Welcome to this week’s I Got Five on it, where I can’t even begin to describe how happy I was for last week’s bye. Not having to write anything after Ohio State didn’t even have the decency to lose to Purdue by only like five or 10 points was truly a blessing.
Anyway, we’re back on the grind as the Buckeyes play 2-6 Nebraska in a game that’s much scarier than it should be on paper. Despite the Cornhuskers’ record, this should be an excellent test of the progress — or lack thereof — the Buckeyes have made in fixing the vast array of issues we’ve seen for the past month-plus.
This game probably has a bit more significance for me than the average Ohio State fan. I grew up in Boulder, Co. so I’ve got a special pocket of hate in my heart for Nebraska that even conference re-alignment can’t extinguish. CU already beat them in hilarious fashion this season, and not even Joe Bauserman could stop my dreams of Ohio State making it 2 for 2 (only Greg Schiano can do that).
I’d say that’s enough about my selfish interests, but it’s time to get into five other things I’m thinking/watching for tomorrow:
I’ve heard a few people say things like “Why is Ohio State wearing all black uniforms for a noon kick?” or “A crowd blackout during the day doesn’t make sense!” which I very much disagree with for a couple reasons:
- Blacking out during the day - actually good.
- I like when Ohio State switches up the home unis, because the current shoulder stripes are terrible and ruin the whole thing.
In fact, I love these alternates so much that I did some terrible edits to see how they’d look on past Buckeyes:
[Woody Hayes plans to assault me from beyond the grave]
Pretty close to tomorrow’s look.
What would have been the hottest alternate uni in Ohio State history?
Obviously, I think these uniforms will look great, just like they did against Penn State in 2015.
Big chunks [Quavo voice]
This isn’t a shocker, but Ohio State hasn’t been very good at generating big plays running the ball this season. Only eight of their 48 plays of 20-plus yards have come on the ground, and it’s been baffling to watch J.K. Dobbins and Mike Weber struggle to even get to the second level of defenses. Can they get back on track against Nebraska?
The raw numbers say yes. Nebraska’s run defense has been extremely giving (117th in Rushing marginal explosiveness), and is right behind Ohio State’s in giving up 20-plus yard runs. Dobbins and Weber should have much more room to work with than they have in previous weeks. Can the line even give that to them though?
Here’s Ohio State’s rushing game log for the season, and boy are the last five games ugly:
For a program that prides itself on being built around the offensive line, it’s easy to see where the struggles stem from. With a full week to recuperate, prepare, and work out their issues, even a bad Nebraska run defense is going to be a legitimate measuring stick to see whether it’s going to get any better, or continue to hold the team back.
As you can see from this week’s header that’s so good it needs to be used on this page twice, I’m all in on a big day from Binjimen Victor. With Austin Mack’s unfortunate injury probably sidelining him for the rest of the season, it’s not only Victor’s time, but his best chance to really showcase what he can do.
Victor has long been one of my low-key favorites, and is the best big-play threat on the offense:
As talented as the rest of the receivers are, there isn’t anyone else in that group that can make a play like that, or go up and snatch a ball the way that Victor can.
While he definitely has some inconsistencies, I think most of that is due to spotty playing time; an obstacle he isn’t going to face for the rest of the season. I’m betting he makes the most of it.
The after-loss effect
One of the things that’s kept Ohio State among the top programs in the country is their ability to bounce back. In the rare event that they lose a game, it’s usually followed up with a win. Meyer’s only lost back-to-back games once in Columbus (2013 Michigan State, Clemson), and there’s been a few examples of his teams rebounding strong after bad Ls.
It’s never great to lose, but I very much believe that certain teams need to drop a game here and there to reach the next level. In the 2015 Michigan and 2017 Michigan State games, Ohio State looked like a team that got their asses kicked the week before, and used it to finally lock in. We’ll see if the Purdue game represents that for this group of players and coaches, but the precedent is there.
As the calendar turns to November, it’s a good time to remind yourself that this is the month that shit gets real in college football. Some of the sport’s most memorable moments belong to November, and championship runs will either be built, or fall apart in the next 28 days.
The goods news is that no one has been better on this stage recently than Ohio State:
The two losses are the most disgusting in recent memory, but the Buckeyes have been mostly flawless en route to giving themselves an opportunity to either make the Big Ten Championship, or end up in the Playoff.
It remains to be seen whether this group can pull off something similar. With games left against Michigan State and Michigan, it will be far from easy, but they’ve proven capable before. It all starts again tomorrow.