From the sidelines
This weekend the Ohio State Buckeyes passed a big test by beating a good number 19 team in the country, the Purdue Boilermaker’s. Now, they have two very tough tests left to get to the college football playoffs.
This weekend it is the Michigan State Spartans, as of this writing No. 7 in the country, followed by that “team up north”, at No. 8. After watching and commenting this week on social media about the game, it became somewhat heated between the fans that think OSU is the greatest ever, and those who think they are lucky to win at all!
The truth is somewhere in between. I try to look at all the variables, and after stating my opinion, I got roasted by some, and agreed with by others. Still, the question lingers: Can Ohio State win it all this year?
Ohio State has established itself as one of the premier football teams in the country. Ryan Day is one of the best offensive minds in college football, and his assistants and recruiting staff are unmatched. Yet, since 2014, Ohio State has won 1 national championship.
With all the number one recruits, a fantastic facility, coaches who know their stuff, practice facilities that are unequalled, and an athletic department that gives them all they need, what seems to be wrong? Nothing, really.
Football is a game that you never know how the ball will bounce. Injuries, discipline, grades, coaching changes, etc. all play a part in how a team performs. However, I am a subscriber to the former coach of the Minnesota Vikings Bud Grant’s philosophy that “OFFENSE SELLS TICKETS, DEFENSE WINS FOOTBALL GAMES”.
With that in mind, here are the national defensive Statistics for OSU since 2014: 2014-15th, 2015-9th, 2016-6th, 2017-9th, 2018- 9th, 2019-1st, 2020-44th and, 2021-55th. Some drop-off the last two years, huh?
I do realize that Ohio State is VERY young, starting 5 freshmen and 7 sophomores on both sides of the ball. That is very young, and they will make mistakes. Keep in mind that although they are young, they are now veterans, they are 10 games into a season and that means there are no beginners anymore.
I think the young guys plus changing the defensive play caller from Kerry Coombs to Matt Barnes has helped, but has also added to some confusion. Ohio State’s defense at times seems lost, they lose coverage, there is no pass rush, and the linebackers sometimes are nowhere to be seen.
This is not an indictment of the players, I just think maybe the scheme is too complicated. Remember, most of these guys were in high school two years ago, and the jump from there to Big 10 Football is huge! They will get it eventually, I hope.
I wonder if Coombs and Barnes are trying to simplify things, or maybe they see some improvement and it will get better. OSU is a little better since the first of the year…but not much, and that worries me. With all that talent, all those 4 and 5 star players, they should be better, I think.
So, the question lingers; Can Ohio State win it all? Yes, they can. OSU has so much offensive talent, they can win it all. They can win by outscoring everyone, every time. Can they continue to do that?
They really seem to struggle at times, and if they struggle (if they make the playoffs, two very tough teams are in their way!) against one of the final four teams, will their defense be able to stop a very good opponent?
How good? In my top 4, and I am guessing this is who it will be, OFFENSIVELY OSU is No. 1, Alabama is 10th, Oregon is 32nd and Georgia is 39th. DEFENSIVELY Georgia is No. 2, Alabama is No. 5, OSU is 55th, and Oregon is 57th. That is the difference. So, there it is by the numbers.
I do think they can win a playoff game, they would love revenge against Oregon. However, beating Georgia or Alabama is much more difficult. I wish them much success, and who knows, maybe they get better in the next few weeks. Stranger things have happened and that is why college football is so interesting…you never know! That is how I see it, from the sidelines.