Week #3: Ohio University – Preview and Open Thread

(I’m trying something new here. Feedback is welcome.)

I’ve always wondered if there really is a chip-on-your-shoulder mentality that people talk about in these intrastate football games. Players are usually motivated by their own desire, what their teammates bring out of them and ultimately what their coaches are able to coach out of them. Does the environment and opponent have an effect? The accepted wisdom is that players from smaller Ohio schools (your Akrons and Toledos and OUs) play with a little more passion, a little more heart because they were “snubbed” by not being recruited by Ohio State. It’s a valid assumption but is it based in any sort of reality?

We’ve seen it more than once, a lesser MAC team comes into the Horseshoe and play inspired and completely out of the their collective team gourd. We fans fret and think to ourselves, “come on, this is Akron. Finish Them!” But but in the back of our minds there’s a confidence that says, “this well end in our favor.” And since the 1920s, it has. Where did this inspired play come from? Was it really a collective effort to prove they’ve got it? That they deserve to be on the same field?

You may remember the pain inflicted on Ohio State in two consecutive years by the Lou Holtz-led South Carolina (yes, not an Ohio school, but stick with me) and their wiley running back Ryan Brewer. You remember being reminded (over and over again) that Brewer was Mr. Ohio in football but didn’t get a call from John Cooper. Whether his performance was fueled by the perceived snub or he just had a really good day, he still went bananas that day on Ohio State in the 2001 Outback Bowl. Where did the motivation come from? It had to come from somewhere.

So does it exist? Or is it just another myth perpetuated by the media and mindlessly heeded and repeated by fans of all stripes? I know I’ve repeated the mantra before but now I’m starting to doubt it. On a logical level, it makes perfect sense. Of course that would motivate me! Perhaps. I’d like to say we, as fans, are a little smarter than we were back then, but what gets borne out on the field?

And now this week it’s going to be amplified because the Posey brothers go head to head in this game.

Sibling rivalry is nothing new but brings an interesting twist. How many times have brothers not only played on opposing teams, but played opposing positions? And what does this do in terms of the talent differential? Julian was a decent football player coming out of high school but DaVier was a five-star prospect that had interest from teams all across the country. So one brother has more talent. Does that motivate Julian to play any better? We’ll see. But blood is thicker than Gatorade. DaVier and Julian have a relationship that’s deeper than football. As he said, in reference to his brother, “that’s my best friend.” No matter how this game turns out, that relationship is a beautiful thing.

So that brings us to the game. Remember, Ohio had OSU up against the wall in 2008, leading Ohio State going in to the fourth quarter. But was it because of inspired play by the spurned OU players or was it a sudden change of play style when Boo Jackson entered the game?

There are physical limitations and talent imbalances and sometimes you’re just not as good as the guy across from you. It’s not just the talent. It’s the training, the conditioning and the depth. The underdog factor is only going to carry a team so far and ultimately you might have a big play here and a breakdown in your favor there, but in the end the better team pulls away.

And that’s what should happen in the Horseshoe on Saturday.

Ohio State 48
Ohio 6


  1. I know this is a little different, but when I spend a buncha points recruiting a player in NCAA Football on my Playstation, I get pissed when he chooses a different school over mine. I usually make a mental note to schedule that school and bring the pain, ESPECIALLY if it was an SEC school or UofM.

    I think you’re on to something with that line of thinking. To continue to play a sport like this, it takes a special kind of person with a high level of competitiveness, and I think if you’re snubbed by your favorite or in state school there’s going to be some passion when you play. I’m not a competitive person at all, but when it happens to me in a silly video game it pisses me off, so it’s gotta translate over pretty well to the real world.

  2. sylvester-yon Rambo says

    I think revenge plays a factor for sure and I am sure when they get to the Shoe and their large amount of family and friends in the stands helps motivate them too that it gives them even more motivation. They should be mad at schools like Indiana and Purdue and Wisconsin more though since they come into Ohio every year to take the guys OSU doesnt want or need and then the MAC schools get what is left.

    Bottom Line score for this game is 412 to -2 lol really I am guessing a 55-0 score.

  3. I think I remember seeing an in-state visiting player interviewed a few years ago… he said something to the effect of “it’s always been my dream to play in the Horseshoe.”

    I’m thinking that the “revenge as motivation” angle may be true for some players, but the far majority of players on smaller in-state schools have no delusions. Most either chose their schools for academic reasons, or have no delusions about their prospects of making it to the NFL.

    The in-state player who’s a pre-law poli-sci major is likely viewing the game in the Horsehoe as a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to have some fun and maybe, just maybe, make history like Appy State did. I seriously doubt 99% of them have any chips on their shoulders at all.

  4. Oh and 45-13, Buckeyes. Boo Jackson might be a “Denard Robinson Light” for the Bucks to get some experience against.

  5. sportsMonkey, I think you’ve got it. For a percentage of athletes who coulda/shoulda have (in their minds, anyway)received an offer from Ohio State, they might want to gear up their play to “prove” OSU wrong. For the vast majority, it might be a “Hoosier” moment. where it is such a once-in-a-lifetime BFD to play in the Horseshoe, their play is at a higher level.

  6. @sportsMonkey: I think you have great reasoning, and I would completely agree with you… except we’re talking about teenagers. This isn’t exactly a group known for its reasoning and logical train of thought. By 18 or 19 they should be getting better at it, definitely, but by how much? I’m not sure I could say. It could just be that I’m a lot smaller and pettier than many of these athletes. I know that most of my ex-girlfriends would agree with that statement!

  7. Honestly I think OSU’s struggles in 2008 vs. this very same Ohio team had more to do with a lack of offensive identity and some young players all around.

    The defense played well giving up 250 yards total offense and held the Bobcats to 7 points. The other 7 points came on a fumble recovery courtesy of the OSU offense.

    You will also remember that Chris Wells didn’t play and the OSU offense was LOST without him. Boeckman threw for 110 yards and Boom Herron lead Ohio State with 50 yards rushing.

    In 2008, the Bobcats caught OSU at the perfect time…out of sync and right before a battle with USC. I’m guessing not much prep work went into the Ohio game plan.

    Fast forward to 2010…

    Ohio State’s offense has a clear identity and is much, much, MUCH better than it was back then.

    Oh by the way the Ohio State defense is probably better now than it was then as well.

    This game will be a 4 touchdown victory for OSU at least…

  8. I finally got a chance to read the comments on this thread and you guys hit on one point I hadn’t considered, the Horseshoe angle. That is definitely something that would fire me up, even if it only happened once or twice in my career. Good points.

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