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Buckeyes, Fickell went down swinging

November 26, 2011
By RICH GIBSON - Times Leader Sports Writer , Times Leader

They normally call it Michigan Week in Columbus. And for good reason.

Woody Hayes used to conduct a virtual lockdown - in essence imposing martial law over the media to avoid anything resembling distractions which may cause his players to lose focus.

You have to think Hayes wouldn't have handled the events of last week very well. Specifically Thanksgiving eve when the Columbus Dispatch 'officially' declared Urban Meyer the Buckeyes' next head coach.

Article Photos

Ohio State head coach Luke Fickell looks on during the first quarter of a game against Michigan, Saturday in Ann Arbor, Mich.

That bit of untimely news immediately thrust Luke Fickell under the bus. In what appeared a hastily-arranged press briefing, Fickell discovered himself in the line of fire, fending off inquiries regarding his impending descent along OSU's chain of command.

All of a sudden, it was no longer about devising ways to fend off Wolverines' QB Denard Robinson. It was instead about Luke's reaction to Meyer's impending arrival. A totally sorry scenario, to be sure.

It stands to reason, Fickell successfully rallied the troops for Saturday's trip north. The Bucks stunned UM with a quick-strike Braxton Miller TD throw in what turned into a thrill-a-minute shootout.

Was it too much to expect Miller to engineer one last scoring drive which could have resulted in one of Ohio State's greatest triumphs? Probably so.

Still, the Bucks made 10-2 Michigan sweat it out for 60 minutes and break a lengthy losing streak to the Scarlet & Gray in the process.

On the quiet return flight to Port Columbus, Fickell likely closed his eyes and reflected on perhaps the most volatile season in Buckeye history.

OSU capped a 6-6 regular season, breaking in a rookie quarterback who inherited the job under difficult circumstances.

With an official announcement on Meyer expected shortly, will the Buckeyes accept a bowl bid and if so, what role will Fickell play?

EXTRA POINTS

MILLER'S performance in the Big House was by far his finest this season. He ran for 100 yards (16 carries) and passed for a season-high 235, completing 14-of-25. A last minute throw was intercepted...

Boom Herron never got untracked, generating no better than 37 yards via 15 attempts. Michigan's Robinson accounted for five TDs and a combined 237 yards...

IT wasn't a pretty sight Friday night at Morgantown, though the Mountaineers did just enough to rally for a one-point victory over Pittsburgh.

The 8-3 Mountaineers still need help to rate a BCS invite and could be headed to Charlotte for the Dec. 27th Belk Bowl.

WVU overcame three turnovers and four sacks of quarterback Geno Smith to edge a 5-6 Pitt club which must beat Syracuse Saturday at Heinz Field to become bowl eligible....A continuation of the 100-plus year-old series is now in jeopardy with both teams headed in opposite (conference) directions...

OHIO University and Northern Illinois will meet in the MAC title game Friday evening at Detroit's Ford Field.

NEXT Saturday's Super Six features a battle of 13-0 teams (George Washington-Martinsburg) in the big school championship at high noon. The single-A title tilt has defending champion Wheeling Central against Williamstown.

Gibson may be reached at rgibson@timesleaderonline.com

 
 

 

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