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Fans wary of repeat of 2007



Published: Sat, January 5, 2008 @ 2:00 a.m.

The championship game brings mixed hopes for

Buckeyes fans.

By ANDREW GAUG

VINDICATOR STAFF WRITER

YOUNGSTOWN — Monday seems like a day Ohio State Buckeyes fans would be anticipating, marking the team’s third trip in six years to the BCS National Championship.

Yet some who witnessed OSU’s mishaps in 2007 are keeping their excitement restrained as the Buckeyes meet Louisiana State University.

When 2007 began, the Buckeyes were undefeated and entering the BCS National Championship as the favored team. Buckeyes fans watched their excitement turn to bewilderment as Ohio State lost miserably to the No. 2-ranked Florida Gators, 41-14.

The post-season also had its woes with the graduation of pinnacle Buckeye players such as Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback Troy Smith. t

Though the team is ranked No. 1, a shaky loss late in the season to No. 13-ranked Illinois has some fans unsure whether this will be another trophy for the team or a disappointment.

Last year’s national championship game “was such an embarrassment, I don’t think I want to witness another one of those,” said Meghan Clark of Niles.

Clark said she’s been a fan of the team since she began watching college football five years ago. Though she said she’s nervous about the game, she has to be optimistic.

“I lost faith in the team after Florida, but I got to support my team,” she said.

Maurice Allen of Warren said he’s not a die-hard Buckeyes fan but believes the team shouldn’t be at a game of this caliber.

“We shouldn’t be there,” he said, “We need time to grow as a team. This year just isn’t it.”

Some Buckeyes fans believe keeping their expectations low will be for the better.

“Who knew we would make it this far?” said Matt King of Liberty. “I think we’re the underdogs, so there will be no blow-up like last year.”

Coach Jim Tressel “knows how to win, and I think he’s learned from last year — all of us Buckeyes fans have,” said Bryan Issac of Canfield. “Humility will help us win this one.”

Many fans expressed their gratitude to Tressel for being a hometown hero.

“We lost a lot of good players, but you can’t stop trusting Tressel. [He] always has a plan — at least, I hope he does for this game,” Clark said.

Curtis Ockenfels, of Vienna, was a little less subtle.

“I don’t think Tressel is going to hesitate to kill them,” he said, “Plus, it’s good to see a hometown boy make it.”

Longtime Buckeyes follower Peter Crossman of Boardman said his experience as a fan keeps him hoping for a win.

“No loss can make true fans want that championship less,” he said, “We can forget about Florida. I’m a Browns fan, so I kind of have to not dwell on the past.”

Others think the game will be a lost cause.

“I hope sporting goods stores are selling Buckeyes stuff now because no one is going to buy it once they lose again,” predicted Al Taylor of Warren. “It will be a good game, but the Buckeyes don’t have a chance.”

Fan predictions are all over the place.

“I don’t want to curse the team, but I think Buckeyes fans are going to be happy,” King said.

Jamie Hay of Boardman said he expects the game to be a big win for OSU.

“I don’t think it’s going to be a blowout, but Tressel won’t give them much room to breathe,” he said.

Whatever the outcome, Crossman said he’s looking forward to the camaraderie of Buckeyes fans.

“True fans are pumped for this game; that’s all that matters,” he said, “They’ll be packing the bars and friends’ houses.”

Thinking about the Cavaliers’ being swept in the NBA Finals, the Indians’ meltdown in the postseason and the Browns’ crushed playoff hopes, Hay said this will be the crowning achievement of Ohio sports.

“With all of this Ohio stuff going on, we’ve got to win one of these,” he said.

agaug@vindy.com


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