Just breath, Buckeye fans. In through the nose, out through the mouth. Nice and easy, a few times, there you go. Feel better? Good -- me, too!
Let's all breathe, and relax and breathe some more. Go to our happy places and just sit there in silence and in Emmy-winning peace, and just ... breathe.
Now we have equilibrium. Now we can talk about the Buckeyes and the Paper Titan that the offense should be and how you have Ezekiel Freaking Elliott in the backfield and you give him only 23 freaking carries, that Braxton Miller, Spin Move God, only got four touches for chrissake and DON'T EVEN GET ME STARTED ON --
That almost got out of hand. Sorry about that. Let's cool off and think about other things. Because at this point, things aren't great for our hometown heroes. That's actually a sentence that deserves a second look. Things aren't great for a team that:
- Is 3-0, with a win in very hostile territory against the team that provided it's only loss from the year before, and on an odd Monday night, and pulling in Big Bang Theory numbers.
- Shutout an Hawai' team looking for a paycheck in Columbus, in a game that wasn't nearly, in retrospect, as bad as it seemed like at the time.
- Beat Northern Illinois in annoying fashion, but come on, the game wasn't really ever anything more than eye-rollingly annoying, much less in doubt once Darron Lee picked off Drew Hare and returned the gift to the house.
- Have a starting quarterback, and a backup quarterback who could play for and likely start for any other team in the country (I'll leave the question of which QB is the starter, and which is the backup up for discussion).
- Have one of the most physical and hungry defenses in the country, a unit that will keep the Buckeyes in any game for any time for the rest of the year.
And yet, here we are with way too many dark thoughts about an undefeated, No. 1 team trying to find itself against its notably easy schedule. So let's keep relaxing, and look at five other college football teams, and how they're worse off than Ohio State.
Ohio State could be Arkansas
There comes a point in any story where, with few exceptions, where you, as the reader, actively feels bad for the villain. Take Barry Dylan, for example, one of the great "big bads" in the show Archer. Barry is the worst, and Barry has made some problems for the series' heroes, sure. But...Sterling Archer did sleep with his engaged-to-be-engaged girlfriend, Framboise. He deserved what he got from Barry in return, and even though Barry is a bad guy, you kind of have his back, just a little bit. Not all the way, not always, but just a tiny bit.
What I'm saying here is that Bret Bielema is Barry Dylan from Archer. He's annoying, you hate seeing him, he says stupid, stupid things, and he almost always loses to the good guys in the end (if we carry this metaphor forward, then yes, Kliff Kingsbury is Archer, which, yeah, why not). But you still hate him, he's still the worst, and you're just fine rooting against him come hell or high water.
The Buckeyes certainly aren't Arkansas. As we know, the Hogs played a MAC team and lost, then played a Big 12 team and "got their asses kicked". Arkansas had reasonably high expectations levied on them in the pre-season, and they're living up to none of them. They traded a snake oil salesman of a coach for another of the same ilk. The Buckeyes went from Luke Fickell to Urban Meyer. Choose your own adventure, I guess.
Ohio State could be Nebraska
Wowzers, what a first year it's been for Mike Riley in Lincoln so far...
Game 1 vs. BYU
- Open the first quarter up 14-7 :)
- Give up 17 straight points :(
- Score 14 straight points to take the lead :)
- Lose on a last second Hail Mary :(
Game 2 vs South Alabama
- Win by 39 :)
Game 3 at Miami (FL)
- Open game getting outscored 17-0 :(
- Get three points back :)
- Give up 16 more points, now down 33-10 :(
- Score 23 in the fourth quarter to draw even :)
- Go to OT and throw a pick on your possession, and then give Miami a short field because of a dumb penalty and lose on a chip-shot field goal :(
I would barely wish those two losses on Michigan.
Ohio State could be Texas
As SB Nation's Jason Kirk recently opined in the must-listen Shutdown Fullcast, "we gotta shit on Texas..." but really, Texas has been doing a fine job shitting on themselves of late. After getting boat-raced in South Bend by a full strength Fighting Irish squad (and a still good Irish squad! Despite so many injuries!), bouncing back to beat Rice at home, but then losing to Cal at home on a missed PAT (#collegekickers). Charlie Strong is going to be a great coach at some point, but right now there's not a lot he can do with the product on the field. Y'all are out here making Vince Young wear a Cal shirt!
On the field, there are issues. But there's also plenty of turmoil in the luxury boxes at Darrell K Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium. Steve Patterson, hired only 22 months ago to run the biggest and richest athletic department in the county? GONE. They won't replace him right away, but it makes the football season, the football coach's future and the rest of the athletic department a bit more on edge than I'm sure anyone in Austin wants to be.
Ohio State could be Alabama
Alabama was the No. 1 team in the country, and No. 1 team in the Playoff and all of that ended on January 1st, 2015 when Ohio State went a beat them in basically their own backyard en route to a National Championship. Bama brought back an elite running back in Derrick Henry, and the typical "reload, not rebuild" mantra to the season. Then they went and spoiled it all by doing something stupid like losing to Ole Miss at home in prime time.
And that's not a bad loss! Sure it puts the Tide on the outside looking in for later in the year, but three games in, and 2-1 in the record book probably wasn't the preferred way to go into the SEC portion of the schedule. The Alabama season and dynasty are done. Unless they aren't, or something. But for the time being, the Tide are second fiddle and will need help to overtake the Rebels and get to a conference championship game. Not to mention LSU.
Also worth mentioning: this game was basically the SEC version of what the Ohio State/Michigan State game could mean for both teams if records and trends hold. Except there's a chance that Sparty will be ranked in the top...two? The AP has two B1G teams on top? Will wonders ne'er cease?
Ohio State could be...a lot of other good teams with offensive issues
Bill Connelly is smarter than I am (and you are, probably). I'll let him take it from here, about Urban Meyer and his good buddy Nick Saban:
Bill C. is rarely wrong about anything, and he's basically saying that the two best coaches in the country are in the middle of crises of overconfidence and the results include underwhelming, head-scratching offensive performances.
But Ohio State is not alone here at all. According to Bill, only Ole Miss and Michigan State have firm answers at QB, at least for now. All the other contenders mentioned (Alabama, Georgia, Oregon, Auburn, UCLA, LSU, and Oklahoma) are all asking, or have had a reason to ask some questions so far this year about who is leading their offense.
What does this all mean? Who knows!?! College football is a wild and crazy roller coaster and there are upsets every week and things change each week. But for now, for as bad as it may seem for an undefeated reigning champion, there are worse ways for a season to begin.