Fall Saturdays are by far my favorite days of the year, but my heart, mind and my liver tend to disagree when the Buckeyes are on the field. The week to week stress when our team is on a winning streak like it is, with conference title and national title implications riding on quality victories and point spreads, is a love/hate relationship to the very fabric of the definition. We all love game days, we live for game days, but let’s face it, they’re fucking stressful.
Enter the Buckeye bye week, the week where we get to kick back and watch other fanbases’ teams fight it out in an attempt to climb the ever cumbersome ladder of the college football ranking system. Some are vying for titles of their own, while others are just trying to remain relevant in the national media spotlight. And some, not unlike our pals up north, are trying to figure out exactly where in those rankings they actually belong. In fact, let’s start with those sun and blue buffoons.
Michigan, the 3rd biggest losers of the first real “Upset Saturday” this season, lost to Penn State in quadruple overtime after their 2nd inaugural September Heisman winning QB treated the football like a Dave Chappelle 5 o’clock free crack give-away. I’m not sure Gardner could find more ways to turn the ball over in the biggest moments during these games, but he sure as hell is going to try. Sure this may hurt our overall strength of schedule, because beating Michigan if they were undefeated is much better than beating them with one loss while still beating the Penn State team that beat them, but frankly I don’t care to think like that. I’ll never root for Michigan, ever. And beyond the fact that they lost, for the 3rd game this season the Wolverines gave the Buckeyes some important game tape to study on just how to score points on that defense their other fat coach calls the plays for.
Another coach worth discussing is the frequently cursed, often called on to be fired Mack Brown. No one expected Texas to beat Oklahoma, no one even expected that game to be close. Texas came in looking as mundane as we have ever seen, while Oklahoma pulled a, well… Oklahoma. Stoops has won some big games, he has a great record, but that record also comes with a lot of losses like this one. Rivalry games are the best for this very reason, it’s why they play the game.
Last but not least is the team named after the trees who fell just as hard and loud as you’d expect them too. Stanford came into Saturday with expectations of overtaking our Buckeyes in the rankings with an easy win over Utah. Analysts, experts, seemingly everyone on Twitter and the entire universe just knew that Stanford was better than Ohio State. Our “cream puff schedule” would never hold up out west in the Pac-12. Well it’s becoming apparent that many teams around the country may not be quite as good as the so called experts believe.
Where The Buckeyes Go From Here: The way I see it, beyond winning the rest of our games including the B1G Title game, we’re going to need some help getting into the National Championship Game. If Alabama wins out there is absolutely no way we will surpass them in the rankings, that’s the obvious one. Oregon is the real kicker here. At this point their remaining schedule is tougher than ours, it’s something that can’t be debated. They’re still slated to play a currently undefeated UCLA and a now one-loss Stanford. If they were to beat both of those teams along with Utah, Arizona, Washington State and Oregon State to finish the year, it would be very hard for the Buckeyes to pass them in the rankings. We simply don’t play enough highly ranked teams to swing the votes we would need, and the computer points especially. Along with that Oregon is winning with style, averaging more points and holding opponents to fewer. I personally have Oregon ranked #1 above Alabama.
I also do not believe Oregon is a better team than Ohio State (but remember, my vote doesn’t count, the rankings and computers do), and I think their game against Washington on Saturday really showed that. They absolutely cannot stop the run, at all, period. Every time Washington devoted sections of play calling to the run they would gash the Oregon defense for huge chunks of yardage, and this is where the Buckeyes could exploit them. Running the football against the Ducks keeps their offense off the field, and that’s the way a UCLA or Stanford or even an Oregon State is going to have to beat them to keep them from keeping us out of the title game.
After taking a look at the craziness of this weekend our own schedule has also gotten a little more interesting. Beyond the Michigan loss, Penn State looks better than expected, making that game even more vital to our season. Iowa has had the same week off to prepare for us as we have for them, and while their offense is sometimes anemic, their defense is top 20 in points against.
After Penn State we still have our annual trap game with Purdue. An away game for the Buckeyes, this could be one of those Saturday’s where we all curse the TV like the coaches can hear us and squeak out a signature Tresselball-type win. Load up on the Bayer kids.
Illinois only lost to Washington by 10, who again showed some grit against Oregon this week. They’re season thus far is confusing to look at, but this week against Wisconsin should give us a better look at what we can prepare for.
Indiana was trying to do crazy Indiana things against Michigan State early, but it seems their up and down offense is far to inconsistent to worry about. Let’s just hope it isn’t a replay of last season’s game.
Then there’s Michigan, TSUN, the Wololverines, or what have you. They’ve been basically begging for the loss they took this weekend all year. Pathetic performances against Akron and UConn paved the way for their most recent loss. Gardner needs totake up the hobby of his own name over playing QB at this point. But alas, it’s the Ohio State vs. Michigan game, and just like Texas and Oklahoma, you play it for a reason. I’m not comfortable at all, ever, when playing the Sun and Blue. They still have some big games left against Northwestern (who also did us no favors this weekend, you assholes) and Michigan State, so we will see if they pull it together or jump ship like last season.
At least Hoke makes a solid floatation device.