BUCKEYES, PRO TEAMS REVERSE ROLES
Still numb from the Indians' collapse last week, I have made myself scarce on this blog. A week removed, though, the wounds were starting to scab over, and I thought I was ready to post again.
And then the Buckeyes played last night...and lost.
Coming into the season, a lot of experts labeled the away night game at Penn State as the "trap game" on OSU's schedule (a trap game is one in which an upset is very possible because of an expected emotional letdown, challenging playing conditions, etc.) Coming into this week, though, the game could not have been labeled as a trap game but instead a just a tough game. Penn State was undefeated, playing at night, at home, in front of some starving maniacally fans (they certainly give Buckeye fans a run for the rowdiness money) and against an interconference rival. The stage was set for upset, and anyone expecting the Buckeyes to walk in there and dominate was kidding him/herself. It was going to take a near-perfect performance to win on the road at Happy Valley, and it just didn't happen.
Did OSU make some mistakes? Certainly. What can't be overlooked, though, is that Penn State is back. You can't keep a good program down for long, and the geriatric Joe Pa appears to have one more loaded cupboard of talent. The PSU defense was phenomenal, which was just a little better than the Buckeye defense, which was terrific. OSU's defense kept them in the game, but the offense stagnated. It's not that Troy Smith played terribly. His interception in the second quarter was a poor decision, but other than that, he did all he could do against a ferocious Nittany Lion pass rush and constantly was looking for receivers who just couldn't get open. If anyone won that game for Penn State, it was the guy who covered Teddy Ginn. Ginn hasn't been able to get any running room for most of the season, which is a credit to the teams we have faced. Those blaming Troy Smith for coughing up the ball in the fourth obviously weren't watching; he was completely cracked from his blind side by the Penn State defender. Whoever let him in was responsible, or perhaps....just maybe....that Penn State defender just stepped up and made a big play, and the Buckeyes couldn't do much about it.
Say what you want about the loss to Texas, but OSU was legitimately beaten last night. They were the better team and deserved to win. Both of Ohio State's two losses have come against top-notch competition, and the win for Penn State is the biggest for their program in years. They just tossed their name into the national title hat. I will continue to root for the Buckeyes, though, and though it would take some help from other teams, they are still in the hunt for a Big Ten title, even if it is a co-championship. If you are so incredibly disgusted with the Buckeyes, though, and you're looking to get rid of some tickets, give me a call; there are still three home games left.
Watching the Browns game on Sunday with Cleveland trailing 10-6 in the fourth quarter, I was already composing this post in my head, thinking the headline would read something like "Ohio football disappoints save the Bengals." But the Chicago Bears fumbled twice in the fourth quarter, gift-wrapping a victory for the Browns. After Dilfer and Bryant capitalized twice on good field position to score touchdowns, the Browns won 20-10, and first-year head coach Romeo Crennel is 2-2. Though deep down I have been expecting dismal performance Dilfer and an eventual start for Charlie Frye, I have to say that Dilfer is no Ty Detmer. He's definitely an improvement on Jeff Garcia, too. Though the Browns' defense is a far cry from what they fielded in the 80s and mid-90s, it's not as terrible as I thought. In the past two games, they have allowed 23 total points. All of sudden, the Browns are weekend saviors. Usually, the mantra among most Ohio sports fans is, "Well, we at least have the Buckeyes." With an undefeated Bengals team and an improving Browns squad, maybe things are changing?
Smile, Cleveland. Your baseball club may not be playing right now, but your football team just won, and LeBron takes the court for games that count in less than a month. Smile, Cincinnati. The Bengals are the talk of the town again, and regardless of what happens in tonight's game with Jacksonville, four wins in the first five weeks is a great start. Columbus, well, you should probably go to a mall or a movie or something. The Blue Jackets and Buckeyes haven't given you much to smile about this weekend.