Sept. 13 key to Buckeyes#8217; 2008 season

Published 12:00 am Monday, July 28, 2008

Preseason prognostications for the Ohio State Buckeyes are very positive.

Ohio State should be in the top five of everyone’s polls. With almost everyone back from last year’s Big Ten championship team and a berth in the BCS national championship game, 2008 looks promising.

But it’s the end, not the beginning, that will have the most effect on the Buckeyes.

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Two years ago, Ohio State reached the national championship game and took a 7-0 lead when Ted Ginn Jr. returned the opening kickoff for a touchdown.

Ginn was injured during the end zone celebration when his ankle was stepped on. The Buckeyes ended up putting their foot in their mouths the rest of the game as Florida came roaring back to dominate 41-14.

Ohio State returned to the title game last January and faced another SEC team in LSU. The results were similar as LSU rolled to a 38-24 win. They trailed 31-10 just six minutes into the third quarter.

Those finishes have left serious doubts in the minds of poll voters to just how good the Buckeyes will really be this year.

Last season Ohio State did not face a team ranked in the top 20 — according to rankings at kickoff — for the first time since 1936.

Only Hawaii at 12-0 had a better record at the end of the regular season and the Buckeyes 11-1 record was matched only by Kansas.

But the Buckeyes lone loss was at home to Illinois, 28-21, and the Fighting Illini were embarrassed in the Rose Bowl by Southern Cal.

For Ohio State to earn back any respect, winning at Southern Cal on Sept. 13 is imperative.

It’s sort of like, “Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me.”

But fool me three times, who do I blame?

If the Buckeyes are sitting near the top of the polls when poll voters are trying to decide who should play for the national title, most will be hard-pressed to give Ohio State another chance.

Circle Sept. 13 on your calendar. That’s the real prognosticator this season for the Buckeyes.