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Final Thoughts: OSU's Ultimate Punishment

CollegeFootballNews.com
Posted Nov 22, 2012


Ohio State's What If Problem - The Final Thoughts before Week 13.


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- Over/under on the number of times you’ll read/hear the words, “This is (insert miserable team or Ohio State here)’s bowl game.” – 145.5

- Over/under on the number of times you’ll read/hear the words, “Why don’t we ever make Thanksgiving turkey and stuffing for dinner sometimes?” – 26.5

- Thanksgiving food … OVER-RATED clap-clap, clap-clap-clap … OVER-RATED clap-clap, clap-clap-clap.

- Lincoln … OVER-ACTING clap-clap, clap-clap-clap … OVER-ACTING clap-clap, clap-clap-clap.

- If Oregon beats Oregon State on early Saturday afternoon, there’s absolutely no reason for UCLA to play its starters later that day in what will amount to a totally worthless and meaningless game for the Bruins.

The Ducks and Beavers go off at noon Pacific, and the Bruins and Cardinal play at 3:30. If Oregon State wins, then UCLA is playing for home field advantage and should absolutely come out roaring, but if the Ducks win and the Pac-12 championship is going to be on the road no matter what, 1) the Bruins would certainly want to take their chances with the Cardinal in Palo Alto over Oregon In Autzen – a Stanford win means it’ll represent the North - and 2) there’s no reason to show Stanford ANYTHING. Why take the chance of getting a starter hurt? Why let the Cardinal get a tune-up before facing the real thing?

It’s a tough spot for Jim Mora and his staff to handle. If the team doesn’t need the game, and if one of the key guys gets hurt, he’s going to be obliterated for it. If he sits his starters, like he should, he’ll get ripped to shreds for all but giving Stanford a free pass and ending all of Oregon’s and the Pac-12 BCS title hopes.

- I’ve been going back and forth with Ohio State people all week on this, and after a little while, even the most hardened of die-hards are coming around to my side.

Buckeye fans, I get that the Michigan rivalry means everything to you – even though the Wisconsin game is more important from a practical level, just like Michigan State really should matter more to Michigan going forward – but how much will it hurt, how hard will it be, if Ohio State really does finish 12-0?

Of course you really don’t want your team to lose, especially this game, but take a step back and think about how you’re going to feel if it happens. There’s nothing worse in sports than wondering what if, and at the end of the day, once the excitement dies down and all the attention is paid to the BCS race and the conference championships, it’s going to be a very, very lonely next several weeks.

I totally and completely get all the ins and outs of the rivalry with Michigan, but hear me out. On a personal level, do you really want to torment yourselves all offseason by searching for some measure of respect you won't receive if your team finishes unbeaten? USC should’ve been the Pac-12 champion last season, but did that matter a lick when Oregon went to the Rose Bowl and Stanford got the nod in the Fiesta? No one really cared.

You’ll have t-shirts, and you’ll probably go on message boards getting all fired up about probably having the only team that finished with a 0 in the loss column, and no one will really put up a fight because you’ll be right – but it won’t matter because the team wasn’t able to take the two final steps.

No one cares that Ohio State is getting some dopey trophy for being the best team in the Leaders, and you’ll get nothing more than polite nodding and acknowledgement that yeah, especially if Notre Dame loses to USC, it would’ve been nice to have seen what could’ve happened.

In the end, while 12-0 will be impressive, there won’t be any wins over SEC teams. There won’t be a win over Notre Dame, Oregon or Kansas State. In fact, outside of the fun of beating Michigan and blasting Nebraska, there won’t really be any wins to gloat about to an outside world that thinks the Big Ten is awful. But even with the mediocre schedule, anyone with a brain would’ve agreed that an unbeaten OSU should’ve at least been able to play for it all this year if it wasn’t for that whole probation thing. Meanwhile, someone else will actually win a BCS championship game, and Ohio State will be a footnote.

12-0 will mean nothing more than sheer, aching in your bones, what-might-have-been torture to think that in this year when no one is rising up and ripping everyone apart, your team could’ve absolutely won the Big Ten championship and gone on to beat Notre Dame. I don’t think the Buckeyes would beat Alabama or Georgia, but after what Johnny Manziel did to the Crimson Tide and considering the Bulldogs haven’t exactly played the nastiest of SEC slates, Urban and Braxton might have been able to crack the code.

Bragging rights, schmagging rights. It might seem nice to keep the hated Wolverines out of the Big Ten championship game – we’ll all know what the situation is on Saturday morning, with Nebraska playing Iowa on Friday – but for your own sanity it’s okay to secretly breathe a sigh of relief if Michigan pulls off the upset. Urban might have things in place for the long haul, but there are only so many chances at a perfect season and a national title.

Ohio State being 12-0 and having to forever languish in the land of What Might Have Been will truly turn out to be the harshest punishment the program could possibly receive.

- Speaking of fighting a losing battle, I’m preparing to gear up to do various “Why You Have To Vote For Miller For Heisman” articles. He might not have Manziel’s magic or stats, and he might not be as solid as Collin Klein, but with a team that’s woefully lacking in consistent offensive weapons, he’s absolutely, no question the MVP of college football if OSU goes unbeaten in a year with nothing to play for.

- I’ll buy the leadership side of what Manti Te’o does, and his interceptions and overall numbers are great, but it’s hard to sell the idea of the Irish star for any major awards over Georgia’s Jarvis Jones.

- Big Ten, learn from this now that you bought some new toys to play with. It would really, really, REALLY suck if this was the first of two Ohio State-Michigan games in two weeks. Put the two rivals in the same division, make Michigan State Michigan’s every-year interdivisional game, and avoid the potential problem.

- Big Ten, remember this when it comes to the idea that Ohio State and Michigan would be a ratings bonanza if they played each other in the championship – the ACC thought the same thing when it came to Miami and Florida State.

- Miami, if you knew you were going to do this to the current players who had nothing to do with the scandal and the problems, you should’ve had a plan before the season and petitioned the NCAA to allow anyone who wanted to leave to leave.

- After last week, I have no interest whatsoever in seeing Kansas State play in my BCS championship. However, if Georgia gacks against Georgia Tech, Oregon State beats Oregon and Notre Dame loses to USC, it would make for a few interesting discussions.

- ACC, it seems like I say this every year, but if you ever want anyone to care about your league – at least anyone outside of the SEC, Big Ten and Big 12, who are circling like vultures trying to figure out who to go after – then your league needs to rock this week.

Florida State has to beat Florida. Clemson beating South Carolina is a must, and Georgia Tech beating Georgia would be nice, while getting a lower-level Wake Forest win over Vanderbilt would be a big help to the reputation.

- And it would crush a lot of pro-SEC arguments this season.

- Seriously, Faith Baptist, maybe you should’ve thought about putting a second guy on Jack Taylor.

- I tried to tell everyone to watch Utah State-Louisiana Tech last week. No one listened, missing out one of the best fourth quarters of the season. Watch Louisiana Tech at San Jose State. It’s at the end of the day, there won’t be any other games to watch other than UNLV at Hawaii. There’s no excuse to not see the last days – at least for now – of the WAC as relatively relevant football league.

- One thing to keep in mind; weird things happen in the final week of the season for teams that aren’t going bowling. Logic sometimes goes out the window.

- I’m looking at you, Colorado against Utah.

- I’m talking through you, Iowa against Nebraska.

- I’m watching you, Illinois at Northwestern.

- Two under-the-radar clunker seasons that could completely go into the tank with a loss: 5-6 Michigan State at Minnesota, and 5-6 Missouri at Texas A&M.

- Enjoy the weekend and Happy Thanksgiving, but really, turkey-schmurky. Drop the dime on a beef tenderloin and I guarantee that everyone at the table will go for a second helping of that over the bird.