Baver’s Buckeye Bag 10/15/14
Some random thoughts/comments on the Buckeyes:
--I did my share of bitching about the Buckeye defense during the Maryland game, but looking at the end result, it was a big improvement over the effort against Cincinnati. Progress is being made.
-The Virginia Tech & Maryland games saw JT Barrett sacked 11 times (in total). Barrett was only sacked twice in the other three OSU games (combined). Rutgers is 3rd nationally in team sacks per game (4.0/gm), so I would think that protecting Barrett is a point of emphasis that the Buckeye coaches are hammering home this week.
--It seems like every Buckeye fan and his brother and sister has wanted to completely shelve Curtis Grant for Raekwon McMillan, but there is something to be said for experience. McMillan has played a lot over the past two games, but hasn’t lit the world on fire. It seems to me that the better results out of the Mike position have come when Grant has been in there. But, McMillan will eventually get there.
--Outside of Michigan State and November weather, it’s hard to see much else on the horizon that can slow down a Buckeye offense that has made huge strides since early September. The O-line coming together and Barrett’s ability to go through his progressions make it very difficult for a Big Ten defense to slow down this Ohio State offense right now.
--If Joey Bosa can stay healthy, he may very well leave Ohio State as the best DE ever to play here….even if/when he skips his senior year. It’s sick to think what he would be doing if Noah Spence was on the other end of the D-line. Offenses have had to spend additional resources keeping Bosa out of the backfield, and Bosa is still blowing up everything.
--This seemed improbable a month ago, but “winning out” likely puts the Buckeyes in the 4-team playoff. There is no dominant team this year, and the top teams in the SEC, Pac 12 and Big 12 are going to continue to beat one another up. And if you’ve watched Michigan State much this year, you have probably seen that this is not the Sparty team that Mark Dantonio had a year ago. If the Buckeyes continue to progress like they have been and stay relatively healthy, I think the worst case scenario is that the November 8th OSU-MSU game in East Lansing will be a toss-up.
The matchup Saturday against Rutgers:
Rutgers is playing pretty good football right now. They are 5-1, with their only loss being a 3-point loss to Penn State. QB Gary Nova threw five picks in that loss, but has since put things together, completing 64% of his passes for 845 yards, with a 7-1 TD-INT ratio over his last three games. Rutgers beat Navy in Annapolis, a place where Navy doesn’t lose often. Their victory over Washington State on the road to open the season was a nice win for Kyle Flood, who is now in his 3rd year since taking over for Greg Schiano. And I mentioned above that Rutgers has had good success getting to opposing QB’s this season.
On the down sign, Rutgers lost tailback Paul James (torn ACL) in the Navy game, and that was a big loss. New starter Desmond Peoples is a big downgrade at TB. Also, Rutgers has not played a team with Ohio State-type talent in recent memory. They were in tight games against Penn State and Michigan, but the Buckeye offense has too many weapons for the Rutgers defense to slow down. As for the Buckeye D, we know it can be flaky at times; so, the Rutgers offense may have some success Saturday. The one thing, however, that this Buckeye defense has been able to do is make big plays, and I expect them to make more big plays Saturday.
Ohio State needs to avoid looking ahead. If the Bucks do look past Rutgers, this is a good enough Scarlet Knight team to possibly hang around Saturday. If the Buckeyes are focused, they should win this one by 3 TD’s-plus and head to Happy Valley with a 5-1 record. Prediction: Ohio State 45 Rutgers 20.