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Sunday, October 4, 2015

Ohio State Football: 5 Things

As the college football landscape has moved from the BCS to a playoff system, it appears more emphasis has been placed on who the top four teams in the nation are rather than the top 25. The Ohio State Buckeyes remained no. 1 in several polls this morning, but clearly there is debate as to whether they are truly the best team in the nation.

In the heat of the moment yesterday afternoon, I texted my buddies there was no way Ohio State deserved to be ranked no. 1 after their up and down performance against Indiana. As the rest of the games shook out and teams like Ole Miss, Notre Dame, and UCLA all lost, I cannot say that statement is totally accurate. As a matter of fact, I only know three things for certain: Ohio State is still undefeated; they did not play like the no. 1 team in the nation; they have a lot of room for improvement. Having said that here are my 5 biggest takeaways from yesterday's contest:

1. Turnovers, not poor play-calling, appear to be the core of the Buckeyes' offensive woes.
Through five games this season, the Buckeyes are -4 in turnover margin, turning the ball over 13 times. Compare that to last season when the Buckeyes were +3 in turnover differential. As a matter of fact, dating back to the national championship, Ohio State is now -8 in turnover margin. Championship teams do not turn the ball over, and even though the margin would suggest otherwise most experts would agree that the Bucks were fortunate to beat Oregon in last season's finale despite committing four turnovers. If they don't learn how to protect the football better, there's no way they will punch a ticket to Dallas or Miami.

2. The Buckeyes compounded the turnover issue with boneheaded penalties.
Yesterday against Indiana alone, Ohio State committed 8 penalties for 109 yards. Truth of the matter is there are very few games will be played mistake free. But many of the penalties, especially on the defensive side, were clearly unnecessary. They extended several Indiana drives and (along with the aforementioned turnovers) made the score look closer than it should have been.

3. On a positive note the Buckeyes finally got Zeke Elliot going, a trend they hope to continue next week against Maryland.
Elliot had the game Ohio State faithful were waiting for, rushing for 274 yards and 3 TDs. While they don't need 200+ yards from him every week, it is important they get him going early. Had Zeke scored at least two of those TDs in the first half they would have likely broken Indiana's spirit.

4.Cardale Jones might be operating on a short leash as the Buckeyes' starting quarterback.
The fourth-year junior has now thrown five interceptions and five TDs through five games. Looking back at last season, I noticed that J.T. Barrett had also thrown five picks through his first five games. The difference is that many times Jones appears to indecisive, which has in large part contributed to Ohio State's ineffectiveness. Barrett also had some growing pains last year as a freshman, but he was able to work past them. I'm not going to say Cardale can't get past these issues; whether Urban Meyer lets him do so is a totally different story altogether.

5. There is still a lot of football to be played, so everyone needs to be patient.
Fans and experts alike want to argue that Ohio State isn't the best team in the nation. And they didn't play like it yesterday afternoon in Bloomington. But it is also true that many people had written off the Buckeyes last season after their loss to Virginia Tech. With nine more weeks until the selection committee decides which four teams will participate in the second college football playoff, anything can happen.

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