I hate it when my alma mater loses, and my hatred jumps two niches in intensity when the Ohio State Buckeyes lose a game they’re supposed to win (think Purdue).
But, man, does victory need to come wrapped in such ugly packages?
I exhaled in relief Saturday afternoon after walk-on kicker Devin Barclay, a one-time professional soccer player, sent the Buckeyes to the Rose Bowl with his 39-yard field goal in overtime. Barclay’s kick sailed into OSU folklore, the difference-maker in what surely was a Big Ten game that the Buckeyes should have won handily.
They squandered a 24-10 lead, and when Iowa tied the game in the waning minutes of the fourth quarter, coach Jim Tressel made no effort to win in regulation; he turned to his no-mistake brand of football to wind down the quarter. He refused to allow Terrell Pryor, the magical talent Tressel recruited to lead the Buckeyes to a national title at some point, to play the gambler.
That title won’t come this season, of course. Tressel’s Buckeyes have one loss too many to get into that conversation, and their 27-24 victory over Iowa didn’t create the impression they were an elite team.