How Ohio State's Offense Set the Game of Football Back a Century

COLUMBUS, OH - OCTOBER 1: Denicos Allen #28 of the Michigan State Spartans leaps over Jordan Hall #7 of the Ohio State Buckeyes on his way to sacking Joe Bauserman #14 of the Ohio State Buckeyes on October 1, 2011 at Ohio Stadium in Columbus, Ohio. Michigan State defeated Ohio State 10-7. (Photo by Kirk Irwin/Getty Images)

The 1906 college football season saw the introduction of the forward pass.  In the some 100 seasons since, a number of teams have struggled to integrate this new-fanged dimension into their offensive attack.  To be sure Ohio State's anemic performance Saturday (143 yards passing) falls well short of the statistical low water mark.  But if you're anything like me -- unfortunate enough to witness four quarters of Jim Bollman's prehistorically pathetic offense -- you can't help but feel like you were just transported back to the nineteenth century.

Okay, I'm being melodramatic, but let's face it.  Out of the 120 some odd offenses in college football, 75 could have won today's game -- a game in which a visiting opponent scored just a single touchdown in over three quarters of play.  Buoyed by the home crowd, and a tough-as-nails defensive effort, all but the most impotent cellar dwellers could have shown some semblance of a pulse and put together one drive.  One lousy freaking drive.

But we couldn't do that.  At least not until the final seconds.  Why?  Because we have one of the worst offenses in college football.  I'm not talking about statistics.  I'm talking about the look test.  And God help us, we look awful.

To be sure, Michigan State boasts a terrific defense, and guys like Jerel Worthy and William Gholston deserve a ton of credit for shaking our confidence -- for suffocating the small embryo that is our offensive identity.  But at the end of the day, the buck stops here, and responsibility begins and ends with Mr. Bollman.

Of course I'm biased.  I've never liked Bollman.  But not because he can't call plays, because he can't develop a consistent offensive line.  That -- not the reluctant play of a freshman quarterback or the inability of young wideouts to get open -- is what killed Ohio State's offensive mojo Saturday.  it's not a lack of talent -- the Buckeyes have one of the best centers in the country in Michael Brewster and the kind of size and speed up front that coaches like Oregon's Chip Kelly dream about.  It's a lack of leadership.

That lack of leadership was counteracted in the Tressel era by a host of veteran play-makers.  Now, it's up to the freshman to improvise.

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