Colin: Which surprised you more, Cardale getting the start or how damn good Braxton Miller looked in his first game as a wide receiver?
Baver: Cardale getting the start. ESPN’s Travis Haney said he spoke to a Va Tech assistant prior to game time who told him they would be “shocked” if it wasn’t JTB under center. So Urban may have pulled some misdirection here, but postgame talk makes it sound like the OSU coaches liked Cardale over JTB in this matchup vs. Va Tech specifically. As for Miller, what can you say? The kid is a gamer…an absolute nightmare to defend. I expected him to eventually become a star at H-back, but did I expect him to bail Ohio State out in Game One when the Bucks trailed at halftime? No.
Colin: Did you see any troubling signs on the road to a repeat?
Baver: The fact that the Ohio State D had problems slowing down a mediocre Virginia Tech offense while Michael Brewer was in the game is concerning. If Brewer doesn’t come out of that game, I think the first-team OSU defense gives up another 7 to 10 pts. And Brewer is not a great QB; he rarely plays well unless he is playing Ohio State. But, the OSU defense will get better. Urban will make sure of that, even though he is not heavily involved with that side of the ball. And when Ohio State wins the yardage battle 572-320 against Va Tech, in Blacksburg, with 4 players suspended, life still looks pretty good if you are a Buckeye fan. : )
Colin: I find it hard to believe we couldn't find a team from the mainland United States to play in Ohio Stadium. Why on Earth are we flying a team 5,000 miles for a football game? What is the upside?
Baver: I guess you get the automatic “W” and you don’t have to agree to the home & home thing with a school like Hawaii. But they could have gotten those two benefits by scheduling a lower tier Midwest school. Yeah, seems silly to me too.
Colin: What can Ohio State hope to accomplish against Hawaii?
Baver: Stay healthy. Get Braxton & EZE out of the game by halftime. I would think Corey Smith eventually ends up being the starting flanker if he stays out of trouble. And I would think the Bucks want to work on the deep ball, going long to C. Smith or whoever a few times. They need to determine who their deep guy is, now that Devin Smith has moved on. Also, Torrance Gibson is another skill-position potential game changer. If he’s healthy, I think the OSU coaches want to start getting Gibson reps immediately at his new position. And of course the coaches will want to continue to evaluate Cardale vs JTB.
Colin: Northwestern won a nice game but Penn State... geez, that's a tough loss for a team supposedly led by a future NFL star quarterback. What is Hackenberg's deal?
Baver: The best description I think I read about Sackenberg is that he doesn’t seem to have “it.” Cannon for an arm that the NFL scouts love, but with this being his third year as the starting PSU QB, he still looks like a first-year starter. You look at how good Cardale’s pocket presence is…Sackenberg’s is piss poor. Now, plenty of Temple’s sacks are the fault of Penn State O-line, but plenty of the blame goes to Sackenberg as well.
Colin: What games and lines do you find interesting this week?
Baver: Gotta like the Buckeyes laying 41. Don’t let Hawaii’s win over Colorado fool you – they are not good. The Buckeyes won’t take their foot off the pedal with their 2nd team QB in the 2nd half. OSU rolls to the tune of 57-7. Don’t see much else that looks appetizing in terms of picking against the spread, but sticking with tradition, I’ll take a shot at two more. I’ll go against the grain and take Virginia at home getting 12.5 against the Irish, with ND in a letdown spot. And I’ll take the Sooners giving a point at Tennessee. Bob Stoops gets too much criticism and is at his best when people underestimate him.