Colin: Whoa. Buckeyes roll Sparty while Iowa cannot move the ball or stop Bucky Badger. What a difference a week makes. Can you explain what just happened?
Baver: Iowa…66 yards of offense in Madison? It about makes you want to puke, doesn’t it? This Buckeye team seems to be carried by emotions more than previous OSU teams. I thought it would be a tight game, but I noted last week that MSU appeared to have been doing it with mirrors all year long. The Spartans can’t run the football and with the Buckeyes executing almost flawlessly on offense, the Spartans were no match for Ohio St.
The Buckeye O-line played their best game of the year. And OSU’s use of unbalanced sets, with trip WRs and the fullback to one side, caused Sparty all kinds of problems. On D, the Buckeye hit Brian Lewerke a couple times early, and I think that rattled him.
Colin: A Mike Weber 2017 coming out party this past Saturday, huh?
Baver: It was reported in early summer that Mike Weber ran the 4th fasted 40 on the team, and I’m not sure many fans believed it. With Weber finally looking healthy, we got to see that speed. The kid has reportedly worked his ass off to get to where he is now…a good story there.
Colin: On the downside, JT seems to be struggling with confidence again. The two picks were bad, but the under thrown ball to the wide open Baugh was JT at his least effective. How concerned should we be?
Baver: Reasonably concerned. With Michigan and (probably) Wisconsin on the horizon, JT’s accuracy is going to be key.
Colin: On the upside, JT is putting together perhaps the most successful QB career in Buckeye history. How good has this kid been? What are some big wins early in his career people seem to forget or take for granted anytime the offense struggles in 2017? What records will he leave behind?
Baver: JT, with a sprained knee, refused to come out of the 2014 Penn St game in Happy Valley, and ran for 2 TDs in the OT periods to propel OSU to a win. A few weeks later, he threw for 300 yards, running for another 86, and accounted for 5 total TDs, as the Buckeyes upset Sparty in East Lansing. Prior to this year’s Penn St game, that was JT’s best day as a Buckeye, and it launched Ohio St into the Nat’l Title hunt.
JT holds 29 OSU records and isn’t done yet. That includes the record for career-passing yards, and he should break Braxton’s career QB rushing record tomorrow. He also holds the Big Ten record for TD passes (99) and total TDs accounted for (137). Think about that….137 touchdowns….that is about absurd.
A tip of the hat to a class act that has had a remarkable career in Columbus.
Colin: Let's look past Illinois and talk about THE game. You know damn sure Harbaugh and company have seen the film of our linebackers exposed in pass coverage. Can that be fixed in 10 days?
Baver: We’ll see. UM TEs Sean McKeon and Zach Gentry have 37 catches between them and will likely be a focus of Harbaugh’s attack against OSU after seeing what the Iowa tights did to the Bucks. New starting QB Brandon Peters hit both of them for TDs last week. Hopefully with Worley likely back at his more comfortable position of manning the strong side, this Buckeye LB group will hold up against UM’s short passing game.
Colin: Lots of upsets last weekend has the Buckeyes sort of back in the playoff conversation. Do you truly, in your heart, think this team deserves to make the final four?
Baver: Right now? Probably not. But ask me again after The Game. I do now think that if the Buckeyes win out, they are close to a 50/50 shot of making the playoff….deserving or not.
Colin: Give us an update on your picks to date and games / lines you will be keeping an eye on this weekend?
Baver: Been a bloodbath the last two weeks. Still,17-13 against the spread on the year. As bad as Illinois is (0-7 in the B10), I think the Illini +41 is the play. Highest Big Ten spread I can ever remember, and I think Urban will want to get his guys out early with TTUN on deck. I’ve got the Bucks winning 41-7. I like Temple at home catching 2 TDs against undefeated UCF. I think the Knights undefeated season could come to an end if the chips fall right for the Owls tomorrow. I liked UM getting 10 in Madison, but that line has dropped to 7 ½. Still, I think you take the points in that one.