COLUMBUS, Ohio — Ohio State is 8-1. They’re one of the top ten teams in the country right now according to every poll out there, including the one that matters: the College Football Playoff rankings.
If the Buckeyes win out their last three games of the regular season, they’ll be back in the Big Ten Championship game for a second year in a row and would most likely clinch a berth in the College Football Playoff with a victory over whoever comes out of the Big Ten West.
Ohio State still has all of their goals and dreams readily available to them, but can they actually achieve those goals?
Last season when Ohio State was thrashed by Iowa on the road, 55-24, a lot of people were saying the same thing about the Buckeyes that a lot of people are saying right now.
“They can’t win a championship.”
That turned out to be false.
The Buckeyes came out the following week after their trouncing at the hands of the Hawkeyes and slaughtered a Top-15 Michigan State team, 48-3. It was a complete 180 from what Buckeye fans had seen the week before.
Ohio State ended up not losing a single game for the rest of the season as they went on to beat a Top-5 Wisconsin team to win the Big Ten Championship.
The Buckeyes may have fallen one spot short of a College Football Playoff appearance but they ended up thwarted a Top-10 USC Trojans team, 24-7, in the Cotton Bowl to secure another trophy to end the season.
A team that struggled heavily throughout the season managed to win two championships to close out the year. This year’s Ohio State team can still do the same and maybe even more with a College Football Playoff berth, but is that likely at this point?
Ohio State did come out and win after a blowout loss on the road like they did last year. They beat a 2-6 Nebraska team by five points at home.
Remember, they beat a Top-15 Michigan State team by 45 points the week after last season’s blowout loss. Think about that for a second.
Ohio State had two whole weeks to fix their problems following their train wreck in West Lafayette, and they didn’t look that much better than they did two weeks earlier.
Sure, they managed to finally find life in the run game while finding a balanced run/pass attack as well as actually scoring touchdowns in the red zone, but Ohio State’s secondary still looked very suspect, Dwayne Haskins had a below average performance for his standards and the Buckeyes developed a turnover problem as Ohio State fumbled the ball four times and Dwayne Haskins threw an interception in the red zone.
This was supposed to be the week that Ohio State was going to come out and make a statement to let all of college football know that they were still a serious contender. We were supposed to see that same result we saw last year against Michigan State, not a five-point win over a team with only two wins on the season.
Credit where credit is due, Ohio State fixed some major problems that they had in previous weeks this week against the Cornhuskers, but there are still many problems to work on with this Buckeye team.
With just three weeks left in the regular season, is it realistic to think that Ohio State will work out all of their problems in time? I mean, they failed to show any sort of progress all season long – in fact, it looked like things got worse over the weeks – and now that they’ve had two weeks after a frustrating loss to do nothing but fix those problems with what should’ve been a cakewalk game against a 2-6 opponent, the Buckeyes looked average, and that’s being generous.
It’s not enough for the Buckeyes simply to do enough to beat lesser opponents because their toughest competition is still ahead of them. They have to travel to East Lansing this week to play a Michigan State team that has spoiled championship hopes for Ohio State a couple of times during Urban Meyer’s tenure with the Buckeyes. Then, they have to come home and play one of the top five teams in the country two weeks later after a road trip to Maryland when they take on their archrival Michigan.
Now, Ohio State can still win all of those games and they have the talent to do it, but do they have the coaching, technique, scheme and will power to still compete for a championship this season?
I’m not so sure if they do. I thought that after two weeks of stewing on an infuriating loss to a lesser opponent like Purdue and having nothing but time to fix their problems, we would see the Buckeyes at their best against the Cornhuskers, but all we got was just enough for them to get a victory.
We can continue to think that Ohio State is magically going to fix all of their problems over the next few weeks and not lose a single game the rest of the year, or we can brace for the fact that maybe the Buckeyes just don’t have it in them this season.
After all, this has been a long and tumultuous year for the Buckeyes, starting with everything that happened with Zach Smith this summer to Urban Meyer being suspended for the first three games to Nick Bosa getting injured and then dropping out to prepare for the NFL Draft to several positions playing lackluster football which then culminated in that 49-20 blowout at Purdue.
Ohio State can still finish the regular season 11-1, go on to win the Big Ten Championship and head back to the College Football Playoff for the first time since 2016, but if we’re being honest, it’s just as easy to see Ohio State finishing 9-3 and hopefully getting a New Year’s Six bowl.
The Buckeyes can still win a championship this season, but it’s time to start preparing for the fact that this might not be the year for Ohio State.
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