Each week, we’ll analyze the Ohio State game (and occasionally other games as well) through the lens of cinema. If this game were the next “Remember the Titans,” “Space Jam” or “The Notebook,” what storylines would keep us talking? What would make us laugh, reach for the box of tissues, or have us on the edge of our seats? Grab your popcorn and get ready for pop culture references, a hint of snark, and a trip back in time to the Blockbuster Video days.
Some victories are small and could come with expiration dates if you’re not careful. This is certainly true of our three Salem witches in the 90s classic Halloween film “Hocus Pocus.” And it felt true of the Ohio State Buckeyes yesterday.
When we first meet our witches in 1690s Salem, it becomes clear right away that Winifred is the ringleader of the three sisters. Her bumbling companions Sarah and Mary are fairly useless for anything but laughs. Against all odds, the three sisters pull it together long enough to eat the soul of a small girl called Emily and to turn her older brother Thackery into a black cat, doomed to live forever with the guilt of allowing his sister to be killed.
By sucking the souls out of children, the witches are essentially able to steal the kids’ youth, with the intention of keeping themselves young forever.
When it is discovered that Emily is missing, a mob of Salem townsfolk descends upon the witches’ house and hangs them for their crimes, but not before Winifred can cast a spell that on Halloween night, 300 years later, they will be brought back to life.
Fast forward 300 years and new kid in town Max takes his little sister Dani trick or treating around Salem, stumbling upon the house of his crush Allison. When Max asks Allison to take him to the Sanderson Sisters’ house (now a defunct museum), he accidentally brings the witches back to life and has to protect his sister and the other children of Salem.
It’s a temporary W for the witches, but there’s a catch — unless they can suck the lives out of enough children to turn back their clock before dawn on November 1, the witches will turn to dust at sunrise.
Watching the Buckeyes felt a bit like watching the witches’ hijinks in Hocus Pocus yesterday. Sure, we won a marquee game against a major conference opponent ranked in the top 10. It’s absolutely worth celebrating, in the same way, the witches celebrate when they realize their curse worked and they return 300 years later.
But the witches also had work to do in order to stay winning, and it’s evident from yesterday’s game that the Buckeyes do as well, or their hopes and dreams might turn to dust come the end of the season.
Let’s be clear—it wasn’t all bad. The defense held Penn State beautifully, pulling their weight in the same way Winifred Sanderson does the heavy lifting. OSU held Drew Allar and the Nittany Lions to two first-half field goals, and Penn State’s only touchdown of the day came in the final minute of the game. They held Penn State off on third down for the first fifteen third-down attempts, sacked Allar four times, and kept a very good Penn State offense off the field for much of the game.
Defensively, the potion worked. Offensively? Thank goodness Marvin Harrison, Jr. has magic powers.
The All-American seemed to reference a spell book of his own, managing to stay open despite having a major target on his back from Penn State’s No. 1-ranked defense in the country. In fact, Harrison was the only offensive player on either side yesterday who seemed to have his composure.
McCord looked strong on the first two drives before stumbling through much of the game, and the Buckeyes again struggled to establish any sort of reliable run game. Running back TreVeyon Henderson was once again out of the game with an injury, and while Miyan Williams saw some substantial playing time and put up 56 of Ohio State’s 79 rushing yards, averaged only 2.6 yards a carry.
Ultimately, the Buckeyes should take some time to celebrate their victory. It silenced some doubters, myself included, as to whether they could hang with a team as good as Penn State. But before the sun rises on the Michigan game, Ryan Day and his Buckeyes will need to find some solutions for the shaky run game and get Marv some backup lest the Buckeyes’ playoff hopes turn to dust on the last weekend of November.