"It's awful. Guys are still sore, banged up. That was a tough game. This was a downhill, sledgehammer game, and our guys are beat up."
- Urban Meyer, via Doug Lesmerises, Northeast Ohio Media Group
How likely is a Hawaii win against Ohio State in Columbus on Saturday? Not very, seeing as how the Buckeyes are (at press time) 41-point favorites over the Rainbow Warriors. But that discrepancy doesn't mean that Urban Meyer's team will be without issues when it takes the field for its home opener. For starters, the Buckeyes are playing on short rest coming off of a hard-fought win against a physical opponent. Those things take their toll, especially when the winners don't get back to campus until 4 am and have class at 8.
Doug Lesmerises cites that fatigue as one reason that Hawaii might have a fighting chance on Saturday. Another factor going in the Rainbow Warriors' favor is special teams. You may have noticed that Ohio State struggled a bit with those against Virginia Tech, missing a field goal and fumbling a punt that led to a VT touchdown (and the lead). The kicking battle is still more or less unresolved, and it remains to be seen who of the Jack Willoughby-Sean Nuernberger duo will take the reins for the rest of the season. Willoughby put a kickoff out of bounds and missed a 43-yarder against VT, while Nuernberger was just 13 of 20 last year on FG attempts.
Lesmerises also mentions Hawaii QB Max Wittek as a possible difference-maker in the game. Wittek, a USC transfer, has impressed head coach Norm Chow enough that he thinks they would have been bowl-eligible in 2014 had Wittek not been sitting out per NCAA transfer rules. He completed just 50% of his passes in Week 1 against Colorado, but he did throw for three touchdowns to go with two interceptions.
"If Ohio State manages to blow a game (unthinkable, I know), the tailwind of 'we're the defending champs' will meet the headwind of 'you didn't play anybody.'"
- Michael Bird, SBNation.com
Michael Bird's excellent report on the state of the Big Ten powers featured a dismaying statistic about one of the conference's most historically successful teams, Penn State: the helm of the team that mustered just 10(!) points against Temple(!) last week is manned by James Franklin, whose offensive S&P+ rankings since 2011 (with Vanderbilt, then PSU) are as follows -- 50, 61, 71, 109. It's not necessarily smart to slam the panic button after one week, but as Bird points out, good coaches tend to progress in year 2, not regress. The general consensus surrounding Penn State's dismal season in 2014 was that it was an outlier, a factor of the stress that comes with a coaching overhaul and a product of a young, inexperienced offensive line.
But if it's the rule, rather than the exception, that's not great news for teams like Ohio State and Michigan State. It's not the fault of either of those programs that the rest of the conference has been so milquetoast of late, but it remains their problem. An SEC team that loses to another SEC team can be forgiven. If Ohio State or Michigan State drop a conference game to anyone besides each other, you might see their playoff chances disappear like Penn State's o-line against a two-man rush.
Besides OSU and PSU, Michigan and Nebraska are two other B1G programs found in the top ten all-time CFB wins column. Both UM and the Huskers are led by first-year head coaches, so mediocre years from either team are understandable, if not desirable. But if they stay mired in the muck of slow progress after this season, it won't bode well for the conference (or for Ohio State's standing with the committee).
"I think this whole situation really has brought a lot of good out of Joey. That's especially true by the way he leads this team."
- Ohio State DT Tommy Schutt, via Tim May (The Dispatch)
Are you tired of hearing about Joey Bosa yet? Us either. The star defensive end, who was suspended for the team's opener against Virginia Tech, has been making his presence felt in other ways despite his absence on the field. For starters, per Tim May, coach Urban Meyer has taken notice of Bosa's efforts to right his mistakes since the suspension was passed down at the end of July.
"I saw what I hoped to see from him...and the kind of person he is, I kind of expected that. But I'm glad I did see it," Meyer said. The coach isn't the only one who has been impressed with Bosa's efforts, either. According to May, Bosa's linemate Tommy Schutt was very clear about how he and the team felt about the future first-round pick:
"Before he was kind of a quieter guy who led by example; now he is more of a vocal leader...I know he cannot wait to get back out there with us. He tells us that every day," Schutt said. That's great news for the Buckeyes, who will be thrilled to have back a guy who racked up 13.5 sacks last season. It's not great news for their remaining opponents, starting with Hawaii on Saturday.
STICK TO SPORTS:
- On this particular day of remembrance, be sure to check out ESPN's story on Welles Crowther, "the man in the red bandana." Bring tissues.
- In lighter news, PFTCommenter went to Mike Florio's house for an interview, and the results were predictably glorious.
- GARY CLARK, JR. BACK
- ICYMI, the Colbert interview with Joe Biden was an all-time great.
- The weirdest damn pig in the land (warning: kinda gross)