Ohio State has been established as a 20 point favorite over their rival (since Coach Urban Meyer states it like this; I figure I will follow suit). So many Ohio State fans look at this visiting team and believe Ohio State will easily win THE GAME. So many Ohio State fans have no memories of what THE GAME was like in the 1990s.
One of my favorite bands from the 1990s to present day is Counting Crows. The album "August and Everything After" is widely considered to be one of the influential albums of the 1990s. Perhaps being a fan of Counting Crows makes me old, but I want to elaborate a bit further.
A lengthy song by Counting Crows that was on the album "This Desert Life" was "Mrs. Potter's Lullaby". While the song never became a hit by music chart standards, it certainly stands as one of my favorites by Counting Crows.
What does this song, or the band Counting Crows, have to do with Ohio State football, and THE GAME? Let me share some of the lyrics from "Mrs. Potter's Lullaby", and I will paint you a picture at the end...
"If dreams are like movies then memories are films about ghosts..."
Memories of THE GAME from the 1980s and 1990s, I have plenty of those; I am haunted by those "films about ghosts". I can vividly recall how THE GAME ended on a field goal attempt in Ohio Stadium in 1986. Or how a one-time high school rival athlete was able to win THE GAME almost completely by himself in Coach Cooper's first season in 1988.
"Well I am an idiot walking a tightrope of fortune and fame..."
Running an option play on 4th and short when THE GAME is tied late in the 4th quarter in Ohio Stadium in 1990. Or the former university president proudly proclaiming that a final game result of a tie in 1992 in Ohio Stadium was "One of our greatest wins ever..."
"I am an acrobat swinging trapezes through circles of flame..."
Memories of THE GAME include finally breaking through in 1994 with a victory that saved one coach's job. The 1994 victory in Ohio Stadium helped to propel Ohio State into some of the most memorable seasons for the remainder of the 1990s decade.
"And the price of a memory is the memory of the sorrow it brings..."
The price of the memory of THE GAME in 1996 is not only sorrow, but also regret for a missed opportunity at a national championship. I will always contend that while the 1998 team should have played for the BCS Championship (we'll get to that team soon enough), the 1996 team was five points away from an undefeated season and the national championship. Ask any of the players on that team about the price of the memory from THE GAME in 1996.
"And there is always one last light to turn out and one last bell to ring..."
The 1998 victory by Ohio State in THE GAME was satisfying, but not nearly enough for fans who expected so much more. The 1998 team truly played like it had nothing to lose, as everything had been lost to an unranked team only a few weeks before in Ohio Stadium.
"All the razor perceptions that cut just a little too deep
Hey, I can bleed as well as anyone but I need someone to help me sleep..."
In 2000, fans such as myself had developed a weary sense of resignation for THE GAME. Yes, Ohio State might play well for a quarter, maybe a half, but eventually...Ohio State would lose. And I do not believe I was alone within the fan base who believed that way, after so many painful memories, or "films about ghosts", as Counting Crows might have stated.
For those of you who are curious, Ohio State was not always the superior team. I would argue that the 1988, 1990, 1992, and 1994 teams were not as talented as our rival. 1986 and 2000 were probably equal. 1996 and 1998 were more talented than our rival. No matter the year or example I have cited, all of the games I listed above took place in Ohio Stadium. And in so many circumstances, our rival left Ohio Stadium with the victory.
"Well I know I don't know you and you're probably not what you seem..."
It was not until THIS MOMENT that Ohio State fans such as myself knew Ohio State had turned the corner. And thirteen years after that moment took place, there are generations of Ohio State fans who truly do not understand why Ohio State fans such as myself look at this upcoming version of THE GAME with apprehension and anxiety. Ohio State fans have seemingly forgotten how close THE GAME has been in both 2012 and 2013.
Perhaps I am being too fearful. After all, Ohio State has clinched a trip to Indianapolis, and can secure a B1G championship with a victory on December 6th. A possible shot at a national championship is still up for discussion, as Ohio State is presently lurking on the perimeter of being a playoff participant. I am predicting the final score to be Ohio State 35, Our Rival 17 (figured I should again follow Coach Meyer's lead with this approach...)
Or maybe I can rely upon Counting Crows to summarize my anxiety before this version of THE GAME, if events do not turn out in Ohio State's favor on Saturday afternoon...
"That's when I know that I have to get out cause I have been there before
So I gave up my seat at the bar and I head for the door..."