Across the Field: Bye Week Edition

By Elika on November 8, 2012 at 12:28p
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With every new season comes new expectations. Ohio State's debut season under Urban Meyer was certainly no different. Back in August, I reached out to media members outside of Columbus, and around the country, to get their thoughts and predictions on the newest chapter in Ohio State football. You can go back and see what they thought 2012 had in store for the Buckeyes here.

As Ohio State is ten weeks into the season, and finally taking a much needed bye week, I checked in with some of the same experts who shared their predictions back in August to see how Meyer and the Buckeyes were stacking up against their preseason expectations and what to expect moving forward.

Big thanks to the following guests for providing their insights:

Bruce Feldman, CBS Sports

Robert Flores, ESPN/ABC College Football

Lisa Horne, formerly of FOX Sports

Chris Huston, Heisman Pundit and CBS Sports

Andy Staples, Sports Illustrated

Already at 10-0, Ohio State has surpassed the bar many set for them as the caliber of success this season. With two games left in the season, has that bar jumped? Would a loss to Wisconsin or Michigan now paint this season as disappointing for the Buckeyes?

Lisa Horne: Ohio State has already exceeded my expectations because whenever the winds of change bring a new coaching staff, there is bound to be a period of adjustment. The Buckeyes, as a team, have really adjusted quite well to the offensive changes and the team's new exciting look has fired up a fan base used to a former coach talking up the punt as the most important play in football. It would be a major disappointment if Ohio State lost to Michigan because Alabama, another undefeated team, already spanked the Wolverines. An undefeated Big Ten team losing to a team that the No. 1 team—from the SEC, no less—beat handily would seriously diminish not only the Buckeyes' 10-win season but their credibility as well since the Big Ten conference, as a whole, has performed poorly this season.

Some teams don't react well to impending doom or gloom as it pertains to the NCAA's heavy hand. For example, despite the sick amount of talent on the Hurricanes' roster, Miami has had no sense of consistency, urgency nor fight in its play. While I think Al Golden is a fine coach, he has not rallied the troops to play up to their abilities and Sun Life Stadium looks emptier than usual—that translates to a less-interested fan base as well. Urban Meyer has done just the opposite and it's amazing how he has not only kept the team together and focused, but kept them motivated without a bowl to play for.

Andy Staples: The bar shouldn't have jumped. That would be unfair. Given the circumstances surrounding the coaching change and the lack of defensive depth, 10 wins is quite an achievement. While Ohio State probably should win these last two games, anything beyond this is gravy.

With Wisconsin and Michigan left, what do you view as Ohio State's biggest remaining obstacle to an undefeated season?

Robert Flores: I think injuries are this team’s biggest concern. Their losses at linebacker are especially troubling. However, that final game against Michigan is always a threat. Just like all rivalry games.

Bruce Feldman: Neither is a powerhouse at this point, but I'll say Wisconsin will be tougher. Montee Ball and the Badger running game started to get cranked back up the past month ... till getting derailed against MSU. Then again, the Badgers have really only played three decent teams so far and they lost to all of 'em. I think their best win was beating Utah State by two points. So count me as surprised if OSU stumbles this month.

Though 10-0, the Buckeyes haven't had the same caliber defense they've had in the past. Do you view this as just a temporary issue, given injuries and a new staff, or a sign that OSU expectations may need to shift in this regard?

Bruce Feldman: I think this is likely a temporary issue. Meyer's recruiting, starting with last year's bunch will deepen the talent pool and increase the speed there.

What is the biggest difference you've noticed between Florida-Urban and Ohio State-Urban?

Andy Staples: He seems like exactly the same guy. The biggest differences are the circumstances. At Florida, he took over a team with great players and great depth on defense and few playmakers and little depth on offense. At Ohio State, he took over a team with some good defensive players but little depth and an offense that has a quarterback who seems born to run Meyer's offense. The other big difference is the level of competition. Other than maybe Brady Hoke and Mark Dantonio, he's not dealing with guys who can acquire the kind of talent that must be acquired to win at a very high level. In the SEC, he had to deal with Les Miles, Mark Richt and Steve Spurrier. (Later, Nick Saban showed up.) As we've seen, success in the Big Ten won't be anywhere near as difficult as success in the SEC was. Meyer won the SEC and the national title in his second year at Florida, so feel free to do that math.

Ohio State has become more exciting to watch, offensively. Should it be a concern how much of that rests on Braxton Miller?

Lisa Horne: I don't think the onus of Urban Meyer's offense rests on Braxton Miller's arms and legs. Remember, Meyer has made his system work with both Chris Leak and Tim Tebow. Leak was a classic pocket passer and when Leak struggled with specific plays of the spread option, Meyer fine-tuned his system to better adjust to Leak's abilities. Obviously, if Braxton Miller wasn't able to play due to injury, a reserve quarterback would have to be inserted in the offense. But I believe Meyer would make sure to tailor the offense around that quarterback's specific strengths, not force him to play out of his own comfort zone. Meyer's has proven that in his previous coaching jobs and thus, I don't think there should be too much concern over Braxton Miller being the current workhorse at the Shoe.

Chris Huston: Ohio State is definitely more exciting to watch offensively, but it's due in part to the new scheme and not just Braxton Miller. It just so happens that Miller is a perfect fit for this offense and that's why there has been such success on that side of the ball this year. I wouldn't worry about the offense depending too much on Miller, as young players like Bri'onte Dunn and Warren Ball will emerge in the coming years to take some of the load off, not to mention exciting incoming recruits like Jalin Marshall.

Though he probably won't win, Braxton has gotten some Heisman talk this year. Where does he rank in the Heisman race, and do you at least see him getting a seat in NYC?

Chris Huston: If the vote was held today, Miller would probably place fifth or sixth in the Heisman race. He's currently on the bubble for an invite to New York and he'll have to finish strong to get there, while hoping that support for Manti Te'o bottoms out (which would put Miller on more ballots in the MidWest region). Leading his team to a 12-0 season and putting up a 2,000/1,500 season should make him an attractive candidate to a lot of voters and he'll enter 2013 as the likely Heisman front runner.

Robert Flores: Back in the summer, I thought it was a little premature to discuss Braxton Miller as a viable Heisman contender. Obviously I was wrong. Our analyst Todd McShay said on Sportscenter this week that Miller was one of the five most valuable players in college football. He’s been fantastic, and I’m not certain that if OSU wasn’t on probation, that he wouldn’t be the front runner. Miller definitely has earned an invite to the Big Apple.

Thanks again to all our guests for joining the discussion. Be sure to follow them on Twitter:

Bruce Feldman: @bfeldmanCBS, Lisa Horne: @LisaHorne, Robert Flores: @RoFloESPN, Chris Huston: @HeismanPundit; Andy Staples: @Andy_Staples


Comments Show All Comments

buckeyeEddie27's picture

Nice to see Warren Ball get a shout out. 
Hard to disagree with most of what was said, it might be the homer in me but I'd have Miller higher than 6th. 

I know there's a game Saturday, and my ass will be there.

slicksickle's picture

I dont know about 6th. You're completely forgetting AJ McCarron on account of that one drive vs. LSU and his mom's glorious breasts.

SilverBullet33's picture

Upvote for making me Google AJ McCarron's mom.

Kennywayne34's picture

I second that up vote.  Motorboatin sob

swank427's picture

If I could upvote that I would.

Oyster's picture

I gave one in your name.

"Scrolling hurts my finger"

(and FitzBuck was clearly the winner)

SPreston2001's picture

Meh her jugs are ok. Ive seen much better...

Kennywayne34's picture

Cannons must run in the family

buckeyedude's picture

I can't believe nobody has bothered to post those jubblies here.



BucksfanXC's picture

You guys...
Important people who get paid to talk about college football spoke to Elika out of the goodness of their hearts, and you guys totally post pictures of bewbs on the thread.

“Any time you give a man something he doesn't earn, you cheapen him. Our kids earn what they get, and that includes respect.”  - Woody

Oyster's picture

I'm offended too.
(not really)

"Scrolling hurts my finger"

(and FitzBuck was clearly the winner)

johnblairgobucks's picture

personal derp......sorry......

BeijingBucks's picture

Haha... Sickle just totally hijacked this comment thread with cleavage!

None can love freedom heartily, but good men; the rest love not freedom, but license. ~ John Milton

JLP36's picture

I know nothing of Ms. Horne's credential's, but she shot the hell out of her credibility with me by comparing the Miami fanbase to that of The Ohio State University right out of the gate.  Their fans couldn't be bothered to trot out to their rented stadium when they were good. 
12-0 or bust.  Madison is always a challenge, but you are coming in off an open week and you got the better team.  An undefeated season is there for the taking and it will be a disappointment if they don't get it done.  People's predictions in the summer don't change the fact that it is there for the taking.  Winning 2 games you should win is not "gravy".  Beating Michigan is not "gravy".  That is a required course at Ohio State.


cbusbuckeye's picture

Completely agree. These last two games are mos certainly not "gravy".  If we finish 10-2 I think we will all be extremely upset with how things ended. 

DetroitBuckeye's picture

Miami is a small private college,  11-1 with the loss being against Wisconsin would be a rousing success just getting past msu and the huskers without losing makes this season a success.

avail31678's picture

Where did she compare the fanbases?  She mentions Miami's fanbase, but only says that Al Golden has not rallied the troops, and that Miami has become less relevant - and hence their fanbase is falling.  She even goes further to say that Urban has done the OPPOSITE here in Columbus.
Unless there's some text I'm missing, IMHO you're misinterpreting her meaning. 

Doc's picture

Isn't the Heismann given out in early December?  Why would it matter if OSU is on probation.  The only game he would be missing would be the B1G CG.  I know they aren't ranked in the BCS, but still.  To me, he is a top 3.

CJDPHoS Member

The Official DDS of 11W

tennbuckeye19's picture

I have seen this referred to in a couple places. I guess there is a belief that some voters will not vote for a player on a team that is on probation or has a bowl ban. It's quite dumb. 

Bucksfan's picture

Have to take exception to some of the things Lisa Horne and Andy Staples said.  First off, it would not be embarrassing losing to Michigan in the 12th game of the year BECAUSE they lost to the SEC's #1 team in the 1st game of the year.  A) It's embarrassing to lose to Michigan at home no matter what happened in any other game, and B) No team in week 12 is the same team as in week 1.  Michigan is a lot better now than they were in August.  If you don't know that, then you're not watching.  So, if it diminishes Ohio State's credibility by not finishing undefeated simply because Michigan lost to Alabama, then you have some sort of alterior motive as the basis of your opinion.
And to Staples, along the same line, beating Michigan is not "gravy" on top of 10 wins.
I find it hilarious how Horne says that Ohio State's credibility rests on beating Michigan, and Staples says 10 wins is enough, but I don't agree with either of them.

Oyster's picture

They seem to be a better team now that DR is out, and we will know more after this week.  Personally, even though it was Minny, I hope DR gets healthy.  He throws a better jump ball than DG does.

"Scrolling hurts my finger"

(and FitzBuck was clearly the winner)

cplunk's picture

Unfortunately they are right. The nation saw Alabama crush Michigan. It doesn't matter if Michigan has gotten better or if a rivalry game always brings out the best, OSU is going to be judged by how well we do against Michigan. The rest of the nation will see only that we played a common opponent of Alabama.
If we go undefeated and we crush Michigan then the bulk of the college football nation, and voters, will see OSU's undefeated record as being legit. If we go undefeated but struggle with Michigan, the undefeated record will be largely dismissed as being against weak competition. If we lose to Michigan, we will be deemed to have always been a "pretender".
Not saying it is fair or accurate, but that's how it works. We have to crush Michigan by a margin similar to what Alabama did if we want our record to be perceived nationally as legit. That's the cost of the B1G sucking eggs.

btalbert25's picture

If Michigan is that much better on week 12 than week 1, wouldn't or couldn't the same hold true for Bama.  If Bama and Michigan played today would the results be that much different?  I agree, though, that if Ohio State were to lose it wouldn't be disappointing for us fans because Bama crushed Michigan, it would suck because WE LOST TO FREAKIN MICHIGAN!!!!!!!!

NEWBrutus's picture

Losing to Michigan in any year is viewed as a disappointment.  It will get you fired if you do it too many times.  It doesn't matter whom the corn and blue have played one bit.  Lose that one, and as Earle says, you hide in the alleys. 

OSUBias's picture

I think the implied portion of Horne's comment was regarding national perception of how good an 11-1 Buckeye team is vs. a 12-0 one. People will look at the one loss and say "well they lost to the only decent team they played, and 'Bama destroyed that same team" because nobody thinks any other B1G teams are good. I think she has a fair point in that perspective. Also, because the transitive property always applies in CFB [sarcasm font].
Obviously to us (biased fans in a rivalry game), it matters if we lose to TTUN because it ruins our day/week/month/entireoffseason. It would do that even without continued scorn and "overrated" chants from the SEC lovers/media. Because losing to your rival is the worst, regardless of records. So for us, her point is probably moot, but it does matter in the larger picture of perceived conference strength/weakness.
And Staples was talking about whether or not the bar SHOULD have moved or not. He's right, it probably shouldn't have. But it doesn't matter, because it did. It always moves higher with our ravenous fanbase. You get to 10-0 when we're expecting 8-2, now we expect 12-0. And people are going to expect nothing short of 12-0 next year too. Queue the skyfall soundtrack if/when Urban finally loses a game. That's just the way we are in Buckeyenation. Right or wrong, that's the world we live in.
Remember, these are their opinions. Just because you don't see eye to eye with them doesn't mean they aren't valid.

7 yards and a cloud of dust is a beautiful thing

William's picture

Good stuff Elika. Quite impressed with the panel you pulled in this week. I agree with most of what was said with the exception of Huston's stance on Miller's Heisman potential this year, as I see him in the Top 3 right now. 

btalbert25's picture

Everyone crushes ESPN when they don't have nice things to say about Ohio State or it's players but when Mr Flores gives Braxton a lot of love we have silence.

German Buckeye's picture

It's because we are so NOT used to hearing praise come from ESPN outlets, that we are literally stunned into silence - my brain housing cannot process it quick enough to reply.

Ethos's picture

Exactly. the day I see Mark May say anything positive about the buckeyes and leave it at that (meaning no, but they suck at...) is probably the end of the world.  I'm not looking to buy a bunch of bottled water anytime soon.

"I spent 90 percent of my money on women and drink. The rest I wasted." - George Best

scarpenter614's picture

How much of the more positive spin do you think is a result of Urban working for them last year?  Would they be talking about Braxton as a heisman candidate if he was putting up the same numbers under Tress?

btalbert25's picture

I definitely agree Braxton isn't going to win the Heisman, but I don't think he's a dark horse to make it to New York.  In fact, I  think if he gets that 2000, 1500 season he'll be around 3rd or 4th in voting.

thatlillefty's picture

Snagged a lot of big fish there Elika. Nice work.

scarpenter614's picture

At the beginning of the year, I counted these last 2 games as potential losses.  So at that time, the thought of going 8-4 or 9-3 would not have been terrible to me.  However, seeing how things have played out this season and the potential we have, it would be a huge disappointment to lose one or both of these last 2 games.  Obviously losing to TSUN is always a disappointment, but although I don't believe in the transitive property of college football, the way Lisa put it with Bama crushing them, if they then beat us, it would just be another SEC blow to our pride on top of losing to TSUN.  I guess losing at Wisc. wouldn't seem so bad compared to losing to TSUN but it would still be disappointing.  We are better than both so if we don't finish 12-0...disappointment.

ODEEZ330's picture

I'm a big Robert flores fan. And he likes braxton extra Brownie points

stark county football

tennbuckeye19's picture

Thanks Elika for putting this together and getting all the special guests to share their thoughts with us. 

Ahh Saturday's picture

Two things: first, Braxton's heisman hopes hang on the next two games. If he plays well in two wins, he'll go to NY. If he or the team falters, he'll stay home. Second, if the Buckeyes lose to Michigan, I'll be disappointed, but it will have absolutely nothing to do with Alabama.

buckeyedude's picture

I don't think Braxton has much of a chance this year, even when OSU wins the last two. But it will set up nicely for next season.