The 2008 season has not gone according to plan for the Ohio State Buckeyes; there's no way around it.
Ohio State was supposed to be ridiculous this year; that's why all those seniors came back.
This was the year when Ohio State was going to show the nation it can win the big game. This was Beanie Wells' year.
The defense was going to be unstoppable this year. The offensive line was going to be impenetrable this year.
Ohio State has certainly not been ridiculously good this year, even before the Catastrophe at the Coliseum. Remember, they actually dropped in the polls after their Week Two win over Ohio.
Ohio State went to SoCal and showed the nation what the nation already knew: Jim Tressel and Co. are incapable of winning the big games.
Wells has been spectacular this year, but with an enormous asterisk. He missed three games due to injury (including the USC game) and has just seemed spectacular because we know he's not at 100 percent, yet he's still averaging 120 yards per game (and 6.7 yards per carry).
This was his year to win the Heisman, yet he hasn't been in the conversation for a month.
The defense returned nine starters to what was the nation's best last year, yet through seven games, the Silver Bullets are pushing the bend-but-don't-break philosophy to its limit.
After getting thrashed by USC, they have played stronger the past couple of weeks, but they are still nowhere near preseason expectations.
With four starters back from last year's Offensive Line, this year's line looked to dominate opponents. They were going to open a couple holes for Beanie and be praised for his undressing of defenses. However, when Beanie had to sit out, and the linemen really had to perform, the O-Line lost its confidence.
Many programs would happily take a 6-1 record and Top 15 ranking, but Ohio State is not one of them. Ohio State fans are rabid, they want MORE, yet for some reason the Buckeye faithful are pretty calm.
They were complaining for awhile (after the USC game) about the quarterback situation, but when Pryor was given the starting nod, they shut up and have (for the most part) embraced the change, even though the concept of throwing the ball away is still foreign to Mr. Pryor.
Yes, Ohio State has not been good this year, yet there is peace and order within the Buckeye Nation. Where is the peace coming from, you may ask, what is keeping these fans from losing their minds?
The answer: Schadenfreude.
It's childish, perhaps, but for some reason Ohio State fans are overlooking the Buckeyes' problems in favor of highlighting and celebrating the struggles of Michigan.
It all started last year. Ohio State fans know the day: Sept. 1, 2007. Appalachian State goes into the Big House and upsets the fifth-ranked Wolverines. Never mind that Ohio State went undefeated in September. THIS was any Buckeye fan's favorite moment of the month.
Michigan lost to Oregon a week later, much to the delight of Buckeye fans. It didn't matter to Ohio State fans that Michigan won nine of their last 11 games (including a win over Florida, in Florida, in a bowl game).
They lost to Appalachian State. They lost to Oregon. Lloyd Carr became Llllloyd Carr, and by January he was out. Michigan was, in the eyes of Ohio State fans, hilariously bad at all they did, which included finding and hiring a new head coach.
Upon Rich Rodriguez's arrival in Ann Arbor, Ohio State fans were cautious not to make too much fun of TTUN (That Team Up North). Historically, it took a really bad year for teams coached by Rodriguez to succeed. Ohio State fans knew this.
They knew Michigan wasn't going to compete for a Big Ten title, and they knew that the harder they laughed this year, the harder it was going to be to swallow in a couple of years when Michigan was back to form.
But despite Buckeye fans' best efforts and intentions not to incessantly mock and scoff at Michigan, the Wolverines are just making it impossible not to:
- Michigan lost another home opener, though this time they managed to schedule an FBS (D.I) team to beat them instead of an FCS (D.II) team.
- Michigan lost to Notre Dame by 18 points while Charlie Weis was coaching Notre Dame.
- Through five home games, Michigan is 2-3, and has been outscored at home 114-96. If Michigan doesn't win both their remaining home games (against Michigan State and Northwestern, games in which Michigan will probably not be favored), they will not have a winning record at home in 2008.
- Rich Rodriguez's new offense (his trademark) is ranked 109th out of 119 teams (and is worst in the Big Ten), averaging 291.5 yards/game.
- A month and a half into the season, Michigan has more turnovers (19) than touchdowns (14).
- Michigan missed a 26-yard field goal to lose to Toledo. That sentence gets progressively more hilarious as you keep reading: "Hmm...Michigan missed a field goal. That's pretty funny, though I guess everyone misses field goals. *Keeps reading* Oh, haha, they missed a 26-yard field goal. That's embarrassing. *Keeps reading* Oh, no way. HAHAHAHA. Is that real? They missed a 26-yard field goal to lose to Toledo? That's freakin' hilarious!"
- Zoltan Mesko. It doesn't matter that he's having a great season: his name is Zoltan.
- This speaks for itself.
- Again, this speaks for itself (courtesy: mobuck.com through thebuckeyebattlecry.com).
I believe what we have on display is Karma. Michigan fans got John Cooper. Ohio State fans, at least for the past couple of years, have been treated to a little taste of that Schadenfreude kool-aid. It couldn't come at a better time, either, because the kool-aid is a great distraction from a not-so-great football team.