April 23, 2014

“You are completely screwed” – B1G Buckeyes

Let me get this out of the way: Coming into the game, I thought the Buckeyes were going to lose Saturday night. Yes, in the ‘Shoe, in Urban’s first home night game with all of the recruits looking on in front of a packed house. I did. I thought that Ohio State’s banged up line-backing corps did not match up well with a very mobile quarterback in Taylor Martinez in tandem with a very shifty and quick running back in Rex Burkhead. For the most part, I was wrong. Martinez was held to 40 yards rushing and aside from Burkhead’s 73-yard run, he too was held in check.

But 63 points!?!? Though I cannot remember the source, there was a comment on Twitter that made me laugh out loud: “After seeing the score, Jim Tressel woke up wondering how in the world Ohio State kicked 21 field goals.”

As hysterical as the comment was, it really made me think about the new era that this program has entered. Good, bad or indifferent, there is no arguing what Tressel did for this university over the past decade but his coaching style is the antithesis of Urban Meyer’s. A fundamentally sound team that was capable of hanging 63 on Nebraska would have never happened under Tressel’s watch. Though under that same watch, the holes in the defense would never happen either. Buckeye Nation is now staring at a very talented and exciting, young team in the face. We all have the joy of watching this team grow up before our eyes, but remember what comes with youth – stupidity. I am not talking about the tweet from Cardale Jones, but taking chances as a football team. So the growing pains will be there and for some of the impatient, it can be quite a roller-coaster complete with pictures at the end.

With great risk, comes great reward and as Andy Staples put it so eloquently in his article following the Buckeyes win in East Lansing “You are completely screwed.” He of course is talking about the Big Ten as a whole and Urban’s innate ability to previously recruit such talented individuals in a conference much superior to the Big Ten.

Looking forward, Meyer may help change the landscape of how the entire B1G conference recruits players. But what does the immediate future hold? This conference is currently led by two undefeated teams (in conference) that are under probation with no chance of participating in the first ever Big Ten Championship game. Can you imagine what it will look like to the rest of the nation if the top schools in their respective conferences cannot take part in a game that they work all year for? You can say that you do not care, but I won’t believe it. The reality is that Ohio State and Penn State are in the same Leaders division and after their meeting in University Park on October 27th, only one will have the chance of being the outright winner in that division. Of course, a lot of things can happen between now and then to disrupt that anyway.

What this says about the current state of the Big Ten is downright embarrassing because of the levels of depth this issue has.

First off, where are the teams that should be stepping up to take advantage of the situations at Ohio State and Penn State? Sure the reality in the Leaders division is not for an Indiana or a Purdue to step forward and assert themselves as any real threat, let alone a perennial force, but what about Wisconsin? This Wisconsin team lost several players but is largely the same group that rolled through the Big Ten last year losing only a couple of heart-breakers to Michigan State and Ohio State in back to back weeks. This year, Wisconsin goes into Oregon State only to lay an egg in a 10-7 game followed by sneaking out a 16-14 win against UTEP, which was then followed by a loss to Nebraska.

So far, that is looking like our representation in the Leaders division. Excited?

Looking at the Legends division does not offer much reassurance with the Iowa Hawkeyes and our hated Wolverines currently leading the pack. The Hawkeyes have already racked up a couple of non-conference losses against Iowa State and Central Michigan with their signature win being against Minnesota last week. I’ll pause while you revel in that for a moment. Done? Great. Michigan at least has had two losses to respectable opponents in Alabama and Notre Dame. While both games were as painful as receiving an inbound call from Pat Shurmer, I have to give them props for the scheduling even if one is (was) a rival.

While the Michigan State Spartans can normally pose some sort of threat on a game to game basis, they are rarely a favorite to win the Big Ten as a whole. With losses to Notre Dame and Ohio State, as well as close games games against Eastern Michigan and Indiana, the team is hardly ready to be a true representative of the conference.

The fact is, we are exactly at the mid-way point in our conference scheduling and a lot can happen going forward. What will not happen is for Ohio State or Penn State to attend the B1G Championship game and that hurts the conference in a time it desperately needs a powerhouse representation. Looking to Penn State as any type of savior in the upcoming several years is not an option for painfully obvious reasons. This conference has won a single BCS National Championship when the Buckeye’s did it against Miami in 2002. That equals the amount of titles as the ACC and Big East currently have in the BCS era. It is also 7 less than the SEC currently has.

As painful as it is to say, the Big Ten needs Brady Hoke and Michigan to be a perennial contender in order for the conference to be relevant again. Wisconsin and Nebraska will certainly have their share of conference titles in the upcoming years, but no teams mean more to their respective conference than The Ohio State Buckeyes and the Michigan Wolverines. Michigan has made a statement with their recruiting and their scheduling; that they will be a force in the very near future and for some time to come. Urban has started this as well, leaning on Gene Smith to schedule night games for higher visibility to West-coast recruits and the results will be no different.

Although, Meyer’s most recent statement was putting up 63 on the Cornhuskers Saturday night with this quote preceding the game after someone asked him about the spate of high-scoring games:

Meyer smiled. “I like a 70 every once in a while,” he said.

 
*Images courtesy of bleacherreport.com and cornnation.com

  • notoriouswoj

    Two things.
    1. Not the first ever B1G Championship. There was one last season.
    2. Never like to defend Wisconsin but Oregon St. is turning out to be pretty damn good.

    With that being said. Let everyone play catch up and learn how to win and recruit SEC style. It should take time.

  • maxfnmloans

    recruiting SEC style includes unabashed over signing, which is strictly limited by the Big Ten through yearly and aggregate scholarship limits. A few SEC coaches (e.g. Mark Richt) are against the practice as well, but others like Saban, Nutt and Petrino (I know hes not there anymore) pushed the envelope as far as they could and averaged approximately 25 more recruits over the 2008-2011 signing periods. That’s basically 5 recruiting classes to the Big Ten’s 4. That gives them more changes to miss on guys and absorb injuries to others. That allows you to have 4 and 5 star players in reserve roles to cover for injured players, where other schools may be forced to go with underclassmen.

    The SEC is the best conference because they don’t play by the same rules as anyone else.

  • mgbode

    please note that Florida does not allow over-signing as well. one of the very few instances where I will put something positive out there about the Gators.

  • notoriouswoj

    Yep……keep saying that. It will eventually come true.

  • Dee P

    Florida is not michigan.

    That’s the best compliment I can muster.

  • Garry_Owen

    How does Pat “Shurmer” even get mentioned here? Amazing.

  • Natedawg86

    Oregon St QB is hurt now…

  • mgbode

    that is about right.

  • Garry_Owen

    In the same way that Saddam Hussein was not Adolph Hitler.

  • humboldt

    Memes my friend, memes

  • Garry_Owen

    Guess so. Forced, unfunny memes stink, though. (I know. I’m a master at them.)

  • Dave

    You’re right – my fault. I like to think last season never happened and overlooked that point. Thanks.

  • maxfnmloans

    you are correct sir. There are a few, but Saban really is Satan incarnated. I’d hate to be a player of his and get hurt. Might just lose your ride all together

  • JK

    Ohio State needs Michigan to be good.. It’s the truth, let’s just face facts.

  • Dave

    I actually did a whole piece on the oversigning practice last year. If it’s an interesting topic, I may put it up.

  • mgbode

    i hate the entire recruitment/scholarship practices.

    the fact the Big10 is going to 4yr scholarships for it’s players is extremely commendable and hopefully will become standard practice soon.

  • http://twitter.com/bbo13 B-bo

    You mean spend more money and oversign? Seems easy enough…

  • Dee P

    True…but it doesn’t mean we can’t enjoy when they aren’t.

  • mgbode

    I disagree. I would not mind being the 1990s Florida State in the ACC. If you are good enough, then the rankings will be there.

  • Steve

    It’s more than nice to be 6-0, but I am the only one a bit skeptical about how good this team really is? They didn’t look great against UCF and UAB, and would have lost at home to Cal if the latter could kick a FG. Sure, they’re going to find 10 wins, but that’s against an awful Big Ten and a joke of a non-conference schedule (I like that Texas is back on there). There’s about 20-30 teams that could do that too. They’re pretty good, but I’m not sure they’re as good as we think, yet.

  • saggy

    remember how bad they looked in 2002? they barely won. EVERY GAME.

  • Steve

    Well, obviously, “every game” is not true. Only seven of fourteen games were within a score. Four were on the road, and then Penn St, Michigan and Miami, all strong teams. The close games were a function of how or who they played, especially on the road.

    Even so, I have no idea what that has to do with anything. Is there anything in common between the 2002 and the 2012 teams, personnel or strategy-wise? I guess Fickell counts, but barely.

    63 is a big number, but that Nebraska defense is not good at all, and three scores were a pick-six, punt return and garbage time TDs, along with Nebraska being very sloppy with the ball. They took advantage of mistakes, and kudos for that, but let’s not pretend Nebraska played anything resembling top 25 football.

  • saggy

    think that’s a good assessment of Nebraska. But don’t forget the bottom line: we did beat them by 25. that’s a pretty dominant victory.

    and as far as 2002 and 2012 go – cmon, i’m not really being serious – just saying: a win is a win. and i was saying they barely won. I meant they barely won the title. i didn’t mean they barely won every game. i should have clarified.

  • Steve

    “they barely won. EVERY GAME.”

    I’m not sure how else to interpret that.

    And I don’t see how “a win is a win” can jibe with the talk about how great this team is after they dropped 63 on Nebraska. If we’re evaluating how good they looked last weekend, they we have to evaluate how much “meh” they’ve shown coming in to that game.

  • Pat Shurmur

    Because I am that awesome.