Feast on too many cupcakes, get a rude awakening.
That’s not a lesson from health class—that’s the lesson the Ohio State Buckeyes should have learned Oct. 16, when the Wisconsin Badgers punched them in the mouth on the way to a 31-18 manhandling of the now-former No. 1 Bucks.
Although a person with a sweet tooth might enjoy a good cupcake every now and then, any nutritionist with a pulse will tell you that overdoing it in the cupcake department is hazardous to your health.
The same principle applies to a college football team like Ohio State.
While cupcakes are fun to play, and provide a sweet, savory ego boost, playing too many of them in a given season is unhealthy to an alleged elite team in the long run. In other words, drubbing the powerhouses of Marshall, Ohio University, and Eastern Michigan likely did more damage than good to Ohio State’s 2010 season.
While these wins were dominant and likely fun for Ohio State, they really did nothing to prepare the Buckeyes for a team like Wisconsin. If Ohio State takes anything away from this loss, it should be this: Consider scheduling more quality opponents so that it can be more prepared when a team of equal or more talent—like the Badgers—comes into a game ready to bring a good fight.
Let’s apply this to a “real world” setting for a minute. If you’re going to the gym regularly, and your goal is to bench press 225 pounds, you wouldn’t keep pressing 185 on a regular basis without adding heavier weight, right?
No. You’d keep challenging yourself by adding increments that would help you get strong enough to break that coveted 225-pound barrier. Doing a weight well below your capability does you no good when you tackle the heavier stuff.
Thus, you an easily see why Ohio State was ill-prepared for a team like Wisconsin. You simply can’t put up your best fight against stout competition if you’re not accustomed to playing said competition on a regular basis.
Sure, it’s fun to thump your middle-school aged cousin 20-9 in a game of one-on-one basketball; but, while it makes you feel better about yourself, it leaves you vulnerable to the type of rude awakening the Badgers gave the Buckeyes at Camp Randall Stadium if someone of equal or more skill comes and challenges you to a game.
That’s why powerhouse teams like Ohio State should be scheduling the other big boys more often than they do these cupcake teams. Sure, Ohio State risks losing a game or two out of conference, and even sacrifices a national title if it loses those games.
Still, it’s worth it in the long run for the Buckeyes because they’d be less likely to be taken by surprise when they encounter a team that’ll not only punch back at them, but also might deliver the first punch, like Wisconsin did.
I’m aware that most games are scheduled years in advance, so a cupcake here and there is fine—both in real life and in football (although I don’t have much of a sweet tooth, so I’m the anomaly here). Still, cupcakes can be the ultimate deceivers, since a team who pigs out on too many is lulled into a false sense of security and self-worth in that it might think it‘s prepared for all levels of competition when, in reality, it isn‘t.
Fans can nitpick and find some of the glaring issues with this Buckeyes group, such as a weak special teams or a defense that seems more frustrated than focused. Yet the main problem is that these guys can’t be reasonably expected to improve or rise to a challenge like a night game against Wisconsin when they aren’t tested by good competition on a weekly basis.
I’m a firm believer that wins over teams like Youngstown State, Northern Illinois, Bowling Green, and so forth cost Ohio State a couple of potential national championships because those teams didn’t provide the type of competition a Florida or a LSU did.
The cupcake-heavy diet was destructive in 2006 and 2007, and it looks like it has already created some indigestion in 2010.
Maybe it’s time Ohio State went through future schedules and cut the sweets from its yearly diet, or else the effects will linger longer than the team and its fans wish.