Thoughts on Last Week
For a while on Saturday, I was worried Ohio State was going to lose its second straight game and essentially end the season. Thankfully the Buckeyes held the Wildcats to a late field goal instead of a touchdown, and they lived to see another day. Clayton Thorson and Austin Carr looked like world beaters against our defense, and it took every ounce of effort to come out of that game with a victory.
There’s still a lot of room for improvement for this young Buckeye team, especially the passing game. It looked a bit better on Saturday, but it’s still not where it needs to be to get Ohio State into the playoff discussion.
The Cornhuskers are coming off their first loss of the season – against the Wisconsin Badgers – last weekend. Senior quarterback Tommy Armstrong leads the offense. He’s in his fourth year with the program, yet he remains very inconsistent. Armstrong has only completed 53 percent of his passes this season, and he’s thrown seven interceptions. The Buckeyes will need to contain him in the pocket and force him to make bad throws because he’s a dangerous runner if he escapes the pocket. Armstrong also has a very dangerous weapon on the outside in Jordan Westerkamp, who recently came back from an injury to add depth to the wide receiver position. Westerkamp’s also a senior, and if Nebraska watched last week’s game, they’ll try to utilize him the same way the Wildcats used Austin Carr. Running back Terrell Newby – another senior – enters the game averaging nearly 5 yards per carry. The Huskers are a very experienced group on both sides of the ball, and they should challenge the Buckeyes in every facet of the game.
The Buckeyes come into the game still searching for their offensive identity. It looked like things had finally clicked in the first quarter against Northwestern, but then it all disappeared. They stopped running Mike Weber even though he was having success, and the speed option has to go. Nebraska has the 20th best overall defense, and they’ll certainly challenge the Buckeye offense. Ohio State needs to establish the run early with Weber and Samuel and minimize the amount of times J.T. Barrett has to run with it. Barrett has to get a rhythm going with his wide outs, and hopefully someone can shine in addition to Samuel and Noah Brown.
At the time I wrote this, the spread was Ohio State by 14, but I think that’s way too generous. After what we’ve seen the past two weeks, this one will probably be down to the wire as well.
Prediction: Ohio State 27, Nebraska 21
A Fan’s Playoff Standings
- Alabama – Alabama was on a bye week last week, but they will remain No. 1 until they lose. They have been the most impressive team in college football in my eyes through nine weeks. They face a tough test this weekend as they travel to Baton Rouge to play the LSU Tigers in what is almost always a close game.
- Clemson – Clemson continues to remind me of the 2014 Ohio State championship team. A lot of close games and struggling against pretty easy opponents, but they come out on top when it matters. At this point, the Tigers should make it to the ACC title game undefeated.
- Washington – Utah sure gave the Huskies a run for their money on Saturday. Only a late punt return for a touchdown allowed the Huskies to escape Salt Lake with their undefeated record intact. A tough game against USC still looms, as well as the Apple Cup game against ranked Washington State to close the season.
- Michigan – The Wolverines took out Sparty on Saturday in revenge for last year’s heart break loss. The Wolverines’ defense looked vulnerable for the first time in a while, giving up 401 yards of offense – including 139 yards to LJ Scott on the ground. The Wolverines should remain undefeated until “The Game.”
A Fan’s Heisman Standings
- Lamar Jackson – Jackson might have had his ultimate Heisman moment on Saturday against the Cavaliers. Trailing by one late, Jackson drove the Cardinals down the field and hit Jaylen Smith on a perfect pass in the end zone for the come-from-behind victory that kept the Cardinals in the playoff hunt.
- Jake Browning – Browning didn’t have his best statistical game against Utah, but he still went into a hostile road environment against a tough opponent and churned out a win. If the Huskies remain undefeated, Browning will earn his way to New York.
- Deshaun Watson – The Clemson Tigers have managed to go undefeated by the skin of their teeth, and Watson is the main reason why. He steered the Tigers to 17 fourth quarter points to lead the comeback against Florida State, including the go-ahead touchdown with a little over two minutes remaining.
- Baker Mayfield – Mayfield had the easiest go of my Heisman picks last week. He completed 75 percent of his passes for 236 yards and four touchdowns against the Kansas Jayhawks before leaving the game in the 3rd quarter. Oklahoma closes out its season with games against three currently-ranked teams. If Mayfield can beat all of them, he may just end up with an invite to New York.