Colin: This Buckeye team is 6-0, ranked 3rdin the country, and rises to the occasion when they need too. So before I get critical…are Buckeye fans too negative?
Baver: We’re spoiled…no doubt about it. Dwayne Haskins has 25 TD passes on the season, while the next closest B10 player has 11. That’s absurd. But I get swept into the negativity too, and didn’t have a good feeling after the Indiana game. But, this Buckeye program has been the best in CFB over the last 25 years, and the fans of 120+ other FBS schools would gladly trade places with us. And this Buckeye team is a legit top-5 team this season…as is usually the case.
Colin: Okay onto the criticism….things don’t seem to be getting much better on the defensive side of the ball. Big plays left and right again this past weekend against the Hoosiers. Half the season is in the books. I may have asked this before….if so I’ll ask again….can this defense get to a championship level?
Baver: If a championship level means playing with or beating Alabama, my guess is probably not. Seeing the OSU corners take a big step backward against Indiana, a team that was missing its top two receiving targets, is alarming. But stranger things have happened, and I still think this is Urban’s most talented roster from top to bottom. Also, Isaiah Pryor is starting to turn the corner at the strong safety spot. Getting Nick Bosa back also would help matters greatly, and things are starting to look up in that regard as well.
Colin: With the backs we have and the arm Dwayne Haskins Jr has I would think the running game would be excelling right now. Defenses should have to respect Dwayne’s arm, which should open up the running game. But it doesn’t seem to be happening….why?
Baver: Yeah, OSU’s avg rush per carry (by game) has decreased every week this season. Urban has talked about the run blocking being more complicated than the pass blocking. I think the lack of a running threat at QB has probably hurt OSU’s tailback production. And this offense went from being almost assured of getting a yard when they needed it to having little confidence in picking that yard up. Of course, the insane numbers Haskins is putting up through the air has meant bigger offensive numbers overall. Still, the running game has to get better if the Buckeyes want to compete at the highest level.
Colin: So what is the story with Urban and what happened on the sidelines last Saturday? Someone ran into him by accident and knocked him down? Did I hear that Urban denied that even happened?
Baver: It’s my understanding that multiple people saw a staffer accidently collide with Urban on the sideline, with Urban then falling to the ground. But this wasn’t caught on camera, and TV viewers only saw Urban being tended to, holding his head while down on one knee. Urban didn’t flat out deny a collision happened, but didn’t want to go there in the post-game presser….not sure why. Urban just isn’t himself, and I wonder how much gas he has left in the tank. It’s the same story every game watching his body language on the sidelines. I hope Urban can decompress at some point. He is going to need to, as there are not many more stressful jobs than the one he has here.
Colin: Anything worth worrying about with the Gophers coming to town?
Baver: As a 29 ½ pt favorite, if Minnesota beat Ohio St, they’d be the biggest dog to win a CFB game this season. Probably not happening. You can argue that Minnesota has lost their top offense player (RB Rodney Smith), their top defensive player (CB Antoine Winfield Jr), and top special teamer (again Winfield) to injuries. They’ve lost by 17+ in both of their B10 matchups. Their D is probably their strength, but they will still give up 6 or more TDs I think Saturday. I have OSU winning (and covering) 49-14. A guy to watch for them? How ‘bout true frosh Daniel Faalele at RT who goes 6’9”, 400 lbs.
Colin: We’re halfway through the season. Who are your four playoff teams at this point?
Baver: This is based on what these teams have accomplished so far: 1) Bama 2) Notre Dame 3) Ohio St 4) Georgia. Clemson would be a close 5thright now. Too many talking heads are penciling teams in the playoff like it’s a done deal. Too early for that.
Colin: What games/lines will you be keeping an eye on this weekend?
Baver: Two of them: #15 Wisconsin at #12 Michigan, with UM giving 9 ½ under the lights, and Sparty at #8 Penn St, with the Nits laying 13 ½. The over/under in the Big House is 49 which makes laying 9 ½ a lot I think. I like the Badgers plus the pts. In State College, I think Penn St takes care of business over a struggling Michigan St team. James Franklin will want revenge….I like the Nits laying the 13 ½.