On Saturday afternoon I drove to the barbershop to get a haircut where I was greeted by the owner who happens to be a war veteran that has more opinions than there are topics. Just my kind of place. I was sporting an Ohio State hoodie and upon sitting down, he asks me if I think the Buckeyes will beat Wisconsin this afternoon. I replied, emphatically.
“I sure so. I hope that they mash them and Urban runs up the score on them too.” He then proceeded to talk about how great it would be to see this team finish undefeated in Urban’s first year coming off a 6-7 season prior to his arrival.
“I agree, but you know what?” I said, “this is a single game season and it starts and ends next week against the Wolverines. No question I would love a win today, but given the circumstances of this season, next week is all that matters.”
He steps back, “WOW! There’s a lot of hate in there. You are a true Buckeye fan.”
Truth be told, it is how every true Buckeye fan thinks, including him. It is really one thing that this whole state can share collectively and is sincerely one of the greatest weeks to be a part of, in my opinion. You know that feeling when you walk into a place where you do not know a soul and suddenly run into a friend that you least expected to be there? That instant bond and common ground is a great feeling. That is how I feel about this whole week.
In fact, I was included on a string of 50+ texts over the last two nights that were nothing more than one-liners and pictures completely trashing the Wolverines. A couple were scUM fans which made it more fun, but I only knew 2 of the 8 people included and not one person missed a beat. Normally those “chat-room” type text chains would drive me insane, but I smiled at each one.
“If you need a motivational speech for this game, you probably won’t touch the field that day.” – OSU safety Orhian Johnson.
There is a lot of young talent on this team that has a small part of me concerned that they have never dealt with success at this level, such as being 11-0 at The Ohio State University. The much larger part sees the press conferences and twitter feeds from so many Ohio State coaches constantly talking about this Saturday and I feel much more at ease. As we talked about last week, I do not know if it is a product of Urban Meyer and his staff, or just the innate crazed desire that these players have to win that they will not accept anything less. It seems obvious, it really does, but if you think back to that Purdue game and recognize just how bad this team wanted such a meaningless game, you can only assume that it largely comes from the coaching staff.
“We have a saying, ‘A team that refuses to be beat, won’t be beat,’ ” Ohio State coach Urban Meyer said. “Somehow, someway.”
To me, “somehow, someway” speaks directly to the Ohio State defense. Almost exactly a month ago, we all collectively started freaking out about this team’s defense, myself included. How is a team that is known to be so fundamentally sound on defense, suddenly so porous? Who is going to step up in the absence of all the injuries? How do they fix all of these issues on the fly?
Truthfully, even right now I do not have an answer for any of those questions. It has been a collective effort as it should be from the defense, but no single player has emerged that was not already at the forefront. Johnathan Hankins, John Simon, Ryan Shazier and Bradley Roby have already asserted themselves as dominant forces on defense to this point. While Zach Boren is not the dynamic player that these guys are, he has certainly filled a much needed hole on this defense and is clearly learning more each week. Over the past few games, this defense has stepped up and become the deciding factor in these games.
To be honest, I planned on spending more time talking about how much the defense has stepped up as of late and going into great detail on specifics. But it’s Hate Week and we all know where the focus should be. Here are a handful of tweets from TTUN faithful:
Denard is the best tailback in Mich history….we are coming for you urbz…#goblue #beatohio
Hope that team down south is enjoying their undefeated season, because it ends in 5 days #GoBlue #BeatOhio
Mercy rule by half time? Can we get the #BeatOhio chants going?
You may question my fandom with this next comment but I’m throwing it out there anyway. I enjoy Brady Hoke as the Wolverines head coach. Don’t get me wrong, I hate everything about that team but he truly is good for the rivalry to be renewed. His weak schtick by calling the Buckeyes “Ohio” is one of the poorer degrading attempts that I have seen, but it shows that he gets it. He is the reason for these delusional but fun tweets and his recruiting style will most certainly help get this rivalry back to where it was in years past. We can all agree that as much fun as it is to beat them, we would all rather competitive on much more of a meaningful stage.
Well, regardless of sanctions, that stage has been set for Saturday afternoon and if you somehow need some help getting ready, I borrowed and will leave you with this.
Images courtesy of nytimes.com, thebuckeyebattlecry.com, and threeandoutscout.com