Andrew Holleran / Photo editor
If you think the presidential election has already been decided, then you obviously don’t pay attention to the Ohio State football program.
It took about four hours on a Saturday night to demonstrate just how quickly large masses of people can change their minds.
Before Indiana’s offense surged through the silver bullet defense like water through a strainer to the tune of 49 points , the chatter around the OSU football program could not have been more positive.
This OSU team – which is a year removed from a 6-7 season – was inserting itself into the national championship conversation.
At least that’s what the players were saying after OSU’s 63-38 pounding of Nebraska, a team that many pegged as OSU’s best opponent of the year.
“We’re trying to go 12-0, win every single game,” said redshirt sophomore cornerback Bradley Roby after the Buckeyes’ victory. “Trying to get that AP No. 1, go and win the national championship. That’s our goal.”
The defense was porous that game too (it gave up 437 total yards) , but the worries took a back seat to the layers of praise for the job coach Urban Meyer had done waking the program from its year of dormancy.
At 6-0 , OSU was back.
Match them up with Oregon. Bring on Alabama. Fire athletic director Gene Smith for cheating the program from a sure-fire BCS bid.
Then Indiana happened, and all of the sudden Buckeye Nation is in an uproar.
The storied OSU defense gave up 49 points?
A fullback is playing linebacker and he led the team in tackles?
And if the last onside kick bounced the other way, who knows what could have happened?
Fans are calling for defensive coordinator and linebackers coach Luke Fickell , who was being hailed as the ultimate Buckeye for peacefully accepting what was essentially a demotion, to be fired — not to mention the endless pizza delivery man jokes.
But should the struggles really have been that surprising? This was the same team that had issues against Central Florida, California and UAB. Collectively, those teams have an 8-11 record.
The Buckeyes eked out a one-point win against Michigan State, which was an impressive win at the time, but the Spartans are just 4-3 on the year.
Really, the only impressive win OSU has had this season was against Nebraska.
Yet, that one win was enough for fans to catapult their expectations of a national championship.
Let’s be real about where this Buckeye team is right now. It’s an above-average team playing in a below-average conference, it had a weak out-of-conference schedule and it’s still in a state of rebuilding.
Frankly, it’s amazing the Buckeyes are 7-0. Nothing is guaranteed.
The Buckeyes could just as easily have problems against Purdue and Michigan as they did against UAB and Indiana. They could even lose.
But whether OSU finishes 12-0 or 9-3 know this; Meyer has this team on the right track. Games that would have been close losses last year are turning into close wins. When he challenges players, they step up.
He took a team that averaged 24.5 points per game last year and – with essentially the same players – turned the offense into a 40.4-points-per-game juggernaut.
Not to mention, he has a consensus top-10 recruiting class waiting in the wings.
OSU can’t compete with the Alabamas and Oregons of the world just yet, but give it time.
Soon that national championship talk – just like the presidential candidates’ hopes of occupying the Oval Office for the next four years – won’t just be wishful thinking.