Ray Stein's observations about Saturday's game:
The game at hand
• Short-attention-span synopsis: Big Ten, big heart, big comeback. Big deal? We'll find out at noon Sunday. After that second half, can the Buckeyes quote that TV commercial doctor: "Guess who just got reinstated"?
• Pregame buzz: For Ohio State, Saturday wasn't so much about playoff qualification as playoff position. The Buckeyes took the field knowing they were in the top four; the idea was to walk off the field as No. 1, thus allowing the other two members of college football's “Big Three” to scrap in a national semifinal. In the end, OSU will have to be satisfied with walking out of Indianapolis unbeaten; the committee will decide where the Buckeyes get placed.
• Worth the trip? Throughout the first half, the wildly partisan Ohio State crowd must have been wondering why they hadn't saved the money, stayed home and worked to untangle those Christmas lights that probably are going to be mostly burned out, anyway. In the end, though, the fans got what they came to see, even if the price was stress-induced heartburn.
• Spread the wealth? This comes up once a year, at least, and as Jimmy Dugan would say, “It's good advice!” The lesson is this: It's really hard to make a living when betting on sports. This time, Ohio State entered as a 15-point favorite against a Wisconsin team it had beaten by 31 points six weeks ago. Easy cover, right? Well, certainly not as the Buckeyes fell behind 21-7 in the first half. But then OSU took control in the second half and, up 31-21, embarked on a soul-sucking drive with 10 1/2 minutes left in the game. The Buckeyes had a first-and-goal at the 2, and a touchdown puts them up 38-21 — a cover. Except the drive stalls, and OSU settles for a field goal and a 13-point lead. Easy come, easy go.
• This week in vanity plates: 2 HALVES
• How the team sees it: Thank goodness we woke up in time. When is our flight, Coach, and where are we headed?
• How the playoff committee will see it: You had to make it difficult on us, didn't you? We had hoped to get a good night's sleep.
• How Buckeye Nation sees it: Terrible, awful, lousy, dreadful, lovely, abysmal, shameful, pleasant, wonderful, beautiful, delightful, exquisite. Let's do this again soon.
Hey, what Day did say?
• What he said: “I don't know who's got a better resume in the entire country from front to bottom.”
• What it means: “But I suppose if you look at it from top to back, LSU might have an argument.”
They said it
• Your turn/the channel: Gus Johnson and Joel Klatt are not, as rumored, well-dressed Ohio State assistant coaches in the press box. They're just on hand for seemingly every OSU game to help provide words — exuberant in one case, insightful in the other. Their work is done here, however, as ESPN takes over from here. The biggest loss about that development, however, is that Dublin's most famous new restaurateur will no longer be providing pre- or mid-game analysis. Saturday's highlight was Urban Meyer's impassioned halftime speech about how the Buckeyes “were in a street fight.” Except he wasn't in the OSU locker room, he was on a temporary set. Brady Quinn, at least, was ready to put on the pads.
• Truth in advertising? At 3:30 p.m., the pregame show on WBNS-FM was already breaking down potential angles for a game that would kick off nearly five hours later. Fair enough — that's what you get on the self-proclaimed Voice of the Buckeyes. But would it be too much to ask that occasional “SportsCenter” updates include the score of the Ohio State men's basketball game that had finished about 90 minutes before? Yes, apparently. But how's that FAU-UAB game going?
Numbers for dummies
38: Big Ten championships for Ohio State
2: Conference championships won by Ohio State opponents on Saturday (UC came up short, Miami University and Florida Atlantic did not)
195: Career receptions for K.J. Hill, who passed David Boston (1996-98) with seven catches against Wisconsin
194: Rushing yards for Wisconsin in the first half
6: Rushing yards for the Badgers in the second half
1: Big Ten players with at least 40 touchdowns passing and 10 rushing in the same season: OSU's Justin Fields
18-0: Ohio State's record when J.K. Dobbins rushes for 100-plus yards
Clemson or Oklahoma? PHX or ATL? It's all in the hands of the College Football Playoff committee, which will announce its playoff bracket early Sunday afternoon. The four teams are set — Ohio State, LSU, Clemson and Oklahoma, only the Sooners among them with a loss. The only question is which state university — Ohio's or Louisiana's — has to deal with Clemson in the semifinals.
Best responses to the game on Twitter:
@SameOldNancy: Gee willikers! Somebody came to play tonight, and right now it's not looking like the Buckeyes. Come on, guys!
@mkremer48: Did the Buckeyes spend the week preparing or listening to the talking heads tell them how good they are?
@jleegill: So this is what it feels like to be a Michigan fan when they are playing ranked teams
@waynejae: Who is this team?!
@from_ottawa: Is Jason Garrett coaching the Buckeyes now?
@Buckfan618: Just one complete season. Pretty please?
@MHudoba: Am I taking crazy pills? Who is this team in the white jerseys? Because they're definitely not the Buckeyes
@BD_Eddy: So I'm at the bar, and there's a guy dressed up like Santa with a Coors Light on the rocks. All I'm sayin is, I know why Ohio State is losing
@Artolicious: Uh oh, Wisconsin. Looks like dem Buckeyes had that halftime procedure
@chabrams3one4: Anti-OSU Twitter sure is quiet now huh? Go Buckeyes!
@_realfakedoors: That game got my blood pressure way, way, way up ... I do love my Buckeyes!
@joyeilene: And to all a good night. [Not pictured: me yelling at the TV during the first half of the Big Ten Championship.]
One, two, three or four;
Who cares? The first goal's to get
In, then get to work.