Interesting read over at ESPN about the Buckeyes. In this article by Bruce Hooley, Kirk Herbstreit tries to make an interesting point. Here’s the quote:
In my opinion, Ohio State could do more about [improving] the image people have of its program by playing a talented USC team that right now is as hot as any in the country … I promise you, if Ohio State goes into the Rose Bowl, everyone is going to be saying, ‘USC is going to kill Ohio State.’ Ohio State will gain more respect if it plays USC in the Rose Bowl and wins that game, than if it goes and beats West Virginia and wins the national title. From an image standpoint, Ohio State would score more points going to the Rose Bowl than by going to the national championship game. If you can believe that, that’s the truth.
Yes, but no Kirk. Truth is that the Buckeyes will have their chance to beat the Trojans next year, week 2. If the Buckeyes ‘backed in’ to the National Championship game and beat West Virginia, then turned around and beat USC week 2, they will have done everything they could to silence critics. Truth be told, the critics will still find something to exploit. There will be no silencing.
The Mountaineers run the type of offense that everyone says Ohio State can’t handle. They have the star players at the right positions to run that version of the spread. If the Buckeyes get the chance to play West Virginia and they lose, are the critics right? I would have to say they have a point. No question the offense that Illinois runs is quite similar to what West Virginia does, only WV is probably better. If the Buckeyes would win that game it would go a long way towards proving the Buckeyes are able to handle a good spread offense.
If they lose whatever bowl game they play in, we may have to re-evaluate our team. Granted, this team was not supposed to be in title contention this year. Let’s not forget this. But if you would like national respect, like we had after the 2002 team, the Buckeyes would have to beat West Virginia and USC. I don’t have a problem with that. But if the Buckeyes can’t get it done, does national respect matter to you?