Wednesday, January 7

"They are who we thought they were, and we let 'em off the hook!"

This famous Dennis Green rant applies to this week's Fiesta Bowl, where Ohio St had Texas, but gave up the game-winning touchdown with 16 seconds left to play. Ohio St's defense played a fabulous first half, holding one of the most high-powered offenses in the nation to a mere three points. The second half was a different story, as Danny "please, call me 'Colt' because it sounds more like I'm from Texas" McCoy and Texas' no-huddle offense gave OSU fits.

Ohio St threw a wrinkle in their offense right from the get-go, when Todd Boeckman and Terrelle Pryor both started the game. Boeckman completed a 14 yard strike to Brian Robiskie. I liked the idea at the beginning, but I think they could have done a lot more with it. Have Pryor as the running back, put him in motion, something new. Eventually Texas caught on that every time Boeckman came in the game it was to throw a deep ball to Robo. Boeckman finished 5/11 for 110 yards and a touchdown.

The Buckeyes struck first when Aaron Pettrey hit a 41-yard field goal. Ohio St's defense continued to put pressure on McCoy and completely shut down the UT running game. Texas' D wasn't too bad themselves, and the first quarter ended 3-0, Bucks. Danny led a good Longhorn drive at the start of the second quarter, ending with a Hunter Lawrence field goal to tie the game. Wells carried the load on the Buckeye ensuing drive, but again they stalled in Texas territory, giving Ryan Pretorius his first shot at a field goal, 6-3 OSU. A Thaddeus Gibson sack on McCoy on 4th and 7 ended any scoring opportunities for the rest of the half. Ohio St headed to the locker room with a shocking 6-3 lead.

Texas got the ball to start the second half, and this was the first we saw of the no-huddle that would eventually lead to the Buckeyes' demise. Off sides, pass interference, and personal foul penalties made it easy for McCoy to drive down the field, and he capped it off by rushing it himself from 14 yards out, giving UT their first lead of the game. Ohio St went three-and-out on their next two drives, and McCoy took advantage by driving 85 yards in only 2:47. He hit Quan Cosby ("Show me the quan Jerry") for a seven yard score, a connection that would later give Buckeye fans nightmares for quite awhile.

Ohio St would go into the fourth quarter down 17-6, and apparently without star running back Chris Wells, an injury which FOX decided wasn't important enough to give us updates on. Boeckman was back in the game and hit Robiskie for a 48-yard strike to set up another Aaron Pettrey field goal. Malcolm Jenkins made a great play to break up a McCoy pass, forcing a UT punt. With Beanie out, Pryor did it all on next possession: throwing, runnning, and even catching the TD pass himself from Todd Boeckman. The two-point conversion attempt was failed, and OSU still trailed, 17-15.

After a Texas three-and-out, Ohio St got the ball back at their own 27 with 6:34 to go. Boeckman completed two 20 plus yard passes, setting up a Dan Herron 15-yard touchdown run. Here lies the "scored too quickly" argument. If you think that, you're an idiot. Would I rather that they got a first down, ran the clock down, and kicked a winning field goal as time expired? Of course. But I also would rather score with 2:05 left than turn the ball over or get a field goal blocked.

Texas went back to the no-huddle offense, and the Ohio St D simply looked lost. Danny McCoy looked invincible, going 7/10 on the 11 play, 78 yard drive in a only 1:49. With 16 seconds to play, McCoy hit Crosby again, this time from 26 yards out. I was baffled by the fact that it seemed OSU had no safety in sight. Final score: 24-21, Texas.

Game Notes:

- Moral victory? Is there such a thing in sports? Ohio St played better than everyone outside of Columbus expected. They were in the game throughout its duration, and certainly had a chance to win it in the end. Obviously, I would have liked to see Ohio St come home with a win, but at least we didn't get embarrassed and were able to watch an exciting game for a change.

- FOX's coverage was awful. I know they don't usually have college football, but it seemed as if they never covered a football game before. You may or may not be aware of this, but FOX actually covers several NFL football games each week. They consistently missed plays due to showing replays, they rarely put the down and distance in the box that's only purpose is to SHOW THE DOWN AND DISTANCE, and the announcers were completely oblivious to important things going on on the field (Todd Boeckman starting, Beanie being injured). Good work, FOX.

- Big Ten embarrassment. The Big Ten had an awful showing in this year's bowl season, going 1-6. After Ohio St's last two NC performances, the Big Ten has been the laughing stock of the postseason, and this 1-6 makes thing much worse.

- Malcolm Jenkins is a lockdown corner in the NFL. If you watched this game, or certainly if you only looked at the box score, you may be thinking, "Where is this awesome DB I've been hearing about? He must not be any good." If you thought that, you couldn't be more wrong. Texas was terrified to throw anywhere near number 2. By my count I believe it was only three times, resulting in one bad pass, one Malc break up, and one completion. He should be selected in the top 12 in this year's draft, and I wouldn't mind seeing him go #5.

- Farewell, Congratulations Senior Class. Tied for the winningest class in Buckeye history, these guys were something special. They won at least a share of the Big Ten title all four seasons, and hold a perfect 4-0 record over that school up north (6-0 in the case of Todd Boeckman. 6-0!) The class was loaded with All Big Ten appearances with 12. (1 for QB Boeckman, P A.J. Trapasso, WR Robiskie; 2 for CB Jenkins, OT Alex Boone, LB Marcus Freeman; 3 for LB James Laurinaitis) Jenkins and Laurinaitis should be taken high in the first round in the draft. Boone looks to be a second or third rounder, Freeman third or fourth, and Robo in day 2. It was such a pleasure to watch these guys perform over the past few years. Ohio St has a big task on their hands in replacing these guys.

So another season ends with another loss. Ohio St has been so successful over the past decade, but are now known for "not winning the big games." Losing this Senior class will be tough, but with Terrelle Pryor at the helm for the next couple of years, good things should still be on the horizon.


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