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(BuckeyeSports members get 10% off their entire package)- First off, the way I saw the game the other night was the way I used to imagine games going when I was younger and played team sports. Whenever I wanted a team I was playing on to win, or a team I was rooting for to win, I always wondered what would happen if every player on my team played the best game of their lives THAT game? And THAT'S what happened for Ohio State.
- You hate to mention individual players, because I feel you could start at Joey Bosa and Michael Bennett, and go all the way through the roster to Brionte Dunn and Chris Carter and say each and every player was an A+. That is a credit to each player and each position coach. AND especially to the head coach.
- That being said, Cardale Jones put his name in the Ohio State history books the other night, regardless of what happens going forward. In the initial year of the college football playoff system, Jones put Ohio State into the game. He was given the entire playbook, and that shocked me. Seeing him perform at the level he did was even more stunning. Jones deserves a lot of credit for keeping his head in the program when it looked his career was over the day he was beaten out by J.T. Barrett. A silent thank you should go to Ted Ginn Sr. from all Buckeye fans as well.
- You always want big-game players on your side when it's Go-Time, and that player on this team is Devin Smith. It was easy for me to write last week that Smith had to come up big for Ohio State, because that's what he does and that's who he is. He was the one wide receiver on that field that was able to go out and put up a stat line that reads: 4 catches for 137 yards and 3 touchdowns. And that's exactly what he did. We've seen players that aren't fully appreciated until they're gone, and that will be Devin Smith's legacy at Ohio State.
- This team has gotten better and better throughout the year, and that's a credit to Meyer and the staff. It was also a trait that Jim Tressel possessed at Ohio State, and there's something to be said for having a team at their best when the games count the most. Add in having to use your second and third string quarterbacks makes it even more remarkable. This has been a great coaching effort, and I think people across the country are taking notice.
- There's no way to judge neutral fans across the country, but I believe Ohio State is going to be the sentimental favorite nationally. This is new ground for Ohio State, who is usually looked at as the bully from the bad conference, rather than the over achieving squad that keeps defeating the odds week by week. Everyone hates Alabama, mainly out of jealousy. This year, Florida State makes people root for Alabama. Oregon is Oregon. But Ohio State having to survive quarterback injuries and the death of a teammate should have them as the sentimental choice across the country.
- What about Alabama? Does Ohio State match up? First off, nobody has more raw talent than Alabama. And they have great coaching. They are a serious factor in the national championship hunt every year. And they will be either number-one or number-two to start 2015. And probably 2016. They are the gold standard. They win championships, national championships, not conference championships. Ohio State has one national title in 45 years, and we are talking about an elite program in college football. Alabama has three out of the last five, and are favored to win this one. They're good.
- That being said, they don't win every week and they don't win the title every year. Ohio State CLEARLY has the talent and the coaching to win this game. I felt the Vegas line would be 10 and that's where it is, and I think it's what it should be. Ohio State does not have to play at the level they did the other night to win, but they had better come close. The best time to play Alabama is in a bowl game after they've been eliminated from the national championship. Unfortunately, this isn't that scenario, and Ohio State will get the best they have. Which is how you want it. If you're going to beat them, you want it to count. Nobody gives a darn about last year's Oklahoma win over Alabama. People will take notice if Ohio State beats Alabama this year.
- I've seen Alabama a lot this year, and other than Ohio State, they are the team I watch the most. Ohio State can beat them, no doubt in my mind, but the path to victory isn't exactly the path to beating Michigan State or Wisconsin, but there are similarities. I like the matchup for Ohio State in some ways, but I think Oregon and/or Florida State would be better for them. But you get who you get, and you line up and take your shot. I expect Ohio State to play well. Really well.
- I'm not making any prediction for a month, because I want to take the month and see how things go. I want to talk to people involved, and see what the preparation is for both sides. The build-up to this game will be fun, and New Year's Day is going to be one of the best we've ever seen in the history of college football. I'm going to be in Orlando covering the Under Armour game, but I'm still looking forward to being in front of a television that evening.