Bank Blog: Is All Hope Lost?

Ohio State heads to Michigan this Saturday on the heels of a disappointing performance in a loss to Michigan State. Can this team still make it into the college football playoffs?

- Last week's article was titled "Drive For Five", and dealt with the prospect of Ohio State sweeping the remaining games on the schedule. That was the most direct path to a repeat national championship, but that road was closed off by Mark Dantonio and his team. What comes next? Can Ohio State still get to the playoffs? 

- Last year was an outlier of sorts, in that even with four teams being admitted into the playoffs for the first time, things went pretty much according to plan. Four conference title winners got in, and the Big 12 got left out. That will more than likely not happen this year. This is the Crazy Season in college football, and we've seen so much of it over the years. Ohio State was on the wrong end of crazy last week, losing at home to the Spartans without Connor Cook. 

- Can there be more craziness? Without question there can, and probably will be more to come. Ohio State's best path to the playoffs is still winning the Big Ten, and beating Iowa for the conference championship. To do that, they must first beat Michigan, which won't be easy. Then they need some craziness, with Penn State upsetting Michigan State. What are the odds of that happening? To quote Las Vegas, the odds of an Ohio State/Penn State daily double is a 14-1 payout, not 500-1. A $10 bet on Ohio State and Penn State winning would pay back $140. 

- Assuming Ohio State beats Michigan, and that is an absolute MUST, there is still a slim path in, even with a Michigan State win over the Nittany LIons. There are tons of scenarios that would involve losses by the teams ahead of the Buckeyes. This would involve full blown craziness, and that is entirely possible, assuming Ohio State takes care of business. An 11-1 Ohio State team, with a win over Michigan, is still a highly-ranked team. 

- Beating Michigan in Ann Arbor will not be an easy task. Ohio State is coming off a pitiful offensive showing against Michigan State. The defense wore out late in the game. Players openly questioned the coaching they received. Players openly talked about not returning next season. Turmoil and chaos, right? 

- Urban Meyer is most dangerous as an underdog, and especially dangerous after being embarrassed, and make no mistake about it, he was thoroughly embarrassed last week. He is an offensive guru, and enjoys having that reputation. What people saw last week was anything but guru-ish. History shows he will have this team prepared, focused and ready to play well. Will it be good enough? 

- Of Meyer's four losses at Ohio State, two have been at home and the other two were at neutral sites. He has never lost a true road game at Ohio State, and this is consistent with his career as a head coach. He places huge emphasis on rivalry games, and a look at his record shows he has dominated his main rival at every turn. 

- What about the stars? What about the saying that "big time players make plays in big games?" There are a lot of potential first round picks on this team. Will Joey Bosa have a monster game? Will Zeke Elliott run for over 200 yards? Will Taylor Decker dominate his oppoent? It's time for the stars of this team to step up and play like stars, but will they? This is the week for it. 

- As far as the team goes, they will have to play their best game of the year to beat Michigan. They will need to put aside playing time issues, NFL draft status issues and discipline issues. They will need to find a way to execute at a level that hasn't been reached this season. Which of the returning starters are having dramatically better years than they did last year? ANSWER: Very few. The bulk of last year's championship team needs to play at the level which saw them beat Wisconsin, Alabama and Oregon. We've only seen flashes this year of THAT team. Can they become THAT team for three hours this coming Saturday? 

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