The Buckeyes closed out the Big 10 season with a disappointing loss in the B1G Championship game. The 34-24 loss to Sparty ended the winning streak at 24 and denied the Buckeyes the championship that they had to have to play for the crystal football. They were going to lose one under Urban Meyer at some point, but what a great ride the last 24 games have been. Losing to Michigan State and a Jim Bollman led offense sucks, but it is what it is.
When Urban Meyer took over this team there was no one that impressed him. The receiving corps was described as a ‘clown show’. The offensive line was fat lazy and slow and we were a long way from competing for anything. Ryan Shazier started the streak as a rising sophomore with nothing more than potential, he ends the streak as the best linebacker in the B1G 10. Corey ‘Philly’ Brown started the streak as the leader of the highly maligned receiving corps and he finished the streak showing an awful lot of heart playing with a stress fracture in his leg. Braxton Miller began the streak with non-existent passing skills and he has improved exponentially. He isn’t an NFL quarterback yet but he will with another year of improvement have a chance to do that if he chooses to. Carlos Hyde went from somewhat unreliable under the Tressel/Fickle regime to a Heisman trophy candidate and potential first rounder. Ryan Shazier and Bradley Roby will be NFL players. Roby next year and Shazier also if he chooses to go. Individually we have seen players come a long, long way.
The offense went from a freshman-led, Jim Bollman-orchestrated disaster to one of the best offenses in the country. Urban’s offense has been everything we hoped for when the Tressel era and the anti-climatic stewardship of Luke Fickell took place.
Defensively as a unit we have learned much. We know that the linebackers outside of Ryan Shazier are unimpressive, we know that because of injury the secondary is a wreck. Our defensive line is pretty good and should remain that way. With Noah Spence, Adolphus Washington and specifically Joey Bosa coming back next year they will continue to be really good. We have watched the wheels fall off this defensive over the course of the season and I hope with the extra practices for the Orange Bowl that something can be done. I’m not optimistic.
I think Luke Fickel did the best job he could do in 2011 and I think the praise he was given at the time was well deserved. However, I hope that he takes a head job a smaller school and follows Ohio State assistants from Dantonio to Hazell in taking a head coaching job somewhere else. It is very apparent that Heacock was the brains of the Tressel era defenses.
The Orange Bowl isn’t the game I wanted us to play in, but it is a great opportunity to win a bowl game. We can stay with Clemson. I don’t know if defensively we can stop them but I know we can score on them. The way the defense fell apart the last few weeks we couldn’t slow Auburn or Florida State down enough to have a chance.
I don’t know that we can stop Clemson but we have a better chance of stopping them than we do Auburn or Florida State. The defensive line will have to be very disciplined in the way they rush Tahj Boyd. We will have to take good angles as we tackle and the blitzes will need to come from the Mike and the Sam linebackers. Blitzing cornerbacks has killed us the last couple of weeks leaving our safeties to cover wide receivers one on one.
We have a chance to do something significant in the Orange Bowl, a victory keeps Ohio State in the national title conversation for next year. A victory makes the nation look at the Buckeyes and say, “O.K. the schedule is weak but they are pretty good.”. A strong defensive performance allows Luke Fickell to take the Florida Atlantic head coaching position feeling successful. Making an impression in the state he will have to recruit. It will allow Carlos Hyde, Bradley Roby and Ryan Shazier to improve their standing in the NFL draft in a few months. For the program it is a chance to end a great season on a positive. A chance to show the nation that Ohio State is truly back and will have to be dealt with in 2014.
Ohio State will win the Orange Bowl 49-35.