There’s an old adage about screwing up—one that has taken many forms over the years. You may have heard it posed as something along the lines of “You can build a thousand bridges and nobody calls you a bridgebuilder, but you $@#& one goat...”
Of course there are slightly more genteel presentations of the sentiment, too. Yours truly was on the receiving end of said wisdom upon arriving at Wright-Patterson AFB one hot afternoon, only to discover that a very important document had been left in New York. As an older gentleman strolled past our very animated conversation, he mused out loud that “one ‘Oh Shit!’ wipes out a whole lot of ‘Attaboys!’”
Such was the case for Ohio State in 2017. This season should have been the swan song of the most resilient and prolific players ever take a snap in the B1G, capped by a blowout victory over some pathetic B1G West “power” enroute to a playoff berth and a mud-stomping of some pretender.
But it wasn’t. And despite the B1G title and the umpteenth victory over Michigan and the amazing 16/16, come-from-behind-and-suplex-that-clown-Franklin’s-dreams-because-you-can’t-fluke-your-way-to-a-win-again-you-shitheel victory over Penn State, and the Cotton Bowl win, this season will never be remembered for all of that.
This will be remembered as the season of doubt. This will be remembered as the season of almost. The season of Alabama getting gifted another title shot.
Most of all, this will always be the season of Iowa.
College football is great because it exists at the curious nexus of insane raw talent, brilliant execution, and complete and utter disaster.
The weird thing about games like Iowa is not that they happen, but that they happen with such surprising regularity. Perhaps in football more than in other sport, the margin between the best teams and utter crap is razor thin—so thin that it will, at least once per season, unexpectedly and inexplicably vanish to the point that a team incapable of scoring thrice on Northwestern will hang 55 points on Ohio State.
That’s college football, and that’s Ohio State’s legacy of 2017—a great team, loaded with talent, who somehow lost to one of the most consistently underwhelming programs in one of the most consistently underwhelming divisions of major college football.
Barrett was amazing, capping an incredible career with the quiet poise for which he’s become known. He also had some real bonehead moments. But man, the legacy he leaves behind is just phenomenal. For all the whining and complaining by the fickle fans, Barrett showed up every week to play—even after surgery. Four victories over Michigan. Three victories over PSU. Three victories over MSU. Two NY6 Bowl wins.
You can say a lot about J.T. Barrett, but you have to give him credit for putting that team on his back more often than we thought possible. And when he did so, he damn near always won.
And the defense...oh the defense. That made it all worth it. Watching the Greatest Penn State Player in the History of Cleats™ get blown up a quarter mile behind the line of scrimmage was poetic reward. Seeing Sam Darnold driven into the turf with the viciousness that only a USC QB can truly deserve...swoon. Those are the moments I will try to remember.
Mostly, though, I’ll just remember November 4th, and how nothing feels more pathetic that getting pantsed by an Iowa team—especially that Iowa team. I’ll remember how the most talented and prolific defense in the country stared at I-formation concepts as though they were from Mars.
The good news is, two things remain fixed and inviolable:
Ohio State is the best team in the B1G.
Your team isn’t.
The rest, as they say, is history.
12-2 (8-1 Big Ten)
Outscored opponents 576-266
Average margin of victory: 22 points
B1G Offensive and Defensive Linemen of the Year
B1G QB of the Year
24 All-B1G Players
8th B1G Title this century and 37th overall (yes, 2010 counts)