“I don’t have a plan just yet,” Ohio State coach Luke Fickell proclaimed, as he rambled through his postgame press conference Saturday.
The statement was in reference to how he intends to use the four OSU players who will be returning from suspension next week, but it also applies to just about every moment of the 2011 Buckeyes season.
After a dominating win over Akron to start the year, OSU has gone 2-2 in what have been four of the ugliest games in Buckeye history. Their most recent game, a 10-7 loss to Michigan State, may be the only three-point blowout in college football history, as it took a last minute touchdown and a seemingly-conscious effort on the part of the Spartans to lose to prevent the Buckeyes from losing in a 40-point shutout on Saturday.
And that might be the scariest part. When you hit rock bottom, people say there’s nowhere to go but up. The only problem is, the Buckeyes haven’t even hit rock bottom yet.
In a season that has seen Fickell show the decisiveness of a campaigning politician when it comes to his quarterback situation and an offense that features the predictability of an episode of Entourage, the Buckeyes still haven’t faced a quality opponent who has a chance of playing in a BCS bowl game this January.
To their credit, the Buckeyes have done their part to get to rock bottom. Shattering a freshman quarterback’s confidence by tossing him in and out of the lineup with no rhyme or reason? Check. Seniors forgetting the fundamentals of snapping the ball and tackling? Check.
All the Buckeyes need now is a team good enough to send them to that dark place where they have nowhere to go but up. And if there’s a silver lining in all of this, it’s because that team might be around the corner.
If a Nebraska team looking to avenge a 48-17 loss to Wisconsin doesn’t force the Buckeyes to hit the reset button next week, odds are that the Badgers will just do it themselves when they come to Columbus on Oct. 29.
There may not be an answer to how the Buckeyes can beat the Cornhuskers, Badgers, or even Michigan on Nov. 26, but their roster possesses enough young talent who can learn and grow from this disaster of a season. Michael Brewster, Andrew Sweat, J.B. Shugarts, and Tyler Moeller’s best days as Buckeyes might be behind them, but that doesn’t mean that Braxton Miller, Brian Bobek, Ryan Shazier, Andrew Norwell, and Christian Bryant won’t one day look back on the 2011 season as the one in which they grew from their mistakes.
But for now Buckeye fans should pack a flashlight because in order to find brighter days, it’s going to take some pain during the dark days, and perhaps no day will be darker than Saturday in Lincoln, Neb.