It started a few years ago on a field goal try during an Ohio State/Michigan football game. It was a somewhat important kick and, if I remember correctly, just before the kick the announcers mentioned how the OSU kicker had not missed a field goal try to that point in the season. Those words, and a strong feeling that came to me somewhere out of the blue, were all I needed.
“He’s going to miss it,” I told my two sons as the play unfolded on the television screen in front of us.
As the kick sailed off target, one of the sons asked in a not so pleasant tone, ”Why would you say that?”
I laughed the comment off, tickled at the son’s insinuation that from miles away my words might have some sort of impact on the outcome of the play.
The fact of the matter is that as the soon as the announcer said the kicker had not missed a field goal attempt all year, I had a strong feeling that in the last game of the regular season, it was about time for it happen. Not to mention that it was no doubt the most pressurized attempt the kicker had tried all season.
In case you have not read this column much, I am a rather passionate Ohio State football fan, and two of my sons inherited that passion.
There have been similar incidents during Buckeye games in the years between now and then, and if either of the two sons are around, and I say something less than positive as an OSU game we’re watching unfolds, they do not like it much.
I guess in interferes with their Buckeye mojo.
During Monday’s national championship college football game pitting Ohio State against Alabama, one son that did not inherit the OSU disease watched with me for a bit. But the two mentioned above were watching from other locations. As often happens when that is the case, we had a group text message going back and forth.
When Alabama scored a touchdown with seconds left in the first half to give the Crimson Tide a 35-17 lead, I texted: “Sorry, it’s over. Bucks can’t score enough points,” knowing the message would get their dander up a bit.
The responses came quick.
“There you go. No faith,” the younger one said.
“None,” the older one replied.
“Whole second half left,” the younger one chimed in.
I chuckled to myself, thinking back to that Ohio State/Michigan game and a kick years before.
“Might be different if they had Sermon and could control clock. But ain’t the case. They’d have to score 40 in 2nd half,” I texted back.
For those scratching their head, Trey Sermon is a running back who transferred from Oklahoma to Ohio State this season. He struggled early in the year coming off a leg injury, but exploded the previous two games for on OSU record 331 yards rushing in the Big Ten Conference championship game, then added another 193 rushing yards and 61 yards receiving against Clemson in a national championship semifinal game.
I was not confident going into Monday’s championship game, but I knew if Ohio State was going to have a chance, Sermon was going to have to be a large part of it, helping Ohio State keep the ball away from Alabama’s explosive offense.
When he was hurt early on his only carry of the game, it cast a pall over the Ohio State faithful. And with Alabama knifing through the Ohio State defense like it was warm butter, it was more than obvious when the Tide scored its 35th point just before halftime that without something unprecedented, the Buckeyes did not stand a chance.
But that’s all beside the point. In a Covid-plagued season when they had little time to come together with just six regular season games, the Buckeyes made it to the national championship game.
In the process they made Clemson coach Dabo Swinney swallow what must have felt like a fully-inflated football. It was his team that, with some officials’ help, knocked OSU out of the playoffs last year, and he was the one that ranked the Buckeyes No. 11 in the country in the final coaches college football poll. As fate would have it they were paired in a national semifinal matchup again this year and the Buckeyes kocked Dabo and his Tigers’ light out, 49-28.
But that’s beside the point, too.
Most importantly, my sons and I got to share our passion for Ohio State football once again.
We’ll be back at it again next year. And you can bet, whether we’re together or miles apart, if the Buckeyes look like they’re starting to falter, I’ll let those boys know. They will respond. I will chuckle. And for a moment, all will seem right in this crazy world.
Jeff Gilliland is the editor of The Times-Gazette. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 937-402-2522.