Turnovers, penalties and lack of key plays doom Buckeyes again
Jan. 8, 2008
By Trev Alberts
Special to CSTV.com
Trev Alberts is a football analyst for CSTV and CSTV.com. E-mail here!
How much did it remind you of last year in the sense of the way the game started? Remember Ted Ginn Jr. returning the opening kickoff for a touchdown and OhioState was flying high? Well, this year we have Chris Wells run 65 yards for a touchdown and before you knew it, OhioState was up 10-0. At that point, OhioState had 133 yards to -14 for LSU.
But it just seemed like LSU didn't panic. They took the best shot of OhioState and withstood the initial motivation that the Buckeyes entered the game with. OhioState was ready to play, really ready to play. They were motivated and wanted so badly to show how good they were. I thought this was a matchup between motivation and talent. And not to say that LSU wasn't motivated as well, but OhioState had so much to play for and prove.
Jim Tressel-coached teams never beat themselves, yet there was a stretch where the Buckeyes had four personal foul penalties - one of which was a roughing the punter - three turnovers and a blocked field goal. I think at the end of the day, when you look at the final stats, you're going to say, "Whoa." Certainly LSU dominated in some facets, but I think OhioState had to play the perfect game to win and they're going to kick themselves because they didn't play OhioState football. It was very un-Ohio State-like to miss all those tackles on Early Doucet's touchdown inside the 5-yard line. Then LSU was able to convert on some fourth downs and in the end, the better team won.
Since OhioState did not have the overall talent and the speed and athleticism that LSU had, they were going to have to play nearly perfect football. For them, playing a perfect game meant not turning the ball over and stopping LSU on third down. They turned the ball over and LSU was unbelievable converting on third down.
Going into the game, OhioState was the No. 1-ranked defense, but I don't think the defense necessarily lost the game for them. It was sort of ironic when we consider LSU was known to be one of the more heavily penalized teams in the country and sometimes beat itself this year. But the team that beat itself Monday was OhioState.
I felt really good for Matt Flynn because he had been much maligned all year that he couldn't complete passes and I think you saw him healthy on Monday. I know he had the one interception which was miscommunication. And how about the kid, Harry Coleman, who came in for the injured Craig Steltz? He stepped in, had the fumble recovery, was in on some safety blitzes and drilled Todd Bockeman when Chevis Jackson had his interception.
But I must say that I am surprised by this. I picked OhioState to win the game and I was more impressed with LSU's offense than I thought I would be. I expected OhioState to play better than this. I thought LSU's defense played well and made some big plays when they had to. But I was surprised that OhioState's defense wasn't able to slow down LSU and Matt Flynn. I didn't think they'd give up as many points as they did. I don't think people thought LSU's offense would be able to move the ball like they did. They didn't even really do this against Tennessee's defense in the SEC Championship game. It came down to huge momentum plays Monday and LSU made those plays when it had to.
My lasting impression of the 2008 BCS Championship Game will be how reminiscent, to me, it was of last year. The OhioState bench was staring off into space at the end of the game. Everyone talked about 41-14 and how they were going to rebound from last year's loss to Florida. They did a great job to get back to the championship game, got up 10-0, had a couple of big plays, and then they seemed to sort of self-destruct. But you have to be careful when you say that because a lot of that had to do with LSU's abilities. In the end, I was surprised how well the passing game worked for LSU.