This year’s edition of The Game was memorable for several reasons. First, the Thanksgiving setting made for a different experience. Not saying that it was good or bad, just different. It did seem like Michigan week was short-changed this year a bit because of it. I’m sure the students on campus felt the same way.
It was unique for me because the 36 leading up to kick-off were pretty miserable. I spent the time running between the bathroom and bed, having caught a severe flu.
For several Ohio State players, The Game marked the last time they run out of the tunnel at the Shoe.
Over the last 4 years this group that includes offensive starters Bryant Browning, Dane Sanzenbacher, Brandon Saine, Justin Boren* and defensive starters Chimdi Chekwa, Aaron Gant, Cameron Heyward, Jermale Hines, Ross Homan, Dexter Larimore, Brian Rolle and Devon Torrence have done little else but win. Four consecutive Big Ten titles. (Nobody wants to be the class that lets the streak end.) A 28-4 record in Big Ten play. A convincing win over Oregon in last year’s Rose Bowl. Forty-three wins and just eight losses overall. And of course, 4 sets of gold pants charms.
It is an interesting group of Seniors. Some were consistent starters all season long and have been rocks on the team for years. Chekwa and Torrence were the glue that held a bruised and battered secondary together all season. Heyward and Larimore have been dominant at times throughout their careers. Homan was a solid linebacker for the last 2 years. Boren has been fantastic since coming over from UM after his sophomore season. (Hence the * he was only a part of two seasons.)
Others stepped up this season and contributed in big ways. Sanzenbacher really bloomed as a receiver showing toughness and tenacity. Jermale Hines stepped up into a starring role during the last 2 weeks, saving his best football for last. Brandon Saine probably expected more out of his career at OSU, but he was an important part of the offense for the last 2 seasons.
But there is one player that I want to say I was pleasantly surprised with-LB Brian Rolle. Physically, Rolle is not the prototype Buckeye middle backer. That weakness was exposed in the Wisconsin game. But after that game Rolle went on a streak of impressive performances. His production in the Iowa and Michigan games was on par with the Laurinaitis/Hawk performances. He chased down runners on the edge, pressured the QB and covered the middle of the field when called on.
If Rolle plays at the next level, it would likely be at safety, and as a special teams ace. I could picture him in the Ray Ventrone role. But he will forever have a place in Columbus in the line of Buckeye LBs.