The holiday season is here, and even Columbus, Ohio has been affected by it. The football players have a few days off and most students have gone home, but the basketball team still has some games to take care of in the Schottenstein Center. These student athletes are working hard to win their games, but they might need some help from a jolly old Santa Claus. Here are five things that Ohio State athletics has on their holiday wishlist.
1. Healthy quarterbacks. When Braxton Miller went down in August, Buckeye Nation held their breath as a redshirt freshman would be staring for Ohio State. J.T. Barrett stepped in and had a great season. Barrett's 2834 passing yards and 45 total touchdowns even had him in some Heisman talks, but he suffered a broken ankle in the Michigan game.
Ohio State again had doubt in their mind as another unproven quarterback had to take over the starting role from a Heisman contender. Cardale Jones was doubted, and the Buckeyes were even listed as the underdog against Wisconsin in the Big Ten Title game, but Jones prevailed as was name the game's MVP. The Buckeyes are wishing that Jones can stay healthy because Ohio State does not need Jalin Marshall or Stephen Collier seeing their first action at quarterback against Alabama.
2. Zone defense. The Ohio State basketball team has looked great against lesser competition this year, but the zone defense, implemented by Thad Matta, has struggled against the only ranked opponents the Buckeyes have faced. The zone has seemed penetrable by Louisville and North Carolina, both losses for Ohio State, but Ohio State is asking Santa for a chance to keep playing the zone.
Zone defenses need time to gel, and giving up on it at this point in the season would be Ebeneezer Scrooge like. Ohio State just needs to stay patient and let the zone defense grow up. If the zone finds its way, then Ohio State's offense has enough firepower to lead Ohio State to victories in Big Ten conference play.
3. No missed field goals. Sean Nuernberger was given a difficult task this year, replacing Drew Basil. Basil was a staple of the Ohio State team. Nuernberger has done a good job, but he has missed seven field goals this season. Two of those misses came in Ohio State's only loss against Virginia Tech back in September.
Ohio State needs to play perfect special teams in order to give Alabama all that they have got in the Sugar Bowl. The Buckeyes cannot afford to leave points on the field vs. the Crimson Tide. Ohio State is hoping that Santa brings great special team play this year.
4. Buckets. The Ohio State basketball team has been much more explosive offensively early in this season, but as mentioned above they have only played two worthy opponents. Led by freshman D'Angelo Russell, the Buckeye offense has been averaging over 80 points this season, which is up from 69.5 last year.
For this holiday season, the Buckeyes are hoping that Santa brings more buckets in his giant red bag. Ohio State has the capability to score with Russell and Marc Loving hitting shots and Shannon Scott dishing out dimes. More baskets will definitely be on the list for Ohio State as the season progresses.
5. The big one. Every year the best present is saved for last. The giant box tucked behind the tree that holds the most prized object of the season. For this season, a trip to Dallas on Jan. 12 tops the Buckeyes' wish list. Ohio State has a chance to make that dream present come true, but they have to wait until a week after Christmas to find out for sure if the big one is for real or a fake out.
Ohio State is the underdog in the Sugar Bowl, but they overcame underdog status at Michigan State and against Wisconsin this season. Alabama's defense has not been as great this year, but it is still very stout. Ohio State still puts a chance for the national title at the top of their list, and St. Nicholas Saban stands in their way.
Ohio State should be on the nice list this season after overcoming a lot of adversity on the football field, but the Sugar Bowl still looms in the New Year.