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Baver’s Buckeye Bag 12/12/14

Baver’s Buckeye Bag 12/12/14

Embarrassing the Badgers

I started following Ohio State football closely in 1979, Art Schlichter’s sophomore year, when the Bucks went 11-0 in the regular season….I wasn’t very old.  In 35 years, I have not witnessed anything like what we saw Saturday night in Lucas Oil Stadium.  Ohio State, a 4-point dog that couldn’t stop the run in November, shuts down the top rushing attack in the nation in route to a 59-0 spanking of Wisconsin?  The same Buckeye team that struggled with Michigan and Indiana in their previous two games?  The same Buckeye team that lost their Heisman candidate quarterback the week before?  Never would I have dreamed the Buckeyes would have rolled the Badgers like they did.

When it’s all said and done, I am guessing that many will consider Urban Meyer the greatest motivator they ever saw coach the game of football.  I mean, that 2006 Buckeye team was by far the best in the country, right?  They weren’t going to lose in the title game, let alone get blown out, right?  The Buckeyes ended up being no match for Meyer’s Gators that night in Glendale, just like the Badgers were no match for Ohio State Saturday night in Indianapolis.

No JT?  No problem.  Enter Cardale Jones.  It turns out Cardale had put in hours of extra work after practice with the receivers all season long.  The work paid off.  Everyone knew he had the NFL arm, but I don’t think many thought his first start would be anything like it was Saturday night in Indy.

Wisconsin was simply no match for Ohio State in any phase of the game.  On offense, the Buckeye O-line had their way with the Badger front four and Wisconsin had no answer for Ezekiel Elliott or the new Cardale-to-Devin Smith hookup.  On the other side of the ball, Joel Stave looked like a high school QB against the revved up Buckeye defense.  And Wisky Heisman candidate Melvin Gordon could muster only 2.9 yards a carry.  Pure domination.

Enjoy it – we will probably never again see a Buckeye team put a beat down on a quality team like the one we witnessed this past weekend.

Getting In

In the end, the Committee probably got it right with the four teams that made the playoff.  The credit ends there.  Ranking TCU third in the December 3rd poll and then ranking them sixth in the December 7th poll after a 55-3 win is preposterous.  And an undefeated Florida State team being ranked third, with no other undefeated teams?  Ridiculous.  The Noles deserved the top slot and the Committee deserves all the criticism they are getting.

I do think TCU’s argument was just about as strong as Ohio State’s, and think Baylor had a pretty strong argument as well.  Who played the tougher schedule, OSU or TCU?  That depends on what SOS measure you are using, so it’s hard to say.  I think the Bucks deserve the nod over TCU with the Ohio State’s 59-0 romp over Wisky, while TCU avoided playing in a conference title game.  Would I still take OSU over TCU were I not a Buckeye fan?  Maybe, maybe not.  And would the Bucks have gotten in had they won by (say) a score of 31-17?  We’ll never know.

A Quick Look Ahead to Bama

This will be the first time that Urban has had to face an opponent that is more talented than his team since he arrived at OSU three years ago.  With Sparty and Wisky, Urban got his team sky high to beat teams that ultimately had less talent than Ohio State.  So, this is uncharted waters.  Containing Amari Cooper is going to be quite the task, not to mention the other individual matchup problems the Bucks face.

But as we saw with the upset victories over Sparty and Wisky (OSU’s top two opponents), underestimating Urban Meyer is not a wise thing to do.  This is not a title game, but it has me thinking about the last three Nat’l Title games OSU played in, and how much the winning team’s D-lines dominated in those games.  The dominant performance by the Buckeye OSU D-line helped the Bucks upset the Canes in the ’02 title game, while the Florida and LSU D-lines man-handled the Buckeye O-lines in the ’06 and ’07 title games, respectively.  Last I checked, this is a pretty dominating Ohio State D-line.  And when they are motivated, there is no offensive line in the country that can match up with them.

For now, I will just say that I think the 9 ½ point line is too high, and I expect the Buckeyes to hang tough in this game, at a bare minimum.  This is a very good Alabama team, but not quite on par with some of Saban’s other Bama teams.  It may not matter….they may be the best team in the country anyway, but we will see.  More on the matchup later this month.

--Brent Baver