It’s roughly 60 miles from West Lafayette to Indianapolis. When Ohio State left Ross-Ade Stadium on October 20, it might as well have been 1,000.
Did you like that dramatic open to this week’s I Got Five on it? If not, please read it in your best Tom Rinaldi voice and reach me in the comments. (Don’t.)
I’m back (like Mack) and it’s time to preview the Big Ten Championship featuring Ohio State, and fellow conference power [checks notes] Northwestern! The Buckeyes navigated a rocky road to get to Indy, almost knocking themselves out of the race a few times, thanks to Greg Schiano and Bill Davis’ bad directions. It could be worse though:
Meanwhile, Northwestern breezed through the Moo Moo Farm-esque Big Ten West on their way to their first conference championship appearance. On paper, it’s a mismatch. On paper, it also might be an ugly game. A trip to the Playoff/Rose Bowl/Extremely sad off-season after losing a championship game to Northwestern is on the line, and we only have to wait one more day to find out what happens!
Here are five things I’m thinking about before tomorrow’s Big Ten Championship:
Who shows up?
Are you confident that Ohio State is who they looked like against Michigan, or are they still underachieving group they were for most of the first 11 games of the season? This was the main discussion on our Holy Land Pod preview episode of this game, and it’s an interesting subject to break down.
Ohio State just shit-kicked one of the best teams in the country —their biggest rival, no less— to win their division, keep their playoff hopes alive, and notch maybe the most impressive win in college football this season. It was their most complete game of the year, and showed why probably only Alabama and Clemson can hang with them when they play their best. It was also just one game.
For a two month stretch, they floundered week after week against teams like Maryland, Nebraska, and Minnesota. They also got dumptrucked by 6-6 Purdue. The offense had no idea how to run the ball at times. The defense looked like the worst group in modern program history for stretches, or at best, the most underwhelming. As great as the Michigan game was, it doesn’t completely erase all of that. So which team are we getting tomorrow?
A handy graphic
Makes you think.
Who would have guessed that Parris Campbell could be a 1,000 yard receiver? He came into the season with 705 career receiving yards, but only needs 97 more to be the first to reach 1,000 in a single season since Michael Jenkins in 2002, and would become just the fifth to do it in program history. It’s a pretty elite club:
Campbell tends to explode sporadically rather than put up big numbers each week —481 of his 903 yards are from the Tulane, Indiana, and Michigan games— so he may not get it tomorrow, but with at least one more game after this, he’s got a great shot.
He’s been through a lot in his 5 years in the program, and is easily one of my favorite players to root for. Here’s hoping he’s able to make history tomorrow while helping Ohio State capture another conference title. He’s also no stranger to doing damage in Indy:
Reminder: One of these teams lost to Purdue - and it isn’t Northwestern.
This actually happened.
What a weird year
From the initial Zach Smith news, to the super uncomfortable press conference announcing Urban Meyer’s three-game suspension, to the play on the field, and the talk of of Meyer possibly retiring, it’s been a really weird season.
The TCU game looked liked a gutty win over a strong team, until it quickly became apparent they weren’t any good. Penn State was a heavyweight fight, and one of the grittiest™ wins of the Meyer era, but also highlighted the problems that were to come. Purdue looked like the beginning of the end, and near-losses to Nebraska and Maryland seemed to re-affirm that. The Game was destined to finally fall in Michigan’s favor and shift the balance of the rivalry. * Narrator voice * It did not. Through it all, they still somehow have a shot at the playoff.
I’m personally fine with “just” a Big Ten Title and playing the Pac-12 Champion in the Rose Bowl —I’d rather not see them play Alabama— but it would be the most hilarious thing ever to watch this team slog through the first 11 games, inexplicably blast Michigan, win the Big Ten, and sneak into the playoff, while the whole country gets extremely mad about it. As long as they don’t lose —that’s key here, obviously— Ohio State’s playing with a large amount of house money tomorrow. Let’s get weird.
That’ll wrap up another regular season of I Got Five on it. I hope you’ve all enjoyed the lackluster photoshops and bad takes. I’ll be back for the bowl game/Playoff with more insanity. Go Bucks!