The Buckeyes, And Rodney Dangerfield

Last night, Stanford beat Oregon.  That result caused the ESPN talking heads, and sports show commentators throughout the land, to start talking about whether Stanford should jump over undefeated Ohio State in the race to get to the BCS National Championship game.

Of course, such talk caused heads to explode throughout Buckeye Nation.  Loyal wearers of the Scarlet and Gray questioned how a one-loss team, which fell to 4-4 Utah, could possibly leap the undefeated Buckeyes.  They wondered why Ohio State — like Rodney Dangerfield — is getting no respect this year.

There are two obvious reasons.  First, everyone knows that the Big Ten, top to bottom, just isn’t that good.  Second — and at least equally important — the members of the sports talk show fraternity realize that controversy helps increase ratings.  They know that ardent Buckeye fans are easy to bait and quickly worked into a frenzy by the slightest sign of disrespect.  So, if you are a radio or TV sports show host who puts the two together, you know that dismissing the Buckeyes’ latest drubbing of a Big Ten opponent, followed by raves when Stanford beats Oregon or Baylor beats Oklahoma, is bound to get you some angry calls from loyal OSU fans.  And if you just want listeners, or readers, who cares whether they are agreeing with you or not?

I hope that the Buckeyes, unlike their fans, forget about the shows of disrespect and realize that there is nothing they can do other than win their game each week.  If Ohio State can beat Illinois, Indiana, and Michigan, and then topple, say, Michigan State in the Big Ten Conference Championship game, they’ve done all that they can do.  I’m betting that, if that happens, the Buckeyes won’t have to worry about getting respect from the media.  Instead, they’ll be worrying about how they can win that National Championship game for a change.

Wishing, Waiting, And Watching TV

The Ohio State Buckeyes have a bye week this weekend.  Does that mean that the members of Buckeye Nation won’t be watching football?  Hardly!

No, this is the time of year when any team on the outside looking in is watching the scoreboard, hoping the teams just ahead get knocked off.  That’s Ohio State’s situation.  The Buckeyes are undefeated, but they are ranked fourth in the BCS standings behind Alabama, Florida State, and Oregon.  If the Buckeyes hope to make the BCS Championship Game — and of course they do — they need to win out and have two of those teams lose.  The Buckeyes control the former requirement, but they can’t control the latter.  That means that, on every weekend for the rest of the season, Ohio State fans will be rooting for the Buckeyes and Whoever is playing Alabama, Whoever is playing Florida State, and Whoever is playing Oregon, too.

The TV watching season kicks off in earnest tonight, when Stanford matches up against Oregon, and continues on Saturday, when Alabama plays LSU.  These are games where, theoretically at least, the teams ahead of Ohio State could be upset and open the door for Ohio State to move up in the rankings.

I’m mostly concerned with the Buckeyes keeping their focus exclusively on their personal improvement and their next opponent.  Because I’m not playing, however, I’ll gladly do some scoreboard watching and open rooting on behalf of the Men of the Scarlet and Gray.  So . . . c’mon Cardinal!  C’mon Bengal Tigers!