For the record, I am just as sick of being, ‘so close,’ as you are. At the end of the day an L is an L, no matter how we try to spin it. Last Saturday night in Columbus, all that separated us from bringing home a much-needed win was Ohio State’s own version of the scoop and score, and one ref’s weird obsession with Joey Porter Jr. Oh, and by the way, John Lovett didn’t run that far out of bounds on his own good conscience; the dude was pushed. One could only imagine the gory scene that would have taken place inside that sea of red, on Halloween Eve no less, had that play stood for what it was. Sadly, it was not meant to be. Again, so close. I am just as sick as you are of being in this same position year after year. I promise.
There you have it, in the proverbial nutshell. Pardon the pun. So close, yet so far away. An extra play or two our way, a little less ticky-tack and clear bias against us from the refs, and we’d still be dancing in the streets of Happy Valley. Instead, we’re left to ponder, seethe, and hate the Evil Empire even more. We had them on the ropes again and let them slip away, escaping by the skin of their teeth. Again. Aside from two short runs for touchdowns our ground game was non-existent and yet we STILL managed to have them on the brink of disaster, just to put ‘so close’ in true perspective.
With that out if the way, there is no choice but to respect the fight. With all hope stacked against them, Penn State came out like Rocky Balboa, Lion hearted and full of true grit. They went blow-for-blow once again with and impressive OSU team and came so close to turning their season upside-down. I knew we would play well. We always seem to, no matter how dire and bleak the situation seemed to be after the loss to Illinois. Can you name a squad, outside the likes of Alabama, that can stare that particular bully in the eye like we do year in and year out? You can’t. If only we could bottle up that 1-and-0 mentality we have against Ohio State and use it for those little slip-ups we’ve fallen prey too every year. We just might finally catch our stride when November hits instead of consistently wondering what could have been.
We’ve come too far along this road of near misses and being oh-so-close together to hand out Game Balls and worthless stickers. Moral victories mean nothing because they don't translate to actual wins. With that in mind, I’d be remiss if I did not at least tip my cap to Sean Clifford and the entire offense, O-Line included, for playing through whatever ailed them recently and giving the Buckeyes everything they could handle and then some. Our D looked that high-octane offense dead in the eye, kept them on their heels and out of sync the entire night. While I’m at, how about some love for our coaches and that game plan they put together?
So much for being too distracted and unprepared as many of us predicted. Of course, it wasn’t quite enough to pull off the upset, but for what it’s worth, I truly hope this was not the last time we go into battle against the Evil Empire with FrankLion on the sideline. For all his faults (and by ‘all’ I mean maybe just a few all told) his vision and hard work is what’s gotten us this far in our quest to slay the giant. Trust me, I’m just as sick of being ‘so close’ too, but I would much rather celebrate as one when the day comes that true grit and Lion hearts complete the mission once and for all.