I’m not sure whether these waters run deep — the temperature this morning was hovering around 40 degrees, and I wasn’t about to take a dip — but the still surface of this pond next to Route 62 were perfectly reflective of the houses and trees across the roadway.
I didn’t get to see most of yesterday’s Ohio State win over Michigan State — I was at a wedding, thank you very much — but that doesn’t mean I can’t savor the sweet taste of a hard-fought and much-needed Big Ten triumph.
Michigan State clearly is one of the better teams in the Big Ten, so any victory over the Spartans is one to be prized. Beating the Spartans in front of the Michigan State faithful is so much the better. Ohio State’s defense played its best game of the season — holding Michigan State to 34 yards on the ground makes a serious statement — and the offense played well enough to somehow overcome three turnovers. How often do you see a team lose the turnover battle, 3-0, on the road, and still pick up a win?
That reality, in fact, might be the ultimate story of this game. Last year, Ohio State found ways to lose games they should have won. Yesterday they found a way to hang on to a win that easily could have been a loss. Winning breeds winning attitudes, and winning attitudes and confidence breed more victories. Now, if Ohio State could just figure out how to hold on to the football. . . .
The Buckeyes will need to make every possession count next weekend, when Nebraska comes to town for a night game at the Horseshoe, fresh off a come-from-behind home win over a Wisconsin team that let a big lead melt away. (Sound familiar, Buckeye fans?)
Hearty Buckeye thanks to Mike N., who went to yesterday’s game, for taking the photo of the scoreboard shot that accompanies this post.
Normally my autumn Sundays are pretty regimented. I play golf in the morning, get home and have lunch, then watch the Browns. By the time the Browns have lost — again — it’s just about dinner time, and the day is close to being done.
Today is different, however. The golf course is closed for a special tournament. The Browns have already played — and lost — so four hours that would have been spent in speechless rage and agony are now available for more pleasant pursuits. As a result, a day that is typically heavily scheduled has no schedule at all. The sense of liberty is exhilarating. It’s a free day, one where I can do whatever I want.
So far this morning I’ve done some chores and caught up on various tasks that have piled up during the busy period. Now the chores are done, the tasks are completed, and it’s time to enjoy myself. Nothing sounds better than camping outside, enjoying the cool weather, bright sunshine, and autumn colors, sipping on a steaming cup of black coffee and digging into my book.
The patio beckons, and its allure is irresistible.
Today the Big Ten kicks off league play. It should be a competitive conference race, because the Big Ten clearly doesn’t have any powerhouse teams this year.
The results of pre-conference play were not kind to the teams in the Old Conference. Michigan got pulverized by Alabama and then played badly in a loss to Notre Dame. Wisconsin lost to Oregon State and has struggled mightily against mediocre teams like Utah State and UNLV. Pre-season favorites Michigan State and Nebraska have fallen from the ranks of the unbeaten, with the Spartans getting pounded by Notre Dame and the Cornhuskers dropping a winnable game to UCLA. Iowa, Penn State, and Illinois already have two defeats. Minnesota is undefeated, but hasn’t played anybody. The best team in the conference could be Northwestern, which has knocked off Syracuse, Vanderbilt, and Boston College.
The marquee games today are Wisconsin at Nebraska and Ohio State at Michigan State. The Badgers will be trying to get their offense back on track against a Nebraska defense that was dismal in its only game against a tough foe. The Ohio State-Michigan State contest is intriguing because MSU handed OSU an embarrassing home loss last year, when the Spartans manhandled the Buckeye offense. Ohio State is undefeated, but it has played mediocre football against inferior teams and hasn’t played a road game yet. The tilt in East Lansing today will tell us a lot about whether Ohio State is competitive — and also whether Braxton Miller can weave his offensive magic against a very stout defense.
Thanks to NCAA penalties, Ohio State can’t play in a bowl game or the Big Ten conference championship game this year. If the team wants to make something of this lost year, it needs to win games like today’s match-up.