Colin: What changes did you notice coming off the bye week?
Baver: The running game looked much more like you would expect from a Buckeye offense. A much better job opening holes for the backs, and both tailbacks kicked it up a notch. Going away from the RPO, and getting back to basic run calls obviously made a big difference. Of course, Nebraska’s defense is pretty bad, so you have to take that into account as well.
We saw offensive guard Wyatt Davis used as a third tight end, and OSU had much better results on short yardage plays. Again though....you have to remember that defense is in the developmental stages at Nebraska right now, and is still optional.
This isn’t necessarily a bye week change, but the Buckeyes made a concerted effort to contain JD Spielman after he lit them up to the tune of 200 receiving yds last year. Containing Spielman was key...if they hadn’t, you are probably looking at a 2-loss Buckeye team right now.
Colin: Haskins sure gave up on that run quickly. Is it possible this team is missing JT Barrett's leadership or that some of these guys already have their eyes set on the NFL draft?
Baver: I don’t know what the story is with that slide. I know other Buckeye fans are bringing up the NFL goggles thing as well. But let’s see what happens in these final three games. If guys have cashed it in, I think we’ll all figure it out over these last few games. As for missing JT’s leadership? Absolutely they are missing it.
Colin: Brendon White stepped up and did a nice job filling in at safety. Could he provide consistent help with our leaky back seven?
Baver: Sure could. The kid was everywhere. This could be really big for this D, pairing him with the most consistent defender OSU has had this year...Jordan Fuller....the guy White replaced after Fuller’s targeting objection. And I don’t think the Buckeye D played quite as badly as many think they did last Saturday. That was a very good NU offense that OSU shut down almost the entire 2ndhalf. I think they took a few baby steps. There is at least some light at the end of the tunnel on that side of the ball...and Urban said this week that they are finally healthy on D.
Colin: This team may just be what it is by this point in the season. What do you see happening in East Lansing this Saturday and what is a realistic goal at this point for the 2018 Buckeyes?
Baver: This Sparty team is a mess....more so than Ohio St. Except for the tight end, every starter has been hurt on offense for MSU this year. Losing WR Felton Davis was a huge loss. Lewerke is still banged up and hasn’t been worth a damn when healthy. Still, there are 28 Ohio kids on Michigan St’s roster that will dial it up Saturday. Sparty found ways to beat Penn St on the road, to hang tight most of the way with UM, and to beat a scorching hot Purdue team. And the OSU offense has been out of rhythm for a decent portion of all three games they have played away from Columbus this year. Now the Bucks have to play against the nation’s top ranked run defense on the road. But I still see a Sparty team on fumes right now...I think Ohio State wins a low scoring game. I’ve got Ohio St 21 Michigan St 17, in a typical OSU-Sparty November battle.
Winning the Big Ten is still a “somewhat” realistic goal for Ohio State. Right now, I’d give Michigan the advantage in The Game for the first time in years, but they’ve lost 8 straight in Ohio Stadium and Urban hasn’t been a dog since ’14....he thrives in that roll, having won all 6 gms at Ohio St when the Bucks were underdogs. So I welcome Michigan if/when they enter the Shoe as the favorite. But that goal of winning the Big Ten is out the window with a loss to Sparty Saturday.
Colin:Any other games and lines you will be keeping your eye on this weekend?
Baver: Call me crazy to pick against Bama, but if there was ever a time the Tide were going to be a flat, it’s this week after their destruction of LSU last week. Miss St is a solid team, and I like them to cover the 23½. Still, Bama should remain unbeaten. And that Iowa-N’Western spread has crept up too high...give me Pat Fitzgerald and 11 pts in Kinnick. A third dog for good measure? BC now catching 20 at home against Clemson? I like BC at that number. Steve Addazio has done a pretty amazing job getting that team back on the map.
Go Bucks....have to win this one Saturday.