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Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Why Ohio State Fans Should Root For Notre Dame

So it is with a heavy hand that I write this. Okay, so not really, but I had debated about writing on the Duke men's basketball team or the NFL's resident blowhard, Rex Ryan, before settling on this topic.

However, seeing as the Ohio State football team's season is coming to a close, in it's annual renewal of 'The Game' versus their hated rivals from That School Up North, I couldn't pass up the opportunity to comment on what has been on everyone's mind the last few days.

Make no bones about it, I don't like that team up north. Of course, I wouldn't go as far as ex-Buckeye Roy Hall, whom, if you listened to local Columbus radio 97.1  The Fan this afternoon, took his hatred for everything Maize and Blue to a whole other level. It was kind of comical. In case you missed it, you might want to go to youtube and type in 'Roy Hall T-Bone Michigan Week interview."

But I digress. The point being is that despite my dislike for Ohio State's opponent this week, I have to respect the ability they possess on the field, both offensively and defensively. It will be a challenge for this defense to stop a better than average passing quarterback in Devin Gardner, and Denard Robinson, if healthy, may be more of a threat in the Wolverines backfield than Fitzgerald Toussaint would have ever been. Needless to say, it won't be easy for the Bucks when they try to become only the sixth team in school history to finish a season undefeated.

What is interesting is that I actually admitted to one of my closest friends that if Ohio State had lost to Wisconsin last week I would have no reason to watch OSU vs. Michigan this weekend. To which he looked at me like I had gone mad. Of course I was going to watch the game, and root for the Buckeyes nonetheless, but the point was that without the potential to go to a bowl game or go undefeated, a victory over the Wolverines would seem somewhat hollow. I guess I have reached the point where beating U of M just isn't good enough; only perfection will do.

Which brings me to the ultimate point of this article. Many fans have wondered what Ohio State's fate would be had they self-imposed a bowl ban last season. Would the NCAA allow them to compete in postseason play this year? Well, hindsight is 20/20, and we can only deal with current realities. So OSU's bowl game is this Saturday, and I while I expect the first season of the Urban Meyer to end just as it began, with a victory, I am taking nothing for granted. Nor should any other OSU fan.

In that vein, OSU fans should stop wondering 'what if' Ohio State were to play Notre Dame in the BCS championship, and, instead, start rooting for the Blue and Gold to actually win it all. For starters, there is the distinct possibility that OSU could lose such a matchup, and the end result might not be pretty. Notre Dame has played an ostensibly better schedule than Ohio State, and held its two toughest opponents, Stanford and Oklahoma, to a combined total of 26 points. On the flip side, Ohio State has given up a combined total of 77 points to Inidana and Cal, two teams whose combined record is 7-16.

So, unlike some overzealous fans on Facebook, I do not think the Buckeyes would roll over the Irish. And I will admit I have been somewhat harder on the Irish than the pollsters. A part of me thinks that, despite playing the toughest schedule in the nation, they just don't measure up when it comes to the 'eye test.' And the other part of my assessment of Notre Dame lies on my preconceived notion that the media builds this program up year after year, only to see them let everyone down in the end. But could they actually be legit?

Well, seeing as how I have been burned horribly the last two weeks, I will not predict the outcome of this Saturday's clash between the Irish and the Trojans. I will, however, urge all Buckeye fans, after they have cheered the home team to victory, to root for Notre Dame to win out. Forget about your hatred of Notre Dame and Lou Holtz. The Irish may have the best chance to stop the SEC's BCS run at six. Which I believe is more important anyway.

What has been almost a nonissue this season is the mediocre play of the SEC. Alabama isn't the juggernaut it has been in the past. Not only did they lose to the Aggies, but they should have lost to LSU as well. An LSU team whose offense is boring as a Jim Tressel coached team. Seriously. Watch more than two minutes of LSU play, and I dare you to tell me that Les Miles isn't Jim Tressel Lite. No imagination on offense, and the only reason he is able to compete with the big boys is that, unlike Tressel, he is able to recruit speed on defense.

Even Florida has had issues moving the ball this season. Just ask Louisiana-Lafayette(whom I'm not even sure is a NCAA Division IA school), who almost upset the Gators. In Gainesville.

So, while it goes against almost every instinct that I have, I will be rooting for the football team from South Bend, Indiana, to win their next two games. Because, in the end, in order for the myth of SEC superiority to die, someone has to beat them in a meaningful contest.

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