Everybody knows that one of the best parts of being a sports fan is debating and dissecting the most (and least) important questions in the sporting world with your friends. So, we’re bringing that to the pages of LGHL with our favorite head-to-head column: You’re Nuts.
In You’re Nuts, two LGHL staff members will take differing sides of one question and argue their opinions passionately. Then, in the end, it’s up to you to determine who’s right and who’s nuts.
Today’s Question: Other than The Game, which second-half matchup are you most excited about?
Jami’s Take: At Northwestern
The Buckeyes technically have two big games remaining (Penn State and The Game), but we know college football sometimes has a few tricks up its sleeve. That’s why as a Buckeye fan, I hope the rest of our season is blowout wins (because rankings and playoffs and all that), but as a Chicagoan who has a soft spot for Northwestern and Pat Fitzgerald’s Wildcats, I am secretly most looking forward to that game (and hoping the Wildcats can – at the very least — not embarrass themselves). The Buckeyes take on the Wildcats in Evanston on November 5.
Something we know to be true about Northwestern is that they are rarely definitively good, but they do have some great sleeper moments, and they historically do have the ability to throw much better teams off their guard, especially if those teams are coming off a hard game with, I don’t know, the Nittany Lions.
While these Wildcats have been getting pretty curb-stomped this season, save for their Week 1 win against Nebraska (a team that was then-ranked and which we now know was HIGHLY overrated), they’re due for a morale boost. I won’t say “win” because I think the Buckeyes are playing the best football in the country right now (with Tennessee right up there on par with us).
I don’t really think Northwestern has a fighting chance at a victory BUT with a season like they’re having, a few fun plays and maybe a couple of scoring drives could be a nice morale boost for them.
It’s also a good time for the Buckeyes to wild out and try some fancy plays, and as a viewer, that’s always fun to watch.
Additionally, if the game goes the way I think it probably will, it’s a good opportunity for the Buckeyes to give some minutes to some new faces. It would be awesome to see some freshmen and second or third-string guys get playing time, both to see what they’re capable of and give them experience so they’re ready to go in the future.
While the Buckeyes’ remaining schedule is manageable, things happen that you can’t plan for (see: 2014 National Champions with a third-string quarterback), and if we can get more minutes to some of the other faces, it might be a good way to keep everyone prepared in case a situation arises that calls for the unexpected.
Ultimately, I think the Wildcats are due for a non-embarrassing loss, and while in the end they will likely be embarrassed by the Buckeyes, this game is a great chance for Pat Fitzgerald’s guys to show they’re not a total disgrace and for the Buckeyes to button up some things as they look toward The Game.
Matt’s Take: At Maryland
Like Jami, I am going with a game that will likely be a blowout, but there are a number of reasons to be excited about Ohio State’s trip to take on the Terps in late November. But, before we get into those factors, I want to run through the general reasons why I didn’t pick any of the more high-profile matchups.
This weekend’s Iowa game is going to be a slog, at least when watching Brian Ferentz’s anemic offense. I do think that we will get a decent idea of how the Buckeyes’ multi-faceted offense fares against an elite defense, I just don’t get any pleasure from watching downright terrible offenses. Of course, this will also mean that the OSU defense will have the opportunity to shine, but where’s the upside?
If Jim Knowles’ unit shuts Iowa out, they absolutely should have. But if they give up like 21 points, then we have to go through all of the worrying and handwringing about how good the defense actually is. No thank you. I’m totally over that discourse.
As for the trip to Happy Valley next week, I will simply direct you to this article that I wrote over four years ago:
Up next? Northwestern, and despite Jami’s well-argued position, I am in no way excited for that one. There’s also a decent shot that because of work travel, I won’t be able to watch it.
Then there’s Indiana, the same Indiana that has losses to Cincinnati, Nebraska, TTUN, and Maryland — not to mention an overtime, three-point victory over Western Kentucky. I’ll watch it, but certainly not looking forward to it for any reason other than seeing another Buckeye blowout.
That brings us to the Mighty Turtles of College Park. Will this be a “good” game? Likely not, but I do think that it has the potential to be entertaining, informative, and (perhaps most importantly) not that stressful.
Assuming that Taulia Tagovailoa is back and healthy by the Nov. 19 contest, this game could be the only game on the entire schedule that features a top-tier passing offense. Currently, the Terps are 25th nationally in passing offense, a full 51 spots above The Harboys. Mike Locksley’s offense is averaging just 16 fewer passing yards per game than the Buckeyes, though, they have actually had to pass the ball in the fourth quarter this year, while OSU has not.
Maryland’s passing attack interests me for two reasons, first, after a murderer’s row of traditional Big Ten, boring offenses of Iowa, Penn State, Northwestern, and Indiana, seeing a team competently throw the ball will likely be a breath of fresh air; and let’s be honest, throwing the ball is so much more entertaining than running it. And I know that Northwestern and Indiana are both in the top five of the Big Ten in passing yards per game, but that is mainly because they are two of the top three teams in the league in terms of attempts per outting. So, it’s not that they’re particularly good at passing the ball, just that they are forced to do it a whole heck of a lot.
Secondly (and obviously more informatively), after facing a cavalcade of rushing teams, I think it will be good to see the OSU defense go up against a quality passing attack. We all know the depths of difficulties that the cornerbacks have had this season, so hopefully in a month’s time, they will be healthy and have had enough game and practice reps to work through the issues that have plagued them thus far.
Depending on who OSU faces in the postseason (hopefully and presumably in the College Football Playoff), they will likely have to contend with an offense that can both run and pass. Unfortunately, unless something changes for TTUN, it doesn’t look like that’s in the cards for the regular season.
So, by mid-to-late November, the Buckeyes will have shown what they can do against running teams, so when they had to the Bay State for the final regular season road trip of 2022, it will be exciting to see how they stack up against a team that is capable of completing a forward pass.
Who has the right answer to today’s question?
This poll is closed
Jami: At Northwestern
Matt: At Maryland