Jan. 9, 2007
By Eric Sorenson
Special to CSTV.com
Eric Sorenson is a regular contributor to CSTV.com, covering football, basketball & baseball. E-mail here!
GLENDALE, Ariz. - Oh they had us fooled for a while. In fact, for a gallant 16 seconds of play, Ohio State lived up to the greatest billing. Amazingly, almost brazenly,
But it was clear from the game's first offensive snap tonight, the Gators didn't want to hear any of that Greatest Team talk either. And after one quarter of play, they didn't need to.
"We knew it would be important to get in an early rhythm." Quarterback Chris Leak said after going 8-for-8 to open the game. "We were able to hit on all cylinders and get everybody comfortable."
Color that an understatement. Everything worked. At least on offense and defense.
But Urban Meyer didn't want this to be the same old
"When we allowed the kick to be returned and getting that facemask penalty - that was big. That allowed them not to be under the gun and down 7-0," OSU coach Jim Tressel would say. "We really didn't do things you need to do to be a champion tonight."
It didn't just look easy for
"We wanted to come out and attack. We didn't want to hold anything back." Leak explained. "The line did an excellent job up front handling the pressure. We were able to control what we wanted to do."
The usually mistake-free Buckeyes helped out considerably by letting each drive start with a big penalty, facemasking on the first kick return and a dumb post-play personal foul penalty on their first punt return of the night.
When asked if his defensive mates had Heisman Trophy winner Troy Smith rattled, D-End Jarvis Moss barked "Yeah, we had him rattled. Early in the game he was smiling and all, trying to make it look like he wasn't bothered. But we knew if we kept pressuring him, it was just a matter of time before it started to show."
The decorated Smith ended the night an incredible 4-for-14 for 35 yards and 29 yards lost in sacks.
Then Moss grinned slightly, amidst the flying confetti, saying, "I didn't see him smile much after a while."
"I can't say enough about him," Urban Meyer boasted in the post-game. "I guess he and I are going to be attached at the hip in history after this game, aren't we?"
Credit Meyer's knack for innovation on offense there. The Gators finished with 370 yards. But more importantly, Uof F was 7-of-10 on third down in the first half. The direct correlation to the 20-point lead can be attributed right to that.
When it came time for OSU to do something creative - anything creative - it was met with the substantial teeth of the Gator defense.
With Ted Ginn nursing a sore ankle, OSU's pride already well-bruised and
But OSU head coach Jim Tressel wasn't ready to bury Troy Smith for the Bucks' shortcomings.
"I think we put
The third quarter was barely necessary. The fourth quarter was just window dressing to the Florida Gator Nation party. And did they deserved to or what? This was a 1997 Sugar Bowl redux. Except this time the victim was one of those "Greatest of all time" teams many didn't give them much chance against.
But Mr. Moss definitely had a message afterward.
"When you think about the type of season we had and the kind of schedule we play, when you break it down, we played tough teams all season long," he said. "It was crazy that nobody gave us a chance tonight."
Meanwhile, Mr. Smith addressed his own teammates in the only way he's shown all year long, with a good semblance of dignity.
"I want to apologize to all my teammates and especially the seniors," he said. "I think I could've played better."
When asked about how this was the first time his team didn't play big in a big game, Smith stayed almost predictably humble.
"I'm a firm believer that things happen for a reason. You're not going to be able to have a storybook ending all the time. That's life. This really makes you grow up," he said.
Coach Meyer remained complimentary of
"Our coaches and players, we've got a bunch of hard-working guys. I try not to pay attention to the hype, but if you start messing around with people's pride... we've been watching it for 30 days now too. It wasn't hard to get this team motivated after 30 days of that."
History will show this was a smackdown of epic proportions. The kind of which may make some people proclaim
That show is being saved for unbeaten
Doesn't anybody here remember Astro-turf?
On the drive over from
- Instead of wedging a new stadium into some cruddy area of downtown where you fear for your life and the safety of where your car is parked, I'll give Phoenix/Glendale a lot of credit, this place is stuck waaaaaaay out beyond the suburbs. So there's no problem finding parking, or worrying about any ne'er-do-wells "defending their turf" during your visit to the stadium.
- Everything is new. And everything is, of course, first class. Nice, comfy seats. Really good sightlines. Good concessions. The works.
- Getting in and out of the area is easy. Again, because of location, no major traffic jams that force you to sit in your car for hours, in a glacier-speed jam.
- Grass field. For an indoor stadium, you've got to love the technology of being able to have the field be a grass field that can be outside for watering and sunlight when not in use.
- Beer. Unlike college games throughout the season, the stadium offers the sale of beer during the game. (Okay, not to the press corps, but if I wanted one, I can pay four bucks.)
- First off, from the outside, the stadium looks like a giant, metallic-covered loaf of bread.
- Sterility. Since it's all new and a pro park, there's no collegiate feel to it whatsoever. This shouldn't be what college football is about. Let's just all agree to go back to Sun Devil Stadium. Okay?
- Loud. Like the Sugar Bowl, an enclosed stadium sure rings your ears with loud fan bases like the ones here tonight. Goodbye cell phone, no use in getting you out tonight.
- Just like a lot of stadiums nowadays, luxury suites and sky boxes are all the rage. But like the
The fan split
Just estimating from looking around the stadium and the team colors involved, I'd have to say the crowd tonight is about 65-35 in favor of OSU. Must be the want to get out of the cold weather.
Enya in the house
During the pre-game warm-ups, the stadium loudspeakers were playing, among other things, the soothing Irish ingénue, Enya. Interesting, considering the calming effect her multi-layered music has. The thinking there must've been the "calm" before the storm.
SEC! SEC! SEC!
The Gator fans started this chant before the kickoff. And rightfully so with tonight's pride-filled 41-14 win. But the Gators fans must not recall that the Big 10 was already 2-0 against the SEC in bowl play, with Penn State beating Tennessee and
Nobody asked but...
Can you imagine if there were a World Series or Superbowl held 51 days after the end of the regular season?
When Ginn went gimp
The scuttlebutt from the
Anybody think about
With this monumental blowout completed, what one-loss team is the one that got screwed the most this season?
Okay Coach McMahon, you're turn.