Brother and sister Buckeyes, I appreciate you guys to no end, and love that our team has enjoyed so much success that our collective expectations have been allowed to swell as high as any other team’s in the country save one. Unfortunately, this year—a year where we won 12 games, beat TTUN, won the B1G Championship, and knocked off Southern Cal in a major Bowl game—we’ve seen a lot of criticism (in some cases flat-out bashing) of our QB, who walks away as the most accomplished QB in conference history and set pretty much every position record in school history. Hey, I watched the games. I get it.
In the last few days, though, since Satan successfully swapped QBs at the half, I’ve seen a lot of people blasting the JT-led offense. Again, I get it. But we literally have fans complaining we didn’t win the B1G Championship over previously undefeated Wisconsin and the Cotton Bowl over Pac12 champion Southern Cal by enough points. Are people really suggesting we should have benched the winningest QB in school history… in the second-half of the B1G Championship game… against the No. 3 team in the country… in a game we were winning?
I won’t use the word spoiled, but man those are some lofty expectations we’re setting there. What did Tony Soprano say, “We have a Virginia ham under our arm but are complaining we don’t have any bread”? Even had we racked up more points in those games, there’s no guarantee we would have made the playoffs. If the committee was looking at the teams’ accomplishments, we top Bama easy. If they’re looking at the failures, which appears to be the case, there’s no amount of points we could have scored to make up for the disaster in Iowa City.
Just to throw out a few numbers that many people probably know, OSU finished 6th nationally in scoring offense and 7th in total offense. That’s not too shabby. However, unlike Oklahoma and Oklahoma State, which finished 1-2 in total offense playing out of the defenseless Big 12, OSU actually played teams with really good defenses. Wisconsin (3), Penn State (7), TTUN (13), Iowa (17), and Michigan State (19) all ranked in the top-20 in scoring defense. Against those five teams, we averaged 33.8 points per game. In the 61 games those teams played against teams other than Ohio State, those five schools allowed a combined 16.5 points per game. I’m no math wiz, but that looks like double to me.
To throw out a few more numbers, as far as total defense, Wisconsin ranked 2nd nationally, allowing 248 yards per game in games not involving Ohio State. We put up 449 yards on them. TTUN was 3rd, allowing 264 yards in their other games, but gave up 350 to OSU. Michigan State was 7th, allowing 279 yards per, but gave up 524 to us. And Penn State was 17th allowing 313 yards per, but gave up 529 to OSU. For good measure, Indiana ranked 27th with 317 per but allowed 596 to us, and Army was 32nd at 330 per but we put up 586 yards against them. So really, how bad was our offense?
Naysayers would say, “Yeah, the B1G defenses always rank high because the league has no offense,” but we all know the conference went 7-1 during bowl season, averaging 30.5 points per game. Do I wish we enjoyed the same success in the second halves of the Wisc and USC games that we had in the first halves? Yes. Do I hope our staff watch Georgia’s last two games and saw what happens when teams let off the gas against big-time opponents? Hell yes! But that being said, winning a college football game is a hard-damn thing, and we ended with four wins over teams that finished the season ranked in the top-15. Would have loved another crack at Oklahoma, and well… like everyone else including UFM and Ferentz, I have no clue how to begin explaining what happened against Iowa. We have to live with fact that in many ways Ohio State was deserving of a playoff spot and could have beat any of the four teams selected above it, but also have to live with the fact in many ways we didn’t deserve a playoff spot, and could have had a repeat performance of the Clemson fiasco from last year.
Virtually nobody goes undefeated anymore, and with the four-team playoff, more teams than ever realistically have a chance to win the national championship. With such lofty goals comes heartache when you fall short of them. In all, though, I thank the players, coaches, staff, family members, and all of Buckeye Nation for another successful, memorable, and fun season. Here’s to going 15-0 in 2018. Go Bucks!