The Buckeyes Dodge A Rocket

Ohio State stayed undefeated today, beating a game Toledo Rockets squad 27-22.  By winning, the Buckeyes kept alive a 90-year-old streak against other Ohio teams — and woe betide the OSU head coach who sees that streak end on his watch — but they also gave their coaches lots to talk about in getting the team ready for the first road game of the year, next week against Miami.

Offensively, the big concern is the offensive line.  Ohio State never got much of a push against the Rockets front four, and that does not bode well for upcoming games against teams like Nebraska, Michigan State, and Wisconsin.  Quarterback Joe Bauserman had an up-and-down game, and running back Rod Smith made the crucial blunder of putting the ball on the ground when the Buckeyes were on the verge of running out the clock and putting the game away.  Fortunately for Smith, the Ohio State defense kept Toledo out of the end zone — but the fact that Smith has now fumbled twice in clutch situations is going to affect how many carries he gets going forward.  There were some flashes of promise on offense, but for the most part the Buckeyes looked like a team that is still getting used to new players at the skill positions.

Defensively, the concerns are tackling and depth.  Fortunately, stud defensive lineman John Simon battled back from cramps that took him out of the game and returned to make some key plays as the game entered crunch time in the fourth quarter.  The defense rose up and stopped Toledo when it counted, but they also missed tackles that let Toledo turn short-yardage plays into big gainers.  The back-ups got some playing time and played respectably, but my sense is that the team lacks real quality depth in several positions on the defensive side of the ball.

On special teams, a blocked punt on what looked like a blown blocking assignment and a Buckeyes’ punt return for a touchdown about canceled each other out.  The significant issue is whether Drew Basil will develop into a reliable field goal kicker.  He missed another attempt today, and if I were coaching his accuracy in the two games to date would not give me lots of confidence to send him in for big kick with the game on the line.

The bottom line is that many of us expected Toledo to be more of a test, and they were.  Give the Rockets credit — they weren’t intimidated, they played hard, and they took advantage of the OSU mistakes.  I think this is a win that will look a lot better at the end of the season than it does right now.

Keep Your Eyes On The Skies

It’s bad enough that the Earth’s atmosphere is clogged with obsolete satellites and space junk of various shapes and sizes.  Now we are being warned that some of this stuff is going to come plunging to the ground as orbits decay and the inexorable tug of the Earth’s gravity becomes irresistible.

NASA is warning that the Upper Atmosphere Research Satellite — which weighs 6.5 tons — is expected to re-enter Earth’s atmosphere in an uncontrolled fall in late September or early October.  Of course, much of the satellite is expected to burn up on re-entry, but some of its component parts are predicted to survive and strike the Earth’s surface.

NASA officials note that, even after decades of re-entering debris raining onto the Earth’s surface, there are no confirmed reports of any actual injuries to people caused by the fall of fiery remnants of satellites gone by.  Even Skylab, the much larger space laboratory that plunged to Earth in 1979 — and became the butt of many jokes, including John Belushi’s classic piece on Saturday Night Live’s Weekend Update, below — fell into the Pacific Ocean and remote parts of Australia without causing any apparent harm to humans.

Still, at times like this I’m glad that the Earth’s surface is mostly ocean.


The Perfect Tailgate Food

This morning in America, as the first rays of dawn sweep across the vast and fruited plain, countless college football fans are preparing to tailgate.  Tomorrow, with the NFL season beginning in earnest, professional football fans will engage in the same careful pre-game preparation.  I am here to advise them all that the perfect tailgate food is the Scotch Egg.

Bear with me on this.  A Scotch Egg, for those who have not sampled this awesome culinary masterpiece, consists of a hard-boiled egg wrapped in sausage, coated in bread crumbs, and deep fried.  Properly prepared, a Scotch Egg looks to the lucky consumer like a ball of meat.  You squirt some mustard on it, take a bite, and your mouth is filled with a hearty, perfectly proportioned mixture of egg, sausage, bread crumbs, and mustard.  It’s like a ball of pure breakfast.  You eat one, and you are properly fortified for the game.  You eat two, and you could sit through the coldest conditions at Green Bay’s Lambeau Field and still be warmed to your core.

The real beauty of a Scotch Egg at a tailgate is its portability.  Because — unlike a sandwich, or ribs, or most of the more high-falutin’ tailgate fare — it only requires one hand to consume, it leaves the other hand completely free to hold a frosty adult beverage and lift it repeatedly to your thirsty lips.  Consumption of Scotch Eggs therefore bears a direct cause-and-effect relationship to overall tailgate enjoyment and mounting game readiness.  And the Scotch Egg is environmentally friendly.  It doesn’t require a baggie, or a toothpick, or anything else that would end up as discarded tailgate debris.

Ladies and Gentlemen, I give you the perfect tailgate food — the Scotch Egg.