As a fellow member of the new Big Ten Leaders Division we're guaranteed to play Ohio State every season from now on. That means no more years like 1997, 1998, 2005, and 2006 where the Buckeyes went off the schedule with Michigan. They are expected to be the big, bad bully in our way of reaching the new Big Ten Championship game every year. Until yesterday, it also meant that Jim Tressel would be in our way.
Then yesterday happened. Now that we know that Tressel not only covered up the Tats-for-memorabilia scandal, but he also rigged raffles, covered up a drug deal, knew about extra benefits, was the second gunman on the grassy knoll, kidnapped the Lindbergh baby, and was the real killer in the O.J. case. As expected, all of the backlash toward OSU on the internet is coming about just because we're all jealous of them (although I could personally give two shits about them).
Since they are in our division this does affect us football-wise. Their 2011 season is already imploding before you can even slap them with "Lack Of Institutional Control" and a postseason ban. We went 2-6 against Tressel, which doesn't seem that great, but it is better than Michigan did against them. We even had memorable close losses in 2002 and 2003. He lost just 14 times in Big Ten play: Four times to Wisconsin, three to Penn State, twice to us and Illinois, and once to Michigan, Northwestern, and Iowa. While this is hardly dominance by us, it is modestly impressive mark when you compare it to the rest of the conference. At least we were a minor irritant to their season (or more as in 2009) as opposed to being a sacrificial lamb like Indiana, Michigan, or Minnesota. For all their fans' talk they have lost three of their last five in West Lafayette, and one of their two wins was the National Championship team that needed a 4th down TD pass to save its season.
Going forward, our record against them the next few years likely hinges on what else happens to the program. While I have no delusions of winning the Leaders Division this coming season, the likelihood that Terrelle Pryor is done for good after being given his own car dealership means that his the first of possibly many players that will be unavailable this year. The NCAA has yet to give their ruling on everything, but it is highly possible they will receive a pretty hefty spanking to the tune of "Lack of Institutional Control". We're not looking at an SMU-like Death Penalty here, but it could always escalate to that if even more stuff comes out like Mark Titus running a brothel for football players or something.
In the long term Ohio State is going to be Ohio State. They have been one of the premier programs in the conference for the last 45 years or so. That doesn't go away overnight. I do see their near unprecedented run of seven conference titles in ten years ending as they get pulled closer to the pack. They are still going to be one of the conference's best in a few years once all this is forgotten (again, unless something even bigger blows up). They won't dominate our division year in and year out with the likes of Penn State and Wisconsin in their way, plus Purdue and Illinois having their up and down years of being competitive. This evens playing field, albeit slightly, back in our favor a little bit.
I'm not going to come out and predict that we hand them a second straight defeat in Ross-Ade Stadium, mostly because I have a bad feeling about this coming football season. Even without Tressel and Pryor they still have a ton of talent. They are now rudderless, however, with more distractions than an ADD kid in a video arcade. It is entirely possible they could be 1-4 in Big Ten play and looking up at us by the time they come to West Lafayette on November 12th. Their opening slate of Michigan State, at Nebraska, at Illinois, and Wisconsin is not favorable even if everything was perfect in Columbus.
This move didn't help us move in our new division, but it certainly helped our small odds.