The Buckeyes played their most complete game of the season this past Saturday in dispatching Illinois 52-22. A game that shouldn’t have been close wasn’t. A team that has in recent years played to the level of its competition, whether up or down, the Buckeyes showed their mite by putting their foot on the gas early against the Illini and never looking back.
A lot has been said about the Big Ten being weak and the Buckeye schedule being light. I can’t argue much about either of those points. When writing last week’s entry, the thought crossed my mind that this (past) week against Illinois could be the week when it all comes together and the “Urbanization” of the Buckeyes begins to take shape.
For me, the real transformation to this program completely becoming Urban Meyer’s will be when we no longer see games like Purdue or California. The day we see the Buckeyes playing at a high level every week, not just when it’s a rival or a night game against a major name opponent, is the day the transformation is complete. It’s the day that everyone else in the Big Ten realizes that they are either going to work longer and recruit harder or be crushed in Meyer and Ohio State’s wake.
The destruction of Illinois may have been the first sign of this process taking shape. The defense was responsible for 6 points, the offense went up and down the field at will, backups played like they could have won the game if asked from the start, lots of excitement and celebrating on the sidelines, a confident swagger. Good times are ahead, my friends.
Bri’onte Dunn was named Big Ten Freshman of the week for his performance gaining 73 yards on the ground and scoring a touchdown. More importantly, Ryan Shazier (back sporting his customary number 10) was named Big Ten Defensive Player of the Week for the second consecutive game for his performance against the Fighting Illini. Shazier was an absolute demon making tackles all over the field. The commentators (she who shall remain nameless) even made the comment that it seemed as though Shazier was moving at a different speed than everyone else on the field. Quick answer, Beth: He was. Shazier is (it seemed to start around 6 weeks into the season to be fair) finally picking up where he left off in 2011 and where we all thought he would be coming into this season.
It’s unfortunate Etienne Sabino had his injury set him back, otherwise we could be looking at two of the best linebackers in the Big Ten hitting full stride heading into the two biggest games of the season and their lives. It’ll be interesting to see how Sabino looks when he back on the field, if the injury slows the progress he made prior to being hurt. You have to assume it will affect him, the question is how much?
Buckeye football Quick Hitters
Can anyone argue that this isn’t the best offensive line we have seen in years? These guys are putting helmets on people and making lanes for Braxton Miller, Carlos Hyde and Rod Smith to tear through the first line of the opposing defense. How much was Jim Bollman really holding back the program? Is that a cheap shot? Maybe, but it is a valid question.
Speaking of Braxton Miller and Carlos Hyde, how about getting through that first line of the defense and taking it to the house? We praise these guys a lot, and rightfully so. So, let’s ask them to step it up to another level. You wouldn’t like to see Hyde break off an 80 yarder for 6?
Rod Smith stands up too tall when going through the holes. If he doesn’t correct the issue, he won’t be able to cure his “fumble-itis”. Sit the young man down and show him tape of Eddie George. Smith is listed at 6-3, 228, almost identical to George’s 6-3, 225 in his Heisman year of 1995. I’d suggest having Rod emulate Eddie’s pad level and running style.
The bye week is here. Meyer’s biggest challenge will be to heal up those bumps and bruises but still keep the focus and momentum from the win at Penn State and the blowout against Illinois. The trip to Madison against Wisconsin is somewhat personal for Meyer as we all know he doesn’t think too fondly of Bert Beilema. (More on that next week… hey it’s the bye week, have to sandbag some stuff!) Of course, the finale against TTUN is this season’s (every season’s?) bowl game. He can’t let the perfect season be lost in a bye week. I expect some grueling practices this week to keep everyone sharp.
Sweet Georgia Brown
Hoops are back this week as the Buckeyes look to throw Marquette overboard in Columbia, South Carolina in this years Carrier Classic. I hope you all have read and enjoyed the player and coaching previews done by our staff here at The Buckeye Battle Cry. They are very well done and extremely informative, put together by some cats that worked very hard to get you what you need to know to be ready for this years basketball season! If you missed them, just scroll back and find them, lazy! It’s worth your time!
November is for Contenders
Ladies and gentlemen, the calendar has changed to November, and while Ohio State unfortunately cannot be a part of it, we are seeing this years herd of contenders for the national championship begin to thin out.
It’s hard not to like what you see from Alabama, especially winning dramatically in Baton Rouge over LSU. While they’ve played a weak schedule, they have obliterated everyone in their path to make amends for it, short of said drama in Death Valley this past weekend. If they stay unbeaten and win the SEC there is no doubt they’ll be in Miami playing for the BCS National Championship. Who they’ll face is a lot more of a muddied situation.
Currently, Kansas State, Oregon and Notre Dame remain unbeaten amongst the teams eligible to play for all the chips. If all three remain unbeaten, it will be difficult (in my opinion) for the BCS to keep the Fighting Irish out of the big show. They bring a huge following and will be television ratings gold. Not to mention they’ll have finished undefeated against a pretty tough schedule with wins over Michigan, Michigan State, BYU, Stanford, giving a thumping to Oklahoma in Norman and (again, if unbeaten) a win out in the Coliseum over USC. The others can make decent cases, but none with a more compelling storyline nationally than the “return to prominence” of Notre Dame. While that’s my opinion, they likely won’t have the points to pass Oregon unless the Ducks lose their championship game to USC, a Trojan team that Notre Dame would have beaten one week prior.
Memo to Kansas State: regardless of where you are in the polls currently, expect the Ducks and Irish to edge you out unless they lose. This computer system picking the title game competitors has a way of taking name recognition into consideration.
The good news is that we likely will not have to suffer through another SEC rematch for the title especially if one of the other unbeaten should fall in a close game. LSU having two losses is out. Forget the ACC, unless everyone loses badly and Florida State convincingly beats Florida and then again convincingly wins their “championship” game in Charlotte.
The problem will arise should KSU lose to Texas and Oregon lose their conference championship game meanwhile Notre Dame stumbles against USC and Georgia somehow pulls off an upset over Alabama in the SEC title game in Atlanta. Should they win out and finish with one loss, we could very well see a one loss Georgia rematch one loss (by Georgia) Alabama. The Florida Gators could find themselves back in national title talks if that hopefully unlikely scenario plays out: Suppose Bama gets ripped by a shocking Georgia performance and the Gators blow out everyone else on their schedule? I still couldn’t really see Florida jumping one of the other one loss teams, but stranger things have happened.
Going back to my previous scenario where KSU-ND-Oregon all finish undefeated, a one loss Notre Dame would be a much more compelling and financially rewarding opponent than any of the others with one loss.
Are you still with me?
Oregon v Alabama seems to be the game everyone wants to see and it would be great television. The unstoppable force of the Duck offense against the immovable object of the Tide defense will have arguments in sports bars and twitter feeds at high intensity. But, to be honest and just my personal opinion, I’d like to see Notre Dame get a crack at Alabama for all the marbles. If they play out their schedule unbeaten they’ll have good reason to have a quiet confidence that they can beat anyone in the nation, including the feared SEC champion. It’ll certainly make me want to watch the game if for no other reason than to see if Notre Dame’s defense is as good as I think it is. Something to ponder: Don’t you think our Buckeyes could hang with Notre Dame, probably split ten games with them? If Notre Dame can go to Miami and hang around with Alabama and maybe even pull off an upset, it gives us a little bit of a barometer on where the Buckeyes are heading into 2013. And finally, if Bama is going to thump somebody in the title game: why not Notre Dame? Next to TTUN, is there anyone else you enjoy seeing get bashed more than the Domers?
But that Oregon v Bama game would be pretty sweet…
Wrap it up
The Buckeyes are in a good spot having a break to prep for Wisconsin and TTUN. An argument can be made that this bye comes at a bad time as the Bucks seem to be hitting their stride and going on all cylinders. I somewhat agree and can certainly see that point, but I trust Urban Meyer to not let them slip and keep them focused on the undefeated goal. Get yourself ready for two wars, it’s going to be a fun November! Until next week, Go Bucks!
Metallica track of the week
Let’s go back to 2009’s Mexico City dvd for one of my all-time favorite tracks, an absolute crusher that at the :52 mark can chop wood, get ready for Disposable Heroes-