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Published: Thursday, 10/23/2008

The End Zone: Buckeyes selling 'Scarlet Fever'


Jim Tressel showed up for his regular Tuesday meeting with the media wearing a bright red sport coat that made him look like he wanted to sell you a timeshare, or he just came from Monte Hall s garage sale.

The OSU coach was doing his part as huckster, promoting Scarlet Fever, a marketing ploy to fill Ohio Stadium with red for Saturday s game. The Buckeyes see unbeaten Penn State as the biggest barrier to winning a fourth straight Big Ten title, now that multiple impostors have been undressed.

First Wisconsin went belly up worse than Bear or Stearns. Northwestern s players do algorithms in their heads, but can any of them tackle Beanie Wells? Michigan State again proved as fraudulent as a stack of voter registrations from ACORN.

Illinois is the first documented case of a tri-polar personality football team, and the way things are going at Michigan, they might need to pass out free Birkenstocks just to fill that gussied-up stadium. Penn State is a different deal. Coach Joe Paterno rides around in a golf cart and watches games from the press box. It seems like the less involved he becomes, the better this team gets.

So will that acute outbreak of scarlet fever help Ohio State slay this proud pride of emboldened lions, or will the difference be a rowdy Columbus crowd that had a full day to tap some kegs, and let gravity do the rest.

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