I Was Pulling for Ohio State… Here Is Why:
I know what the answers will be from anyone who clicked on this article.
“Of course it was weird you were pulling for Ohio State last night. You should have been pulling for Clemson not only to win, but also win by 70! You are a Penn State fan, aren’t you?”
Or, “you must have put some money on the Buckeyes.” Hindsight being 20/20, I wish I did.
Or, possibly the reasoning I might have had in past seasons, you root for your conference during bowl season. Sure, I used to side with that, especially after the 2017 season when Penn State won the Fiesta Bowl and all the other Big Ten teams won their bowl game, besides Michigan. But, Twitter debate has swayed me into thinking that if Ohio State wins their bowl game, it helps them. It does not help Penn State at all if Ohio State, or any Big Ten team wins their bowl game.
So, I wasn’t rooting for the Tigers despite all of the factors being added up against the Buckeyes. That list of factors to root against the Buckeyes is a longggg list. I will address the two easy ones:
- Ohio State is Penn State’s biggest rival! If they win, they move to the National Championship, which helps them with recruiting, which helps them sustain their success, you know, the never ending cycle we want to avoid.
- Justin Fields was once a Penn State commit and now he is a Buckeye, you shouldn’t root for him!
Yes, I know an Ohio State victory is a huge boost for a program that doesn’t need much of a boost at the moment. Urban Meyer arrived in Columbus in 2012 and they immediately went undefeated. They won the first ever College Football Playoff following the 2014 season. They went to the Playoff in 2016, when Penn State beat them and won the Big Ten Title, while Penn State had to “settle” for the Rose Bowl.
I am going to stop there on the list of their accomplishments in the last decade because that last one hurt a lot, ok? But, you get it, they have been great since 2012 and have no signs of stopping under second year Head Coach Ryan Day. Ohio State has the second rated class in the country incoming for 2021. Then, Penn State has the second rated class for 2022, so far, but guess who is first? You know who…
So, yes, while I almost talked myself out of why it was NOT idiotic to root for Ohio State last night with all of those reasons, I still feel ok with my decision.
On to Justin Fields.
Of course it hurt seeing him thrive these last two seasons in Columbus, especially this year when he torched Penn State on the Beaver Stadium turf he was supposed to be accustomed to, not a foreigner to. But, despite being a Buckeye, I… I like Justin Fields! Obviously I liked him when he committed to Penn State. I liked him while watching the QB1 Show on Netflix.
Most importantly, in 2020, Fields emerged as a leader for the Big Ten Conference. With leadership failing and mismanagement of the league schedule, he stepped up and became a vocal leader for not only Ohio State, but also the other 13 teams in the conference. He wanted to play, and I think his voice had to factor in to the conference’s decision to eventually allow teams to play this shortened season.
So, with those two obvious points of why I should have rooted against Ohio State justified, here is why I was cheering for the Buckeyes:
I CANNOT STAND WHAT DABO SWINNEY HAS BECOME.
There, that felt GREAT to get off my chest! He has become insufferable and arrogant at Clemson after all of their success in recent years. Prior to this year, I really had no issues with the Tigers’ Head Coach. Despite telling the media his team were underdogs among other idiotic comments, I was ok with Dabo from afar, never having to worry about the Nittany Lions facing his group. But, this year, Dabo brought it on himself and he bothered me.
He criticized Florida State for canceling their scheduled match-up in November, citing Covid-19 as “an excuse to cancel the game“. His thought process was Florida State did not want to get blown out by a much better Clemson team. He did not give any consideration that this country is in a pandemic.
To me, that speaks to a poor lack of judgement of Dabo Swinney. But, then to get to the competitive side of things, that is what swayed me right before kickoff when I wasn’t sure who I would pull for.
Dabo Swinney publicly bashed the Buckeyes for the lack of games they played and then did it either with purpose behind it or not when he submitted his final Coaches’ Poll Ballot of the season and had the Buckeyes at 11. Not because of their record, the Buckeyes went undefeated. But, because the Buckeyes only played six games, backtracking on a statement he made in September when he declared he would not care how many games a team played because of the pandemic.
You figured after the heartbreaking 29-23 loss Ohio State had last year in the CFP to Clemson, they would be motivated. After Dabo’s statements about this team in recent weeks, that motivation had to go through the roof, and the storyline pulled me on board, as well.
My feelings only solidified as the game went on and the Buckeyes and Tigers had an epic first quarter duel with the quarter ending in a 14-14 deadlock. I was excited watching Fields tear up the Clemson secondary through the air and RB Trey Sermon taking his epic performance in Indianapolis and bringing right into New Orleans.
Then, came perhaps the most important play of the game, in terms of changes to personnel. On 3rd & 13 with Ohio State driving down the field, up 7 points, Fields scrambled and was met with an impactful hit by the heart and soul of Clemson’s defense, James Skalski. Fields came up short of the sticks and immediately was rolling around in pain after a hit to the ribs. With Fields down, the replay booth reviewed the hit and declared that Skalski led with his head and drove into the ribs of Fields. The Ohio State QB would have to miss a play before he could even think of a triumphant return to the field. But, the communicator and leader of the Tiger defense, Skalski, would have to miss the rest of the game because of the targeting ejection.
This was the biggest play of the game, in my opinion. And seeing Justin Fields come back to play one play later and throwing a touchdown on that very play. Man, that just tugs on the emotions as a competitor and I was nearly as in on the Bucks as I would be for the Blue and White.
Ohio State dominated Clemson, 49-28, outscoring the Tigers 35-14 after the first quarter, and Fields was the reason why. He threw for 385 yards and completed 22 of 28 passes for 6 touchdowns and just one pick, a pass that was deflected at the line. It was pure domination and in an uncompetitive final quarter, all I could wait for was the Dabo Swinney press conference where he would have to eat his words. And, maybe Ryan Day would step out of his typical realm and throw a shot at the Clemson Head Coach, who he far and away outcoached all night long. Credit to Day, he didn’t, he kept it classy, as did the rest of his players.
Victory was sweet for Ohio State and sure, it may hurt Penn State that the Buckeyes are advancing to another National Title game. But, it was a whole lot sweeter to see Dabo Swinney knocked down a few pegs. And to that, here is what I have to say to Dabo: