Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Win or Die: A Ridiculously Digustingly Early Preview

This was going to be a Bash Brothers, Ross Homan and Austin Spitler, post. But Poe would like to do some fact checking...Stay Tuned.
Goliath vs. Goliath. The teams of the decade. Game of the week. Carroll vs. Tressel. Big 10 vs. Pac-10.

I’ve heard that Ohio State at Southern California is going to be a great game. I’ve heard it’s not life or death for the Buckeyes. I’ve heard if Ohio State loses, they can still make it back to the championship. I heard this game doesn’t make the season.

Right. Wrong. Wrong. Wrong.

The truth is, September 9th in the Coliseum is the Buckeyes’ season, in a way. To Buckeye fans, it’s about winning the Big Ten and beating Michigan. Bowl wins and National Championships are icing on the cake. Unfortunately, the rest of the Nation (and now somehow the rest of the Big Ten) doesn’t feel that way. If you don’t plow through your OOC schedule and win a bowl game (including the National Championship), you mean nothing and you were obviously overrated. It’s all about R-E-S-P-E-C-T. Something of which these Buckeyes have very little.

You know it’s bad when Michigan fans and Iowa fans and Wisconsin fans are calling out the Buckeyes for losing in back to back championship games. Next, we’ll start hearing from those Big Ten fans how the Buckeyes play an easy schedule. Not to mention ESPN (TV and radio), CBS (SEC Sports), SI, Pac-10 fans, Big East fans, and the mighty, mighty SEC.

So what exactly does the USC game mean to The Ohio State Buckeyes? That’s hard to quantify. Bucks win? Oh, well, USC is ‘rebuilding’ and Ohio State caught them early in the season. Bucks lose? USC is a powerhouse and the Buckeyes can’t beat anyone of significance. If only we could publish opinions and predictions before the game and compare them after the game.

Well, guess what, here at Jim Tressel’s Head, you can!

The Game Itself

A stacked Ohio State team against a reloading USC team. Plain and
simple. It won’t be the 2006 Texas game, as Pete Carroll is
admittedly a better coach and recruiter than Mack Brown. USC has more 4 and 5 star recruits than any team in the nation. Ohio State has more 3 and 4 star recruits that play like 4 and 5 start recruits. Ohio State has all the experience, USC has all the acclaim.


Mark Sanchez throws and moves like a USC QB. He’s not quite Matt Leinart, and hopefully not even John David Booty, who was able bomb away on Michigan AND Illinois. Rumor has it he can operate on the run, and he may have to. With a retooled offensive line that will play Virginia and then a week off before Ohio State, I expect a motivated OSU defense to pressure Sancheezy. The stable of running backs is still a stable of running backs (who obviously value women and beaches more than playing time). The gaggle will only spell trouble if Ohio State sells out to stop the run, and lets Sanchez have a field day against a zone defense (Florida Game, Florida Game, Illinois Game, Illinois Game). McKnight did the most damage to Illinois off a fumbled screen pass. The receivers can all catch the ball and go. They can catch the ball on the go. They have the most experience on this team, mainly since there are 37 running backs on the active roster splitting time.

The USC defense, on the other hand, should give Todd Boeckman fits. Gone are key members of the defensive line and linebacker positions. Bad news: They should still be better than Illinois, where Todd honestly looked stupid. Corners are what should be expected. USC sports a Sean-Taylor-Reincarnate (Can I say that? Yes, because it is a compliment) at safety who could remove Ray Small’s head (again). He will be the biggest guy in the secondary unless Jake Stoneburner is out there running routes.

Ohio State

Todd Boeckman is still Todd Boeckman, for better or worse. When he’s on, he’s on. When he’s off, he’s off. There is no middle ground. So why make Boeckman work for it? Leak, Juice, and Flynn haven’t worked for it, and they’ve torn up the Ohio State defense. Good news: Todd’s been working on the check down to tight ends and running backs (is that not on the schedule the first 5 years?). If the offensive line tries for the full 60 minutes, there isn’t a better running back than Beanie Wells. Left, right, and over you, Beanie Wells will pick up 5-10 yards if you give him an inch of space. Essential in the game will be the check downs and screens to Brandon Saine and Mo Wells.

The Ohio State defense replaces a DE and a LB with guys that have all seen significant playing time. But does it matter? For approximately 11 games each of the past 2 seasons, the defense has done its best Silver Bullets impression. Bad news: The other 2 games have been against good, not great, offenses and they’ve looked confused, befuddled, and downright bad. As mentioned above, Leak, Juice, and Flynn have looked like Peyton Manning against Ohio State. Good News: New season.

It’s always been smash mouth football for the Ohio State defense. 2002, 2003, and 2005. Those defenses told the opposing offense how they were going to play. They dictated the game. Ohio State has lost to Florida, Illinois, and LSU because they didn’t. We’ll blame it on inexperience. Guess what is the reoccurring theme in 2003, 2005, and 2008? Senior leadership, specifically at linebacker. Marcus Freeman, Curtis Terry, and James Laurinaitis are all seniors. You know what happened during AJ Hawk and Bobby Carpenter’s junior seasons? 8-4. 2005? 11-2 and Fiesta Bowl BCS winners.

For the 2008 Ohio State Buckeyes to beat USC in LA, it will take all their effort. It will take more than all their effort. Chris Gamble used to sleep for 14 hours after a game because he was all out on every play, almost every play of the game. Craig Krenzel used to get knocked around like a punching bag (or girlfriend) in Mike Tyson’s house. Now I’m not saying the 2008 Buckeyes have to be the 2002 Buckeyes, but I wouldn’t mind the term Luckeyes flying around again.

Trust me, it wasn’t just luck.


Anonymous said...

It's never to early for a great write up, you hit the nail on the head as this is the only game Buckeye fans are really interested in. Great effort but Boeckman struggles against better than average B10 teams let alone a team like USC sporting the two best linebackers in the nation. Trojans 42 Bucks 28.

Poe McNoe said...

Well it's a chance for the Buckeyes to prove something. I'm not sure who will win, thus no score prediction.

In all honesty, USC v Illinois was a 28-10 ball game with 3 minutes left in the 3rd Quarter before USC started running up the score. Similarly, I would have expected Ohio State to put up 40-50 on Stanford. That gets us no where.

I don't see Troy scoring 42. No way, no how. A reloading USC doesn't scare me, but it's always tough to play the Trojans.

If Jim Tressel has the opportunity to run the score up, do it.