All this week, LGHL writers will be bring you articles with their most unpopular opinions. Check out all of our Unpopular Opinions throughout the week HERE. Whether you disagree, let us know what you think in the comments below and on Twitter @Landgrant33.
Everybody knows that one of the best parts of being a sports fan is debating and dissecting the most (and least) important questions in the sporting world with your friends. So, we’re bringing that to the pages of LGHL with our favorite head-to-head column: You’re Nuts.
In You’re Nuts, two LGHL staff members will take differing sides of one question and argue their opinions passionately. Then, in the end, it’s up to you to determine who’s right and who’s nuts.
Today’s Question: Which team on the Ohio State 2022 football schedule would you be least upset about the Buckeyes losing to?
Context: During last summer’s Unpopular Opinion Week, Jami and Matt debated which Ohio State rival they would root for if the Buckeyes didn’t exist. Jami chose Wisconsin, Matt went with Alabama.
Jami’s Take: Michigan State
My disdain for losing is a genetic trait inherited from my ancestors, so deciding which loss would be the least painful feels a little like “Sophie’s Choice.”
I know it comes with the territory in sports, but Ohio State does it so rarely that I don’t mentally prepare for it during college football season the way I do with my other teams. Growing up a Cubs and Bears fan built character, but that character doesn’t carry over to other sports.
So when choosing a hypothetical loss that would hurt the least, I do feel the need to let the record reflect that just because something is the least painful doesn’t mean I won’t throw a full-blown temper tantrum over it.
There are a few approaches I considered when weighing the pain I would feel over a loss.
From a practical standpoint, should I choose a high-ranked opponent early in the season (Notre Dame) so that it does less damage closer to playoff selection? Or should I choose a team who we should beat handily but who I respect and kind of feel sorry for, just to throw them a bone (Northwestern)? Or should I go full-blown petty drama queen and say “I don’t care if we lose every game this season, so long as we beat Michigan”?
I can’t really go the third route - it would be dishonest and hyperbolic to say I am OK losing all the prior games because, as previously established, I hate losing (though it is true that beating Michigan is always my primary goal. I go to sleep at night dreaming of ways to beat them and wake up in the morning imagining sweet victory with my coffee).
I also am unwilling to choose Notre Dame on account of those clowns still won’t align with a conference and their fans are so obnoxious (The St. Mary’s grads in my life who are Notre Dame fans are INNOCENT, but to my people who attended Notre Dame - yes, I know OSU fans are loud, but my God you are so obnoxious. I am begging you to shut up). Additionally, no one wants to start the season with a loss (and a home loss at that). We want to come out of the gate strong to assert our dominance.
I think a loss to an unranked team in a fluke upset could potentially do too much damage to our playoff chances to risk it. That means Northwestern and any other team I could tolerate because they need the W for morale is out.
Where does that leave us?
Unfortunately, while we don’t give a damn for the whole state of Michigan, a loss to Michigan State would probably hurt the least.
At present, Michigan State is ranked just slightly lower than us in the preseason rankings - we’re sitting at No. 6 with them close behind at No. 9. We meet them in East Lansing on October 8, with Iowa the following week.
Assuming both teams go into that game undefeated (I am not considering possibilities that involve more than one loss – this one hypothetical loss is bad enough and nothing drastic happens with the rankings, our mid-season game will be a top-10 showdown on the road.
If we lose a close, away game in early October, there’s still time for us to recover, especially if we’ve beat Notre Dame and have Iowa and Michigan still to come. We would have to win out after a loss to the Spartans, but our playoff hopes wouldn’t die entirely in East Lansing.
So ultimately, I think losing to the Spartans on the road would be the least painful because it would be the easiest loss to recover from both in terms of practical playoff standing AND emotional well-being. I would love to see us beat them too, but it is the loss I - and I think the Buckeyes - could best recover from and still go on to claim a spot in the playoffs.
Matt’s Take: Iowa
Full disclosure, if Jami had not selected Michigan State, I would have gone with Sparty. The game is in the middle of the season, right before a bye week, which would give the Buckeyes time to stew on the defeat before rolling through Iowa, Penn State, and the rest of the second half of the season schedule.
Also, MSU is coached by a former Ohio State assistant who once spoke to my fraternity while he was an assistant coach in Columbus back in the early aughts; and he’s got a Tressel on his staff, they might as well be OSU’s JV program.
But, since Jami claimed Michigan State, I will go in a different direction and pick the team coming out of the off week, the Iowa Hawkeyes. Strategically, it would be better to go with Wisconsin back in late September, but I have an inherent dislike for Wisconsin fans ever since the quarters in marshmallows fiasco (however, I do love all of the folks over at Bucky’s 5th Quarter. They are good people.).
So instead, I am opting for another Big Ten West opponent. Since they are not a divisional foe, there is some tie-breaking advantages to having a lone loss be to the Hawkeyes that could help ensure OSU makes it to the B1G Title Game even if they aren’t undefeated.
Also, a loss on Oct. 22 would still give the Buckeyes five regular-season games — plus a potential B1G Championship matchup — to impress the College Football Playoff Committee enough to earn a spot. And, since that five-game run starts with Penn State and ends with TTUN, there is definitely enough competent competition for the Buckeyes to prove themselves down the stretch.
Also, it is very possible that Iowa will be a more-than-solid team and a mid-season loss to them (albeit at Ohio Stadium) might not be viewed by the Committee as that devastating of a defeat. The B1G West is always a crapshoot as to who will be good (Will it be Wisconsin’s year? Is Northwestern going to win the West again? Is Minnesota a top-tier team? Is Iowa’s defense enough to overcome Kirk’s intrinsically anemic offense?), and this could be a year in which the Hawks are hanging around the top five come late October.
And, if that’s the case, the Buckeyes could have a chance to avenge the loss in the conference title game, giving them another important resume point when it comes to playoff selections.
While I’m still not fully over the 2017 upset in Iowa City, I am old enough to remember a lot of far more painful upsets than that one, so seeing the Hawkeyes beat the Buckeyes would suck, but it wouldn’t be completely soul-crushing.
So, of course, neither Jami nor I want to see Ohio State lose a game this season (and I’m almost certainly going to pick them to go undefeated when we do our annual predictions), but if they have to drop a game, for both personal and strategic reasons, I would opt for Iowa.
Who has the right answer to today’s question?
This poll is closed
Jami: Michigan State