The Eleven Warriors Web Report comes to you weekly from the Spectrum Sports studios in downtown Columbus, featuring our own Beau Bishop and Dan Hope along with former Buckeye linebacker Joshua Perry.
On this week's show, Bishop asks Perry and Hope two questions: Will Ohio State still make the College Football Playoff if it wins out, and which problem does it most need to fix after its 49-20 loss at Purdue on Saturday?
For the first question, all three of our panelists agreed: If Ohio State can win the rest of its games, which would mean beating Michigan (currently ranked fifth in the AP Top 25) in the annual rivalry game on Nov. 24 and winning the Big Ten championship to finish with a record of 12-1, the Buckeyes are still likely to make the four-team playoff field.
Of course, winning out is much easier said than done, especially considering the issues that the Buckeyes have had running the ball, scoring in the red zone, limiting big plays on defense and committing costly penalties – all of which came to a head in their 29-point loss in West Lafayette.
That led to Bishop's bigger question: If you could fix just one issue with Ohio State right now, which would you choose – its inability to run the ball and score in the red zone on offense, or its continued issues with giving up big plays on defense?
Perry, with his background playing defense for the Buckeyes, was inclined to choose that side of the ball.
"The tough thing there is that if you can just make them middle-of-the-road with giving up explosive plays – their scoring defense was pretty good up until the Purdue game – I think that makes their defense so much better, and that helps out the offense," Perry said.
Hope agreed with Perry's choice, stating he believes the defense is currently the unit that most needs to improve for Ohio State to have a chance at contending for a championship.
"Ohio State has had huge issues with giving up big plays on defense all year, and I think that's the issue if they don't fix it ... there's a good chance they don't win out, or if they get to the playoff, they get embarrassed if they do," Hope said.
If Ohio State's defense can elevate its play for the rest of the season, Perry and Hope believe the Buckeyes are capable of going 12-1 and winning the Big Ten.
"I think that getting the defense to be middle-of-the-road probably puts our offense in the red zone more often," Perry said, "so I think if you give them more chances to score, they get more work down there, I think that they do become better."
Hope acknowledged that the Buckeyes have typically bounced back when they've had ugly regular-season losses in previous seasons under Urban Meyer, and believes that if the Buckeyes can find improvements in the running game and on defense, quarterback play could make the difference in the regular season-ending rivalry game.
"Right now, I'd probably put it as a coin flip whether I was going to pick Ohio State or Michigan, but I think the one variable Ohio State has is they do have Dwayne Haskins," Hope said. "I think he's played a lot better than Shea Patterson this year, and if that run game can start to make some plays and if that defense can at least get to the middle-of-the-road, I think they're good enough to win the Big Ten."
For more discussion on what happened in Saturday's loss to Purdue, the outlook for the remainder of Ohio State's season and a look at what else is happening around the Big Ten, tune into this week's Eleven Warriors Report on Spectrum Sports Mid-Ohio, premiering at 7 and 7:30 p.m. Tuesday and re-airing throughout the week.