Ask a Buckeye fan to rank his least favorite Big Ten teams, and you'll probably get a lot of similar answers. Ohio State football has been around long enough, and played the same teams long enough that there are several teams that, after enough wins against and losses to, you just can't stand them. You hate being on the same field with them. You can't stand when the Buckeyes have to play them on the road. You circle the calendar (or whatever the 21st century digital equivalent of that is) for when Ohio State gets to avenge a recent loss, or continue a reign of victory. You do this because the opponent makes your skin crawl.
Michigan is at the top of any list because that is what is indoctrinated in Buckeye fans shotrly after birth. You hear stories of the ten-year war, about Woody and Bo, and going for two because you can't go for three. You remember - all too vividly - the tarnished, would-be perfect seasons when John Cooper couldn't get his teams over the hump when it mattered most. You hold back tears as you watch replays of Will Allen picking off John Navarre in '02, or Troy Smith putting a stamp on his Heisman Trophy in '06. Rich Rod couldn't beat Ohio State, Tressel couldn't lose to Michigan. All encapsulated by the hatred both fan bases have for one another.
I never had a problem with Barry Alvarez's Wisconsin teams. They were decent, usually a tough out in most seasons, and produced one of the best running backs in college football in Ron Dayne. But they were there, on the periphery as just another Big Ten Team - Minnesota with a lighter shade of red - until Bret Bielema took over. Now Wisconsin is the unlovable loser of consecutive Rose Bowls, with a rotund, shit-talking coach whom I doubt has ever seen or recruited a high school quarterback play a game (since he can just go get a starter from the ACC). We get it, what with your "seventh inning stretch" of bouncing in your seats listening to shitty, 90s rap music. Soooo awesome, you guys.
Nebraska, too. Another team I couldn't have cared less about years ago, but they're in the Big Ten now. Nebraska was supposed to be the squad that helped return legitimacy to the league but has so far, in two short years, been underwhelming, annoyingly so. They're coached by an alum who sic'd his kickers on the greatest tradition in college football. They've been in the league for two years, and Ohio State has already handed them their greatest comeback win in the school's illustrious history. This year's revenge game was sweet redemption and worth the wait. And so it will be in the future.
But then we come to this week's opponent. To some, Purdue might be another also-ran in the league. But over the last decade, it is a team that has never failed to get my blood, pardon the pun, boiling. There is so very little to like about Purdue. Honestly, name two or three things. You can't. Purdue might be the most annoying team in the Big Ten. For many reasons.
That goddamn bass drum they wheel out and pound all game. That thing makes me want to choke a baby. For a technical institute like Purdue, don't you think there would be more to brag about than a drum? Alums have gone into space and won Super Bowls, but HOLY SHIT LOOK AT OUR DRUM! Get real.
If that drum wasn't enough, they possess the absolute worst chant in the Big Ten. Now, Ohio State fans don't have a ton of room to brag about chanting, since all we do is spell our four-letter state with 105,000 of our closest friends. But Purdue's favorite chant makes my skin crawl:
GUUUUGGGGHHHHHHHHHHH! Every team in the county, and every person watching a Purdue game should be rooting against them just to make them stop this incredibly awful assault on humanity.
Purdue has also managed to crank up the annoyance factor over the last few years. Going to Ross-Ade stadium in the fall is much more treacherous than it should be for the Buckeyes (one of the myriad reasons I'm glad this is a home game). Ohio State is 6-4 in their last ten games with Purdue, all four losses coming in West Lafayette. But forget the where for a second, and look at that sentence again. Ohio State is 6-4 in their last ten games with Purdue. How is that even possible?
In 2000, sure, it was Coop's last year, Purdue was ranked, tough game on the road, but Ohio State was the better team and lost. 2004, even with a stellar offense and an NFL quarterback in Kyle Orton, a loss was inexcusable. Even with those bad losses, 2009 and 2011 were worse. Purdue was bad in 2009 and Ohio State was good. Really good. Rose Bowl good. And TP and the boys couldn't beat them, and looked awful losing like they did. And last year, good lord, both teams were dreadful and Purdue managed to get their second win in three years at the hands of the Buckeyes.
We hate Michigan, and Wisconsin, and Nebraska. Michigan State is probably on that list, too, all butthurt about Urban Meyer's recruiting. I will stand up and say that Purdue should be high on that list with the others. They are the only team that has caused so many *facepalms* over the last 12 years that you really wonder how in the name of our good lord like Ohio State can ever lose to a team like Purdue. Add them to the list. It will make the victories that much better.
And if it doesn't, just watch this on repeat for the next 20 hours:
"Holy Buckeye" indeed.