Every good football team needs a rival that their fans are able to completely and utterly despise, some teams even need three (first of many uncalled for shots at Notre Dame). Ohio State Buckeyes fans absolutely hate Michigan, but that's what makes beating them year after year so damn enjoyable.
Unfortunately, Ohio State has not always come out on top against their rivals over the years, and sometimes the Buckeyes have even managed to make enemies out of perceived inferior opponents.
Look, I understand that Michigan State has been and still is the biggest threat to Ohio State's dominance of the Big Ten, but I agree with Urban in that Ohio State has one rival: the University of Michigan. What does that make Michigan State then? A team always comprised of Ohio State "villains".
Villain is an underrated word. While I agree with Ohio State
legend alumni Mark Titus in that "The Villain" is a great nickname for former Buckeyes star Evan Turner, basketball-reference.com has yet to make that dream a reality, so for the time being I am going to assign some new people as "villains".
What makes someone an Ohio State villain? Well first of all you must have beaten Ohio State in the last 15 years. That crosses off potential Buckeyes villains including: Jared Abbrederis, Mike Hart, Chad Henne (still a joke; NSFW), and Nick Saban among others. Also, we're sticking to the Tressel and Meyer eras. That means no love for any of the Michigan teams that made a habit of beating John Cooper's squads, and no love for any of the seven (seven!) teams to beat Ohio State in Luke Fickell's attempted national championship run (I guess you can call it that?).
So that leaves us with 14 years of Ohio State football in which the Buckeyes posted a sterling record of 155-26. You may have noticed I added Ohio State's 12 vacated wins from 2010 back in. Since the NCAA decided Penn State didn't deserve to have any wins vacated from that time, I'm going to let Ohio State slide for "taking improper benefits from a local tattoo parlor owner". Call me unfair.
While watching Braylon ball out against Texas in the Rose Bowl and against Michigan State was great, watching John Navarre throw a deep pass against the Buckeyes was one of the more continuously hectic moments of my childhood thanks to Michigan's number one receiver Braylon Edwards.
Edwards' first meeting against the Buckeyes came during the utopia that was 2002. Edwards snagged 10 catches for 107 yards, but a crucial offensive pass interference call on Edwards negated a touchdown that could have proved to be the difference maker in Ohio State's 14-9 victory.
Whether or not Edwards changing his number from number 80 to number one the following season was due to that Ohio State loss, or due to Edwards finally realizing he's way too much of a baller to not be wearing a single digit number is unclear, but what is clear is Edwards' revolution into a Buckeyes destroyer. With seven catches for 130 yards and two touchdowns, Edwards led Michigan to a 35-21 victory in 2003 over the fourth ranked Buckeyes, spoiling a potential Ohio State national championship repeat bid.
The good news is that Ohio State got the last laugh with Edwards ... kind of. In 2004 the unranked Buckeyes dominated the seventh ranked Wolverines 37-21, but Edwards still laughed straight to the bank with an additional 11 catches for 172 yards and a touchdown to his name.
As a final "F-U" to the state of Ohio, Edwards reached Pro Bowl status with the Cleveland Browns shortly into his NFL career. However upon this was short lived as Edwards immediately unraveled and proceeded to play on four different teams in his final four years of professional football.
With a guy like Mike Thomas Ohio State fans are treated to weekly deep balls that we feel great about the second they leave J.T.'s hand because hey, it's Mike Thomas. Before guys like Mike existed to snatch those floaters away from the enemy, Braylon Edwards existed to make deep balls a living hell for Buckeyes fans, as well as to make beating the Wolverines as sweet as ever.
Probably the easiest current villain to name, Mark Dantonio has led his Michigan State Spartans to a 3-4 record against Ohio State. One of those three wins came in the Fickell "era", but Dantonio's other two wins are more than enough to earn him a spot as a marquee Ohio State villain.
First in the 2013 Big Ten Championship game. Ohio State had yet to lose under Urban Meyer, ever. Like in 24 straight games ever. Going into the game I told myself, "Just run it with Braxton and El Guapo enough times to score 20 and there's no way they lose." Well, Michigan State picked a good time to suddenly discover an offense, as despite scoring 14 or less points on three separate occasions that season, a Connor Cook and Jeremy Langford led offense put up 34 points to lead the Spartans to a huge upset over the then number two ranked team in the country.
You don't need me to tell you about the latest Dantonio win over the Buckeyes. Just know that he did it with a backup quarterback in the Horseshoe. And that Ezekiel Elliott had two carries in the games final 40 minutes. Dantonio and his gypsy magic picked a pretty terrible time to strike again.
The one good thing to come from that game is that it gives Ohio State a chance to extend their 79 year win streak over the Notre Dame Fighting Irish! That's right, while it's been a long 27 years since the Fighting Irish finished the season as national champions, it's been nearly three times that long since Notre Dame could claim superiority over Ohio State.
I wasn't going to put Connor Cook on this list before this past weekend. Yeah, throwing for 300 yards for the first time in Michigan State's Big Ten Championship victory over Ohio State was great and all, but Cook proved to be not so valuable to Michigan State this year in that they beat Ohio State with Cook nursing a hurt shoulder.
But guess what Connor Cook, you insulted the living legend that is Archie Griffin on national television. Yeah, accept your MVP for throwing for 191 yards and a pick on 50 percent completion percentage and pretend it's equivalent to the same award Cardale received last year. When Cook wasn't selected as a senior captain despite being, you know, the senior quarterback, most fans took it as a sign that Cook was not particularly well liked by his teammates. Maybe there was something to that.
After this weekend Buckeyes Nation can collectively agree that while Cook is technically an Ohio native, his being "caught up in the moment" consisted of him blatantly dissing the greatest Buckeye to ever wear a pair of shoulder pads. I think the only reasonable punishment is that he be booed without a moment's hesitation for the rest of eternity, but I won't be the one to vote no against a more primitive form of punishment (NSFW).
The start of it all. The man that took the undefeated 2006 Buckeyes squad and proceeded to take mercy on them by "only" winning 41-14. While it was only for one game that Meyer faced off against Ohio State, the ramifications following this game lasted up until last year's victory over Alabama.
At one point it wasn't just decided that Ohio State couldn't beat the SEC; it was decided that Ohio State couldn't win the big game, period. After the Florida loss came a slightly less brutal LSU loss in the following season's national championship, and following this came a pair of losses to USC.
Even when Meyer changed colors and became Ohio State's head coach, the first two games he coached that had a trophy on the line resulted in two more Ohio State losses. It was just more of the same for a team that had lost seemingly every big game they had played in since 2006, and there was no one else to blame for the start except for Meyer himself. The good news is Ohio State won a little thing called the national championship literally less than 12 months ago, and the man they have to thank is none other than Urban-the-villain himself.
These guys all still draw ire in one way or another, but they weren't quite villainous enough for one reason or another to crack the list.
Ryan, please catch the ball next time so Ohio State can upset Vince Young and Texas. Thanks.
Langford would have passed Cook on this list if it wasn't for Langford generally seeming like an alright guy. Stats remain stats though, and Langford's 260 yards and four touchdowns in two games against the Buckeyes are reason enough to still hate the guy.
Sammy Watkins and Martavis Bryant
The unstoppable duo of the Orange Bowl/the game where Ohio State realized they needed to completely revamp their pass defense. Watkins regularly took the top off the Buckeyes' defense, or just kind of caught a screen and ran for 20 yards because that's just kind of how the Buckeyes' defense used to do things. Bryant made his three catches count to the tune of two touchdowns, regularly mossing Buckeyes in the process. But these two are a large part of the reason why Ohio State got Chris Ash, which is a large part of the reason why Ohio State won a national championship, so we shouldn't be two hard on these now NFL studs.
Terrelle Pryor and company
It's hard for me personally to completely throw these guys under the bus. Yes, the tattoo-for-barter scandal and the following year and a half were brutal, and these times were mostly the fault of this group (Pryor, Dan Herron, Mike Adams, DeVier Posey, and Solomon Thomas). But, when I think of Pryor I think of him shining against Oregon in the Rose Bowl, or taking it to Michigan for three straight years, not getting some free ink. While I will likely forever not be as hard on this group as most Buckeyes fans due to myself perceiving their offenses microscopic compared to the shenanigans of other Big Ten teams, my best advice is to try to remember the good times.
This is why it's hard to hate Pryor and those guys. Was Pryor and company wrong for accepting illegal NCAA benefits? Definitely. But to watch Bollman attempt to call the same plays over and over again for years was more of a crime than any free tattoo could ever be. I think our friends at Eleven Warriors described the Bollman offensive era best.
Disagree? Did I (gasp) forget someone? Feel free to voice your opinion in the comments, or just post a link to a picture or example of Connor Cook being a douche bag. Either would be appreciated.