The relationship between Ohio State fans and the brawny men donning scarlet and grey covered pads is much like any other relationship in an individual's life. It is said that there are five stages to a relationship; attraction/ butterfly stage, reality stage, disappointment, stability and the commitment stage.
Buckeye fans enter the butterfly stage as premier recruits and seasoned veterans show up to The Shoe for their first Saturday showing. Lust is in the air as everyone watches starry eyed from the stands or television monitors. It is a new beginning and there is so much to learn about the team. In this stage the fans want nothing more than Buckeyes football 24 hours a day.
The reality stage comes earlier in some seasons (ah hem, USC) then others. The fan realizes that the team of their affection is not perfect and the flaws begin to show through the beautiful jerseys (and sweater vest).
Disappointment is inevitable. While love for the team has been developing, the fan has claimed inability to watch highlights after a rugged Saturday showing and they may even talk down about the beloved team's playing style… but vocalizing concern in the relationship is healthy!
Bandwagon fans have since left the stadium after the disappointment stage but the committed are still smiling through their scarlet face paint. The stability stage comes with recognizing that the team's efforts are not forsaken and they are trying to make it work. The fans begin to understand that the players are human and really want to win. They need the support of their adored fans to help pull them through.
In the commitment stage the fans wave their Block O flag even in the lowest of lows. Some Saturdays cause severe heartache but the passionate supporters take the title of 'Buckeyes fan' and maintain through thick and thin 'til death do them part. At 'death do them part' these true fans are buried in their most prized scarlet and grey jersey because not much else in life mattered more than a Saturday spent with their true love.
This Saturday the Buckeyes will sprint onto the field at The Horseshoe with a 5-2 record to take on the 4-3 Minnesota Gophers hoping a Buckeye victory will extend the series to 42-7 and avoid the first back-to-back conference defeat in over five years.
Much pressure will be placed on the shoulders of QB Terrelle Pryor. With so much in the media regarding Pryor, all that really needs to be said is redemption is necessary for the 6'6″ 235lb. sophomore. After throwing eight interceptions in seven games (and four turnovers resulting in last week's loss to 26-18 loss to 1-5 Purdue), Pryor must combat the designation of a passing offense that is last in the Big Ten and 101st in the nation. It is time to step up.
During a press conference earlier in the week Pryor stated “Last week, that opened me up to the world and opened me up to myself and who I am as a person”. He continued “I think maybe that was the best thing to happen to us last week; maybe we'll learn from it. We're having real good practices, and we're just trying to get the fans back on our side.”
Fan support is will get the momentum rolling. It is up to the team persevering in their respective roles for reciprocation.
Protecting Pryor from Minn. standout Lee Campbell will be a major factor in Saturday's game.
This season, Campbell has 77 tackles in seven games, including a Big Ten-leading 45 solos.
It is possible that Campbell could tire as the Gophers are averaging more than 33 minutes on defense, the most in the Big Ten, largely because their third-down conversion rates are the league's worst on both sides of the ball.
What the Buckeyes do with the ball while on offense will be the issue to overcome on Saturday. Pryor rushed for 97 yards against Minnesota last season. As the past seven games have proven, he cannot rely solely on his feet. His arm accuracy has been in question for the majority of his short career but all hope is not lost. The Buckeyes have been running more of a read option offense since Illinois which puts Pryor in his comfort zone. This week he will need to become more efficient in the role and, given the opportunity, air the ball to his favorite target DeVier Posey, Dane Sanzenbacher or the arsenal of underutilized but immensely talented receivers. With Dan Herron most likely out, top rusher Brandon Saine will have to move the ball for the Buckeyes.
The Buckeyes defense did not play to their potential last week and need to keep on target to neutralize Gophers receiver Eric Decker. Decker's 104.4 yards per game leads the Big Ten and ranks 10th nationally.
Look for CB Chimdi Chekwa to put pressure on Gophers junior passer Adam Weber. Weber has struggled this season, throwing nine interceptions after having eight his sophomore season.
The die-hard Buckeye fans experienced disappointment but no love lost after last weekend's L to Purdue. The strong survive and prevayle;) and do it as a solid unit. In this relationship the Buckeyes will do what it takes to maintain. There is still a Big Ten title to be won and the committed will follow them all of the way to the winner's podium!
About the Author
Written by Rebekah Edwards