National writers should just stay away because their stories are generally a waste of everyone's time. OK, perhaps not the time of the writers themselves, because they still get paid, but those who don't know about the Buckeyes will come away with an inaccurate picture and those who do have a clue will probably waste the rest of their afternoon hyperventilating on a message board.
Anyway, the overall inaccuracy of the national perception of this Buckeye team is reaching laughable proportions.
The trend actually started after the primetime win over Purdue Oct. 6. After that game,
The Sporting News wrote of the 3-3-5 defense "Ohio State hadn't shown all year," and Craig Krenzel twin Todd Boeckman, and author Tom Dienhart gave voice to anonymous coaches of OSU opponents who claimed Chris Wells is overrated and the Buckeyes lack a big-play wide receiver.
In reality, Ohio State deployed the 3-3-5 in all of its first six games – as pointed out by OSU defensive coordinator Jim Heacock in postgame interviews in West Lafayette – and Brian Robiskie has a better yards-per-catch average than all but two of the nation's top 32 receivers. Astute readers might recall he caught a couple of deep ones last season as well.
Boeckman as Krenzel? The current quarterback has a better arm but is nowhere near the scrambler Krenzel was. Boeckman also lacks a win over Michigan, which was not true of Krenzel at this point in the 2002 season. It is yet to be seen if he has Krenzel's iron will.
Wells? His next step to becoming an elite back may have occurred since that TSN story, but the folks in Washington might have already told you he is pretty good.
With the Buckeyes ascending to No. 1 in the nation last week, the attention grew, of course, and we were blessed with a weighing in from the New York Times.
That paper first put forth the idea that schools such as Notre Dame, Texas or USC would be called dynasties had they won 26 of 27 games (Seems to me most dynasties require at least one national championship), then informed its readers, "the Buckeyes have rediscovered their favorite offensive flavor – vanilla."
They have thrown it 62 percent of the time this season compared to 59 percent with Troy Smith last season and 69 percent in 2002.
The 2007 Buckeyes have 36 scrimmage plays of 20 yards or more and 11 of their touchdowns have covered at least 20 yards.
Sure, the Buckeyes are more power-oriented in their running game this year but to accuse them of lack of creativity is flat wrong.
They may not be running the spread option, but they didn't do that last year either, so I'm not sure what people are looking for.
Then CBS Sportsline formed the trifecta with a brilliant piece following the OSU-MSU clash. Because the Buckeyes won by just seven points, Pete Prisco suggested there is no clear-cut No. 1 team this year.
Dominant teams, as it turns out, do not struggle on their way to the national title, we're told.
Again this is a nice premise based on a total lack of facts. Recall 2001, when Miami nearly lost to a middling Boston College team, 2002 when Ohio State dodged a bullets all year, 2003 when there were no undefeated teams, 2004 when USC had close calls with 4-7 Stanford, 6-6 UCLA and 7-5 Oregon State, and 2005 when Texas scuffled with Texas A&M and USC needed a miraculous final drive (and illegal push) to beat an overrated Notre Dame.
Last year no BCS school went unbeaten, and along the way to the title game Ohio State got its nose bloodied a bit by a two-win Illinois squad. Furthermore, Prisco put a "Columbus" by-line on his story, which would seem to indicate he was at the game. If that was the case, I'm puzzled as to how he did not come away with the clear feeling that the Buckeyes were much more talented and played much better than the Spartans.
Despite two fluke defensive touchdowns, the Spartans never had the ball with a chance to tie the score after the first quarter, and one Ohio State player outgained the whole Michigan State team.
I don't begrudge these other folks for having their opinions, but I'd care more to know them if they were formed on some basis of original thought rather than incorrect, preconceived notions.
What we look to learn this week:
With the Ohio State running game coming on strong and the defense looking indestructible, let's keep an eye on Boeckman.
Without considerable help from his receivers, Boeckman's numbers would not have looked nearly as good as they did against the Spartans. He must have had the least accurate 10-for-10 start of all time.
Brian Hartline made a couple of acrobatic catches, Ray Small pulled in a short pass in the flats that was nearly thrown over his head and of course Jake Ballard harkened back to his days as a dominating presence on the basketball floor at Springboro High School to pull in his touchdown catch.
Now Boeckman ventures into one of the few places his ballyhooed predecessor did not play well, Happy Valley, to face a team the 2006 Heisman Trophy winner never quite figured out.
Few can forget Smith struggled in an upset loss in primetime at Beaver Stadium in 2005, when he completed 13 of 25 passes for 139 yards and was guilty of two crucial turnovers, but he was far from a world beater in home starts against the Nittany Lions in 2004 or '06.
In part because of a very conservative game plan, Smith completed 6 of 8 passes for 59 yards in a 21-10 win over Penn State in 2004. Two years later, a far more polished Smith threw his first two interceptions of the year and finished just 12 of 22 for 115 yards passing.
He also struggled to run the ball in those three games (59 yards on 34 carries with one touchdown).
Working in Boeckman's favor is a deeper line than the one Smith was playing behind in 2005. If a front-liner goes down as Kirk Barton did in that game, the Buckeyes won't have to call on a true freshman as they did then with Alex Boone. Offensively, Ohio State looked to have a physical advantage over the Nittany Lions up front last year, but the Buckeyes waited a while to take advantage of it.
OSU-related NFL oddities that may interest only me (sorry, Peter King):
The same weekend Ohio State played host to Michigan State, former Buckeye center Nick Mangold faced off against the favorite team of his boyhood, the Cincinnati Bengals, for the first time. Though Mangold has had an excellent start to his NFL career, the Centerville, Ohio, native made a crucial fourth-quarter error when his shotgun snap hit quarterback Chad Pennington on the hip.
What Mangold called a miscommunication resulted in a fumble recovered by Bengal defensive tackle Domata Peko, a former Michigan State Spartan, and the Bengals capitalized with a touchdown to go ahead by eight. But that's not all.
The Bengals likely would have been unable to snap their four-game losing streak without a career day from reserve running back Kenny Watson, who ran for 133 yards in place of the injured Rudi Johnson. The alma mater of little-known Watson? Penn State.
All-Buckeye Beater Nominees:
No offensive players this week, but a few MSU defenders get a nod.
True freshman linebacker Greg Jones, a Cincinnati Moeller grad, led all players with 14 tackles, including a sack, while defensive end Jonal Saint-Dic forced his Big Ten-record eighth fumble of the year, leading to a touchdown.
Cornerback T.J. Williams did a respectable job while often matched up with Robiskie, who caught just two passes, including a 50-yard touchdown that came against a three-deep zone.
Williams also played well on special teams, downing a punt inside the 5 and dropping Hartline unassisted in the open field on a punt return.
For getting the Spartans on the board with a 54-yard return of an interception for a touchdown, Otis Wiley will get postseason consideration as well.
Does that mean SirDarean Adams can say the same thing? No, because he was largely obliterated by Buckeye blockers for most of the rest of the game.
Fit for DVR This Week:
Those who followed my admittedly obvious advice last week to watch then-No. 2 South Florida on Thursday night will want to tune in on another Friday Eve this week when new No. 2 Boston College travels to Blacksburg to face No. 8 Virginia Tech.
Come Saturday, those with the Big Ten Network can watch Indiana visit the next team on the OSU docket, Wisconsin, and at 3:30, Minnesota likely fails to win the Little Brown Jug from Michigan on ESPN Classic.
Night owls might want to check the satellite for a way to see No. 21 Cal travel to No. 4 Arizona State just in case those Sun Devils can somehow climb into the BCS top two. That game is scheduled for a 10 p.m. EST start, making it a prime candidate to tape and jump in on after the Buckeyes get finished with the Nittany Lions.
CUS WORDS BIG TEN POWER POLL
1. Ohio State (Run defense has nothing more to prove.)
2. Michigan (This would be the time to stop defending the strength of the conference.)
3. Penn State (Reality is about to set in.)
4. Illinois (Maybe next year.)
5. Michigan State (Maybe next year, too.)
6. Indiana (Seems like they shoulda had that one last week.)
7. Wisconsin (Badgers had to go to the MAC to find a team they could stop.)
8. Purdue (So is that just how bad Iowa is?)
9. Northwestern (You know, I've seen worse.)
10. Iowa (In reference to question posed in No. 8 – yes.)
11. Minnesota (And how many conference teams have lost to I-AA teams now?)