Baver’s Buckeye Bag, 10/1/14
Some quick thoughts on the Cincy game and where the Bucks stand heading into Big Ten play:
--The 3 long TD’s by Cincy WR Chris Moore are hard to swallow, but to some extent, that’s the downside of playing tight coverage with young DB’s. On the other hand, giving up an 83-yard TD with 26 seconds to go in the 2nd quarter, where the Bucks had no safety help and should have been in prevent mode, is inexcusable. Still, I wouldn’t dwell on this. At this point, I still have faith DC Chris Ash will eventually right the ship.
--The Buckeye O-line played their best game of the year this past Saturday, and there appears to be some light at the end of the tunnel. OSU tailback Ezekiel Elliott also answered some questions with a huge game. Look for Zeke to be “the man” at TB for the Bucks, health permitting, for the foreseeable future. Too many OSU fans seem to be enamored with Rod Smith, but I saw way more out of Elliott Saturday than I’ve ever seen out of Smith.
--I think most fans’ expectations were too high headed into this season. Imagine that? This Buckeye team is about where I thought they would be after four games, and maybe a tad better. (This…despite their 3-1 record, while being a double-digit favorite in all four games.) There were just too many talented players that had to be replaced with inexperienced players, especially after Braxton went down. I think too many fans were shocked by OSU’s performance against Va Tech, and they shouldn’t have been.
--JT Barrett is coming along nicely and is going to eventually be a stud. Yes, the competition since Va Tech has been pretty poor, but Barrett can throw the football. We already knew he had good mobility and great leadership skills, but boy does Barrett throw a pretty ball as well.
--Is everything hunky-dory? No. This O-line is still going to have major problems against the better D-lines they face. On the other side of the ball, this defense would give up a ton of points if they had to face a top tier offense like Oregon’s or Baylor’s. And the D-backfield would be no match against elite WR’s like the group Alabama has.
--A quick look at the futures that sporstbook.ag has for OSU games: OSU is: a 7-pt favorite over PSU, a 3-pt dog to Sparty, and an 18.5-pt favorite over Michigan. Guessing some OSU fans are writing off Penn State after they laid an egg against Northwestern, but I wouldn’t. And I wouldn’t automatically chalk up a win versus UM, as Michigan will likely play their best game of the year against Ohio State, with or without Brady Hoke.
Now let’s look at the Big Ten opener at Maryland Saturday:
Some books have this game off the board with Maryland QB CJ Brown being questionable. The books that have lines currently have OSU laying 7 ½. If Brown can’t go, the Terps will go with Caleb Rowe. Rowe can’t run the option like Brown, but has a much better arm. Maryland head coach Randy Edsall has said they will not decide on a QB until the day of the game. If Brown is able to go but is less than 100%, it may benefit Maryland to play both QB’s. That strategy would seem to make some sense against a young Buckeye defense that has been overwhelmed at times this year.
Regardless of who starts at QB, the biggest test for the Buckeye defense will be containing WR Stephon Diggs, who has 29 catches for 398 yards and 2 TD’s for Maryland on the year. Diggs, who appeared close to committing to Ohio State in 2012, is also an electric KO return man, and will eventually be playing on Sundays in the NFL. Look for Diggs to exploit some of the Buckeyes problems in their secondary and/or special teams on Saturday.
On the other side of the ball, Maryland simply cannot stop the run; so, look for a heavy dose of Ezekiel Elliott again this week, with JT Barrett getting in the mix with designed runs. Maryland did a great job defending Indiana’s passing attack, as they got pressure on the quarterback for much of the game last week.
With this being the first true road atmosphere for the Bucks this season, I expect the Buckeye youngsters to get out of rhythm at times in College Park Saturday. In the end, however, I think Bucks make enough big plays, like they did against Navy, to bring home the win. The call: Ohio State 38 Maryland 27.