Thoughts on Last Week
I worried Ohio State might be in trouble last week when Indiana came out and scored immediately after halftime; needless to say, I was unimpressed with the Buckeyes' performance. Luckily, Ohio State's defense was able to rise to the challenge and shut down the Hoosiers the rest of the afternoon, including a huge fourth down stop that would have cut the lead to seven late in the game.
I continue to have concerns about the wide receiver position. They've had one good game with Noah Brown against Oklahoma, but other than that, they just aren't producing. I know the talent level is there, but they're struggling to find ways to get open or separate from defenders. The passing game has to show up soon if the Buckeyes want to keep winning against other Big Ten opponents like Wisconsin and certainly Michigan.
The Buckeyes travel to Madison this weekend to take on the rested Wisconsin Badgers at Camp Randall. The Badgers come in having lost their last match-up to the Michigan Wolverines 14-7 in a tightly contested defensive battle. They're now starting redshirt freshman quarterback Alex Hornibrook after Bart Houston struggled against Georgia State in their third game. Hornibrook hasn’t impressed me so far, and the Buckeyes – forgive the blasphemy – should try to emulate the Wolverines, whose defensive scheme caused him to panic all day and forced three interceptions. Wisconsin’s defense is as stout as always, and they're led by J.J. Watt’s little brother T.J. He's accounted for 5.5 sacks already this season, and he makes his presence felt all over the field.
The Buckeyes need to find a rhythm early offensively if they want to come out of Madison with a win. I'm not sure if a performance like last week will get the job done against the Badgers. I expect Wisconsin to load the box and force J.T. Barrett to make passes. Running the ball on them will be difficult, but the Badgers haven’t faced a dual-threat quarterback like J.T. so far this season, so his read-option ability will be something to keep an eye on. If he can find some throws early and get the Badger defense guessing, then that will open up running lanes for Curtis Samuel and Mike Weber. Speaking of Samuel, he needs to get more touches either in the wildcat or some jet sweeps. Ohio State is underutilizing his speed, and when you have a dynamic playmaker like him, you need to get the ball in his hands as much as possible.
I see a tough game under the lights this weekend, but I think the Buckeyes will work through their issues this week in practice. They should come out looking much better on offense, and the defense should easily shut down Wisconsin's anemic attack.
Prediction: Ohio State 34, Wisconsin 13
A Fan’s Playoff Standings
- Alabama – Moved the Tide back to No. 1 after last week after their win over ranked Arkansas. Jalen Hurts looks like the real deal at QB, and he accounted for four touchdowns to lead Alabama to the 49-30 win. The Crimson Tide travel to Tennessee this weekend in what should be a good match-up.
- Ohio State – A ho-hum 21-point win over Indiana drops the Buckeyes to No. 2. J.T. Barrett couldn’t seem to get his passes on target, and the entire game seemed a little off. Let’s hope it gets back on track this weekend at Wisconsin.
- Clemson – I mean, everyone expected Clemson to handle Boston College, so their 56-10 thrashing of the Eagles wasn't a surprise. Deshaun Watson looked good on the deep ball, and the Tigers are back on track after some early-season struggles.
- Washington – The Huskies continue to impress me with their juggernaut offense. Jake Browning has 23 touchdowns and only 2 picks this season, and he's running the offense about as well as anyone in the country right now. If they weren’t a west coast team, I think they'd be getting a lot more press.
A Fan’s Heisman Standings
- Lamar Jackson – Jackson was on a bye week after their thriller with Clemson. He looks to add to his already impressive touchdown total of 28 this week as Louisville hosts the Duke Blue Devils.
- J.T. Barrett – J.T. didn’t look very Heismanesque on Saturday throwing the football, as he completed only nine passes. However, he did finish the game as the leading rusher and scored two touchdowns. Let’s see how he does this week at Camp Randall.
- Deshaun Watson – Watson has put himself right back into the conversation for the Heisman with great back-to-back games against Louisville and Boston College. He had four TD passes as the Tigers beat the Eagles 56-10 on Friday night.
- Jake Browning – Washington sure seems legit now, don’t they? Led by sophomore Jake Browning, the Huskies are 6-0 and rolling. Browning notched 11 total touchdowns in big wins against Stanford and Oregon.