Purdue, the worst quarter, and other thoughts

Greg Bartram-US PRESSWIRE

The Buckeyes are 8-0. How they're doing it is a mystery. How they'll keep it up is even harder to define...and a few other things from the week in Ohio State Football.

How in the name of all that is Woody did the Buckeyes beat Purdue on Saturday?. From a football perspective, there's an obvious answer: more talent and better coaching. And two touchdowns in consecutive drives, including the game winner in overtime, led not by Heisman hopeful Braxton Miller, but by career backup Kenny Guiton. That's how they did it on the field. But in the world of covering (and coveting) Ohio State football, I still can't answer that question, even after four days and plenty of viewings of the game's final moments.

In sports, in particular Buckeye football, there are always stories like this that make you stare at your TV, mouth agape, wondering how in the world your team ended up with more points than the opposition. This was certainly one of those games.

From Purdue's first play from scrimmage, a should've-been sack that somehow divined itself into an 83-yard touchdown, there was something about this game that smelled funny. But when you look at it, it wasn't all that different from every other Ohio State game this year. Once again, the Buckeyes were a bad first quarter team, giving up not only that wretched long touchdown on Purdue's first play, but, after gaining some momentum back and taking the lead, giving up a gut-shot kickoff return for another Purdue score. All of the sudden, again, the Buckeyes were staring down another deficit heading into the second quarter of play.

Why can't the Buckeyes snap out of this first quarter funk? And why, after eight games of Urban Renewal, is this still an issue?

Looking back at through the season, Ohio State has not gone into the second quarter of a game with greater than a touchdown lead. Not once. In four of those games (Miami, UAB, Nebraska and now Purdue), the team has gone into the second quarter behind their opponent. If you would have told me this was to be the case back in August, I would have smacked you.

Now, to Urban Meyer's credit, he has gone out of his way to let the press and public know that he does not think this team is "great," and at this point, he's probably right. Mistakes have plagued this team on defense (tackling, giving up big plays), offense (coming out soft in every game and needing to finishing strong) and now special teams (allowing blocked punts, the KO return by Purdue on Saturday). Most first year coaches would get a grace period of a year or two before judgements like this take effect. Urban Meyer doesn't get that luxury, and he knew it when he signed on.

There is plenty good on this team, and a great many things worth praising. But until I see a strong first quarter by this squad, until the potential that was unleashed in the end of the Nebraska game comes out to start a game, the focus will be and must be on the negative.

The news that Ohio State added a home-and-home with Oregon, just weeks after adding the same with TCU and Texas, is the type of bold scheduling that might pay huge dividends for the future of the Buckeye football program. When I first started writing here, I was against this mindset of scheduling, favoring a perfect record over greater national exposure. But I'm starting to move away from that (or "flip-flop", since Election Day is coming up), mostly because of how Gene Smith sold it to me, and how he's backed it up.

Maybe it's just me, but moves like this are starting to give Gene Smith back some credibility that he lost over the last few years. Not all of it by any stretch of the imagination. But for Smith, it's a huge start toward rebuilding a reputation that had been severely tarnished with his handling of tattoos, Tressel, and the NCAA.

It's hard to imagine now, but only four short years ago, there were plenty of rumblings around Columbus and the rest of the country that Gene Smith would be on the shortest of lists to run the NCAA when his tenure at Ohio State concluded. Back then, Ohio State was perceived as an clean program, run by a well-respected administrator, with a football team run by a Senator, both of whom were beyond reproach. That thinking circled the drain rather quickly, and Smith has been fighting an uphill battle to win the hearts and minds of fans ever since.

Now (or more realistically, in a decade when Meyer and Smith are likely gone, and all three new opponents might be terrible) Buckeye fans have six big-time, appointment television games to look forward to. And crazy as it may seem, Gene Smith is one of the most likely reasons why.

For those of you in the Columbus area, especially those who listen to the flagship home of Ohio State sports, you have probably been following the ballad of Scott Torgerson, and how the powers that be at WBNS would punish him for tweeting something that was considered harmless by some, gutless by others and disgraceful by still more. Well, that saga has reached what was probably its most inevitable denouement.


Torgerson's partner, Mike Ricordati is still, as far as anyone knows, employed by the station. Or , perhaps more accurately, hasn't resigned yet, and has asked his twitter followers to listen to the show today, where I imagine he will have something to say about losing his co-host.

Should Torgerson have been fired? Ask 10 people, you'll probably get 10 answers, especially here in Columbus. There were those in town who loved his schtick, which made 3:00pm-6:00pm appointment listening while in the 6-1-4. There were those who hated Torgerson's whole act, and are probably more than happy to see him sent to the "Ctigo" (DING).

For the record, this is not the first time a major personality at WBNS-FM has been fired for saying something that got under certain peoples' skin. That time, it was Bruce Hooley on a tirade against Jim Tressel and Ohio State, the latter of which is big business for WBNS-FM. This time, it was Scott Torgerson making a comment about a highly-paid, highly-visible member of ESPN, which has a huge affiliation with WBNS-FM. Make of that what you will.

Where do I fall? I'm in between, really. On one hand, it was a dumb thing to tweet what he did, but it was turned into a big deal because Torgerson had a lot of twitter followers, and nothing in the world of social media is at all as private as you want it to be, or as much a joke as you intended it to be. For that reason, it's probably for the best that he was fired. But at the end of the day, it was a tweet, it was a joke, and it was completely within the character of the guy writing it. People, namely co-workers and former Buckeyes, should have considered the source before turning the screws to a popular Columbus media personality. But that's just my opinion.

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