Undefeated Ohio State Gets B- Midseason Grade Card
Columbus, Ohio -Story by Michael Goins… Many in Buckeye land are starting to talk national championship now that Ohio State has gotten past what some consider the meat of the schedule. Wins at home vs Wisconsin and on the road vs Northwestern give hope for those future New Years plans. There are a few obstacles, however, that could derail those plans, including other undefeated teams from the SEC or PAC-12.
Let’s break down the Buckeye season thus far. The non-conference was a ho-hummer and was expected to be that. No major hurdles on the schedule and no surprises. Although that could be a good thing, the level of competition hurts the overall national stature. You could easily argue, and they do here in Columbus, that Alabama played win less Georgia State. The Tide played them in game five to make matters worst.
Yes, Alabama did play Georgia State, but they had already beaten Virginia Tech, Texas A&M and Ole Miss before that. Through the first four games of the season, which many consider the non-conference, Alabama opponents had a collective 16 wins. Ohio State opponents had a collective win record of 9 wins during that same period. You can make those same comparisons with Oregon, and the Buckeyes still come up short. These are numbers and can mean different things to different people. The problem is that those other teams aren’t fighting the “image” problem that Ohio State is fighting.
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This past week on the gridiron didn’t do any favors for the Buckeyes. How bad does the Northwestern loss to Wisconsin hurt? How about Michigan losing to Penn State? We now know the game in Ann Arbor won’t pit two undefeated teams against each other, which Ohio State needed. What’s more devastating for Ohio State is that as of today, they are the only Big Ten team ranked in the AP top 20.
You have to give Ohio State an A+ when it comes to beating conference opponents. They can’t control how good Michigan or Northwestern are. What you fault the Buckeyes for are the self-imposed errors when it comes to image. Scheduling Buffalo, Florida A&M and the like, are just clownish, and even serious Buckeye Kool-aid drinkers are starting to complain.
The 2014 non conference schedule should be the model for this program. That schedule puts just enough teeth into it to make Ohio State credible. Many thought, including me, that schedule was a new template for this team and its non-conference. That is, until the 2015 non-conference was announced. That schedule could be disastrous in its national implications, or it could be a good solid attempt at rebranding. We’ll have to wait and see.
Western Michigan, currently 0-6, is on that schedule. They lost to Buffalo yesterday 33-0. Hawaii, currently 0-6, is on the schedule. The other two non-conference foes will be Northern Illinois, currently 6-0, and Virginia Tech. Both of those teams are currently ranked. Those two teams could determine whether that schedule is good or bad.
As it currently stands, with Michigan’s lost to Penn State, Ohio State won’t face another ranked opponent this regular season. Although I like this Buckeye team a lot, I am not comfortable talking national championship yet. I want to see two things. I need to see who the draw is for the Buckeyes come bowl season and I want to see how this team performs in next years non-conference. Yep, I am saying this is a development process. This is not an emotional process whereby you just believe. I think we need another solid recruiting class under our belts. I think we still need to continuously evaluate Braxton Miller and other areas of possible trouble.
No, this team doesn’t get the A grade just yet, undefeated or not. There are just too many areas that need improvement. The one that scares me the most, is that you can score on this team. The Buckeyes have weapons in a lot of good spots. The team just doesn’t have enough glue to put it all together just yet.
The Buckeyes have to stay on track for the next couple of weeks and not have any missteps. You could just hear the air being let out of the tire yesterday as the Wolverines came up short against Penn State. That “match-up of undefeated’s” had been marked on everyone’s calendar including “College Day” from what sources tell me.
For now, it’s all about big wins. The bigger the better. Ohio State needs to leave no doubt in upcoming games against Iowa, Indiana and yes, even Michigan. They will need to be real impressive against Michigan, now that Penn State has beaten them. Stay Tuned.