Colin: Give us an update on your picks to date and what games and lines you find interesting this weekend?
Baver: 22-13-1 against the spread, including the OSU games, where I’m 7-1-1. I think Bama is the best play on the board, laying 9.5 against Miss State. Don’t see much of a hangover from the LSU OT win with the Tide now facing the nation’s #1 ranked team. The Messy State defense has struggled recently and won’t be able to stop the balanced Bama offense. I also like Utah getting 8 on the road at Stanford. I guess the argument against the Utes is that they are reeling with two straight losses. Regardless, the line is too high and that game should be close. And I like the Noles giving 2 ½ at Miami. No, it wouldn’t shock me to see FSU’s luck in close games finally run out, but there is simply too much of a talent differential for Florida State to be laying only 2 ½ against the Canes.
Colin: Geez… an 11 am local kick and frigid weather on the road following on the heels of a huge win. Additionally, all the pundits are popping off about how the Buckeyes need to run up the score on a tough Minnesota defense. OSU v Gophers has all the makings of a classic trap game. How do feel about this one knowing what you know now?
Baver: I’m more concerned now than I was earlier in the week. The first two things you mentioned…the 11 am (local) kick after three straight night games and a game time temperature of around 22 degrees. Fortunately, the wind forecast doesn’t look too bad. It’s no secret that JT Barrett’s biggest downside is his arm strength. If he struggles throwing the ball with the wind playing a factor, Meyer may play things close to the vest like he did in Happy Valley. I’ll still take the Bucks to cover, but I’d steer clear of this one if I were a bettor, especially with the line back up to 14. Yes, definitely a trap game for the Bucks.
Colin: Since everyone is asking, I guess I have to ask too….does Braxton return to Ohio State next year? And if he does, is he the #1 QB?
Baver: My guess is that Braxton returns to OSU, despite the fact that he is completely detached from this year’s Buckeye team. I do think there are some games going on with Meyer and Herman talking about having Braxton next year….like it’s a done deal. I think Meyer will continue to tell you that Miller will be back next year, and that he is the starter at QB when he returns….whether he believes these things or not. I tend to doubt that Miller goes the graduate transfer route, and also doubt that the QB job will simply be handed back to him if he returns to Columbus. I see no way a healthy JT Barrett isn’t taking at least 40% of the QB snaps next season even if Miller is back and stays relatively healthy. Barrett has been the most pleasant surprise I have ever seen at Ohio State with the amount of progress he has made in such a short time. And it wouldn’t surprise me to see Miller used primarily as the H-back next year should he return. He has no future as an NFL QB, so I would hope Braxton is open to idea of playing some TB, WR or H-back if he dons the scarlet and gray for one more season.
Colin: Ok, you have answered JT vs Braxton, but I have a bigger question: Why is ANYBODY talking about this right now? It's 0.00% impact on this season. Can't we just agree to save it for spring practice?
Baver: I guess the JT vs Braxton topic is right there with 2015 & 2016 recruiting, along with the most current top 4 playoff committee ranking. There are Buckeye fans that spend more time in the fall following recruiting than they do following that year’s Buckeye team. And the current top 4 ranking by the playoff committee? Basically worthless right now – don’t know why people get so worked up about it.
Colin: Why is Nebraska suddenly being given respect? No team has been softer for the past decade than the Cornhuskers and I fully expect Wisconsin to completely embarrass them yet again this weekend in Madison. The only difference between the two is that Wisconsin lost a close game to LSU and the Blackshirts played nobody in the non conference. Would you take the over/under on Badgers 450 yards rushing?
Baver: I’m with you in thinking the Huskers are in trouble against the Badgers with Melvin Gordon likely sticking it down their throat. And despite having only one loss right now, with their remaining schedule, Nebraska should still be able to achieve their mandatory 4 losses that Pelini is required to have each season.
Colin: ESPN already starting to rev up the OSU bandwagon. Let's face it, if OSU wins out, the committee will be throwing metrics, Baylor and TCU out the window in favor of TV ratings and an Urban Meyer storyline. If OSU wins out, are they in?
Baver: I’ve been saying it since before the Sparty game….if the Bucks win out they are in. It’s possible that they win out and don’t get in, but it’s unlikely. And the Bucks seem to be getting love from unlikely places since beating MSU in East Lansing. Taking a Baylor or TCU team that did not win a conference championship game over a 13-1 Ohio State team that beat Wisconsin or Nebraska in the B10 title game? Don’t think it happens. And your almighty dollar argument supports this argument even more.