2007 was the year of the Gator in College sports. And really it could have been called the year of the Buckeye. Two dates that will forever live in infamy in the eyes of all related to the school that sports the “Best Band in the Land (Ohio State)” are as follows:
January 8th, 2007– On this date, a heavily favored Ohio State team was downed by a Florida team that featured a lethal quarterback tandem in Chris Leak, and some freshman named Tim Tebow. The Buckeyes were the best team in the country all year and fully expected to ride their horses, Ted Ginn Jr. and Troy Smith to their first National Championship since 2002. Sadly for Brutus and the Buckeyes, Florida demonstrated the amazing speed of the SEC and dominated Tressel’s team 41 to 14.
April 2nd, 2007– A few months after the BCS National Championship massacre, Ohio State was led by 2 outstanding freshman in Mike Conley Jr. and the ultimate big man (who calls himself a chameleon on commercials), Greg Oden on the basketball court. The Buckeyes were looking to redeem themselves from the embarrassment that Gator Nation had laid on them a few months before on the gridiron. This was the Buckeye’s chance to reign on the Gator parade. Florida was the defending National Champs that had returned all 5 starters and were the heavily favored squad. Donovan’s team featuring the likes of Joakim Noah, Corey Brewer, Lee Humphrey, Al Horford, and Taurean Green did not disappoint. Ohio State once again suffered a defeat and was once again number 2.
Fast forward to 2010. Both basketball programs appear to be back at the forefront of the College Basketball stratosphere. Florida is ranked number 10 in the country and appears to be the favorite to bring home the SEC. Ohio State is ranked 5th, and look to be a major contender to bring home the Big Ten title despite the loss of last year’s National Player of the Year, Evan Turner.
I know it goes unspoken, but you better believe the Buckeyes are looking to extract some revenge on their Southern rival. This is a rivalry that has really kind of flown under the radar. Yes, I realize that Ohio State got a little redemption when they handily defeated the Gators in December of 2007, but neither team was ranked at the time. Both teams were in the rebuilding phase. Well now both teams are ranked again and looking to make a run at the Final Four.
This is the first major showdown of the season. And boy should it be a doozy. Florida features a squad led by Kenny Boynton, Erving Walker, and seniors Alex Tyus and Chandler Parsons. This team is experienced. This team has speed. This team can shoot the rock. And you better believe that Coach Billy Donovan has them ready to play on a night in and night out basis. Plus Kentucky no longer is the super squad of a year ago. Though they are tough, the SEC will now have to go through the Swamp.
Ohio State is a team that I have been saying for some time now will be one of the last team’s left dancing come March. I will not stop talking about this squad any time soon in that they were a major pick that I spotted over a year ago. They have the perfect mix of experience and talent. They returned 3 senior starters and 1 junior starters. Plus they brought in a phenomenal freshman class which features many players off of the same AAU team. Freshman like Jared Sullinger, Deshaun Thomas, Aaron Craft, and Jordan Sibert are ready to make a major impact now. And honestly, Sullinger and Thomas could easily be 1st team All Big Ten performers this year and be players of the one and done variety. Thad has been to a championship game as mentioned earlier. He is accustomed to winning and playing deep into the tournament. Well expect this team to have a major shot at being the last one standing.
Look for Ohio State to Gator Chomp the Gators tonight in the first big time matchup of the season. This Buckeye team is the real deal. Could 2010/2011 be the year of the Buckeye?
Stay tuned for the next edition of TheSportsKraze.