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Baver's Buckeye Bag 10/21/14 - OSU vs Penn State

Baver’s Buckeye Bag 10/21/14

Some random thoughts/comments on the Buckeyes after Rutgers & after 6 games:

--It’s a slippery slope with the issue of playing starters in the 4th quarter when you are up 5+ TD’s.  Meyer said backup O-linemen Joel Hale and Marcelys Jones were unable to go, which was why Jacoby Boren was in the game late before he left with an injury.  As for Barrett still quarterbacking a drive in the 4th quarter when the Bucks led 56-17, Meyer said he wanted more reps for his first-year starting QB.  What Meyer didn’t mention was the issue with OSU getting no respect in the polls, which is probably another reason for not cleaning the bench earlier.  (More on the polls in a second.)  If “style points” are part of it, I don’t think it really matters whether the Bucks beat a team like Rutgers by 30 points or by 50.  I still say, “just keep winning” and everything else will take care of itself.  I think the potential harm of leaving your starters in late during blowouts exceeds the potential good.

--It’s somewhat puzzling as to why Dontre Wilson hasn’t broken more plays; I thought Dontre would be taking more would-be moderate gains to the house this year.  From C-deck Saturday, I watched Wilson on a 12-yard run around the right end.  I shook my head, trying to think of a former Buckeye that would have gotten to the edge that quickly, and couldn’t come up with anyone.  But, why can’t Wilson break the big one on running plays, after catches, or on returns?  Someone told me they question Wilson’s top end speed, but I think the guy just makes too many wrong decisions with running lanes, especially on kickoff returns.  Nonetheless, Dontre Wilson is still a guy that needs to be heavenly involved in the Buckeye offense.

--The polls?  There is way too much griping by Buckeye fans.  The schedule is what it is – it’s been laughable so far and the Buckeyes lost at home, at night, to what is now a 3-loss Va Tech team.  How else do you rank teams besides awarding quality wins and punishing bad losses?  The good news is….in the long run, I don’t think it will matter – if the Bucks win out, they will be in the playoff.

--I don’t think Ohio State should look past this Penn State team, but the Michigan State game is now just two and a half weeks away.  How good is this Buckeye team?  We will know on November 8th.  I mentioned that beating Rutgers by 30 or by 50 doesn’t matter much in terms of polls.  It also doesn’t matter much in terms of figuring out “how good you really are.”  We will soon find out.

--This Buckeye team cannot afford to lose another DE.  With the loss of Spence for the season (likely), that left three DE’s that played in games prior to 2014.  One of them, Rashad Frazier, was injured in the Rutgers game.  As of Tuesday morning, the depth of Frazier’s injury had not been disclosed.  This doesn’t matter so much against teams like Rutgers and Maryland, but it will against Michigan State and a possible appearance in the B10 title game, followed by the bowl game.  True frosh Jalyn Holmes looks good, and is going to need to keep progressing with increased playing time likely in his future.

The matchup Saturday against Penn State:

I am in the minority here among Buckeye fans, but I fully expect Penn State to be ready to play Saturday night, and think the game will be close.  Penn State is a well coached team that is coming off a bye, and I’m always leery about giving good coaches an extra week to prepare for Ohio State’s rhythm offense.

Penn State’s rush defense is 1st nationally, giving up only 61 yards per game on the ground.  Their pass defense has been solid as well, ranking 22nd in the country in pass efficiency defense.  This will be freshman QB JT Barrett’s first game in a truly hostile environment, and I expect the PSU defense to take Ohio State’s offense out of their rhythm at times Saturday night.  The Buckeyes will need to take some pressure off JT Barrett, with this being the first truly tough venue/atmosphere he has played in: Ezekiel Elliott could help relieve some of that pressure. 

On the plus side for Ohio State, PSU simply does not have the talent to match up with OSU.  On offense, Penn State is having real problems running the football, which doesn’t bode well against Ohio State’s D-line.  The Penn State O-line will have to play better, and the PSU team as a whole will need to ride some emotion to upset Ohio State.

I think the game will be tight for at least two and a half quarters, with the Buckeyes doing enough late to pull out the “W.”  Prediction: Ohio State 31, Penn State 23.