You can hear Baver every Friday at 7:40 am on CD1025 with Brian Phillips. Follow @baverbuckeyebag
Colin: Ok, everyone is losing their minds over this Buckeye offense but I suppose it’s worth noting that OSU beat Rutgers 58-0 and 56-0 the past two years with JT Barrett putting up huge passing numbers as well. So technically 2018 is a step backwards. Are we getting ahead of ourselves or is this offense destined for greatness?
Baver: The upside of this Buckeye offense is the highest it’s been since Urban’s arrival. But yeah, Rutgers is not good, and Oregon St’s defense is as bad as it gets. We will know a lot more around 11:30 pm Saturday night.
Colin: Could we lose Haskins to the NFL after one season?
Baver: Yes…and Haskins is currently running either 3rdor 4thin the Heisman odds, depending on the sportsbook. I see Todd McShay is already talking about Haskins NFL upside. And if Dwayne has a big game Saturday night, then you will hear a lot more talk about Haskins bolting after this season. Still, there isn’t much of a sample size right now in terms of Haskins’ performances against good competition. He played less than a half against Michigan last year - that’s it. Again, we will know more after Saturday.
Colin: What does TCU have to do to slow down the Buckeye attack and are they capable of doing it?
Baver: Phil Steele has each of TCU’s three units on defense (DL, LBs & DBs) as the top units in the B12. Now, the B12 isn’t known for playing much D, so let’s not mistake this for Alabama’s defense. But if there is one coach that is capable of getting a high-powered tempo offense in a funk, it’s Gary Patterson. TCU’s 4-2-5 defense doesn’t have to substitute much to match up with the personnel on opposing offenses. And tempo offenses often feel a need to slow down to study the Horn Frogs’ alignment. But TCU is going to have to apply consistent pressure on Haskins and force some critical mistakes, otherwise I can’t see them winning this game.
Colin: The defense faces its first test this weekend against TCU. Are they prepared to stop a top flight mobile QB in Shawn Robinson?
Baver: I re-watched the Rutgers game focusing on the linebackers, and although the defense played much better than they did a week prior, the LB play is just plain bad in terms of what we are used to seeing in Columbus. Like Oklahoma and Iowa last year, I think TCU will try to expose the Buckeye LBs with the short passing game. Luckily, TCU doesn’t throw to the TE much, so that part of the nightmare from last year’s Iowa game shouldn’t reoccur. I think Robinson will make some plays with his legs, and the WR combo of Kavontae Turpin & Jalen Reagor (4.32 speed) will hit a few big plays. But the OSU D-line will force Robinson into making some key mistakes. Nick Bosa is possessed right now, and it’s like nothing I have seen before out of an OSU DE, and we’ve had some good ones.
Colin: Forgot a Ted Ginn style punt return, can we just fair catch the ball without it hitting the turf? What gives?
Baver: After McCall misplayed the first one, you’d have thought that he would have made damn sure he caught the 2nd one cleanly. Nope. Ohio State has too much talent on this team to give McCall many more shots. Yeah, I am too the point where I just want the punt fielded cleanly and let the offense put the ball in the end zone.
Colin: Final thoughts and prediction?
Baver: I am going to guess Urban Meyer has spent the better part of the last three weeks scouting TCU’s defense. I think even with a first-year starter at QB, Meyer and Ryan Day will have this offense well prepared for the TCU defense. I do worry you will see some chinks in the armor with the OSU O-line, but Haskins, the tailbacks, and the WRs should be too much for the TCU D. On the other side of the ball, as mentioned, the Bucks will surrender some big plays and some points, but the Buckeye D-line will cause too many problems for TCU and Shawn Robinson. Prediction: Ohio State 42 TCU 24, and I’d feel comfortable laying the 13 pts here.
Colin: What other games and lines will you be keeping an eye on this weekend?
Baver: I think Joe Burrow is now settling in and I see LSU hanging tough with Auburn. So getting 10 pts looks like a solid play to me. Of course, LSU is coached by Ed Orgeron, so I make look foolish here. I tend to think Boise St gets it done at Ok State, so I like the Smurfs catching 2 pts there. Best Boise team in a while. And I think the Bama train keeps rolling and covers the 21½ at Ole Miss. Bama usually wins Nat’l Titles with an average QB, and Tua is far better than average.