Honorary Citizens – The Ohio State Buckeyes

January 8, 2008

This picture pretty much sums up the night for Ohio State. The play from which this photo is derived – a  Buckeye 4th and 7 from LSU’s 34,  with the score 31-17, and still early in the 4th Quarter – is a mirochosm of their evening. Seemingly close to making this game, but then revealed as vastly overmatched.

I welcome the Buckeyes as honorary citizens of Losersville, only because they’ve now lost two BCS Title Games in a row, in ignominious fashion, to SEC schools. It would be unfair to do it solely because of last night’s performance, because, really, we all saw this coming.

Somehow, in the month leading up to this game, many of us forgot the crowing we had done all year about how weak their schedule was, how many players they’d lost from last year’s team, and how they didn’t deserve to get to the Title Game again if the opportunity presented itself.

We rejoiced when they lost to Illinois, what we didn’t count on, of course, was every team in the country that superceded them in the polls losing in often shocking fashion (including their executioners, LSU).

Thus, I can’t blame them for being in this game – they did would any actual Losersville team would do – stumble, ass backwards, into a golden opportunity, and then come up very, very, short.

The most interesting thought I had from last night, though, is this: With the advent of the BCS system, and the apparent coming of some sort of playoff system in the next decade, when will a Big 10 team win a National Title again? If this system was in place in 1997, would Michigan have even been able to stay on the field with a mid-90s Nebraska team that many regard as one of the best of all-time? I will give them ’02 Ohio State over Miami, woefully late interference penalties notwithstanding.

Nonetheless, before those 2 titles, you have to go all the way back to 1968 to find a Big 10 National Champion, and back to 1965 (Michigan State) to find someone other than Ohio State or Michigan (Granted, ’95 Penn State when undefeated, and did not share the title with equally undefeated Nebraska).

In that same span, 5 different SEC schools have won or shared 10 National Titles. Additionally – Auburn has twice gone undefeated, but been prevented from playing for a championship through either probation (1993), or daft pollsters (2004). 

That is to say, the idea of The Big 10 being the 2nd best, or even best, football conference is a myth that was created by that league being able to avoid playing schools from the Southeastern United States in meaningful football games, thanks to the Rose Bowl.

If not for Ohio State, Michigan, and relatively recent addition, Penn State, you could even argue that it is the worst of the BCS Football Conferences.