Well, not entirely unlike a bad herpes outbreak, the Buckeyes are BACK…in the BCS National Championship Game. This year, OSU must beat the LSU Tigers if I'm going to spend another 4-figure amount on national champs gear. Fortunately, for my pocketbook, that is NOT going to happen. I have been contemplating this game since the pairing was announced and I have come to just a couple conclusions:
1. The game WILL be closer than the 27 point beat-down the Bucks absorbed last year, but...
2. …it WON"T be close enough.
History shows us a couple things that are relevant to the outcome of this game.
First, no team has choked-away (OK - just plain "lost" on some occasions) more national title opportunities in football over the last 40 years than my Buckeyes. Wins in any of these game would have given OSU a national championship:
'69 @ Michigan,
'71 Rose Bowl vs. Stanford,
'76 Rose Bowl vs. UCLA,
'80 Rose Bowl vs. USC,
and '06 BCS Game vs. Florida.
Also, victories in any of these games would have propelled OSU to either a title game invitation or put it on the door step:
'73 @ Michigan,
'74 Michigan State,
'95 @ Michigan,
'97 @ Michigan,
'98 Michigan State, and
'03 @ Michigan.
If you consider the 2 unanimous titles (won in '68 and '02), then OSU is 2-12 when given a football national championship opportunity.
Second, OSU's bowl record vs. the SEC is a dismal 0-8, with book-end blowouts ('78 Sugar Bowl loss to Alabama and '06 BCS meltdown vs. the Gators). In addition to those losses to the Tide and Gators, OSU has lost to Auburn, Georgia, Tennessee, South Carolina (twice), with another loss to Alabama thrown-in for good measure.
Third, in recent years, LSU has been unstoppable in the Superdome posting an excellent 3-0 mark in Sugar Bowl victories against Illinois (47-34 in '02), Oklahoma (21-14 in '04), and Notre Dame (41-14 in '07).
So the aforementioned historical record - coupled with the fact that LSU will be healthy (Dorsey expected to be 100%) and playing in front of a very partisan crowd - leads me to my official prediction………which will be revealed at the end of this post.
In order to be objective, I think it's necessary to list a few keys to a Buckeye Victory. Do I think OSU CAN win? Yes - if the Bucks can play the best game they've played in a very long time. Just three of the many things OSU MUST do to have a chance in this thing:
1. Tackle in space - LSU's speed at the skill positions will overwhelm OSU IF tackles are missed which allow for extra yards or big plays.
2. Run north - Bucks must be able to attack LSU and run between the tackles as Beanie will NOT be able to turn the corner on the LSU D.
3. Secure the ball - especially on special teams and in the passing game. Boeckman can't throw picks in this one.
Having written all of that, I think it will be close until the end.
Put me down for:
My name is Buckeye Savant and my team knows how to finish second!
War Silver Medal.
Savant. Sad. Bodypainter.