There was a long time this season where it looked like Ohio State could win 25 straight games and not get a single shot at the national title. Alabama looked unbeatable -- even Baylor looked keen to jump the Buckeyes -- and Ohio State had to continually go out there and beat down its conference competition (simultaneously feeding in to the notion that their conference competition wasn't all that good in the first place).
Alabama and Baylor fell in the regular season, leaving Ohio State with one task -- defeat Michigan State in the Big Ten Championship Game, and head to Pasadena to face Florida State in the last-ever BCS National Title Game. The Buckeyes pulled out in front but were unable to close, falling to the Spartans 34-24 Saturday night.
Connor Cook was the hero of the day for Michigan State, with a season-high 304 yards and three touchdown passes -- the final of which took the Spartan lead in the fourth quarter.
The Only Colors praised Cook, who had many doubters entering the season as Michigan State's starting quarterback.
At the start of the season (and through the first two weeks of non-conference play), the QB position was anything but a strength. It was the spot we were most worried about. Adequate play there would have meant a great season. Tonight, Cook was more than adequate: 24 of 40, a season-high 304 yards passing, two beautiful early touchdowns over single coverage and a third to a wide-open Josiah Price to regain the lead in the fourth quarter. A couple of scary passes that could have been picked off and one that was, but when the Spartan offense couldn't get anything established on the ground early, Cook's arm was the difference.
Ted Glover at Land-Grant Holy Land found problems with offensive coordinator Tom Herman's play-calling, especially when the Buckeyes had the lead.
Tom Herman, Offensive Coordinator: Let me be clear here: No one's calling for Herman's head, nor do I think he should be tarred and feathered and paraded down High Street or anything like that. But Herman called an extremely questionable game, and just when OSU seemed to start clicking on offense, Herman seemed to go away from the strength of what was working for the Buckeyes. His overall body of work since he's been in Columbus has been strong, but this will leave a bad taste in all our mouths for some time.
Steven Godfrey said the game bounced back and forth between confirming the narrative and disproving it, before finally settling in favor of the pre-conceived notion of the Buckeyes -- that their defense would be their downfall.
All offseason, those in SEC country took aim at the Buckeyes' various perceived weaknesses. The schedule. The defense. And so on. That ramped up in the past week, as SEC fans (and Auburn's athletic director) worried the conference's title streak was about to end.
Those doubts were proven right early in the Big Ten Championship, then wrong as Ohio State stormed back, then more or less right when it mattered most.