Ohio State: Contender or Pretender?

Braxton Miller spinmove
Braxton Miller “spin moves” past a Virginia defender on his way to a touchdown. Ohio State beat Virginia 42-24.

Written by: Logan Hancock | @logan_hancock

Member of Ball State Sports Link

“Oh my goodness! Did you see that?”

Sitting in my living room three short weeks ago, I saw Ohio State quarterback turned wide receiver, Braxton Miller, put a spin move on a Virginia defender that made me question if MY ankles were still intact. I am still sending prayers out to that young man. RIP to his ankles.

The spin move heard around the world.

The number-one overall Ohio State Buckeyes looked as if they were “back in full force” just one week ago into this college football season. After a blow out win over Virginia and a 38-0 thrashing of Hawaii, Ohio State still sat untouched at the top of the country.

Hawaii running back Paul Harris was pounced on by Ohio State linebacker Darron Lee, bottom, defensive lineman Tommy Schutt, left, defensive lineman Joey Bosa, 97, and defensive lineman Tyquan Lewis in the first half Saturday.
Ohio State’s defense stonewalled the Hawaii offensive attack by shutting them out 38-0.

Wait just one second. *Screech (Pull the brakes real quick)

This past Saturday I was in attendance at “The Shoe” as the Buckeyes took on the Northern Illinois Huskies, a team who Ball State fans know all too well because of their continued dominance in the Mid-American Conference.

Let me just tell you, the Buckeye faithful in Columbus are EXTREMELY high on their team this year, and they have reason to be. All I heard before the game in the tailgating areas outside of the stadium were talks of Ohio State potentially blowing out NIU and dominating them from start to finish.

As the final score shows, and as I can tell you from my personal experience being in attendance at the game, a dominating performance is the furthest thing from what went down this past Saturday afternoon.

The Ohio State Buckeyes turned the ball over a total of five times, and looked extremely out of sync on offense. Cardale Jones was benched in the first half and J.T. Barrett came in and really didn’t play much better at all. (11-19, 97 yards, 1 TD 1 INT)

If it wasn’t for the heads-up play (pick six interception) from Darron Lee on the Buckeyes, NIU quite possibly would have upset the “giants.”

Jordan Hare vs. Ohio State
Jordan Hare drops back to attempt a pass against the Ohio State defense. Northern Illinois lost a tightly contested game 20-13.

Northern Illinois turned the ball over on downs on its final drive of the game with only a minute left on the clock and Ohio State walked away having dodged a bullet. Better yet, the Buckeyes dodged a large nuclear bomb that could have sent shockwaves throughout the world of college football.

One disgruntled Ohio State fan sitting behind me in “The Shoe” even muttered after the game, “This game feels like a loss.”

Honestly, that guy may be right.

Now don’t get me wrong. Talent wise, we all know Ohio State is stacked. That much is very clear. They have so many athletes on their team that sometimes it seems just plain unfair. I mean for Pete’s sake, they have three quarterback’s who could most likely start at any other university in the country (and one of them is an emerging receiver).

Not to mention, they have the potential Heisman candidate in their backfield who looks to continue his dominant rushing attack that started back in last year’s first annual college football playoffs.

The real question is however, are the Ohio State Buckeyes really the best team in college football right now?

Buckeye Nation is going to hate me for this, but I say no. Continuously switching back and forth between Cardale Jones and J.T. Barrett has simply not been a good strategy.

To back up my claim this strategy has plain and simple not been working, let’s take a look at J.T. Barrett and Cardale Jones’ season statistics up until this point:

47-83, 530 yards, 56.6% completion rate, 4 TD’s and 4 INT’s.

In comparison to other top quarterback’s around the country these stats seem dismal in the eyes of Buckeye’s fans.

Connor Cook (MSU): 50-86, 695 yards, 58.1% completion rate, 8 TD’s and 1 INT.

Mississippi quarterback Chad Kelly dives in for a touchdown against Alabama linebacker Shaun Hamilton during first half of an NCAA college football game, Saturday, Sept. 19, 2015, in Tuscaloosa, Ala. (AP Photo/Butch Dill)
Mississippi quarterback Chad Kelly dives in for a touchdown against Alabama linebacker Shaun Hamilton during first half of an NCAA college football game, Saturday, Sept. 19, 2015, in Tuscaloosa, Ala. (AP Photo/Butch Dill)

Chad Kelly (Ole Miss): 47-73, 898, 64.4% completion rate, 9 TD’s and 1 INT.

Trevone Boykin (TCU): 65-99, 985, 65.7% completion rate, 10 TD’s and 3 INT’s.

(Hmm) It seems as if Ohio State has a bit of a quarterback dilemma.

In my opinion, when you take Cardale Jones and bench him after he just went out and won you a National Championship last year, that is going to destroy his confidence level.

Ohio State Buckeyes quarterback Cardale Jones (12) can't handle the snap against Northern Illinois Huskies during the 1st quarter of their game at Ohio Stadium on September 19, 2015.
Ohio State Buckeyes quarterback Cardale Jones (12) mishandles a snap early in the 2nd quarter against NIU. Jones was benched after a poor passing performance in the first two quarters of the game.

Urban Meyer needs to figure out who he wants his “guy” to be and stick with him. I understand that Cardale Jones played pretty darn terrible against NIU. I saw it live and up close.

When Jones was pulled out of the game in the 2nd quarter he was: 4-for-9 with 36 yards and two interceptions.


This week, Meyer announced Cardale Jones will start against Western Michigan this weekend. I agree with his decision, and I honestly believe he either needs to let Jones play through his mistakes or permanently start J.T. Barrett.

Do the Indianapolis Colts take out Andrew Luck every time he throws an interception?


Don’t get it twisted. I am in no way comparing Jones to Luck, but it’s the principle of things, so to speak.

If you take the leader of ANY team and bench him for the guy behind him, he is obviously going to have some confidence issues about whether he is truly the leader of the offense.

Besides the visible offensive issues, another reason I don’t think Ohio State deserves the ranking of the number one team in the nation right now is their strength of schedule.

I mean c’mon, have you seen that thing? They don’t play a ranked team until Nov. 21 when they take on the currently No. 2 ranked team in the country, the Michigan State Spartans. They honestly have a cupcake schedule. You would think the number No. 1 in the nation would have at least a couple of games that are supposed to “test” their talents right?

Let’s take a quick look at their next seven games.

Western Michigan, Indiana, Maryland, Penn State, Rutgers, Minnesota, Illinois.

Michigan State quarterback Connor Cook attempts a pass against the Oregon defense. The 2nd ranked Spartans beat the Ducks 31-28 at home in week two.

Really? The number one team in the nation looks to have an absolute walk through type season until they get to Michigan State.

However, if they are already struggling against teams like Northern Illinois, how are they going to compete with the red hot Spartans later in the season?

The truth is, I don’t think the college football world knows how good (or not good) Ohio State actually is right now. In my opinion, we will all find out who the REAL Ohio State is Nov. 21 when they go up against, without a doubt, their toughest opponent yet.

In the meantime, Urban Meyer needs to figure out his QB situation. It also wouldn’t hurt to take some of the load off of whomever he decides to be the guy to quarterback this team by feeding the ball to Zeke Elliott 30-40 times a game. 331 rushing yards and 4 TD’s.

(The young man is pretty darn good if you guys didn’t know.)

So Buckeye nation, don’t hit the panic button just yet. But, you may want to keep that button real close by for the next couple weeks.

Urban Meyer
Ohio State head coach Urban Meyer reacts with disappointment after his Buckeyes failed a 4th down conversion in a 20-13 unconvincing victory over Northern Illinois.


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