Do you feel that, Big Ten fans? That rumble in the distance, the storm clouds gathering on the Midwest horizon? There's a storm coming, a Scarlet and Gray one, and if it goes as expected, it will tear ass through the Big Ten like referees tear through Tim Beckman on the sidelines.
Free from the yoke of NCAA Suspension, The Ohio State Buckeyes are ready to once again lay claim to the top spot in the Big Ten, and they are in no mood to take prisoners.
I. Case History/Opening Statement
A. Case History
Ohio State football was a mess at the end of 2011. Beset by scandal, suspensions, rumors, and resignations, Ohio State sleepwalked through that season and lost...again...to the SEC in a bowl game that no one cared about. But there was a new sheriff in town, and his name was Urban F. Meyer. Meyer took over, and began to impart his philosophy-and will-on Ohio State, and started getting into the heads of Mark Dantonio and Bret Bielema on the recruiting trail.
2012 was as fun and exciting for OSU fans as 2011 was depressing and soul sucking. Gone and in the rear view mirror was the tattoo for memorabilia scandal, and other than having to come to terms with a one year bowl ban, Ohio State fans could finally focus on football and Year One Of Urban Meyer.
And what a good year it was. Although the Bucks had to deal with injuries to some key players (John Simon, Braxton Miller, Etienne Sabino), they didn't have all the playmakers that Meyer demands to run his offense. Although they looked downright average at times, Ohio State pulled of a 12-0 season.
And in 2013, even more is expected.
B. Opening Statement
Ladies and gentlemen of the jury, I rise in defense of my client, Ohio State. You know what's great about American jurisprudence? You don't necessarily have to like my client, and that's okay. You may even hate my client, and THAT'S okay, too. All you have to do is weigh the evidence, and render a verdict. If I do my job, there will only be one verdict you can possibly come to, and that is this:
Ohio State is going to win the Big Ten.
Let's look at the competition in their division, the soon to be defunct Leaders. They have two serious contenders to the division title, and one of them is ineligible. The other one, Wisconsin, is undergoing a transition in coaching staffs, and even when OSU was at their worst in 2011, and transitioning to Meyer last year, they managed to beat Wisconsin both times. With the '13 contest in Ohio Stadium, it's hard to see the Buckeyes being anything but a prohibitive favorite in that game.
Over in the Legends division, the biggest tests Ohio State will face are Northwestern and Michigan. Northwestern just doesn't beat Ohio State, and even though they'll be good, maybe even a BCS candidate, Ohio State is the better team, position by position, and they have a better coach. As far as Michigan is concerned, I'm not sold on their offense yet. Devin Gardner could very well be a formidable quarterback, but I'm not impressed with their skill position guys out wide or in the backfield. Ohio State's defense should match up very well, and I have them as the favorite in that game as well.
Ohio State has the most talent on both sides of the ball in the conference, they have a pre-season Heisman candidate in quarterback Braxton Miller, and Meyer has brought in two monster recruiting classes and is working on a third. It's hard to find a better gameday coach in America at the collegiate level, much less the Big Ten, and the historic results of Meyer at year 2 in a program are the stuff of legend.
This conference is Ohio State's to lose, and deep down everybody realizes that. Granted, they still have to play the games, but I like OSU's chances in all of them. A lot.
Most fans have to look at their teams schedule and try to find 6 wins, or maybe talk themselves into "a break here, and some luck there, and we might win the conference". Not Ohio State. They are favored in every game, and they should win every game, because on paper, they're better than everyone else in the conference.
2013 will either end with Ohio State in Pasadena playing in the Rose Bowl or the BCS National Championship, or every couch from Ashtabula to Zanesville will burn with the heat of 1,000 suns.
A. What We've Written About Ohio State This Off Season
B. What We Can Learn From Pop Culture
I like Carlos Santana, and I'm going back a bit to find this, so to call it ‘pop culture' is a bit of a stretch. However, learning will occur, so pay attention.
This song, and these lyrics, describes OSU football from the moment the tattoo scandal broke to today, and they fit perfectly here. And if you don't like my reference, well, I don't like you on my lawn, so that makes us even.
One day I was on the ground
When I needed a hand
And it couldn't be found
I was so far down
That I couldn't get up
You know and
One day I was one of life's losers
Even my friends were my ac-cus-ers
And in my head
Lost before I'd begun
I had a dream
But it turned to dust
What I thought was love
That must have been lust
I was living in style
When the walls fell in
When I played my hand
I looked like a joker
Fate must have woke her
'Cause lady luck she was
Waiting outside the door
And I don't intend on losing again
III. Emotional Plea
Look, I get that pleading Ohio State with Urban Meyer to the rest of the Big Ten is like trying to get you to like the Yankees with Alex Rodriguez, or the Empire and Darth Vader. But consider that in this era of conference strength bullshit, the stronger that one of the flagship programs in the Big Ten is, the better the conference is viewed as a whole. And I also get that trying to argue the positive influence of Meyer is just as futile, because outside of Columbus, Meyer is probably the most hated coach in the conference, if not the country. But with the relentless way Meyer recruits, and the results he gets on the field, he's going to force the rest of the Big Ten to follow along, or Ohio State will leave the rest of the conference in the dust.
And the decade of dominance we saw under Jim Tressel could become a hammer lock.
IV. The Verdict
The Staff Calls It:
|Jonathan Franz||11-1 (7-1)|
|Jesse Collins||11-1 (7-1)|
|Graham Filler||11-1 (7-1)|
|Hilary Lee||11-1 (7-1)|
|Ted Glover||12-0 (8-0)|
|C.E. Bell||11-1 (7-1)|
|Mike Jones||12-0 (8-0)|
|Brian Gillis||10-2 (6-2)|
|Aaron Yorke||12-0 (8-0)|
|OTE Staff Average:||11-1 (7-1)|