"What I think is really comforting about this whole thing is the way Cardale has handled it. He's gone into the game, he's won us a game. The way they practice, the way they maintain that incredible relationship. Because that, for the normal human, I imagine that [competition] would drive a stake between two people that are very, very close."
It's taken over 10 weeks, but Ohio State finally has their quarterback situation taken care of. From the decision haunting Urban Meyer all offseason, to Cardale Jones being named the starter and the integration of J.T. Barrett as a redzone quarterback, it's been quite the story to follow all season. Throw in the Barrett suspension, and you get even more of a headache. But the Buckeyes are all business heading into their matchup against Michigan State, with Barrett the clear starter and Cardale Jones at the ready in the wings just in case.
The quarterback position wasn't supposed to play out like this. At least, it wasn't supposed to be still up in the air late into the season. But that's exactly what happened, and although to this point it has hurt Ohio State to this point, the Buckeyes have things in order just in time for their two biggest games of the season. If everything goes according to plan, Ohio State will be back in the Big Ten championship game with a chance to make the College Football Playoff for the second straight season.
"It seems like we step up in big games the past couple years. That's kind of how we go about our business. In big games, we play big."
The schedule Ohio State played in 2015 wasn't much to get excited about. Other than a revenge game against Virginia Tech in the opening week of the season, the Buckeyes haven't been met with an opponent that could match them on the field even with lackluster performances from the offense. Now, Michigan State and Michigan both await the undefeated Buckeyes, looking to dethrone the reigning national and Big Ten champions. For Ohio State, it's a terrific test of what its capable of doing against legitimate contending competition.
One could argue that Urban Meyer's team has struggled with complacency, as the Buckeyes seemingly have slopped their way to a 10-0 record. Despite being undefeated, Ohio State just hasn't passed the look test by any means, and seem to sleepwalk through a lot of their games. The only game where the team seemed to be hyper-focused was against Virginia Tech, and now they'll get a chance to go head-to-head with the Spartans, one of the best in the Big Ten the past couple of seasons.
"The rise of the Ohio State-Michigan State series coincided with the fade to irrelevance by Michigan. The Spartans and Buckeyes were playing for titles, while the Wolverines mostly played for pride. That looks like it is changing, which means the days of Michigan State-Ohio State serving as the league's marquee matchup could be ending."
As mentioned above, Michigan State has been the team to beat for Ohio State the past handful of seasons in the Big Ten. The Spartans, coached by Mark Dantonio (a former defensive coordinator for the Buckeyes), have carried on the traditional Big Ten play. A strong defense and a solid run game have defined the Spartans en route to several seasons with 10 or more wins, including big bowl wins in the Rose Bowl and most recently against Baylor in the Cotton Bowl.
The article mentions that the Spartans have sort of filled a void left by a fading Michigan team during the past couple of years as the Wolverines struggled to compete with the best in the conference, but with the hiring of Jim Harbaugh, it seems as if Michigan could be making their return back to the top tier of the Big Ten. Narrowly losing to Michigan State on a botched punt in the final seconds, the Wolverines will host Ohio State with a high ranking in the College Football Playoff poll (provided they don't lose to Penn State) and could still have a shot at making the Big Ten championship game. But Michigan State isn't going to go away as a marquee game for Ohio State, and it looks like the Buckeyes will still have their work cut out for them each season.
"Yes, there's a lot of similarities. J.J. is obviously a great player and he's proven it at the next level. Joey, in my opinion, is going to do the same. You see the path that Joey's been on here in the last year-and-a-half and the improvement that he's made just throughout this season, it's been tremendous. He's very disruptive."
Joey Bosa has been drawing comparisons to J.J. Watt since the end of last season, and maybe even before then. The junior defensive end has been a nightmare for opposing teams, causing all kind of mayhem to opposing quarterbacks and in the backfield. Considered one of, if not the best defensive player in college football, Bosa is likely in his final year at Ohio State given that he could be a top pick in the upcoming NFL draft. While he hasn't said one way or the other on whether he's jumping to the NFL or not, it's more than likely he'll do so.
But the comparisons to Houston Texans' defensive star J.J. Watt aren't just convenient, as the two do share many similarities on the football field. Watt is considered the best defensive player in the NFL at defensive end and played his college ball at Wisconsin. The two are both large in size and quite intimidating, not to mention disruptive enough to cause teams to double and even triple-team them at times.