Anyone else interested in the Ohio State Buckeyes, their NCAA-sanctioned bowl ban, and their undefeated season?
Jim Tressel, who has since resigned from his head-coaching job at OSU, was a part of a scandal where athletes were violating NCAA policy and trading their own-signed memorabilia for tattoos. There isn’t much sense in debating the severity of the ban, as much has been made of that in sports media.
Instead, I want to do a little creative writing. It is my major, after all. I want to paint you a picture of what it would be like for OSU to face off against the Notre Dame Fighting Irish. Big 10 verses independent (meaning they are too cool to be affiliated with any leagues). A fictional battle of two undefeated teams.
It’s the fourth quarter.
The commentators are attempting, as best they can, to make this game interesting, while winking at each other. They predicted The Irish to win this game. Almost everyone did. The score is 21-3, all Irish, all defense. But Manning award finalist Braxton Miller has the ball. He has a meager 60 yards passing this game, but is 5-6. He has a paltry 20 yards rushing, but on one attempt. The Irish have possessed the ball nearly all of the game, and as a result, the Buckeyes have only eight first downs.
Miller takes the snap, and like Vince Young, decides this is his night. With pistons for legs he avoids a would-be tackler and bolts outside for an option play. He fakes the pitch, holds onto the ball and beats the safety to the end zone.
He doesn’t celebrate. He’s not done.
Quarterback Everett Golson can feel the pressure. Doubt circulates from head to his hands, and he makes an errant throw. The Irish go three and out. With 10 minutes left, Miller’s first play from scrimmage is the same play he just scored on. Or, at least, it appears to be. Manti T’eo won’t be fooled twice. He charges Miller, set on putting the quarterback on his back, like he has done so many times before. But then, Miller pulls up the ball. He drops it in between cornerback and safety coverage. Wide receiver Philly Brown lays out for the reception of 53 yards. The crowd is going nuts. OSU fans chant, “Braxton, Braxton, Braxton.”
Miller flashes a smile that no one but the offensive coordinator sees. The Buckeyes score six plays later on an option read play to Carlos Hyde, who shoulders through a sandwich of Notre Dame and OSU lineman.
Score line: 21-16. Time: 4:00.
OSU is yet to kick the extra point. It’s a fake! The holder pitches it to the OSU kicker, sure-footed Drew Basil, who dives into the corner of the end zone. Already-hoarse voices are cheering. Notre Dame fans have hands on their faces. More importantly, the players have hands on their knees.
Score line reads: 21-18. Time: 4:00.
What’s next? Well, that’s up to you. I wouldn’t want to ruin it.