October 19, 2008
If Ohio State is the the Buffalo Bills of college football, Saturday was the day to break out the "We're back! Deal with it, America" banners. Beanie Wells was the sleek, very un-hobbled mack truck everyone expected before the season, Terrelle Pryor was a leisurely 7-of-11 with a touchdown, plus 72 yards and another score on the ground, and the defense held Michigan State to 60 yards, five punts and three turnovers in the first half, by the end of which the score was 28-0. The Spartans came in on a six-game roll and looked like the Buckeyes' equals, at least, with a prime opportunity to prove it at home; after the game, Pryor said "it was like high school."
So it will have nothing to do with sympathy or well-wishing for Joe Paterno's swan song next week when an entire nation aligns itself with Penn State in Columbus for what amounts to the de facto Big Ten Championship Game. Lion love will be purely self-interested: please don't make us consider these guys for another championship.
That may seem a little far off, but if you're counting down the remaining schedules, a win over Penn State -- and the Lions haven't even been competitive in Columbus is ages -- will likely put OSU at the cusp of the top five with a clear route to another 11-1 finish. With the inevitable attrition ahead in the Big 12 and SEC and USC on letdown watch through the end of the regular season, the remainder of the track is rigged for the Buckeyes to rise and rise -- unless Penn State finishes them, once and for all.
So no pressure or anything, Lions, but suddenly a Buckeye-weary nation turns its lonely eyes to you.