“Last week we told you that Ohio State had made a move towards the top, and had the fourth best chance of all teams to reach the promised land. Well, fast forward a week, put up 76 points, watch other teams struggle a bit, and the Buckeyes have now moved up to the third most likely team to get into the four team playoff.”
- Phil Harrison, USA Today
There are all sorts of advanced statistics and analytics in the sporting world, and a few of those attempt to tell us which college football teams are performing at the highest level. It is sometimes difficult to tell who the best teams in the country are at any given time, especially early in the year when competition is usually not the best. Luckily, the people at FiveThirtyEight have crunched some of the numbers for us, and using their model, Ohio State has the third-highest odds of making the College Football Playoff.
The Buckeyes sit in the No. 3 spot with a 42 percent chance of making the four-team postseason, with an equal chance of winning the Big Ten. Ahead of OSU is Clemson (78%) and Alabama (45%), and trailing just behind is Oklahoma (37%) and Georgia (35%). The Bucks also have the third highest chance of winning the National Championship at 12 percent, again behind only the Tigers (24%) and Crimson Tide (17%). If you were curious, the same model gives Michigan a three percent chance of winning the conference, and just a two percent chance to make the playoff.
The FiveThirtyEight model is not the only system that has Ohio State as one of the four best teams in the country, however, as the team’s play thus far has moved them up to No. 3 in FPI as well. ESPN’s rating system gives the Scarlet and Gray a 56.1 percent to win the Big Ten and a 24.3 percent chance to finish undefeated, despite having a higher strength of schedule (10) than the two teams ahead of them in Alabama (40) and Clemson (59).
With a win over Nebraska, the Buckeyes’ playoff odds move up slightly to 46 percent, however a loss would be incredibly damaging — moving it all the way down to 20 percent.
“Major programs continued to recruit [Adrian] Martinez, and he committed first to Cal, then to Tennessee and finally to the Cornhuskers. Ohio State never offered a scholarship. Day, however, said the Buckeyes were ‘very close’ to doing so.”
- Nathan Baird, Cleveland.com
Nebraska quarterback Adrian Martinez is one of the most dynamic players in the Big Ten, and undoubtably the best offensive player Ohio State has faced so far this season. The sophomore is off to an incredible start for the Cornhuskers this season, already piling up over 1,000 passing yards with seven touchdowns and only two interceptions, while adding another 235 yards on the ground and three rushing TDs. The dual-threat playmaker is clearly extremely talented, but why did he never receive an offer to play at Ohio State?
Ryan Day answered that question in his pressor this week, stating it was due to uncertainty. Martinez, a multi-sport athlete, tore his labrum playing basketball, forcing him to miss his senior season at Clovis High School in Fresno, California. While major programs still continued to pursue the young QB, Day said it was hard for OSU to an extend a scholarship offer without any senior film to draw on.
That doesn’t mean, however that the Buckeyes head coach didn’t like what he saw from Martinez earlier in his high school career. Day said he “fell in love’ with Martinez during a recruiting visit to Ohio State, liking his competitive attitude and leadership qualities. Day said he ultimately had a feeling Martinez was going to be a special player, and that he has a very bright future in college football and beyond.
Day will have to find a way to slow down Martinez this weekend when the Buckeyes head into Lincoln. A player that the head coach called “by far the best quarterback we’ve seen” should be a good test for an Ohio State defense that has played out of this world so far.
“Multiple sources have indicated that the plan all along was to have Cooper back to 100 percent for the trip to take on the Huskers and their dangerous offense. That appears to be right on schedule as he’s been more active in practice and during pre-game settings as he works back from his high-ankle sprain.”
- Austin Ward, Lettermen Row
As previously stated, Ohio State’s defense has been superb in the early goings of the season, and that is without one of its biggest playmakers along the defensive line in Jonathon Cooper. Well, while the coaching staff has not yet confirmed anything, it appears as though the defensive end will be ready to go for the first time in 2019 this weekend against Nebraska. In fact, the defensive line as a whole should be a lot healthier as we head into week five.
Cooper has missed all four of the teams games this season as he recovers from a high ankle sprain. The senior edge rusher was forced into a huge role last year, as he filled in for the injured Nick Bosa, and continued to start at defensive end for the remainder of the season. Cooper more than held his own, having his best year to date with 25 total tackles, 6.5 tackles for loss, 2.5 sacks and a fumble recovery. His presence opposite Chase Young would be a huge boost to a d-line that has already performed at an extremely high level.
Ohio State should also be returning Robert Landers, and potentially Tyreke Smith as the reinforcements just seem to keep on coming. Landers sat out the Miami game in what appeared to be just a precautionary measure, and there is no indication he should miss additional time as one of the Buckeyes’ anchors up the middle will likely suit up this weekend. Smith is a bit more of a question mark, but after a full pregame workout last game showing no signs of pain, it would not be surprising to see the sophomore DE return to action as well.
It is hard to believe the Ohio State defense could play any better than they have thus far, especially with much tougher opponents on the horizon. However, with the return of Cooper and a few other guys, the Buckeye defense should have no problem continuing its hot start and keeping the opposition off the scoreboard.
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