"There's the game."
That was my thought when Buckeyes QB Todd Boeckman was intercepted in the fourth quarter.
Sure enough, LSU marched down the field and scored a TD, sealing OSU's fate.
The 38-24 final score doesn't reflect what I saw in the second half. The Buckeyes' last touchdown honestly was a "gimme," making the BCS Championship look closer than it really was.
Coach Tressel was outcoached and his team was outplayed.
There was a lot of talk beforehand that OSU wouldn't be able to compete with LSU's speed. That's crazy; no college coach actually recruits slow players — they're always looking for speedy athletes.
Here's my my wife's thought: OSU couldn't handle such a scrappy SEC team like LSU. The Buckeyes' BCS situation paralleled the NFL's Redskins in the wild card game. The 'Skins pounded the Cowboys in the last week of the season, 27-6, but their run-oriented offense met their match with the Seahawks' D.
Here's a true-ism in football: If you run to open up your passing attack, you won't be able to generate much offense if your opponent shuts down the running game and blitzes your quarterback. Like the 'Skins going to Seattle, OSU essentially played a home game against LSU. Never underestimate the power of the 12th man.
Eerily similar to the Browns vs. the Bengals, OSU didn't take care of business when they needed to. The Buckeyes let a 10-point lead — and eventually, the momentum, get away from them. As the AP put it, they self-destructed with penalties and turnovers.
Let's not take anything away from LSU. The Tigers had a passing and running attack that couldn't be stopped. Their blitzing packages looked like it was too much for Boeckman to handle. LSU was every bit as good on the defensive side of the ball as they were on the offensive side.
I wonder if OSU didn't fall into a self-fulfilling prophecy, when all the sports critics had said the Buckeyes were underdogs.
It would be a shame if sports historians label the Buckeyes of the 2000s as a team that choked in the Big Games.
While it may be partially true, it's not fair. Just because the 1970s Vikings lost four Super Bowls, the Cowboys dropped four straight NFC championships in the early 80s and the 1990s Bills got skunked in four Super Bowls in a row doesn't mean those teams were any less talented. Sports writers tend to forget how powerful and dominant those three teams were during the regular season.
Fair or not, the focus is on the Big Game. I'm not sure these Buckeyes were all that powerful this year, but don't forget they started the season ranked No. 1. They also ended the season that way.
This is an OSU team that has been to the national championship three times in six years. That's something special. And Tressel and his team should be proud.