Heading into The Game on Saturday, I wonder how Coach Meyer is motivating his team. After all, Ohio State has nothing to play for after the game versus That Team Up North concludes.
Yes, I know – Coach Meyer should not need to motivate any of the Buckeyes for The Game. Playing against That Team Up North, Ohio State's main rival, should be motivating in and of itself. These are the type of games why someone comes to Ohio State in the first place.
I am going to offer up a corny and cliché motivational slogan. I realize that this is one that any fan of the Rocky Balboa series will recognize immediately:
I am not trying to suggest to anyone that Coach Meyer is playing the role of Apollo Creed with this phrase or scene. And I would never ever demean the ferocity, swagger, and violence of Clubber Lang in "Rocky III" by comparing Clubber Lang to That Team Up North. Heck, That Team Up North is not even close to Union Kane, who was pummeled by Tommy Gunn in "Rocky V".
I use that phrase because every Ohio State fan knows that no matter the outcome on Saturday, this is it for the 2012 season. There will be no Big Ten Championship Game, despite clinching the Leaders Division with the overtime 21-14 victory at Wisconsin. There will be no bowl game appearance, despite the 11-0 regular season record and the current #4 ranking by The Associated Press, due to the NCAA-imposed bowl ban for this season.
For senior defensive lineman John Simon, this is his last game in an Ohio State uniform, after so many intense and inspiring performances. For senior fullback-turned-linebacker Zach Boren, this is his last opportunity to square off against the team he grew up rooting for as a child, only to be turned off by the arrogance of the previous Team Up North's coaching staff's approach, especially with his older brother, Justin, in 2008.
For senior tight end Jake Stoneburner, here is a final opportunity as a Buckeye at redemption, after an offseason of embarrassment. For senior defensive lineman Nathan Williams, here is an opportunity to show Ohio State fans one last time that all of the injuries and setbacks have all been worth the price. For senior offensive tackle Reid Fragel, one last opportunity to leave Ohio State fans wondering, "what could have been?" if the move to offensive line had happened earlier in his career.
One last time to run through the Tunnel Of Pride. One last time to battle That Team Up North in Ohio Stadium. One last time to link arms with teammates and coaches, singing "Carmen Ohio" to the student section at the end of the game.
Remember, "there is no tomorrow!"