Colin: Where does that win over Penn State rank in all time great Ohio State games?
Baver: It’s hard to believe what Ohio St overcame to win that game. They trailed for the first 58 minutes, committed 10 penalties, were minus-2 in TOs, were down 18 pts twice, had 3 colossal kickoff gaffes, and although they intercepted two passes in the end zone, both calls were overturned, with Penn St instead scoring 14 pts. Oh….and the Bucks were down 38-27 with the ball at their own 24 with 5:37 left on the clock. Certainly one of Ohio St’s greatest comebacks and finales ever, and they did it against the #2 team in the land. But so much of it was painful to watch. Still, this one ranks right up there.
Colin: All things considered, was that performance by JT Barrett the best in the history of Ohio State football? What even comes close?
Baver: JT put on a clinic Saturday….one for the ages. It probably tops three other Buckeye performances that come to my mind…those being: freshman Ted Ginn scoring on a reverse, a punt return, and a 58-yard game winning TD catch-and-run against Sparty in ‘04; Eddie’s George’s 314-yard rushing effort against Illinois in ’95; and Chris Spielman’s 29-tackle game against Michigan in ‘86.
Colin: How much better is this OSU offense than the one that struggled against Oklahoma? What's different now?
Baver: Light years better. JT, the O-line, and the WRs have come so far. These guys weren’t in sync with the offensive coaches early on this year, but they clearly are now. It’s gone from “Bench JT” to “Barrett deserves the Heisman.” I know I had my doubts about him after the Oklahoma game. Wow…what a transformation.
Colin: Is this defensive line really as special as it appears? Does the D have a weakness that can be exposed?
Baver: The D-line is ridiculous. Their depth wore down Penn State’s O-line, to the point where it was a mismatch in the 4th quarter. The Buckeye defense registered 13 tackles-for-losses, which someone told me was the most in a Big Ten game since 2008. The weakness is still OSU DBs in pass coverage, and yes….if they face a good passing offense, they can certainly be had again. But will they face a QB with a big arm again this year? Maybe in the Playoff, if they get there.
Colin: Special teams WTF?
Baver: You called it. You asked if Urban would be stupid enough to kick to Barkley. I guess I was naive. The Buckeye kickoff coverage is “…a joke right now” ….Urban’s words, not mine. It’s both the personnel and the scheme. OSU has been using 4 current or former walk-ons on this unit, which may be part of the problem. And the Buckeyes appear to be sorely missing Eric Glover-Williams. EGW was probably the best coverage guy they had. As for the scheme, Penn St saw that once you create a crease on the right side, there’s little help to the left in this uncommon Buckeye scheme. With Saquon’s speed, the crease was all he needed….bingo, 6 points.
Colin: Iowa City is a tough place to play. Should Buckeye fans be worried?
Baver: Iowa and Kirk Ferentz can be pesky…at the very least. And a Penn St hangover is a real concern. The Iowa defense, led by LB Josey Jewell, DE Anthonly Nelson, and DB Josh Jackson is stingy. While I tend to think Iowa will hang around for awhile, I think Ohio St puts them away in the 2nd half, wearing them down on both sides of the ball, much like they did against Penn St. Iowa starts freshmen at both OT spots, as both of their preseason starting tackles are now lost for the season. The frosh are going to be no match for Bosa, Hubbard, and company. I like Ohio State 34-13. If I’m a bettor, I would lay the 17 ½ pts here.
Colin: Does this first Playoff Poll mean anything?
Colin: Give us an update on your picks and other games around the country you will be keeping an eye on this weekend?
Baver: 17-7 against the spread – still knockin’ ‘em dead. I think Miami’s magic runs out against the Hokies. I like Va Tech to win and cover as a 2 ½ pt favorite at Miami. Notre Dame is a very good football team; I like the Irish to cover the 14 pts at home against an improved Wake Forest team. No real feeling about the Bedlam game….Okie State laying 2 ½ at home against the Sooners seems about right to me - that game could go either way. And I think Penn State laying 9 in East Lansing seems about right as well.