Have the Buckeyes Lost Their Edge? Their Fans, Too? Baver Answers Colin's Questions

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Colin: Obviously repeating as champions is very difficult. A big part of the problem is that everybody loses their edge. This goes for fans, too: it's like winning the lottery and then just a year later complaining if you don't win it again. The Shoe seemed pretty chill considering we were uncomfortably close to a historic upset. Is there any way to get the edge back or is this part of repeating?

Brent: So far, this team looks much like Urban’s ‘09 Gator team, a team that was defending nat’l champs, returned 18 starters, and was a big favorite to repeat. That team finished in the Top 5, but got waxed by Bama in the SEC title game and was clearly a notch down from the ’08 Gator team. Too early to conclude that this 2015 Buckeye team will suffer the same fate. I have to think Urban learned a lot from his ‘09 team. Whether they win it all or not, Urban will get this team playing A LOT better than they are playing right now.

Colin: That might have been Ohio State's worst offensive performance of the past 50 years. Forget the turnovers, we couldn't move the ball anyway. What the hell is going on?

Brent: Too many issues to cover in this short space, including: motivation, play calling, QB play, O-line play, WR blocking, and coaches not being in sync with one another. I don’t think Urban felt they could lose either of the last 2 games and used these games as a giant drawing board. With the offense being as bad as it’s been the last two weeks, I don’t think Urban can afford to do that again.

Colin: What gives with running the hurry up through the entire 4th quarter in a tight game when the defense has been on the field constantly? The read option has been the bread & butter of the OSU offense for the past 3 years. Why were the coaches so reluctant to turn the game over to JTB and EE and let them play a two-man power running game to push the smaller Huskies off the field and chew some clock?

Brent: Inexplicably, the Buckeye offense can’t crack a 3-man defensive front right now. They caught UNI in a 4-man front being unable to substitute, as the Bucks were running hurry-up on their first drive of the 2nd half…..a drive that led to OSU’s only offensive pts of the 2nd half, a field goal. But the up-tempo pace was ineffective the rest of the game, as UNI was able to get back into their 3-man front. Perhaps the thought was that JTB and the offense would eventually get in a groove with the hurry-up, but it never happened. As for the read option, that’s a good future topic if/when the Bucks QB battle is truly settled.

Colin: In your opinion, was poor offensive play-calling or poor execution the bigger problem last week?

Brent: Hard to answer that one, as one feeds off the other. But I think it’s fair to say that this team has proven offensive talent that other schools would die for.….so…..I think the majority of the blame falls on the coaching staff.

Colin: Who would you start at QB this week?

Brent: JTB. He’s played badly coming off the bench, but I have always thought he gives Ohio State their best chance of winning.

Colin: Vegas has to be confused. We were 33 points under the under last week. What happens this Saturday against the Fighting Broncos of Western Michigan?

Brent: I’d say Northern Illinois is 4 or 5 points better than WMU on a neutral field, so the Bucks could be in another one of “those” games. But I think you’ll see reasonable improvement out of the offense and Cardale. WMU can’t run the ball, nor can they stop the run. On kickoffs, the Bucks need to contain Darius Phillips, who is one of the best KR’s in all of CFB. I don’t expect WMU to score more than 10 pts against the 1st team Buckeye D. The call: Ohio State 34 WMU 10.

Colin: Give us a recap of your picks from last week and what games and lines will you have your eye on this week?

Brent: 2-1 last week against the spread, same as each of the two wks prior, so 6-3 on the year ATS. As mentioned above, I think the smart money is on WMU getting 31.5 against our Buckeyes. Urban could cover this spread if he really wanted to, but I still think Ohio St will be doing more experimenting on offense…just not as much as last week. I’ll take the much beleaguered “Bert” and the Hogs catching 7 against A&M, in a bounce back game for Arkansas. And I’ll take Ball State +20.5 against Northwestern; this is usually the point in the season when a hot starting Wildcat team shows you that they are still Northwestern.