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Roses are Scarlet?

Roses are scarlet
Michigan’s blue
Purdue made us bleed
But no quit in OSU.

Not quite one month ago, Ohio State was in turmoil. QB Terrell Pryor was turning over the ball more than a car engine that refused to start, the team suffered a 26-18 defeat at the hands of (1-5) Purdue, and some fans were even calling for (GASP) Jim Tressel’s job. While the latter may have been temporary frustration talking, the Vest would be put to the test.

The result was a 38-7 trouncing of Minnesota and a 45-0 beat-down of New Mexico State, followed by a 24-7 defensive conquest of Penn State in Happy Valley. Whether Michael J. Fox told Pryor “The Secret of my Success,” or the more likely scenario that the young QB and his henchmen took coaching and got better, the Buckeyes have played near mistake-free football since the Boilermakers drew Buckeye blood on October 17. Now, Tressel’s troops control their destiny in the Big Ten and are poised to fight the Pac-10 champion for national respect in the Rose Bowl on New Year’s Day.

Granted, they should not book those flights to Pasadena just yet. Iowa is ranked in the top 15 nationally, and they have played extremely well at times, so they do deserve credit; however, the promising season for the Hawkeyes was severely sprained with QB Ricky Stanzi’s ankle last Saturday afternoon. Leading 10-0 and looking impressive, Stanzi was spun around in the end zone and sacked by a Northwestern defender, losing the football. When the smoke cleared from the play, the Wildcats had gained a touchdown and momentum, while Iowa lost their leader, their offensive potency, and their undefeated record. This is not to say that there are not other talented players on the Hawkeye squad, and that they will not fight, but they do have only one week to prepare for an Ohio State team that may be beginning to peak. Sounds like a tall mountain for Iowa to climb.

If the Scarlet and Grey show up and take care of business Saturday, they will clinch at least a share of the Big Ten Championship and a Rose Bowl invitation, even if Michigan pulls an unlikely upset in Ann Arbor the following week. I like Rich Rodriguez and the intensity with which he coaches football, but his team is not ready to seriously compete with Ohio State. The Wolverines are improved from last season, but their Big Ten record (1-5) is awful, and their top two quarterbacks, though explosive, are true freshmen. Neither has faced a defense like the Bucks, nor players like Cameron Heyward and Thaddeus Gibson coming after them like there is a bounty on their heads.

The last thing I want to do is jinx Ohio State with all this praise, so I guess the objective of this discourse is that the Buckeyes’ season did not end against USC, or at Purdue. In fact, several goals remain intact. There is an opportunity yet to win a Big Ten title and play in a BCS bowl. What has been a roller coaster of a season for Terrell Pryor can potentially end with a bigger splash than Snake River Falls. The past two weeks have proven that Pryor can be an effective quarterback, and the next two can prove that he is a dangerous offensive weapon, and that this team is for real. The scent of roses in Columbus grows a little stronger each day.