The 28-point comeback by Ohio State was almost memorable in more ways than one.
Not only was it the largest deficit the Buckeyes have erased in some time – it would have put OSU in the history books. The largest come from behind win in the histroy of the Outback Bowl was Georgia’s shocker against Purdue two years ago.
“I thought the group that was put in that situation fought like crazy,” coach Jim Tressel said. “You gotta give credit to South Carolina though.”
“We played from start to finish,” quarterback Steve Bellisari said. “We kept fighting and got right back in there.”
The Buckeyeyes scored three touchdowns in the final quarter and had a chance to add another before Bellisari’s pass was intercepted by Sheldon Brown.
SHOULD I STAY OR I SHOULD I GO
After the game, junior safety Mike Doss was asked if he had thought about leaving early for the NFL Draft.
Doss said he had not given it much thought, just explained that he wanted to get back to Columbus and talk to coach Jim Tressel about his future.
Doss did set a deadline of Jan. 9 when fans would know if he was staying or going.
MORE THAN JUST A SNAP
The Buckeyes were in desperate need of All-American center LeCharles Bentley yesterday in Tampa.
The nationally recognized center injured his shoulder during the Michigan game on Nov. 26 and was not able to play in the Outback Bowl.
“Our center position kind of runs things,” Tressel said. “We happen to have the best center in the country and we were playing without him.”
Two fumbled snaps late in the game made it evident that Bentley’s services had been taken for granted.
PRACTICE MAKES PERFECT
Freshman Dustin Fox earned the starting job at cornerback over Cie Grant for the final game of the season. Tressel said there was no reason for the move except that Fox practiced better following the Michigan game.
Tressel released a statement, saying Fox earned the right to play over Grant.
Grant did come in late in the second quarter and had what, at the time, was the game’s biggest play – intercepting a pass fromPhil Petty to give the Buckeyes the ball back with under two minutes to play. At the time the score was knotted up at 28 a piece.
South Carolina coach Lou Holtz had high praise for Tressel and his players, saying the Buckeyes were the best team in the Big Ten and offered reasons why OSU came with so much fury in the final 15 minutes.
“We did a alot of things to encourage them, he said. “We stopped tackling and Bellisari got hot. Let’s give them credit. We beat a very good Ohio State team, I think probably the best in the Big Ten.”
Holtz went on to say fans would be happy with what Tressel will do for the team and next year it could be a much different matchup.
IT’S BEEN AWHILE
Two years ago, South Carolina was 0-11 in Holtz’s first season. Since then, the Gamecocks are 17-7 and won consecutive bowl games for the first time in 108 seasons.
Meanwhile, the Buckeyes finish with a 7-5 record and losers of the Outback Bowl for the second consecutive year and its fourth in as many tries.
Comfort rests for fans in the fact that Tressel beat Michigan in his first year as head coach and has carried a high chin through a season of turmoil.
NOT THIS TIME
South Carolina slotback Ryan Brewer had a modest impact on the Gamecock’s win.
The Troy, Ohio star, who torched the Buckeyes for over 120 yards and three touchdowns in the Gamecocks’ 24-7 win last year, carried the ball five times for 62 yards and caught two passes for 17. He did however, have a 34-yard run on a fake punt that put USC inside the Buckeye 20-yard line, setting up the team’s third touchdown.
Brewer was passed up by former coach John Cooper two years ago despite being named Mr. Football in the state of Ohio.