Follow TSS on Twitter @TheStudentSect
The 2015 Sugar Bowl was basically the milk and bread aisle at the grocery store the day prior to the first snow/ice storm, and if you live in a place where snow/ice storms are possible, you know exactly what I’m talking about.
This joint had it all. An absurd last two minutes. A huge first half comeback when one team was dead to rights. The winner was settling for field goals early. The loser got up 21-6 in the second quarter.
Ohio State 42, Alabama 35, everyone watching: infinity.
Rarely anymore does the lead-in match the billing. Midway through the second quarter, this whole “playoff” thing looked a little sketchy. Oregon had destroyed Florida State. Alabama was flexing southern muscle against the Big Ten’s Ohio State.
Honestly, when you sit around and watch a million football games as a lot of us do, you don’t catch many of these moments. This was a hell of a football game.
It had to feel good for Urban Meyer, whose last time near a stage like this was with an unbeatable Florida Gators team that was destroyed by Nick Saban’s Alabama group in the 2009 SEC Championship Game. Folks might not think that stuff exists in the back of a guy’s mind, but it does. Meyer’s mind will be just a little more at ease, one would think.
Ezekiel Elliott ran for a shocking 230 yards on the ground, including an 85-yard jaunt to put the Bucks up 14, 42-28. That run would end up as the game-winning score. Ohio State was a salty 10-18 on third downs, 7-10 in the first half, compared to 2-13 on that money down for Alabama. From a numerical standpoint, that was your key. Can you get off of the field when you need to, and can you stay on it when you absolutely need to?
In the postgame celebration, Meyer noted this was as close a team as he’s been around, which is telling when you consider that he’s won two college football championships. Closeness is needed down 21-6 with a title on the line.
From the Alabama side, the entire game plan was vexing. It’s too easy to just slay Alabama offensive coordinator Lane Kiffin because it’s Lane Kiffin and that’s what people do. Alabama hoisted up 35 points, and if I’d have told you they’d get 35 before the game, you’d have taken the Tide. Especially since Ohio State snagged seven on a turnover on defense.
But the game left you wanting from that side of the ball for the Crimson Tide. You sat there on the couch murmuring to yourself, “why not give it to No. 27 every damn time (Derrick Henry)?” The last drive was played at the pace of a soccer mom dropping off her kid and telling him to run to the field, and she’ll be there soon.
OSU was special though, and as we said coming into the game … if Ohio State is doing this with two cataclysmic shocks at the most important position in the game … just how good might this team be? We found out Thursday night.
Urban Meyer and staff were brilliant to the last drop, constantly testing Alabama’s weak spot, the secondary, deep enough to get their defensive backs to drop back. This left gaping holes after the front seven if you could block them or get Jones moving.
OSU’s pace was exactly what the Buckeyes needed, too. If Alabama hates anything, it’s that frantic-paced football which doesn’t allow the Tide to match personnel. In the first half, Ohio State kept at it. Once the Buckeyes cracked the old end zone, it was Katie, bar the door.
There’s nothing really else to this stuff other than that. The Buckeyes played unafraid, like they were tired of hearing about how they had no chance, like they hadn’t earned it. Alabama wasn’t perfect, but it wasn’t a willing victim. The Tide did some head-scratching things; got some hero ball out of their punter J.K. Scott, who is basically like a PGA Tour 56-degree wedge in a helmet and pads; and just turned out to be not good enough.
That’s why they play the games. Don’t be a prisoner of the moment. A day ago, TCU should have been here and Ohio State didn’t belong. Two months ago, the SEC West couldn’t be beaten. Things have a way of sorting themselves out.
And sometimes, you just walk down the milk and bread aisle and laugh. And then, of course, move on to Oregon.