NCAAF – I’M CRASHING THE BCS, PART II

It’s been a few weeks since I decided to take part in my own experiment to learn more about College Football, by picking a top 25 team out a hat biweekly.  I wrote about my reasons in Part I of the series.

So, my first pick was:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Team Pulled is Ohio State

Well, I didn’t know much about any College Football program, let alone the Ohio State Buckeyes.   So, I did some research and discovered that the team is one of the three “most prestigious college football programs in history”.   They have 7 National Championships, 36 Conference Championships, 9 undefeated seasons, and have played within the “Big Ten” Conference since 1912.  http://www.ohiostatebuckeyes.com/

True to its historical stature, the current team looks very impressive and close to a near perfect season at 10-0 (6-0 within the Big Ten Conf) with 2 more games left.  As of this week, Ohio State has an AP rank of #6, but unfortunately, it is ineligible to compete in the BCS this year as a result of sanctions levied on the team by the NCAA due to rules violations during the 2010 season.  Apparently, some players received cash benefits which violated NCAA rules.  The team received a one year 2012 post-season ban, among other sanctions.  It’s a shame, because this team looks good right now, real good.  I look forward to next year as I’m sure the team will pick up on this momentum.

Much of Ohio State’s success this season seems to be the credit of Braxton Miller, the team’s outstanding quarterback known for his athleticism and ability to run with the football.  So far this year, Miller has rushed for 1,166 yards with 13 touchdowns, ranking him third among rushing college quarterbacks.

And, while Miller’s passing game is not up to the same snuff (1,753 yards with 14 touchdowns) and his completion percentage is only 56.9%, the 6’2, 220 lbs sophomore is in the Heisman discussion.  Fellow team member and Cornerback Bradley Roby has said, “He just has that game-changing ability. You never know when he’s going to break a long run. I’ve said it plenty of times before. I feel he’s one of the best scramblers since Michael Vick.”

More importantly, Ohio State Head Coach Urban Meyer has literally gushed over his talented QB: “Braxton Miller is dynamic. He’s the most dynamic athlete I’ve ever coached at quarterback. When I say that, people should go ‘Wooo.’ He is, by far. That’s how good an athlete he is.”

Those are some kind of compliments coming from Urban Meyer.  Coach is in his first year for the Ohio State, but has 9 years previous head coach experience with Florida, Utah and Bowling Green.  Through the end of the 2009 season, he reportedly had a winning percentage (.842) and ranked first nationally among active college football head coaches.  Obviously, he’s done an amazing job picking up the pieces where the previous head coach (Jim Tressel) left off.   Tressel resigned in 2011 after ten years due to the NCAA sanctions I mentioned earlier; which, in turn, led to Ohio State self-vacating the victories from its 2010 season and a post season ban in 2012.

Unfortunately, the team had a scare recently when Braxton Miller went down on the field while he was on the run with the football during the third quarter of their game against Purdue.  He was tackled at the end of a 37 yard run and hit his head on the turf.  He was carted off the field and taken to a local hospital, but all reports indicated that he sustained no major injuries.  It seems to have drawn some attention to the fact that his passing game needs some more attention.  In fact, this week against Illinois, Miller passed for 226 yards for 2 td’s but only rushed for 73 yards with 1 td.

And, then there are the Tim Tebow comparisons.  Coach Meyer was head coach at Florida from 2005-2010 when Tebow was his quarterback from 2006-2009.  2007 Florida won its first title under Coach Meyer and that year was Tebow’s Heisman winning year.  Coach feels that Miller is more talented than Tebow, but applauds Tebow’s work ethic.

In fact, Coach Meyer recently said that he hopes for the two QBs to meet so that Tebow’s passion can rub off on Miller.  He said, “Tim’s greatest strength is something Braxton needs to work on.  Tim is the ultimate competitor, the ultimate grinder. There is no harder-working guy. He’s just non-stop. His whole life was nothing but be in the office, study football, go out and practice. And that’s it. And Braxton is getting better. But to be a Heisman-type player, to be a first-round draft pick, especially at that position, the amount of time you need to commit to your trade is off the charts.”

Let’s see how this story unfolds over the next two years.  Barring any significant injuries or circumstances, Braxton Miller will probably seek to enter the 2015 NFL draft.  Hopefully he’ll follow Tebow’s success in college, but not his lack thereof in the NFL.

The Best Damn Band in the Land:

Part of the total experience of College Football is the marching bands.  Each embodies the spirit of the school they represent by carrying on traditions, playing historical fight songs, and raising the enthusiasm on the field.  The Ohio State’s band known is known as “The Best Damn Band in the Land” or TBDBITL.  I’ve watched some of their performances on You Tube and they are really fun to watch.   Since 1936, they have performed what is called the “Script Ohio” before home games.  Essentially, they form the word “Ohio” in script form and dot the “i”, usually by a fourth or fifth year sousaphone player, but have used other famous Buckeye alumni or friends of the university like Bob Hope, Jack Nicklaus, and astronaut John Glenn.  If you haven’t seen it, I encourage you to watch the video:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yppHFrdHvJg

Interesting Factoids:

Just what is a “buckeye” you ask?  According to the “News Room” page on the University’s website, it is a tree native to the state of Ohio that has particular traits which residents and officials have long since identified with.  I think this is a great symbol that has ties to the land and epitomizes the heart and soul of the school and football program: “tenacious, attractive and unique — traits that Ohioans and Ohio State alumni are proud to be associated with.”

Further, the buckeye leaf and nut are sometimes used as symbols for the University and “leaf decals” are awarded to football players for “outstanding efforts on the field”.  The players actually put these decals on their helmets in honor of their achievements.  (Interesting to note the decals when you watch a future Ohio State game, if you haven’t already done so.)

Final Thoughts:

I really look forward to attending a College Football game in person game some day to really get a flavor of the experience.  (Hopefully, dressed in scarlet and grey at the Ohio State University Stadium with the 100,000+ other fans who fit in there.)  Just from a distance on tv, College Football seems to have a different atmosphere on the field than the NFL.  There seems to be so much more energy in the stands and on the sidelines.  While the intensity is very strong in the NFL, everything seems so much more calculated.  By contrast, I like how quickly college games seem to unfold without feeling so deliberately planned.

It sounds silly, but just by spending a few weeks with the Ohio State from a distance, I’ve developed a true affinity for the football program and now consider myself a fan.  At the same time, it’s been fun to finally experience what others have been talking about and how the sport of College Football works.

There are just two more games left after a bye week for Ohio State.  They play Wisconsin and finish with Michigan, their biggest rivals, at home.  I’ll be rooting for them from PA.  “O-H!”

 

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