With the shortage in national pastimes happening right now, we thought we’d turn to one of our other national pastimes — standing around the water cooler and arguing about sports.
So Tom Orr and myself have begun a series where we take interesting and somewhat random sports topics and lay out our thoughts on them, just as you have done and will do again once you are permitted back into your office.
Without knowing each other’s stance on every topic, however, we may not actually be arguing. But in times like these, being agreeable ain’t so bad.
So first up is maybe the most serious topic we’ll ever discuss here.
Ohio State at Michigan. It’s the fourth quarter. Just 1:45 left in the game. Ohio State has the ball and is down by four at the 50-yard line. It’s third-and-11. Which Buckeye quarterback throughout history do you want taking the snap and which Buckeye receiver do you want him throwing to?
Feel free to include your answers below, and if you’ve got any other topics you want us to tackle, let us know.
And if Tom is wrong, feel free to tell him as much.
We’ll let him go first before we get to the correct answer.
This is a little tricky; not because there isn’t a good answer, but because basically every Ohio State quarterback this century qualifies as a possible answer.
Here’s a list of the quarterbacks who have led Ohio State to wins in Ann Arbor since Jim Tressel arrived: Craig Krenzel, Troy Smith, Todd Boeckman, Terrelle Pryor, Braxton Miller, JT Barrett, Dwayne Haskins, Justin Fields.
Justin Zwick and Cardale Jones were starters at other points, but had lost their jobs and had to watch wins over Michigan from the sidelines.
Only Joe Bauserman has started a game during a season when the Buckeyes played at Michigan, but didn’t win in that season, and hadn’t started a previous one.
So I guess we can take Bauserman out of the running.
Everyone else on the list at least has something on their resume that suggests they could pull this off. And that doesn’t include Joe Burrow, who would be a sneaky good pick here.
Troy Smith essentially did this in the 2005 game. His famous pass to Anthony Gonzalez happened with 0:47 on the clock, on a play from the Michigan 30 with OSU down by two points. Not exactly the scenario laid out, but pretty close.
Braxton Miller was only 6-for-15 in the 2013 game, but still threw for 133 yards and a pair of touchdowns on top of 153 rushing yards (9.6 YPC) and three more scores on the ground.
Justin Fields just humiliated Michigan in their stadium in a way that basically no one in history had ever done. He was just 14-for-25, but for 302 yards and four touchdowns in a 56-27 win.
But I have to go with Dwayne Haskins.
Haskins came off the bench as a redshirt freshman to pull off something pretty similar to the scenario laid out above. In his case, it was still the third quarter, but the Buckeyes were down 20-14, and at one point faced a 3rd-and-13 at the OSU 47.
You probably remember what happened next: Haskins zipped a pass into Austin Mack for a crucial first down, then scrambled 22 yards two plays later.
That’s what he did coming in cold off the bench as a redshirt freshman. The following year, he went 20-for-31 for 396 yards and six touchdowns against the Wolverines. Yeah, that was at home, but if the moment wasn’t too big for redshirt freshman Haskins, the redshirt sophomore version would have done just fine.
As for the receiving end, the single most important thing is to catch it. Breaking something long would be wonderful, but you just can’t drop it.
Cris Carter is widely considered one of the most sure-handed receivers in NFL history. He would be a great choice.
HOWEVAH! There is another former Buckeye who just went longer than a full NFL season without dropping a pass.
Michael Thomas owns one of the most iconic catches of any Buckeye this century; a tightly-contested grab in a crucial moment in the College Football Playoff semifinal against Alabama that also required a deft toe-tap on the sideline.
He also just went 198 catches and 403 days between drops as a member of the New Orleans Saints.
In a do-or-die moment, give me Dwayne Haskins and Michael Thomas to do it.
The good thing is that the last 15 years of Ohio State football has given us a number of quarterbacks to choose from.
Do I want to go way beyond those 15 years and look at guys like Greg Frey or Jim Karsatos or Tom Tupa? Of course I could. But then I look at guys like Justin Fields and Dwayne Haskins and Joe Burrow, and think to myself that maybe they’d be the better choices.
Heck, we saw Haskins do almost this exact thing in 2017, except it was third-and-13 and it was only the third quarter and the Buckeyes were down by six. But hey, it was enough to convince Urban Meyer to let Joe Burrow transfer.
But when it comes to Ohio State quarterbacks, there is only one Heisman winner. And when it comes to making plays against Michigan, there is only one guy that I’m going with, and that is Troy Smith.
I don’t know how the play is going to get made. The only thing I know is that it will get made. And it may not even involve a pass. (Though it may involve a Shawn Crable late hit.)
So who is he throwing to?
The best Ohio State wide receiver of all-time (in my opinion) is David Boston, so he was my immediate first thought. As I got to thinking about it more, however, I felt I should go with the Buckeye with the best hands of all time — Cris Carter.
If you give me Troy Smith and Cris Carter, you can make it third-and-25 and I’d feel pretty darn good about my chances.
Of course, I’d also feel pretty good with Dwayne Haskins and Michael Thomas, or Matthew Baldwin with the jet sweep touch pass to Parris Campbell, or Justin Fields to Chris Olave, or Joe Burrow to Devin Smith, or Cardale Jones to Santonio Holmes, or Greg Frey to Michael Jenkins, or Antonio Henton to Chad Cacchio. It really wouldn’t matter.