The Week That Were: 2013 Championship Weekend

Written December 9th, 2013 by MaliBuckeye

Look, I know it’s the holiday season and all that, but I’m not feeling it just yet. Here’s some Ella if you’re in a similar mood this Monday.

And so it ends… not with a bang, but a whimper. Not for everyone, but for fanbases who entered Saturday with significant postseason aspirations, the doors gently shut on both those dreams and on their season.

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We Know The Feeling

While TWTW is usually reserved for Saturday’s festivities, we’d be remiss if we didn’t point out that Northern Illinois started the slide on Friday; poised for a shot at another possible BCS bid, the Huskies fell for the first time all season in the MAC championship. And not just “fell”, but were beaten by 2o points by Bowling Green in a game that cost the Falcons (and the other non-qualifying schools) some pretty major cash.

Saturday’s early slate started with some Bedlam, a game where anything can happen and often does- this year in the form of an earthquake during a field goal attempt.

As a rivalry game, you throw the records and season results out the window, as any Ohio State or Michigan fan can tell you. And while TBPU looked to be the easy favorite, icy conditions and the passion of their cross state rivals kept this from being an easy match.

While both teams struggled to score early on, Oklahoma tied things up in the third following a fake field goal that may or may not have happened before the play clock expired. No call, though, so on we went.

Much like last week’s game in Ann Arbor, OkSU drove down the field with relative ease at the end of the game, and scored with time left on the clock in spite of our warnings. And, you can guess what happened- Oklahoma managed a length of the field drive to score which left only enough time for the Northwestern-esque “throw the ball around and hope for the best” play, and like NU, Oklahoma State’s efforts were interrupted and scored upon.

Nice Aim

Nice Aim

Check out the gif on the left there; this is after the spread-covering score, and you can see both a Cowboy cheerleader attempt to trip a jubilant Sooner and also notice that some happy fan has decided to huck a snowball at the field toward the end of the clip.

That’s what it means to be in a rivalry game… it’s bigger than just a regular loss, particularly when you fall at home and fall out of the BCS.  I’m sure that excitement and emotion were behind the Sooner player’s decision to go full Marcus Hall on the Cowboy fan, and am certainly looking forward to them being benched for the entirety of their next game, the way that Hall was. And, media folks, feel free to spend hours discussing how classless this play was and what Stoops should do.  You’ve obviously got nothing else to talk about.

With the Cowboys’ falling in Stillwater, the late afternoon game between Texas and Baylor became the defacto Big12-2 Championship matchup. Let that roll around in your head for a minute- Mack Brown, who may be on his way out after yet another disappointing season, was one game away from a Conference Title and a BCS bid.

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Filled With The Spirit?

And yet, it was not to be… after a close first half, Baylor made the plays that it’s executed so well all season and pulled away from Texas to win their first conference title in forever. Given that they’re opening a new stadium next year and just signed their coach to a sizable extension, it’s quite possible that we haven’t heard the end of celebrations in Waco.

And their reward? A trip to Phoenix to face the University of Central Florida in the Fiesta Bowl… the same UCF that held off SMU to win on Saturday. That game ain’t going to be pretty, folks.

By now, Buckeye fans know all to well that Auburn will be playing in the National Title game against Florida State. Poised in the computers to leap Ohio State with a blowout win against Missouri, the resurgent Tigers (no, the other ones) handled the B12-2′s SEC East’s finest handily in Atlanta on Saturday, in a game that seemed to be played with an understanding that each team was required to ration their tackles (perhaps the same memo OSU got?).

Best Tackle All Day. Seriously.

Best Tackle All Game. Seriously.

That’s not to say that there wasn’t any controversy on the way to the SEC crown. One of Missouri’s early scores was on a long pass that clearly was not fully possessed by the receiver- I have no idea how that wasn’t overturned. Later, an Auburn player pushed Missouri’s Josey out of bounds after the running back had another long scamper, and the shove caused Josey to hit a nearby cart and miss the remainder of the game.

Auburn’s win meant that, should one of the top two teams fall, they would be in. Florida State started first in their epic clash against the Duke Blue Devils, and managed to go the entire first quarter without a score.

That was about it, though- the Seminoles managed to roll up a 45-7 win and punch their tickets to Pasadena, while Winston possibly scheduled a trip to New York to pick up some hardware. It’ll be interesting to see if we get a 2006 repeat- an undefeated team with a Heisman Trophy QB against a one-loss SEC program who “backed in” to the title game.  That’s all I remember about the 2006 game… and I’m not listening if you try to give me any further facts.

No Roses For You

Roses? Not so fast…

Which brings us to Indianapolis. As if Ohio State fans didn’t have enough reasons to hate Sports Illustrated, this week’s decision to put Braxton on a regional cover added the Buckeyes to the list of Oregon, Alabama, and Baylor as teams who lost the week following their cover appearance.  Splendid.

Look, my thoughts on the game are probably the same as the rest of Buckeye Nation:

  • Hats off to Michigan State, whose defense played the way that Ohio State defenses used to play. Wonder why that is… What I wouldn’t give to have one of their DBs in the scarlet and gray.
  • Hats off to Sparty, too, for offensively game planning a perfect scheme to attack Ohio State’s weaknesses in the secondary, and to Connor Cook for the poise that he showed in the passing game. Enjoy California, Dino and folks… remember, it’s not too far of a drive for your offensive line coach to visit some family.
  • I’m as confused as the rest of you are about the Ohio State gameplan, particularly when it looked like our bread and butter were working. I understand the idea of getting Carlos into space against MSU’s secondary, but when every empty set led to a QB draw/counter, then it takes away the mystery. And mid-range passing? Does everything have to be a bomb?
  • “Frustrated” only partially covers my thoughts on the secondary’s play this past year… I’m not smart enough to figure out if it’s a scheme thing or a personnel issue or coaching, and I’ve read all three from the “experts” that make up Ohio State bulletin boards. I know that linebacker is something that Urban has identified as a “need”, so I’m just going to trust that this will improve overall in the coming season.

Again, no disrespect to Ben Affleck or to Michigan State, but it feels more like Ohio State let this one get away from them than the Spartans “took” it. While I’d prefer that it was the Buckeyes in Pasadena, I’m still excited to see Michigan State play Stanford in the 100th edition of the Rose Bowl.

Stanford won their rematch with Arizona State in a walk in front of less than stellar crowds. While some blame the “rematch” factor for poor attendance, I believe that it’s due to these being hosted on campus… as nice as that is for the home team, this time of year the trend is to allow fans the chance to travel to somewhere new. I’m conflicted on this, since I believe that any future Championship Expansion should consider home stadiums, but I also understand that there’s a huge money factor involved from tourism and so forth.

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The “Bowl-Bloat” Culprit

And that’s the heart of the silly season that we’re getting ready to enter- schools will pay lots of money for the “privileged” of making cash for television networks and tax exempt “bowl committees”; and only one game will “matter”, other than the contrived “Bowl Challenge” that the four letter network has created without consideration of even-matchups. When there are so many bowls that more than 50% of FBS teams get to go, is it really an honor?

That being said, this year should be a pretty good one for the B1G- in looking across the Bowl Landscape, there are only a few games that don’t feel like solid contests.  See what you think:

  • Rose Bowl, Jan. 1 (Big Ten vs. BCS/Pac-12): Michigan State vs. Stanford
  • Orange Bowl, Jan. 3: (ACC vs. BCS): Ohio State vs. Clemson
  • Capital One Bowl, Jan. 1 (Big Ten vs. SEC): Wisconsin vs. South Carolina
  • Outback Bowl, Jan. 1 (Big Ten vs. SEC): Iowa vs. LSU
  • Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl, Dec. 28 (Big Ten vs. Big 12): Michigan vs. Kansas State
  • Gator Bowl, Jan. 1 (Big Ten vs. SEC): Nebraska vs. Georgia
  • Texas Bowl, Dec. 27 (Big Ten vs. Big 12): Minnesota vs. Syracuse

The BCS games, then, would be Florida State/Auburn, Michigan State/Stanford, Ohio State/Clemson, Oklahoma/Alabama, and (bleh) Central Florida/Baylor.

All in all, a great set of excuses to gather friends and family for the holidays and then ignore them to watch TV. We’ll have breakdowns of each of these matchups in the coming days, as well as full coverage of Ohio State’s trip to Miami in an attempt to exorcise Charlie Bauman’s specter.

But with that… The Week That Were draws to a close for yet another season. Thanks for playing along with us all fall, and for being a part of tBBC Family. We’ll close with a bit of nostalgia to get you ready for Miami:

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