gators in the final game of the NCAA Tournament.
For the record, this piece isn't meant to bash Ohio State. In fact, to get to that many title games is nothing short of amazing—and much should be said for the jobs done by athletic director Gene Smith, all of the coaches, and, of course, the rabid fans.
To make it to one national championship game in any sport is a major accomplishment. To be as dominantly well-balanced as OSU borders on freaky.
You have to wonder, though: Is the psyche of the Buckeye Nation damaged?
Could students begin to think, “Oh no, not again,” when the Buckeyes end up in another title game? Worse yet, can this filter down to the players, even the coaches?
Or has it already?
Are the Buckeyes—gulp—the new Buffalo Bills of college athletics?
Sports have been known to produce some odd streaks: the Bills' Super Bowl flops; the Curse of the Bambino; Notre Dame’s run over Navy; the Cavs’ struggles in the postseason; the Cubs’ World Series drought.
The list could go on and on.
OSU's streak will end, just as many of the examples above did—but the question is when.
Ohio State’s basketball team was hit hard by early departures last year, and it would seem unlikely that they'll get back to the title game anytime soon.
The football team, however, should challenge again next year. While the Buckeyes travel to USC in the third week, the rest of the schedule is manageable. Jim Tressel’s team returns a bevy of major contributors, and has to be considered a legitimate contender again in 2008.
Georgia, USC, Oklahoma, and Missouri also look to be players for next year’s title, but all have tough roads to travel.
A wild card to consider: Could we possibly see a rematch of 2007?
In the SEC, the Gators return almost the entire offense and defense—and the Heisman Trophy winner. To top it off, Southern Cal transfer Emmanuel Moody enters as the new tailback, and Florida's schedule, while still difficult, is more favorable than that of this past season.
In any event, Ohio State and Florida will definitely both be high in preseason rankings.
For the sake of Columbus, let’s hope it’s not déjà-vu all over again for The Ohio State University in 2008-2009.
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