Bank Blog: Ohio State's Drive For Five

The preliminaries are over for Ohio State, and they are now down to what they hope will be a five-game run to a repeat national championship. How is this team currently constructed to achieve that goal?

- Play time is over, and it's time to let the games begin. After playing ten teams that aren't really all that good at playing football, Ohio State heads into the teeth of their schedule. They are looking to go on a five-game run that concludes with a repeat national title. Can they do it? 

- WHAT DOES VEGAS SAY? This might not mean much to some folks, but when someone backs their opinion with millions of dollars that gets my attention. The people that put their money where their mouth is say unequivocally "YES." A look at the current odds has Alabama as a slight favorite at 5-2. Ohio State is next at 3-1. Clemson follows at 7-2. Everyone else is 8-1 and above. Iowa is at 20-1. Michigan State is 40-1. Michigan is 85-1. The people that put their azzes on the line, not their mouths, certainly are willing to tell us that Ohio State definitely CAN win. In fact, Vegas thinks there's a good chance they will win it all. 

- WHAT ABOUT THE OFFENSE? It has to get better. It doesn't have to be dominant. It needs to stop turning the darn football over. They need to cut down on penalties. They need to throw the football better. Are these impossible obstacles to overcome? Are you kidding me? This is not like asking bad players to beat good teams, a near impossibility. This is asking 11 players, most of which will play in the NFL, TO DO THEIR JOBS. Is that asking for miracles? For Taylor Decker, Zeke Elliott, Mike Thomas, Jacoby Boren, Pat Elflein, Nick Vannett, Jalin Marshall, Braxton Miller, J.T. Barrett and Billy Price to play football the way they are supposed to? For Chase Farris, he needs coached up to be better than he was last week at Illinois. He doesn't need to be Orlando Pace. He needs to be average. 

- WHAT ABOUT THE DEFENSE? To quote the immortal philosopher Gene Chizik, it's all about DWWD. As in Do What We Do. They need to stay healthy, because the depth is a huge dropoff. The 11 guys they throw out there right now are as good as anyone has. They can stop the run. They can stop the pass. They are all three-down players, which is a huge factor. This group isn't perfect, but their best is more than good enough to win five straight games. They got rolled by Michigan State last year, so they need to make things right this week. Connor Cook threw for 358 yards and two touchdowns with no interceptions last year. Jeremy Langford ran for 137 yards and scored three touchdowns last year. Anything near those numbers again and Michigan State will win. 

- WHAT ABOUT THE COACHING? The best part of this coaching staff? They don't lose many games. Is the offense running at peak efficiency under Urban Meyer, Ed Warinner and Tim Beck? Nope. Are these three good enough at offense to devise a plan that let's Ohio State play well? I certainly think so. Never underestimate how much J.T. Barrett hurt this team by getting suspended just at the time he is back as the leader. That's not on the coaching staff. Player selfishness and stupidity is on the player. He set this team back and it showed offensively against Illinois. Barrett should be better this week. The system in place to run the zone read is tough to stop with Barrett operating at his best. This staff needs to have him at his best for five more games. That's on them. For Chris Ash? He's as good as there is on the defensive side of the ball. He knows how to take away what an opponent does best. For Meyer? He wins big games. LOTS of them. 

- WHAT ABOUT THE OPPONENTS? For the Big Ten teams, it's pretty simple to me: Ohio State's best beats anyone else's best. Including Michigan State, Michigan and Iowa. But Ohio State not at their best could lose to any of the three. Nationally? I'm not sold on Alabama, and maybe I'm way off base there. I just do not see them as dominant. Clemson? They could lose in the ACC finals. Notre Dame? Good team for sure, but dominant? Who is the great team in college football this year? ANSWER: NOBODY. There's no team Ohio State needs to fear or avoid. They just need five straight top performances. 

- WHAT ABOUT THE INTANGIBLES? Here lies the unanswerable question. Is this team driven enough and disciplined enough to be at their best for five straight games? When they haven't played five really good games yet? Only they can answer that question. From the suspensions last summer, to the QB issues, to the mistakes on the field for most of the year, this has not been an easy year for Urban Meyer. He is known as the master motivator. Can he get this team to be at their best for five straight games? We will get 20% of that answer this coming Saturday. 

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