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Baver's Buckeye Bag 11/12/14

Baver’s Buckeye Bag 11/12/14

Thoughts on the Sparty win and going forward

--Urban Meyer teams continue to be deadly as underdogs, with the Buckeyes soundly beating Michigan State in East Lansing, at night.  The Buckeye offense now has to be considered the real deal, and will be very tough for anyone to stop from here on out…even a playoff team, should the Buckeyes get there.  The defense on the other hand certainly did not play their best game and will likely face an offense better than Michigan State’s if they make the playoff.  Regardless, that was a GREAT win.

--Was Michigan State really that good?  Maybe, maybe not.  I give a ton of credit to the Buckeye offense, but I think it’s now obvious that the Sparty defense is not on par with what they had a year ago.  Again….regardless…..a GREAT win for the Bucks.

--Hats off to left guard Billy Price, who got beaten early, but went on to have his best game as a Buckeye.  The Buckeye interior O-line trio of Price, Boren and Elflein took care of business in East Lansing.

--Two guys that are really helping this Buckeye offense reach the next level: veteran WR’s Devin Smith and Evan Spencer.  Smith has come alive, and if the kid comes to play, there aren’t many corners in the Big Ten that can cover him.  And Evan Spencer does everything that doesn’t show up in the box scores.  A tip of the hat to these two seniors.

--Dontre Wilson continues to be up and down, but I hate to lose him with the foot injury.  Although, Meyer says Dontre Wilson will be out “a few weeks”.  Only out a few weeks with a broken foot?  That would seem to be a quick return.

--It appeared to be a big downgrade at the field corner spot with Gareon Conley subbing for Eli Apple the first two drives against MSU, as Apple dealt with a hamstring injury.  Conley got beat early and that may have been a different game had Apple not spelled him on Michigan State’s third drive.  Apple didn’t practice all week because of the injury, so that was a gutsy performance out of Eli.

--Michael Bennett is a beast – period.

--Some strange happenings with nickel back Armani Reeves?  The Buckeye coaches continue to say they “can’t” comment on Reeves’ status.  I won’t speculate as to what is going on with Reeves and just say that I think the Bucks could have used him Saturday in East Lansing. 

--Based on the updated odds to win the National Championship, the chances of Ohio State making the playoff still appear to be excellent “if” they win their next 3 games “and” the B10 title game.  Four more wins should bounce the Buckeyes up from #8 in the current playoff committee poll to top 4.  Ohio State is the third overall favorite to win the National Championship game at sportsbook.com with 6.5-1 odds, trailing Alabama (3.5 to 1) and Oregon (4 to 1).  OSU is the 6th favorite at the 5 Dimes sportsbook, with 8 to 1 odds, behind Alabama (4.5 to 1), Oregon (5 to 1), and the trio of TCU, Miss St, and Fla State, each of which is catching 7.5 to 1.

The trip to Minny and possible winter wonderland

As of early Wednesday morning, the weather forecast for the Minnesota game was a high of 29 degrees with a 40% chance of snow.  This worries me.  And it’s obviously a bad spot for Ohio State after such a big win against Sparty.  So, you have the bad spot, the act of facing a tough defense on the road, and the uncertainty that comes with snow and cold weather. 

As for the matchup….  Minnesota’s offense is a big downgrade from Michigan State’s, with the Gophers ranking 96th in the country in total offense, despite playing a weak schedule.  I am not sure if they did it with mirrors last week, putting up a 51-spot on Iowa, but I don’t expect much from the Gopher offense this week.

There is more of a concern on the other side of the ball, as the Gopher defense has been stubborn all year.  They rank 21st nationally in total defense and are fairly strong against both the run and the pass.  TCU has one of the best offenses in the country, averaging 47.2 pts per game, but scored only 30 on the Gophers in decent weather (in Fort Worth) in mid-September.

If the weather ends up being “not so bad,” I like the Buckeyes here, regardless of the spot (on the schedule).  I may change the score prediction later in the week, based on an updated weather forecast, but I almost certainly will still like the Buckeyes to cover the spread (currently OSU by 12, as of Wednesday morning) regardless of how much the line moves.  The Call: Ohio State 28 Minnesota 10.

--Brent Baver