Colin: Our receivers work hard and have so much depth blah blah blah blah. Is anybody going to step up and be the man who puts fear in the opposing defense?
Baver: I think the short answer is no. I mean, a defensive coordinator seeing Parris Campbell get in the open field is nightmare for him, but I know that’s not what you mean. Campbell really isn’t a true receiver. I must say that Zone-6 did finally grow on me last year and you saw OSU’s overall depth take its toll against several of its opponents, including Penn State and Michigan in huge comeback wins for the Buckeyes.
But if the old fashion go-to WR is what you want, it’s very unlikely you are going to see that this season. The guy with the biggest upside of the bunch is Binjamen Victor, but he brings the biggest downside as well. A sleeper to watch would be CJ Saunders.
The depth argument isn’t sexy, but Phil Steele and Athlon both ranked Ohio State’s WRs as the best WR group in the Big Ten.
Colin: Should I even ask about the tights ends?
Baver: If you are into blocking schemes, sure…..
Colin: The defense should be stout again. How would you attack them if you were coaching Oregon State?
Baver: Not that Oregon State has the talent or scheme to do it, but Oklahoma and Iowa exposed Ohio State big time with their short passing games in upset wins against Ohio State last season. These games were a low point for Buckeye LBs since Urban arrived in 2012. And I guess I’d use your “…so much depth blah blah blah..” comment when looking at this LB group. With the talent OSU brings in year in and year out, maybe one or even two guys explode like Darren Lee did in ’14, but I am taking a wait and see approach with this group.
Colin: Meanwhile Michigan is taking on Notre Dame. Considering the Wolverines closed out 2017 with three straight losses, how big a game is this for Harbaugh and his non chicken eaters?
Baver: Huge. Jimmy was surviving last year’s rebuilding year, but then his team blew a 14-0 lead losing to Ohio State once again. But at least UM followed that up with a 2ndhalf collapse against a hapless South Carolina team in the Outback bowl, earning the Big Ten its only bowl lost last season.
On paper, this Michigan team clearly looks like Harbaugh’s best. Their defense lost everybody after the 2016 season, and still had a top ranked D last season. They may have the best D in the nation this year. They finally have a QB, and they have a lot of very highly rated guys that got good work as true freshmen in ‘17.
Still, this has been a Michigan team that couldn’t win a tight game against a decent opponent to save their lives. But I guess I will play the fool again and pick Jimmy to finally get the road win against a ranked team, in a 17-14 type game. But this is a game that can go either way.
Colin: Any other games and lines you will be keeping an eye on this weekend?
Baver: Washington vs Auburn in Atlanta is the game of the week. Both are legit top-10 teams nationally on paper. Chris Peterson has done a phenomenal job so far at Auburn, but has lost most of his matchups against elite opponents. Auburn doesn’t get the pub like Bama does in this neck of the woods, but Gus and his assistants have been recruiting like gangbusters, and like Washington, the Tigers are stacked this year. I would have these teams probably about even on a neutral field, so I would have lean Auburn with the Huskies traveling across the country to play to play Gus’ boys.
Other gms…..I am really interested in seeing Joe Burrow in action against the Mark Richt’s Hurricanes, although I don’t have a good feel for how that one will turn out. I tend to think Joe won’t be ready yet, as he’s had little time to adjust in Baton Rouge. Still, I will be rooting for him.
I will pass on picking games against the spread this week and just enjoy the return of college football with the nightmare of an August we have had in Buckeye country….I’ll make one exception and pick the OSU vs OSU game ATS.
I’d say take the Beavers getting 38.5 against Ohio State with all the uncertainty with this Buckeye team. I also wonder if you will see OSU play true freshmen for much of the second half with the new redshirt rule. I’ve got Ohio State winning 48-14.