Three weeks ago, I wondered if the Buckeyes, with the return of Turner, had a potential run for the Big Ten title in them. At the time, I thought Thad's crew could optimistically go 10-2 to finish at 13-5, but with the Spartans unbeaten at 5-0 and looking near invincible in conference play a share of the title was likely out of the question.
But then Kalin Lucas went down and Michigan State dropped two straight on the road while the Buckeyes moved their conference winning streak to seven games, getting hot at the same time teams like Illinois, Wisconsin and Purdue began to turn things on. There are now five teams, tightly grouped within a game and a half from the top and all with a shot to win the Big Ten -- something that was inconceivable just a few weeks ago.
Lucas may or may not be back to play the Boilermakers Tuesday, but the longer he's out, the more likely it appears that another team might sneak in and capture the crown.
And why not Turner and the Buckeyes?
Since returning from injury, Turner has stepped up his game to the point that he now ranks first in the conference in points and rebounding, second in assists, third in steals and fourth in field goal percentage. As Chris so eloquently put it last week, John Wall, my ass.
It's not just all Turner. Buford has emerged into the player we all thought he had the potential to be and Lauderdale is even coming along with steady contributions from Lighty and Diebler.
Next up is a very winnable game against the Hoosiers in Bloomington on Wednesday (okay, I'm being kind -- very winnable should read "virtual lock") before the team travels to Champaign Sunday in what's sure to be a battle. After that, it's three home games, a trip to Penn State (lulz) and the pivotal matchup with Sparty on Saturday the 20th.
Breslin is a tough place to get a win and Lucas will surely be back by then, but you have to like the fact that Ohio State controls their own destiny. If they win out (not an impossible scenario), they're Big Ten champs by virtue of only meeting Michigan State once and taking the head-to-head while finishing with identical records in conference play.
It's always sweet when you can sweep the two revenue sports. The last time the Buckeyes pulled it off was the magical, yet ultimately frustrating season of 2006-07 when the football and basketball teams went an astonishing 23-1 in conference play.
Latwan to Michigan?
The last time, we checked up on Glenville defensive back Latwan Anderson on Facebook, he was busy pissing all over Ohio State fans. Not content with calling us the worst, he's now taken to the social net to throw out the possibility that he might end up at Michigan.
Tressel made it clear at the signing day presser that there was no room for another defensive back in the class (make no mistake, the questioner and Tressel had the same player in mind during the exchange) and though many Buckeye fans were hoping he'd be added after the team missed out late on Jordan Hicks, Matt James and Seantrel Henderson, Anderson will definitely be suiting up for someone else next season. We'd hate to see the kid end up in Ann Arbor, but if he wants to become another Prescott Burgess, that's cool.
Oversigning, It's a Tad Sketch
A lot of schools oversign, but none do it as often as the SEC. Eight of the top nine oversigners since 2002 hail from the conference and at some point, something is going to have to be done about the fact that these schools routinely sign four or five additional players per year than their peers from across the country.
Let this sink in for a second. In the last eight years, the average Buckeye class is 20 players while the average Crimson Tide class is a bit over 26.
So let's see. Rampant oversigning and a refusal to play non-conference games outside of Dixie. That's a pretty simple formula for earning the title of America's toughest FBS conference, really.