Either Nebraska and Ohio State fans are even more passionate than I thought, or there was some computer tinkering going on. But either way, the 1997 Cornhuskers are the winners of our Big Ten Champions Tournament, capturing 64 percent of the vote over No. 1 seed Ohio State 2002.
There were somehow more than 3.5 million votes in the title game poll as of 9 a.m. Wednesday, which is crazy on many levels. Regardless, the poll settled matters in this tournament, and Nebraska had a great and very worthy team.
Here are some comments from those who voted:
Nate from Boston: Seriously, 2002 OSU a #1 seed? You will probably dismiss 1997 Nebraska's huge victory over them as just NU fanboys and homers racking up votes, but you would be mistaken. I hate Nebraska and I even voted for them in this match-up because 2002 OSU stunk and 1997 NU may have been one of the greatest teams of the 90's.
Joe R. from Paducah, Ky.: While I certainly acknowledge the truth of the matter that Nebraska's offense was far and away superior to Ohio State's, the exact same was said of the Miami team that OSU beat to win the title. In a game that was supposed to be a blowout, the "unstoppable" and "overpowering" speed and strength of that Miami team only notched 24 points and that in 2OT. As for the rest of the season, teams averaged a little over 12 ppg. You just didn't score on that OSU team, and I am not convinced that anyone would, even an offensive juggernaut like the '97 Huskers.
KentuckyHusker from 3rd Recon Bn, Okinawa, Japan: The 1997 Nebraska team was an unstoppable force. I don't know this from experience, I was only 10 when they clobbered Tennessee that year. But, being a completely biased fan makes me a subject matter expert. And on this matter, all I have to say is the only team that could have beaten the '97 Huskers was the '95 Huskers.
Chris K from Columbus: Brian, it's crazy for anyone to vote against the 2002 OSU national championship team in your football march madness. Sure, that OSU team had a reputation as being a scrappy, win-at-the-last-second team, but in hindsight, that NCG against Miami was unbelievably talented. Out of 43 starters (Chris Gamble started both ways), 41 were drafted into the NFL. That's unheard of in any NCG before or since. So despite that team's scrappy reputation, it won the most talented NCG ever played in the BCS era (sorry 2005's USC-Texas, you had the star power, but not the depth). The Nebraska team was great, to be sure, but the 2002 Ohio State team might be the most underrated national championship team of all time.
David M from Cleveland: I don't know what people are thinking of on this vote. You have Ohio State, coached by Tressel with D'antonio on D, and you are going to bring a one dimensional, Big Ten throw back Nebraska team to come in and RUN on them? Hey, respect to Nebraska, but that dog don't hunt. Tressel and Dantonio were all about MAKING teams one dimensional then squeezing them to death with time, field position and special teams (again, field position). Not to say the OSU offense would have changed, but you only need to win by one point. OSU's D in 2002 gave them the edge when it came down to THAT stat.
Dubs from Boulder, Colo.: Sure, tOSU did beat a Miami team with a lot of firepower, and--I believe (at the time, at least)-- the most first-rounders of any one school in that year's draft... But, the 1997 Husker team was almost unstoppable. They beat five teams that ended in the final top-25 poll that season, despite their sole close call at Mizzou. Don't forget, tOSU was aided by a relatively dubious PI call at the end of the Nat'l Championship...1
David from Stow, Ohio: Why the 2002 Buckeyes would beat the 1997 Cornhuskers: Defenses win championships. We've known this for years; why were we surprised when we saw it in the 2003 BCS championship? Miami could not get their star-powered offense going against the OSU defense. Nebraska would have had the same problem. I remember watching the Nebraska-Missouri game in 1997. Missouri and God gave it to Nebraska in the end. OSU's 2002 defense would not have been so generous. Whether God would have intervened for another TD catch off of another receiver's foot I do not know, but barring acts of God I give the advantage to 2002 OSU.
Dan on campus from Lincoln, Neb.: I understand that it seems that Nebraska was an offensive first team but ask any fan or look at the players. The 1997 Nebraska team was a defense first team, with the majority of the talent on that side of the ball. Just look at who played on that defense: Grant Wistrom, Kyle Vanden Bosch, Jason Peter, Eric Warfield, Mike Rucker, Carlos Polk, Octavious McFarlin and Mike Brown.
Jeff from Salina, Kan: NUs team in 97' was almost as nasty as the 95' version. That O-line was a monster and pushed people all over the field, and lets not forget that D. Often overlooked because of the offense, that D was one of the best in the country that year. Charlie Mcbride liked to blitz from all over, Krenzel wouldnt have time to pass the ball making Ohio St. one dimensional.
Dave M from Johnston, Iowa: Although both teams were clearly elite, I think the 1997 Husker team came from the smash-mouth era of physical, fast, bruising football out of Lincoln. I don't think the '02 Buckeyes had the total package the Cornhuskers had. The Tom Osborne teams of the mid '90s had the offense, defense, and special teams that didn't give up much.
Seth W. from Lincoln: This game I feel would be an embarassment. Not only did the 1997 big red rushing attack set records, the blackshirts led by Grant Wistrom were absolutely dominant. Although Ohio State had a lot of talent, they did not have the special pieces that Nebraska did. The 97 big red team also destroyed a very good Tennessee team, which was led by the greatest quarterback to ever play the game (besides brett favre of course) in Peyton Manning. Manning was ineffective all game long, on his back, and confused. If they 97 blackshirts were able to do that to Peyton Manning, I would put my life savings on them doing the same, if not worse to Krenzel, or whoever the Ohio State quarterback was that year
Andy P. from Omaha: If a time warp opened up allowing 97 Nebraska and 2002 tOSU to play on the field with both at their best, the clock would finally strike midnight on the Cinderella 2002 tOSU Buckeyes offense.That offense just wouldn't come close to getting it done against the 97 Blackshirts. As I have said previously in other posts, the 97 Blackshirts, specifically the D line and blitzing outside backers would eat a stand in the pocket, lack of mobility, weak armed QB like Krenzel for lunch. That list is long with Qb's like Krenzel that were terrorized by the Nebrasa front 7. Krenzel was no K. Jones of Missouri who played the game of his life and used that athletic ability to nearly upset Nebraska.Not near enough offense from 2002 tOSU and too much run it down your throat, Power I formation counters, iso's, counter traps, stretch plays, to A. Green. Oh.. and then T.O. might call an option play to make that defense defend the entire width of the field after getting gashed in the middle. 97 Nebraska by 21.
Eric from Princeton, N.J.: That 2002 Ohio State team was as good of a team as I can remember. Their defense was phenomenal and was the reason they won so many games. Their offense struggled often, but found ways to get it done, especially with Maurice Clarett. When he came in he totally sparked the victory in the meat-chicken game, and I would expect more of the same here. We all know how that story ended up, but he was the best running back I have ever watched extensively, including AP. That defense could slow down anyone. Miami had such a good offense that year that nobody thought we even had a chance, but the game was tied 17-17 at regulation--they could slow down anyone. They could stop anyone, and knew how to score just enough points to get the job done. 2002 OSU = victory.
Tim from Columbus: There is no way 2002 OSU loses to any team on the field. No way. Anyone that watched that team knows the Defense would not allow it. That is the best defense of the last 15 years in College. No doubt in my mind. They shutdown a team that was touted as the best ever. With the best ever Oline to step on the field. First play of the game, blew up that theory and began what should have been a discussion that the 2002 OSU d-line and defense was the best ever to play. The 2002 OSU team fits the refuse to lose term perfectly. 97 Huskers were good, but not good enough. They would not be able to run. You had to pass to have any chance of winning against the 2002 OSU team. Scott Frost would be eating dirt the whole game. The Buckeyes D is the difference.
Christopher from Detroit: Your Big Ten Champions Tournament 2012 looks to be full of rampant cheating by Nebraska fans. How else do you explain over a million votes in that poll so far? Look at the other rounds in the tournament. The opening rounds only had under 10,000 votes per contest. Now look at the semifinal match-up between Michigan and Nebraska, you'll see the numbers jump to over 830,000 votes. While in the other semifinal, there were only 3,700 votes cast. I'm all ears for a logical and rational explanation.
Cheating? In a poll? I don't know if that's technically even possible. But whatever. Nebraska is the champion, and this was a whole lot of fun.