From my perspective it was a Big Ten coming out party at the most prestigious stadium in college football. In the biggest game for Ohio State, with Jim Tressel wearing his red vest and fans sitting in the stands waiting eagerly for a big victory, the Buckeyes sent a statement to every Big Ten school.
They finally can scream O-H-I-O!
Given a few meltdowns, in a big conference with its own network, the Buckeyes used to collapse on the biggest stage in college football. But now, Tressel, the man in the vest, found redemption and recovered from a disgraced era.
For a long time, we’ve viewed the Buckeyes as mediocre while they tried to claim their place among college football’s elite. There are people still categorizing the Buckeyes as a worthless program. That was fair when the Buckeyes were flawed and couldn’t ever win BCS titles.
Rarely were the Buckeyes invited to play in major bowl games, where folks ridiculed, insulted and neglected them. After tarnishing a prosaic league and suffering problematic losses on the national stage, like in those dreadful meetings against the powerhouses of the Southeastern Conference, folks have been skeptical of Ohio State.
But now, a losing streak no longer exists, a Big Ten losing streak is snapped and Terrell Pryor is a savior after leading OSU to begin a new decade. After being demolished in consecutive BCS games, after being doubted the chance of winning much-needed BCS games, Ohio State triumphed and finally established itself in a weak conference.
In an ecstatic environment, before thousands of Buckeyes faithful, Pryor silenced disbelievers with a 26-17 breakout victory of seventh-ranked Oregon in the Rose Bowl game. For an entire week, Ohio State prepared for this moment and dreamed of roses.
Never mind shriveled roses. Pryor blossomed into a superlative hero, and greatness was sustained through his overwhelmingly tremendous dominance. The Buckeyes have a shot at legitimizing their status as one of the nation’s top schools.
For much of the week, Tressel seemed humiliated by prior letdowns and disappointments that have dragged down the Buckeyes.
There was a loss of sprit, a loss of regard with the disintegration of a program. But now Tressel, who has three years remaining on his contract, is breathing a sigh of relief. And because he’s an old-school coach, Tressel’s defensive and offensive schemes were solid.
Everyone should be impressed by his ability to change the style and exploit different schemes. Tressel knows Pryor should be involved in the Buckeyes offense, and with that in mind, he has cultivated a program with his own list of players.
And indeed, Pryor was mentally and physically prepared for the biggest moment of his career. Pryor, who is a sophomore quarterback, has the rushing ability and stamina that can help catapult the Buckeyes to championship victories. Instead he tried something new, with his aerial attack and proved to the world that he’s a stellar passer just as well as he runs and races to the end zone.
Even though Ohio State has been able to win five straight league titles, it has struggled to win meaningful games and harmed its reputation. Suddenly, in the second decade of the 21st century, Pryor has brought not only the long-waited fans back to life in Columbus, but also the Big Ten Conference.
For the longest, it was sort of like witnessing an endless nightmare, in an unfavorable conference unworthy of regards. Before Ohio State celebrated together on New Year’s Day, this was a disconcerting conference.
The Big Ten went 4-11 in BCS games in the last nine games, thanks to Pryor, who had career highs with 266 passing yards and 23 completions. And he absolutely led a rushing attack, running for 72 yards. On greater imports, he led a high-octane offense and converted 11 of 21 third downs.
To start, he played like the running icon everyone idolizes at Ohio State, and now he’s compared to Michael Vick. To start, he was unstoppable moving the ball on his successive ground game, something the nation pictured when the Buckeyes recruited Pryor to become the nation’s No. 1 quarterback two years ago.
This was a program predicted to win a BCS title in 2002, but it didn’t happen. It’s never too late for a school to win. If this was a statement, the Buckeyes are bound to return to national title glory. There’s a good chance Ohio State may not be the school we viewed it to be, but Pryor rose to stardom and paralyzed Oregon’s defense .
Chip Kelly’s high-powered offense wasn’t nearly as effective as it was during Oregon’s storybook season. Although Ducks’ tailback, LeGarrette Blount, broke the plane of the goal line and redeemed himself after he was forced to serve a suspension for punching a Boise State player in the face during an ugly melee in the Oregon season-opener, a wonderful tale wasn’t completed.
The Ducks committed two turnovers inside the Ohio State 35. Their creativity wasn’t relentless or befuddling enough to throw off a well-aware Buckeyes’ defense. Missing in action was talented quarterback Jeremiah Masoli, who completed 9 of 20 passes for a season-low 81 yards.
Pryor clearly was the marquee player, lifting the Buckeyes out of devastation and granted the team with the ultimate prize. He has been a superhero for the conference
He’s a remedy for the Big Ten and Ohio State.