The SEC feel its is a birthright to go to the National Championship game. Do you agree? You have to beat the best to be the best right? I do agree with this notion. The seven championships in a row is a huge accomplishment. A combination of great coaching, a nation of rich resources (athletes, universal pride, Jesus, weather), and of course some luck here and there has caused the SEC to be the dominant conference in football. That is unquestioned as long as the Crystal Ball belongs to an SEC school each year.
The flaw in the argument, which is indisputable, is regardless of how many championships you’ve won consecutively, the rules aren’t different for you regardless of who you are.
The way I would describe Auburn this year is resilient, extremely lucky at the right time, and very skilled…in that order. All positive, but some of the improbabilities that went their way could have very turned their schedule to 9-3 without skill effecting it. Missouri, you’ve had an unbelievable season and would be in the driver’s seat right now if it wasn’t for bad luck at the wrong time.
Now either team still has a good shot to go to the game. Not that I’m calling down on either my Buckeyes or FSU to lose tomorrow, but you can’t overlook the power of Championship Saturday.
Part of where I’m going with this, is nationally I’m sick of listening to the SEC slob fest in the media. Its being driven nationally by the ESPN media monopoly and the 2.5 billion dollar contract with the SEC. I’m fine with the contract, but what I’m not okay with is listening to programs claim that they have deserved the right because of what others have accomplished. Those ‘others’ to me are really Bama and Florida. They are the ones that are responsible for 5 out of the 7. Everyone else played no role to others winning the national championship other than losing to that year’s winner. Sure Auburn won in 2011, but OSU won in 2002 and FSU in 1998. Time is irrelevant, who cares that you were apart of the seven year run?
Since Bama is not playing for the SEC championship there is no argument for the winner of the SEC championship to get an automatic bid. That would be literally the only case a 1 loss team could get in over a zero loss team in a major BCS conference.
While I’m no stranger to admitting my fandom towards the Buckeyes and disdain for the SEC’s irrationality, every SEC fan should pray for a FSU & OSU loss. That would sink all arguments against their superiority for at least 5 more years.
But the back and forth on the SEC isn’t the purpose of this article. Given that only OSU fans are probably reading this, it’s time to cater to the emotion and excitement of what can happen for the Buckeyes. That said, here’s are the top 5 keys to a Buckeye victory tonight:
1) Time of Possession and Turnover Battle: Necessary ingredients to a victory in any football game, and it will not change for the winner of the Big 10 championship game. I was at the Northwestern game first hand and I first hand experienced how awful of a game it was to watch when your offense was never on the field and turning it over when they were. For a smooth victory Braxton, Hyde and every other skill possession player must take care of the ball. It will be an integral part of MSU’s game to control the clock, so the Buckeyes can compete by also protecting the ball and milking drives.
2) Braxton on Broadway: In the event that you haven’t noticed, Braxton was 8-1 odds to win the Heisman last week according to Vegas and he’s featured on the ESPN Heisman commercials for next Saturday. All signs point to #5 being in NYC next Saturday, provided he plays well tonight. I expect the passing game to be much more of a 1st half priority this week than last. The two main reasons are because the Buckeyes will see a stacked box with 1-1 coverage over the top. The second being that this is a dome game. We all know how the passing game flows in friendly climates. Expect Tom Herman to let Braxton toss the ball early to stretch out the defense for the run.
3) Tom Herman’s Chess Match: I will suggest that this offensive gameplan will be pretty similar to the Wisconsin game. However that’s not what I want because I hate it when Herman goes vanilla against good defenses. What I mean by vanilla is designed Braxton and Hyde runs with no ingenuity. This is unquestioned Herman’s biggest challenge to date as the Buckeyes play caller, so he’ll need to really be smart and creative with his risks.
4) LET THE BIG DOG(S) EAT!!!!: Anytime Hyde touches the ball, I yell that at the top of my lungs. I’m piggybacking another fine young badass who isn’t afraid to throw a punch into this statement now, Dontre Wilson. Hyde is undoubtably going to be the workhorse today that Herman, Meyer and Miller will rely on to move the chains and wear Sparty down. But Hyde’s big play ability is limited. Wilson’s big play ability isn’t and I expect Wilson to get 1-3 real unique plays drawn up for him in the 1st half to see if he can hit a homerun. If the kennel of big dogs (mostly Hyde), can keep up pace and thrash Sparty, OSU will roll tonight.
5) Luke Fickell Hot Seat: Over 600 yards and 41 points last week against Michigan is very worrisome for the Bucks defense. Sparty only allowed 6 against TSUN. Cause for concern? Kind of, Michigan’s big-play ability is much greater than Sparty’s on the offensive side of the ball. However Sparty will look to do exactly what Iowa and Michigan were able to do which is stick to the offensive gameplan and execute flawlessly. OSU’s run defense is a top 5 unit in the NCAA. But their pass defense is suspect. Fickell needs his defense to play to shut out Sparty’s average offense if the Bucks are looking to convince.
All-in-all, I love the Buckeyes chances to win this game on paper. The trick is all in the mentality. If Ohio State wants to be the NCAA champs this year, they need to eliminate all thoughts of losing and know with confidence that they are the best…and then play with that mentality. Eliminate any anxiety of what consequence comes from this game and focus on the task at hand. Emotion will be running high tonight and if it can be controlled and the Bucks can execute, we’ll all be booking our travel to Pasadena.
Stat Predictions: Buckeyes Win: 31-17
Braxton: 12-23 – 205 yards passing and 2 TDs; 80 yards rushing 1 TD
Hyde: 28 attempts, 135 yards 1 TD; 3 receptions 35 yards
Wilson: 3 attempts, 20 yards; 1 catch, 40+ yards, 1 TD
Philly Brown: 6 catches, 86 yards
Devin Smith: 3 catches 80 yards, 1 TD
Heuerman: 4 Catches 30 yards
Shazier: 12 tackles, 2 TFL
Roby: 1 Big Play
Spence/Bosa/Bennett/Washington: 16 tackles, 4 sacks, 1 FF, 1 FR