Well, well, well. My how the tables have turned thanks to the result of one game... no, not The Game. I’m talking about last night’s result in the Pac-12 Championship that saw the Utah Utes demolish the USC Trojans 47-24 in a game that essentially secures the Ohio State Buckeyes a slot in the College Football Playoff.
For the first time since the opening drive of last Saturday’s game, it felt as if all of Buckeye Nation was happy and celebrating their good fortune. While there are certainly those who (at least earlier in the week) do not want to see their favorite team in the playoff, as you will see below, it felt as though the fandom was the collective loved one of a condemned man who had just been given a reprieve.
While just five days ago, we were consumed with gloom and despair, we are all now optimistic about the future and quickly convincing ourselves that every single one of the complaints we had earlier this week will be magically resolved by New Year’s Eve.
So, although circumstances have clearly changed since this survey went out into the field, we asked Ohio State fans three burning questions about how they were feeling about things mid-week, so let’s take a look at the responses.
Question 1: If you could magically change one aspect of OSU’s on-field performance, what would it be?
I’m not going to lie, I thought that the offensive line answer would be a much more popular choice. I’m not surprised that lockdown corners won — because I think that is clearly the most glaring need for this team — I thought that given the affection for a traditional power running game amongst our fanbase that it would be much higher than 16%.
Nonetheless, after the loss to Michigan last weekend, I wrote that fixing the cornerback position through high school recruiting and the transfer portal was one of the most important jobs that Ryan Day and his staff had to address.
There were not enough scholarship cornerbacks on the roster when the season began and that was only exacerbated by a seemingly never-ending litany of injuries to the guys who were in that room.
But that third option is the one that I think will be the easiest to turn around quickly. While some of the injuries likely won’t be 100% by the time the CFP semis roll around, I do think that some of the key contributors will be closer to full strength. If OSU can get TreVeyon Henderson, Miyan Williams, and maybe even Jaxon Smith-Njigba, back healthy that will be an absolutely huge addition to their chances of winning it all.
Question 2: Do you still want Ohio State to make the College Football Playoff?
One-third of respondents to this question said that they did not want the Buckeyes to make the playoff, and I don’t think that I can fault them. I never want to tell anyone how to be a fan, but I, for one, am really excited about the Buckeyes’ opportunity to not only compete for a national title, but to redeem themselves in the eyes of the fans, national media, and even themselves.
Very few things are as dangerous as a talented team that has been written off and left for dead. I still think that there is a lot that Day and his coaches need to remedy before the semifinal matchup, but I think that this team is clearly talented enough to beat anyone that they line up against.
Question 3: How much more or less optimistic about the future of the Ohio State football program are you now than last week?
I imagine that this would be a bit different if we asked this question today instead of Wednesday, but clearly, coming off of the loss to Michigan, there was reason to be less optimistic than you were before. However, new life can be a rejuvenating thing. What once felt like a desperate, demoralizing situation can feel like an unbelievable opportunity when circumstances change.
Ohio State will be in the College Football Playoff, and I certainly am not going to bet against them.