I. Case History and Opening Statement
A. Case History
Suck it, Bama.
Do I really need to belabor the past? I don't think so. You've heard all there is to hear about OSU this off-season, and probably more. Eventually, it all becomes noise. OSU overachieved mightily, winning the natty a year before they were expected to compete. So that means they're primed to make a run for back-to-back titles, eviscerating all challengers in their path. Right? RIGHT? Even I--the homeriffic Buckeye fan recently described by an MSU loyalist as an OTE writer of unprecedented talent--remain unsure. Let's look at the facts, parse the opinions, and read the tea leaves on this upcoming OSU campaign.
B. Opening Statement
May it please the court: this season is no cake-walk. Sure, hatin'-ass Steve Spurrier (he of the perennial underachievement) got up to his usual tricks. The Old Ball Coach never misses the chance to throw shade, and this year is no exception. Yesterday, he took to the airwaves to run his gob on PAAAWWWL's show about OSU's 2015 slate. I suppose if he can't get it done yourself after a decade in the division that Indiana won last year, the man must find another outlet for his bile. But I digress. The point at hand is that this year's schedule is no gimme. Are there are easy games? You bet. Are there some sleeper slug-outs? Surely. Will OSU walk away with a gleaming 12-0 record? They should. Which is why they probably won't.
Catching lightning in a bottle twice is a real feat, and one that should rarely be attempted. Even Urban's bumper crop of talent is unlikely to succeed.
C. Timeline of Events
The vitriol from fUSC aside, OSU went out of its way to schedule a quality non-con P5 opponent. VT had been the class of the ACC for years when the Buckeyes added them to the slate. Last year, the Hokies nearly ruined a dream season. VT's almost unreal season-long slide into decrepitude after a defensive blitzkrieg for the ages in Week 2 turned a tough OSU loss into a horrific blemish. Now, the Buckeyes re-open the season against the same squad. As though that wasn't risk enough, Urban Meyer suspended some of his best playmakers for the game.
The VT tilt aside, the big risk seems to come in the last two games. A tough MSU squad backed up by the always-closer-than-it-should season closer against the mitten weasels (Now with more Harbaugh!). Oh, and I guess PSU is poised for greatness or something, because a linebacker once stuffed Cardale Jones on a run. And refs.
At least Minnesota is at home this year. My core temp is still a degree low from that game. Alas, no Dilly Bars.
Is this schedule manageable? Clearly. Could the Buckeyes go 12-0? Yes sir. Could a team pull a surprise upset? Absolutely.
Will Wisconsin get blanked in the title game again? Survey says "Meh, probably." But it's entirely possible that OSU won't be the team pitching the goose egg.
What We've Written About Ohio State This Offseason
III. Emotional Plea
You can hate Urban Meyer. You can hate the glorious, patriotic, venerable Buckeyes. You can call Columbus "pooptown." In the end, you still have to beat them. On the field. For 60 minutes. And in three full seasons, the whole of the Big Ten slate has achieved that exactly...once.
But does that mean a natty for OSU in 2015? Well, no. Beating up on the Little Sisters of the Bereft and that team from the Happy Valley Air Horn Conservatory isn't enough to win on January 1st. That will take the right mix of magic, timing, growth, and patience. Those are some serious variables.
|Aaron Yorke||12-0 (8-0)|
|Brian Gillis||10-2 (6-2)|
|Ray Ransom||12-0 (8-0)|
|DJ Carver||12-0 (8-0)|
|Jesse Collins||12-0 (8-0)|
|Mike Jones (RIP in pieces)||12-0 (8-0)|
|Hilary Lee||11-1 (7-1)|
|Graham Filler||12-0 (8-0)|
Bless you, my children. You have seen the light. Now if only you'd stop calling cornhole "baygs." Wait a second, I guess I was one of the ones who said the Bucks would pitch a loss at some point. Have I not seen the light? Do I doubt the great Urban, savior of Heaven and the Rust Belt? No...but, well, yes.
Hear me out.There are those among you who might see that prediction as your humble OSU "writer" hedging his bets against future ridicule. 'Tis not the case. Rather, I simply feel that there are too many incalculables and unknowns across the course of the season to believe that a team can go undefeated anymore. Parity is an insidious enemy, and one can never be sure where the danger lies until you stick a tent stake in its lawn.
Can OSU be an 11-1 national champion again? Absolutely. Will they? That, ladies and germs of the jury, is up to you to decide.