Tressel isn’t flashy, but he gets the job done

CFN’s Instant Analysis of No. 10 Ohio State’s overtime victory over No. 15 Iowa.

Don’t forget … it’s Ohio State

Remember this, Ohio State fans.

Remember how cool it is that you get to go to the BCS yet again, while other big names like Oklahoma and USC are crashing and burning in their rebuilding seasons. Remember that all that matters is whether the team wins or loses, and remember how cool it is to be in the spotlight yet again as the Big Ten champion.

Remember all of this the next time Ohio State suffers an ugly and bizarre loss like it did against Purdue earlier this year, and remember that there’s no need to overreact and blow up the program when there’s a slight bump in the road. The program is a monster, and because of the steadiness and even-keel attitude of Jim Tressel, it’s going to stay that way … with or without the style points.

On the other side, Iowa showed it’s for real more in a loss than it did in any of the previous wins. James Vandenberg gives the program hope for the future; he appears to be the real deal with a live arm and big-time upside. Unfortunately, the rest of the team didn’t help him out early on as Trey Stross struggled with drops, Daniel Murray missed a chip shot and the defense couldn’t force Terrelle Pryor into any big mistakes.

No, this isn’t a Rose Bowl season, and the season has gone from thrilling to disappointing in two weeks, but if the Hawkeyes can bounce back and obliterate a bad Minnesota team, they might be in the BCS anyway. It won’t be Pasadena, but there’s nothing wrong with going to Miami or Glendale in early January.

— Pete Fiutak

Kudos to Tressel

Isn’t it finally time to recognize just how good Jim Tressel has been at Ohio State over the last nine seasons?

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Tressel has had a knack for getting overlooked in recent years. Maybe it’s the problems in big games or his low-key demeanor. However, what are the coach’s two biggest objectives in Columbus? Win the Big Ten and beat Michigan, right? By those measurements, the guy has been beyond reproach, winning or tying for the league championship the last five years and going 7-1 vs. the Wolverines.

The folks around the program know what they’ve got on the sidelines and wouldn’t trade him for anyone else. Nationally, however, recent losses to Florida, LSU and Texas seem to be his most talked-about measuring stick. And that’s just not being intellectually honest. Of course, having said that, the Buckeyes better win the Rose Bowl in January, especially since USC isn’t going to be on the fight card.

Raise your hand if you thought Ohio State wasn’t going to win the Big Ten after stumbling against Purdue on Oct. 17. You’re not alone.

Yet, the Buckeyes have rallied over the past month, including back-to-back wins over Penn State and Iowa. Kudos to a defense that’s been the backbone of the run and kudos to Tressel, who just keeps doing what he was hired to do, even if that’s not sexy enough for folks outside the Midwest.

— Richard Cirminiello

Tressel gets it done

1. Ohio State fans: Jim Tressel isn’t a perfect coach. He hasn’t won two national titles in three years the way Urban Meyer has. He hasn’t coached Terrelle Pryor as well as he could have, to put it charitably. Mister Sweater Vest plays it awfully close to that vest on a number of occasions. We get it.

But the man has now won three Big Ten titles in the past four years (no, 2008 doesn’t count; if you lose a head-to-head and are tied in the standings, the other team — Penn State — should receive sole credit for the conference championship). Tressel has reached a BCS bowl in seven of the last eight seasons, and in each of the past five years.

You might not want to boo the man when he’s just going about his business and winning the Big Ten again. Just sayin’.

2. Iowa had its heart ripped out, but oh, what a beating heart the Hawkeyes have. Kirk Ferentz and offensive coordinator Ken O’Keefe had freshman quarterback James Vandenberg ready to play. The team never quit after falling behind by 14 in the fourth quarter.

This is an amazingly resilient and gritty ballclub that has done a ton of heavy lifting — mentally as much as physically — to climb to the upper reaches of the Big Ten. The reality of a crushing loss should not allow this team to be diminished or downgraded in the eyes of the nation’s football fans.

— Matt Zemek

Buckeyes fortunate for Big Ten’s weakness

Give the kid credit. In about as tough a situation as you could imagine putting a redshirt freshman into, Iowa’s James Vandenberg brought Iowa to the precipice of a giant upset in Columbus, but the Hawkeyes just couldn’t finish the job.

Ohio State had a little to do with that, most notably its defense in overtime and its ground game, but by completing 20-of-32 passes for two scores (and two picks) Vandenberg gave Iowa hope in a game that was thought to be hopeless after last week’s injury to starter Ricky Stanzi.

Iowa gets credit for a strong fourth-quarter comeback, but in the end, Ohio State gets the Roses, because it can run the ball. We’re still waiting for Terrelle Pryor to show that he is a first-rate QB, and we should have more of an indication of that after almost two years of play.

But as long as OSU gets to play handicapped Big Ten teams (wait until it gets a load of defensively challenged Michigan next week), it will prevail because of its strong ground game and defense, Jim Tressel’s calling cards.

Saturday against the Hawks, OSU absorbed some blows, but it survived to reach Pasadena and remain the bully of a neighborhood that ain’t close to what it used to be.

— Michael Bradley