ANN ARBOR – In a see-saw high-scoring shootout complete with fisticuffs, the second-ranked Ohio State Buckeyes landed the last blow in a 42-41 thriller.
In a game that was straight out of the popular video game, NCAA Football, two storied rivals more famous for old-school grinding and bruising brand of football, scored the most points against each other since 1969.
For the Ohio State Buckeyes, while they dodged a proverbial bullet, thanks to Tyvis Powell’s interception on a two-point conversion with 32 seconds left, now must contend with the notion of once again being leap-frogged by a one-loss team.
Four hours later and 817 miles to the south, Auburn’s Chris Davis was running a missed 57-yard field goal back 109 yards down the left sideline and into the ethos of Iron Bowl lore, while at the same time upending the BCS galaxy as we know it.
Thanks to the second “Miracle On the Plains” in two weeks(ask Georgia about Joe Louis Jr), the Tigers may have given slighted Buckeyes fans in Columbus what they wanted in slaying the two-time defending Goliath in bitter arch-rival Alabama, but now the debate begins on who is No.2
An undefeated Buckeyes team, or a one-loss Auburn team living on the edge?
With the new BCS Standings released on Saturday night having Florida State No.1 with .995 points, Ohio State with .950 and the No.3 Tigers with .923 points, the Buckeyes are either a blowout win against Michigan State and an Auburn loss in the SEC title game away from playing in their fourth BCS title game and eighth national title.
While many fans–most notably bitter and disgruntled SEC fans–cringing at the sight of seeing their favorite whipping boy playing for a title, and none of their teams playing for the conference’s eighth, many in the media, most notably Detroit Free Press writer, Drew Sharp, voted the Buckeyes eighth on his AP ballot.
Whether or not this is a case of sour grapes from Mr. Sharp remains to be seen, but this type of anti-Buckeye bias and perception is the reason a team that has won 24 straight games in a BCS qualifying conference is staring at the real possibility of being snubbed by one–possibly two one-loss teams in Auburn, or even Missouri.
And then are the Spartans.
Like a green-and-white phantasm hovering in the shadows, the 10th-ranked Spartans and their stout defense are either the Buckeyes ticket to eternal salvation in Pasadena, or eternal media damnation in remaining the college powerhouse, the national media loves to hate and needle every chance they get.
The debate is if the Buckeyes can somehow “run up the score” over the second coming of “The Four Horsemen” in Michigan State, would that silence the critics? Perhaps.
While we are talking about inferior opponents, it’s amazing that while critics openly lambast Ohio State’s “weak schedule”, what about the proverbial white elephant in the room in the aforementioned Noles, who are playing a perennial hardwood powerhouse in their conference championship in 20th-ranked Duke?
Florida State is a solid team from top to bottom, but ask yourself, who have they played other than overrated squads such as Miami, Clemson and Maryland? Last time this writer checked, Nevada, Bethune-Cookman, Idaho don’t exactly register on the proverbial “Wow!” scale of competition right?
And Florida, from that so-called “best conference in college football? That 26-20 loss to FCS “powerhouse” Georgia Southern, is surely a nice feather in the Noles cap, since they beat the same hapless Gators.
It’s not all about the Buckeyes lack of quality competition in this writer’s opinion, it is all about the BCS and sports media looking for an excuse to act as surrogate apologists and enablers in snubbing the Buckeyes.
Pure and simple. Black and white–or should I say scarlet and gray.
Perhaps the Buckeyes are channeling a Boise State-like vibe and play in a weak non-BCS conference, but the Big 10 is not the Mountain West, and the Buckeyes have not played the Sisters of the Poor, they have simply played the schedule that was predetermined years ago in advance and have gone undefeated in two years and 24 games.
And while the Tigers--as talented and fortuitous as they are–have a valid case in knocking off the likes of LSU, Ole Miss, Texas A&M, Georgia and two-time defending champion Alabama, unless the Tigers dominate a very talented Mizzou team and the Buckeyes lose–not struggle–against Sparty, then all the talk of a one-loss team will be mute, as once again, the Buckeyes will still have a “O” in the L column.
Surely, naysayers and critics such as Mr. Sharpe can agree to that, right?