The game against the Buckeyes was always going to peak some interest from the neutral, but with the injury to Ohio State’s Heisman hopeful quarterback Braxton Miller last week the contest gained another layer of mystery. The Vegas line alone tells you that Miller dropping out of the game has made a difference. The day that Miller reinjured his shoulder the Buckeyes were -19 to beat the Mids. Today that line has closed in to -13 and is still shrinking.
If we are being honest there are plenty of reasons why that line should actually be closer. In addition to a quarterback who has never thrown a collegiate pass (more on that later), the Buckeyes are also unsettled on the offensive line, have no wide receivers who have stood out to be counted on, and have starter and depth issues at running back due to injuries. Obviously when you recruit at the level which Ohio State does then there is going to be talent all over the place, but it seems at this point, offensively at least, that the talent may not be as fully meshed as Urban Meyer would like with just days left until the beginning of the season.
The Buckeyes are not used to being tested on opening day. They have traditionally scheduled soft games at Ohio Stadium (2013 Buffalo, 2011 Akron, 2008 Youngstown State, etc.) and the last opener the Buckeyes were truly tested in was the game against the Mids in 2009 in which they sneaked out a four point win. It is worth noting therefore that this game will not be taking place in Columbus, but rather in Baltimore with Navy as the de facto home team.
The biggest talking point as we get closer to kick off is, of course, the sudden (and enforced) promotion of J.T. Barrett to the starting quarterback job. Barrett has similarities to Miller on the field, but he is unlikely to be as elusive in the run game as the injured starter was when he was at his best. Barrett has been praised for his intelligence and decision making on the field, but there is a huge difference between making those reads in practice and making them in the heat of battle with pass rushers flying in from all angles.
This was supposed to be the launching point to a Heisman campaign for the winning quarterback. It still could be, but not in the way most analysts initially thought.
Ohio State could get another fight
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