One Cream Puff Too Many for the Buckeyes?

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Last Saturday was a great day for camping. The cool autumn air quickened my bloodstream, the moon laced the woods with a lustrous silver light, and the Ohio State Buckeyes—along with most of the Big Ten—welcomed a cream puff into their home stadium for an early season feast.

Cream puffs are tasty and go down easy with a hot drink, but watching someone eat a cream puff for sixty minutes is not must-see entertainment. I hope you used last Saturday wisely: finally put new brakes on the car, maybe split some firewood for the winter, or, even better, escaped the hometown with your lover for a romantic weekend, because the Big Ten season starts this Saturday, the talent gap closes, and the football gets interesting and mean.

Hans Hetrick

Last Saturday was an anomaly.

It’s been at least two decades since a line of such drastically lopsided Big Ten scores ran in the Sunday morning paper. Fifty-year-old records were broken. Final score totals flirted with triple figures. Second and third teams played most of the second half. It was just like those good old days when big time schools used a overabundance of scholarships to suck up all the worthwhile talent within a 500 mile radius.1

Right now, it’s hard to tell if the Bucks are as good as they’ve seemed or if their competition represents the coffee grounds at the bottom of the college football pot, or both.

At this point in the season, Ohio State’s trio of cream puffs this year appear to be absolutely terrible. Marshall showed up in Columbus with a new coach and about two months in on completely new offensive and defensive schemes.

Ohio State’s second cream puff, Ohio University lost to Marshall by one point last week. Eastern Michigan is crawling through a 16-game losing streak. This weekend Eastern plays Ohio U to determine which team is the creamiest of the cream puffs. After two weeks of recess, will Ohio State be able to turn up the volume for the Big Ten season?

Compared to this year’s non-conference schedule, 2009 was an Iron Maiden. Last year, the Bucks opened with a solid Navy team, hosted USC and the Toledo Rockets, and finished with certified cream puff New Mexico State.

The Buckeyes’ flimsy non-conference schedule might be troubling if not for the air dominance in their performances. Despite some obvious troubles—kick coverage and a secondary that has yet to find its footing—the Bucks have imposed their will during game time. Even against their one formidable foe, the Miami Hurricanes, Ohio State controlled the pace and manner in each of their non-conference games.

Terrelle Pryor, despite some footwork problems in the Miami game, has proven to be an efficient game manager. He has limited turnovers, only two interceptions in 107 attempts, and displayed an ability to strike quickly and put together long clock-chewing drives. The most impressive of the long drives was a 7 minute 31 second, 14 play, 51 yard fourth quarter drive that slammed the door shut on the Hurricanes.

There’s a good vibe surrounding this year’s Buckeyes. They sincerely enjoy playing football together. Even Coach Tressel senses it, although he can’t help but couch it in his trademark conscientiousness, “Yeah, their work ethic is very good.  They love to prepare.  They really genuinely enjoy one another’s company and push one another, are happy for one another when good things happen.  So we’ve obviously got to get much better at some things and we’re going on the road, which really turns it up a notch.  We’ve had the good fortune to play here four straight weeks, which is a decided advantage, but I like where we are.  Now we’ll find out how good we are.”

For all the fuzzy feelings coming from the Woody Hayes Athletic Center, this week’s trip to Memorial Stadium to face the Illini smells a little funny. The Illini and the Bucks play every year. And although no one has stepped up to name it a rivalry, the Illini have a 9-11 record against OSU dating back to 1988.

Only Michigan has more victories over Ohio State during the span, posting an 11-10-1 record.

The Illini are young and hungry. Mikel LeShoure and Nathan Scheelhasse are the real deal. A couple of turnovers, a hostile environment amped up, a few of those unexpected football bounces and this game could turn into one of those familiar Big Ten dogfights where national rankings don’t mean nothing.

Saturday, we’ll find out if the Buckeyes got a little too fat on their cream puffs.

1 A short history of NCAA football recruiting limitations: 1992–present: 85 scholarships; 1978-1992: 95 scholarships; 1972–1977: 105 scholarships; 1965-1972: unlimited scholarships

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Comments

  1. royal ugly dude: “put them in the iron maiden”

    bill and ted: “iron maiden. excellent!!!”

    royal ugly dude: execute them!

    Hans, you have to teach me how to add footnotes, both in WP and in word. I haven’t figured that out

  2. The Big Ten-MAC challenge last week SUCKED! You picked the right weekend to get away. smart man.

    I’m ready to name this series a rivalry. The numbers show it. And growing up watching Illini football in the late 80s and early 90s, “we” owned “you”

    The Eddie George came along and everything changed.

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