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I Got Five on it: Ohio State returns to Lincoln for the ghost of Joe Bauserman

It’s Friday the 13th, so let’s revisit that terrible game from 2011!

With today being Friday the 13th, this week’s I Got Five on it is the perfect avenue for us to go back in time, and revisit one of the weirdest nights in Ohio State Football history.

On October 8, 2011, Ohio State traveled to Lincoln for the first time, for what happened to be Nebraska’s first Big Ten home game. Unless you’ve completely repressed that game/the whole 2011 season from your memory, I’m sure you can recall what a terrible experience it was. It didn’t start off all that bad, though!

Thanks to the freshman duo of quarterback Braxton Miller and running back Carlos Hyde —there’s a sentence for you, if you’re looking to feel old— the Buckeyes jumped out to a 27-6 lead, and looked like a completely different team than the one who had managed 178 total yards against Michigan State the prior week. It was looking like a season-changing win, but then Miller got hurt, and all hell broke loose.

In one of the most infamous performances in recent program history, Joe Bauserman came into the game, went 1-10 passing for 13 yards, threw an interception, and had some of the most hilariously bad incompletions you’ll ever see:


To be fair, it wasn’t all Bauserman’s fault. Ohio State’s defense cratered, and blew a 21-point lead, which allowed Nebraska its biggest comeback in school history. I’ll go ahead and put 90 percent of it on Bauserman, though. Ultimately, his dreadful game has taken on a somewhat legendary status among the fanbase, and now Ohio State is back in Lincoln for the first time since.

(Side note: Ohio State had games that season where they completed one, four, and seven passes. AS A TEAM. IN A COLLEGE FOOTBALL GAME. IN 2011. It takes a special kind of bad to make people gloss over those games, and Joe Bauserman delivered. Joe Bauserman forever.)

Does any of this matter for tomorrow’s game? Absolutely not, but looking back on that game is a pretty stark reminder of how quickly everything can change in college football. Imagine how terrible it would be if people were still complaining about Ohio State’s passing ga- nevermind.

With our trip in the wayback machine over, here are five things to watch for as Ohio State takes on Nebraska:

Austin Mack: Penalty magnet

Lost in the shuffle of Binjimen Victor’s recent emergence has been the quiet rise of fellow sophomore wide receiver Austin Mack. While his numbers are still relatively pedestrian, Mack is seeing lots of redzone targets, and the offense is benefiting even when they aren’t completed. Through six games, Mack has generated four pass interference/holding calls in the endzone:

It’s unlikely that Mack will keep generating nearly a flag per game, —and in the endzone, no less— but it’s worth keeping an eye on No. 11 tomorrow when Ohio State gets inside the 20. He has ideal size (6’2”, 215), and his continued emergence alongside Victor can give Ohio State it’s first legitimate one-two punch at receiver in quite some time.

Tanner Lee comes bearing gifts

Nebraska quarterback Tanner Lee might want to consider dressing as Santa Claus for Halloween, given how often he’s lobbed presents to opposing defenses this season:

Through six games, the Cornhuskers have committed 12 turnovers, (110th nationally) with 10 of those coming via interception from quarterback Tanner Lee. For an Ohio State defense that has been among the best in the nation at forcing turnovers since Urban Meyer’s arrival, it’s a good bet that their ability to lure Nebraska into mistakes will determine whether Saturday night’s game is relatively close, or another Buckeye blowout.

With starting corner Damon Arnette out for the first half due to last week’s targeting call, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see Lee test Ohio State’s young secondary early and often. Nebraska’s wide receivers are too talented to not make some plays, but Ohio State’s aggressive secondary, paired with its fierce pass rush means that opportunities for turnovers will be plentiful.

I sure hope this game doesn’t come down to special teams

Here’s a list of the bad things Ohio State’s special teams unit did last week:

  • Gave up a kick return touchdown
  • Fumbled an extra point (Although it did result in this awesome Rashod Berry stiff arm)
  • Had a kickoff go out of bounds
  • Missed a 29-yard field goal
  • Had a 22-yard punt
  • Had a kick blocked, which also nearly happened on several other kicks:

I don’t even have any real analysis here, other than hoping that tomorrow’s game, or any other game this season don’t come down to a kick. We already saw that movie last year.

A special shoutout goes to Parris Campbell and the kick return group for being one of the best in the country (6th in Kick Return Success Rate), and punter Drew Chrisman has been great for the most part, but Ohio State could sure use a bounceback game from everyone else involved in the 3rd phase.

Playing strong into the bye week

Ohio State hasn’t just been good since losing to Oklahoma; they’ve been damn-near perfect. Chalk it up to an easy slate of opponents, or whatever else you want, but the last four weeks have been much more of what we all expected heading into the season. With the bye week on deck, I’m interested to see how the Buckeyes close out essentially what is the first half of their season before the real tests begin.

Nebraska isn’t a pushover, but there’s a reason why the Buckeyes are the biggest road favorites in Lincoln since 1948. This isn’t a particularly good matchup for Nebraska, and even in what should be a charged up atmosphere in Memorial Stadium, a lot of things are going to have to break their way for this to be a game late in the second half.

I’m not saying to expect another 60 point outburst, but Ohio State is rolling right now, and should be able to keep that momentum going tomorrow as they head into a bye week.

J.T. Barrett surpasses Bauserman’s passing numbers fairly quickly

You didn’t actually think I was going to end this without bringing up Bauserman again, did you? Seriously, it’s going to take J.T. less than two minutes of game time to have more completions and yardage than Bauserman did in that 2011 game. That’s how bad it was. Let’s take one last look:

Good night, sweet prince of Bauserbombs.