Colin: What impressed you about the OSU performance last week in Bloomington?
Baver: The Buckeye running backs. The real test for Dobbins will be when Sparty comes to the Shoe Oct 5th, but Dobbins is starting to look like the stud back he was when he arrived at OSU in 2017. His top-end speed looks much better than a year ago. At this point, one has to wonder if Dobbins dealt with injuries that were kept quiet last season, because he looks like a different back. And how about Master Teague? 10 carries for 106 yards last Saturday. Love the authority he runs with. Teague was injured much of August, and the RB position at OSU looked questionable heading into the opener. But that is now turning into a position of strength for Ohio St.
Justin Fields didn’t have his best stuff against IU, but I was impressed with his demeanor. There was some talk that Fields can get down when things aren’t clicking, but he’s looked pretty cool and collected so far. Yeah, the suspect competition he has faced is playing a role here, no doubt, but Fields has handled things better than I expected. And I’ll keep saying it again and again...Fields has Ryan Day coaching him, so expect Fields’ game to improve steadily during the two years he will play here.
Colin: Is there really anything to say about Bucks v Miami?
Baver: Not much. The 39-pt spread tells you pretty much what you need to know. I guess the most interesting thing I can say about Miami is that their starting QB is true frosh Brett Gabbert, who is the younger brother of NFL QB and former Mizzou standout Blaine Gabbert. At 6-0, 207 lbs, Brett is quite a bit smaller than his big bro. Miami blew out Tennessee Tech (an FCS school) in Wk 2, but was no match for Iowa (38-14 loss) and no match for Cincinnati (35-13 loss). The Ohio State University will be paying Miami $1.3 million dollars to get the snot knocked out of them Saturday. I’ve got the Buckeyes winning 49-7, with reserves playing most of the 2ndhalf.
Colin: Sparty and Maryland humiliated the entire conference last week. Do loses like this contribute to OSU dropping in polls despite their dominating performances?
Baver: I don’t really think so. LSU had to be moved up with a road win over a (then) top-ten Texas team. With that win, the Tigers own the best win in CFB this year. All this stuff usually works out in the end. If the Bucks lose once, but beat Michigan and win the Big Ten Title game again, right now I’d wager that they’ll get in the playoff. Last year was more of the exception than the rule. At worst, the Big Ten East is the second-best division in CFB.
The Maryland loss didn’t surprise me, but it is unreal how bad Sparty’s offense is. Dantonio needed to do something with an offensive staff that greatly underachieved last year. He responded by switching the positional roles of each offensive assistant, and kept every one of them. If I’m a Sparty fan, I’m pretty ticked off right now. In comparison, Ryan Day needed to do something with a defensive staff that greatly underachieved last year. Day responded by retaining only one defensive coach, and look how the results he has seen with this Buckeye D.
Colin: Finally, two huge games this week. Thoughts on Michigan at Bucky Badger and Domers on the road at Georgia?
Baver: As we talked about last week, that UM team has SO many problems. I think most thought the Badgers would be bigger than a 3.5-pt favorite at home. The logic against a bigger spread would be that there shouldn’t be many pts scored by either team in this game. And Michigan was a 6-pt favorite in this one at betonline.ag in August (in their Games of the Year lines). So, the spread has moved 9½ pts since then. I’m guessing a lot of bettors see the Wisconsin value now being deflated, if they were to bet Wisconsin at -3.5. Hence, not as much money being bet on the Badgers.
Still, I see a Michigan team with no heart. And though it may be a sucker bet, I’ve been called worse than a sucker before. So, sign me up. I like the Badgers -3.5.
Brian Kelly has just not fared well against elite opponents, and Georgia is no doubt “elite”. Georgia eked out a win in South Bend two years ago, but has taken giant strides as a program since then. In terms of ND against elite opponents, the 2012 title game comes to mind where Bama beat them 42-14. The Irish lost 44-28 to OSU in the Fiesta Bowl to conclude the 2015 season. And ND of course got whitewashed 30-3 by Clemson in the CFB playoffs last year. I like the Dawgs giving the 14.5 here.
—Brent Baver and Colin Gawel