Colin: Do the Buckeyes beat Michigan without Haskins subbing in for the injured Barrett?
Baver: Yes, but what a performance by Dwayne Haskins. Everyone always knew that he had a cannon that JT lacked, but who knew Haskins would play with the poise he did in that kind of game. It also helps when the Buckeye coaches suddenly remember that they have big-time tailbacks after JT goes down. So many similarities to 2014, it’s scary.
Colin: Speaking of the QB’s, who plays against the Badgers? JT had surgery Sunday and Urban tells us he will play Saturday? Really?
Baver: I know; I am not buying it either. Arthroscopic knee surgery can be minor, but Urban seems to be begging people to believe that JT will be behind center Saturday night. As of 48 hours before the B10 title game, I am expecting it to be Dwayne Haskins running the show. We shall see; I could be wrong.
Colin: In other news, JT is first team all Big Ten again. Ho-hum. Thoughts on who were honored (or not) by the media and coaches...
Baver: JT deserved it, no doubt. And it appears that about 80 guys from the Badgers were chosen, and most deserved it. I’m told that this is the first year since 1989 that OSU didn’t have an LB selected 1st or 2nd tm. The Bucks didn’t have any LBs picked 3rd tm either. Honestly? No Buckeye ‘backer deserved it. Guess the Bucks are missing Raekwon and former LB coach Luke Fickell more than I thought they would. Current LB coach Bill Davis’ seat is warming.
Colin: Seems like Bucky Badger vs Buckeyes in a dome is a bad match for them but people said the same thing about Sparty versus OSU a couple years back and they pulled the upset. What do you see happening in this game?
Baver: I realize Wisconsin hasn’t played anybody, but all they can do is beat up on the teams they have on their schedule, and that they’ve done. The Badgers lead the nation in multiple defensive stats, and they pound the ball with Jonathan Taylor, behind an O-line where only the center is shorter than 6’6”, with no linemen weighing less than 315 lbs.
If it’s JT behind center, he needs to have some success through the air. If it’s Haskins, he’s going to have to avoid INTs. With Haskins’ big arm, he has no fear of throwing into coverage, and that’s a double-edged sword. Regardless of who the Bucks go with, the OSU coaches have to trust their tailbacks. It’s a crime that they have kept a leash on Dobbins. Wisconsin is not going to make many mistakes and they are going to test the Buckeye linebackers in the short passing game.
I think the Buckeyes are the safer bet (to win), but I think it’s a toss up. I’ve got it Ohio State 31 Wisconsin 27, but little would surprise me in this one. The 5½ pt spread is a bit high, especially if OSU is without JT. I think Ohio State can win or lose this game with either QB.
Colin: Let's say the Buckeyes win the game convincingly; do you, in your heart think this squad deserves a spot in the playoff?
Baver: Not sure it’s fair to look at Ohio St (by themselves) and ask, “Are they deserving?” If Oklahoma and Ohio St win, then I’d probably give the nod to Bama for the 4th slot, despite the Tide’s lack of quality wins, and them not having a conference title. If TCU beats Oklahoma and Ohio St beats Wisconsin, then yes, I think Ohio St would be more deserving than the other school in consideration.
Colin: Related, Alabama has a really weak resume and the SEC has 5 head coaching positions to replace. Is this really the year to have two teams from the same conference?
Baver: Again, I think the real question is….is someone else more deserving? But if the SEC is part of the debate, I see Sagarin has the SEC West as the top division in CFB again this year....like any other year.
Colin: How do you see the major games playing out this weekend and who makes the big dance when the dust settles?
Baver: I think Georgia wins the rematch against Auburn. I see TCU playing much better in their rematch with Oklahoma, but coming up just short. It’s tough to beat good teams twice, so I think OU and Auburn are in for battles. I like Clemson to advance, but like the Canes to cover the 9½. So against the spread, I like the dogs in those title gms. If OSU and OU win, then it’s a toss-up with Ohio St and Bama for the 4th playoff spot. Clemson, Oklahoma, Georgia and Bama are my playoff picks.
Colin: Bonus question: Do you feel four teams is the right amount for the college football playoff or what do you think would be a better system? I'll give my answer: I like four. The regular season really matters which is more than what other sports can say.
Baver: I am with you; love the 4-team format and the fact that every Saturday means something. I dread the day they expand to 8 teams, and you and I both know that day will come.