It's been 52 long weeks. As bad as last year's 41-14 loss to Florida in the national championship game still hurts, local Ohio State fans say that has been motivation and will be the key tonight when the Buckeyes take on Louisiana State University for the national crown.
The Buckeyes come in at 11-1 overall, with their only loss being a 28-21 decision against Illinois. The Tigers, 11-2, lost both of heir games in triple overtime 43-37 to Kentucky and 50-48 to Arkansas.
But as far as Buckeye fans are concerned, this year's results are secondary. They are looking for some atonement and revenge when the BCS National Championship game begins at 8 p.m. in New Orleans.
"Coach (Jim) Tressel will have them ready I'm sure they will remember," said Steve Nevison, 35, of Huron.
The 1995 Michigan State University graduate said he is a Spartan fan first and a Big Ten fan second. "When somebody from the Big Ten plays I support them," he said. "It helps the whole league.
"I was a little surprised what they did last year (against Florida)," Nevison added. "I think they can win. They have all of the pieces and a great coach."
John Fell, a 1968 graduate of Norwalk High School, has played and coached the game. He said last year's butt-whipping has been something the Buckeyes have heard about for 12 months.
"I think the Buckeyes are much more focused this year," Fell said. "Tressel gave them that tape (of all the national media picking LSU to win) and will have them fired up.
"They are playing LSU in what is, basically, a home game for them. They will be totally focused on the job at hand."
Fell said the offensive line will be the key and must contain All-American defensive lineman Glenn Dorsey. If the Buckeyes do that, running back Chris Wells will take over.
Wells, who has rushed for 1,463 yards this season, lit up Michigan for 222 in the regular-season finale.
Fell said it always is a special day when the Buckeyes play.
"I've always been an Ohio State fan," he said. "My dad was a big OSU fan and it stuck with me. He took me to an OSU game my freshman or eighth-grade year and I was hooked."
Bryan Lund, 40, of Norwalk, said he has a good feeling about tonight's game.
"I think Ohio State will pull it out. I think it will be a defensive battle. There will be some break that will go Ohio State's way," Lund said.
"Last year I had a feeling they were going to lose. In 2002 I always felt they were going to beat Miami. That was the greatest game I ever watched. I think this will be a great game."
Jenna Maddocks, 23, of Norwalk, is backing the Bucks all the way.
"I am very confident the Buckeyes are going to make me proud," said Maddocks, a first-grade teacher and coach in Willard. "It will be tough to play following that long (51-day) layoff, but they will be ready. I'm sure they heard about it (the loss to Florida) for an entire year."
Chris Stang, 41, of Norwalk, said being a heavy favorite, like Ohio State was last year, is tough.
"They are going to use last year as a motivator," Stang said. "It's been nice and quiet. Last year there was too much talk. There was the Heisman Trophy (with quarterback Troy Smith). Now they are the underdog and they will be motivated by that.
"I think it will be 27-21. It won't be over early like last year. I'd like to think that the defense can keep LSU from scoring 21, but it will be tough," Stang added.
Coverage of tonight's game from the Louisiana Superdome is scheduled to begin at 8 on FOX, Channel 8.