Thoughts on Last Week
What a roller coaster of emotions last week was! Watching the first half was downright painful; the offense couldn’t sustain a drive, and the defense looked like they were out-schemed. Thankfully Ohio State was only down 10 at the half, and if there’s one thing I know about Urban Meyer teams, it’s that they come to play in the second half.
Sure enough, the Buckeyes outscored the Badgers 17-7 after the break. Tyler Durbin kicked the game-tying field goal with 3:57 on the clock, then the Buckeye defense managed to get the game into overtime.
I liked the Buckeyes’ chances in overtime. In fact, the game strongly reminded me of the 2014 Penn State game, from the way J.T. Barrett put the team on his shoulders, to the ending sack that was reminiscent of Joey Bosa’s walk-off sack against Christian Hackenberg. While my body still hasn’t recovered from the drama, it was great to see the Buckeyes persevere and continue their quest toward a national championship.
On Penn State
For the second week in a row, the Buckeyes face an opponent that has had two weeks to prepare for them. Penn State had a bye week after its trashing of Maryland, and the Nittany Lions should be ready. Quarterback Trace McSorley manages the attack – he can scramble when he needs to, unlike the traditional drop back passers the Buckeyes faced with Indiana and Wisconsin. Penn State’s real offensive threat, however, is the running back Saquon Barkley, who’s averaging 5 yards per carry and has eight touchdowns so far this season. Last season he ran the ball 26 times for 194 yards against the Buckeyes, so we know what he’s capable of. On the outside, the Buckeyes will have to shut down DeAndre Thompkins and DaeSean Hamilton, along with one-time Buckeye recruit Mike Gesicki.
Junior Marcus Allen leads the Lions defense. He plays safety, yet he leads the team in tackles and has four tackles for loss. Their other safety, Malik Golden, is their second-leading tackler. When your two safeties lead the team in tackles, that usually means there’s a problem stopping the running game. Penn State ranks 103rd in the nation on the ground, giving up nearly 210 yards per game, so the Buckeye attack should feature a heavy dose of Mike Weber and Curtis Samuel, along with a nice dash of Barrett.
I expect a bit of a slow start on Saturday night after the Buckeyes’ emotional night in Madison last week. I think they’ll shake off any lingering effects and get it going though. I don’t know about the 20-point spread, but I do think the Buckeyes win to get to 7-0.
Prediction: Ohio State 34, Penn State 17
A Fan’s Playoff Standings
- Alabama – Did I think Tennessee had a chance against the Tide? No. Tennessee has escaped a number of games this season, so I didn’t see them as a threat to take down No. 1. Alabama is clearly the top team in the country right now, and both sides of the ball are rolling.
- Ohio State – The Buckeyes went into a very hostile environment in Madison and came out winners despite a bleak first half. Barrett and the defense came up big in the second half, leading the Buckeyes to a key win on their road to winning the Big Ten.
- Clemson – Clemson almost Clemsoned against NC State, but the football gods were on their side as State’s kicker missed three field goals, including the would-be game winner as time expired. Deshaun Watson went on to throw a touchdown strike, and Tigers fans let out a sigh of relief.
- Washington – A bye week for the Huskies, and they didn’t move up or drop out of my top four. After digesting all the football so far, I still think they deserve the No. 4 spot ahead of teams like Michigan, Texas A&M, and even Louisville. Utah and USC stand in the way of a Pac-12 title birth.
A Fan’s Heisman Standings
- Lamar Jackson – Although Louisville didn’t look overly impressive against the Duke Blue Devils, it still got another win, and Jackson accounted for 325 yards of total offense and two touchdowns. The Cardinals face off against NC State this weekend, who gave Clemson trouble last week.
- Jake Browning – He had a bye week, yet he moved up two spots? Yeah, well, the two guys I had above him didn’t have their best games, and Browning is putting up ridiculous numbers that should get better after this week as the Huskies take on 2-4 Oregon State.
- J.T. Barrett – I dropped Barrett one spot because his passing game still has me concerned. Nevertheless, he led the Buckeyes out of Madison with a win, and he did a lot of it himself - accounting for 318 yards and three touchdowns. Penn State’s White Out comes calling this weekend.
- Deshaun Watson – Clemson reminds me of the 2015 Ohio State Buckeyes. They aren’t playing up to their potential, but they keep winning by some slim margins. Watson doesn’t look like the same confident guy we saw last year, but he continues to will the Tigers to wins. He accounted for 413 yards and three touchdowns last week against NC State, including the overtime winner.