|Sequel looks like a horror film the second time around to Ohio State|
|Written by Admin|
|Monday, 07 January 2008 20:13|
About the only thing the Buckeyes seem good at is making sure there's no controversy over who is really the national champion.
For this, the most unpredictable of college seasons, that would be LSU, thanks to an Ohio State meltdown that was strikingly similar to the one that occurred a year ago in Arizona. The opponents were different and so were the domes, but in the end Monday night, this one felt as if we had all been here before.
This time, quickness wasn't the issue. Execution was, despite the best efforts of Jim Tressel to keep his Buckeyes focused in the Big Easy and keep an inherited No. 1 ranking that always seemed as shaky as the Ohio State passing game.
Blame it on a cupcake schedule or on a conference that simply wasn't as good as most people thought.
Blame it on a crisp game plan executed by Les Miles and his staff or on too many glaring coverage mistakes by the Ohio State secondary.
Those looking for deeper reasons might even blame it on a video that had to be even more depressing to Ohio State players than having to stay in their rooms all week in this party town.
Tressel passed out a copy of it to every player as a gift just before Christmas, and it was met with less than rave reviews with good reason. It included scenes of last year's blowout loss to Florida along with commentary by television analysts around the nation saying the Buckeyes were too slow, didn't deserve their ranking, and were lucky they had academics to fall back on.
It was supposed to instill and us-against-them attitude, a tactic favored by coaches from the days of Knute Rockne. Unfortunately for the Buckeyes, it became a self-fulfilling prophecy.
Last year they scored on the opening kickoff only to get blown out by Florida. This year they jumped to a quick 10-0 lead only to watch the Tigers score the next 31 points.
Even worse, LSU beat Ohio State at its own game, running Jacob Hester up the middle and having Matt Flynn throw conservative short routes. The Buckeyes boasted the best defense in the country coming into the game, but LSU converted eight of 10 third down situations in the first half and barely broke a sweat in scoring 38 points.
``Third down is the biggest down in football,'' Ohio State defensive end Vernon Gholston said. ``They just seemed to execute well.''
It's little wonder Michigan wanted Miles to come to Ann Arbor and take on the task of beating Ohio State. He managed to do it rather handily without ever leaving Louisiana, triggering a clause in his contract at the same time that could be worth more than $3.5 million over the next few years.
``Very humbly (LSU is) one of the great programs in college football,'' Miles said while celebrating his first national title. ``It's a great place to get an education, great place to win a championship.''
It's also a great place to celebrate a championship, something the Tiger fans, who outnumbered Ohio State supporters by a 2-1 margin, got a head start on long before they got to Bourbon Street.
LSU came to this game with issues of its own, including two overtime losses that in most seasons would be enough to relegate them to a lesser bowl.
However, the Tigers eliminated any pretenders to the crown in a dominating performance that had to be making the people who run the convoluted BCS system a lot happier. USC and Georgia had their moment to crow with big wins last week, but the ease with which LSU won left no doubt in this crazy college year.
``My team is the No. 1 team in the land,'' Glenn Dorsey said. ``Right now it's great to be an LSU Tiger. I love it.''
Tressel wasn't going to argue with that, even though for the second straight year he had to explain why his team wasn't competitive when it counted the most. He struggled to do that almost as badly as his team struggled on the field.
``We just didn't do the things you need to do to win a ball game of this nature. We're very aware that LSU's a deserving champion,'' he said. ``That was a tough football game, very demanding. I'm sure there were moments we weren't perfectly on queue like we ought to be.''
Tressel will find those moments when he watches the game again, and another horror film unfolds.
At least this time he'll have the feeling he's seen it all before.
Tim Dahlberg is a national sports columnist for The Associated Press. Write to him at tdahlbergap.org