Colin: Was the Buckeye's dismantling of the Sooners just one great game or are we starting to see the results of Urban's unprecedented recruiting success?
Baver: The team is now made up of almost entirely Urban’s recruits ….so yeah, that’s huge. I don’t think this is a one-game thing….Urban’s got it rolling like we’ve never seen here before and this year’s team is only going to get better.
Colin: Both of our lines were thought to be slightly suspect entering Norman but came away looking dominant. What gives?
Baver: It looks like Urban brought in the right man in Greg Studrawa to coach the O-line. And you haven’t had much of a drop-off so far with Jamarco Jones replacing 1st round draft pick Taylor Decker. On the D-line, even without Joey, you have 4 very good DE’s in Lewis, Hubbard, Holmes and now Joey’s little brother Nick. Then, you’ve got Robert Landers starting to make a name for himself at DT. Things could certainly be worse in the Buckeye trenches.
Colin: As athletic as our secondary is, young players are typically prone to giving up big yards in broken coverages at some point. Does Greg Schiano deserve the credit for avoiding this? What are still areas of concern?
Baver: I thought it would be tough to upgrade DC’s after Ash left…that was until Schiano came aboard. It’s a combination of Schiano and having three studs in Conley, Lattimore and Hooker. Conley has plenty of experience, and the three new starters got legit PT last year…so they’re not quite as young as you may think they are. Area for concern? Not really an area, but personnel wise, Damon Webb is struggling at free safety, and is going to have a tough time holding off Erick Smith from taking his starting job.
Colin: Ignoring Iowa, the Big Ten knocked off Oklahoma, Notre Dame and Oregon on the same weekend. How good is this conference?
Baver: As much as everyone hates Harbaugh, Michigan is going to be a top-10 team for the rest of the 5-year time frame he stays in Ann Arbor. Mark Dantonio is as underrated as they come. The conference has definitely taken a turn for the better and I am actually starting to warm up to Mike Riley at Nebraska, who I originally thought was a bad hire. So far this year, I’d say it’s the 2nd best conference in the land behind the SEC.
Colin: OK - Let's assume the Buckeyes get tripped up at least once during the season, who should we be rooting against to better our odds of making the playoff? Let's start with Sparty vs Badgers this weekend.
Baver: You gotta root for the Big Ten West school (Wisconsin) in the Sparty-Badger game to give Ohio State a better chance at winning the East. I think you root for Clemson to beat Louisville a week from Saturday, as I don’t think anyone else can beat the Cards. The Noles could rebound and beat Clemson in late October, in Tallahassee. Root against Bama as always and root against both Washington and Stanford the rest of the way. The Big 12 won’t have a playoff team this year.
Colin: Best guess of four teams that make the playoff after 3 games?
Baver: Alabama, Ohio State, Louisville and Washington. I watched almost the entire L’Ville – FSU game, and the Cards are for real. And the preseason hype was warranted with Washington. Clemson, Stanford and LSU would be my next 3 picks.
Colin: What games and lines will you be watching this weekend, if any, with the Buckeyes off?
Baver: I like UCLA at home catching a field goal against Stanford…I see UCLA winning that one outright. I think you have to take Florida getting 6 ½ against the Vols; Florida has of course had their number and I see a low scoring game there. Finally, I like LSU laying 3 ½ at Auburn….LSU has a far superior team if they can just pull things together.