Written by: Matt Shock (@shockwave_music)
Edited by: Curt Ashcraft (@cashcraft740)
Follow us on Twitter! @OS_Report
Well ladies and gentlemen, the 2013 Buckeye football season has reached the halfway point, and it’s time for us to see where we are. How have we progressed? Where do we rank with the rest of college football? What does this team need to work on? I hope to answer all of these questions in the following paragraphs.
For starters, the Buckeyes are ranked 4th in the AP Top 25 Poll and 3rd in the Coaches Poll. Some people get alarmed by the fact that Ohio State has fallen from their preseason spot of #2, but right now, I’m really not that concerned. There is still a lot of football to be played this season, leaving a lot of rope for Clemson, Oregon, and even Bama to hang themselves with by the end of November. Are any of these things likely? Well, that question depends upon what team you’re talking about.
The Alabama Crimson Tide face two more fairly challenging games in LSU and Auburn this season. I don’t fully buy into the idea that the SEC is a dominant conference from top to bottom. At best, about half of the SEC is worth anything, and the other half might as well be Vanderbilt. Anyhow, these two teams could be the ones that make Bama the infamous 1-loss SEC team that so consistently comes up in football discussions.
The Clemson Tigers also have two more tough opponents in Florida State and South Carolina. For right now, Clemson appears to be for real, but time will tell over the coming weeks if they really mean business or not. Personally, I’m praying that Clemson goes down in one of those games. Frankly, if Bama loses a game and is somehow left out of the title game and we have to face Clemson, I don’t think we can hang with them. However, only time will tell.
The Oregon Ducks are the team that I worry about the most right now. The only really tough opponent they have yet to face is Stanford. Frankly, I’m not sure that Stanford has what it takes to down the Ducks, but every Buckeye fan is hoping that they do. Why? Because Oregon has been doing what Ohio State should’ve been doing all season, racking up serious style points by blowing out their opponents.
As far as Ohio State is concerned, we’ve managed to take care of business so far, maintaining an undefeated record going into a bye week this past weekend. The second half of our schedule is possibly easier than the first half. The only really difficult teams we face from here on out are Michigan and Penn State. The Penn State game is at home, and is under the lights, so I don’t feel too terribly concerned about that game. However, it could easily go the wrong way if we don’t come into the game respecting the Nittany Lions and their head coach, Bill O’Brien.
The Michigan game doesn’t concern me nearly as much as it did at the beginning of the season. After close calls against Akron and UConn, the Wolverines seem to be a bit of a joke. However, even at their worst under Lloyd Carr and Rich Rodriguez, the Wolverines always make The Game way more interesting than it ever needs to be. There is no such thing as an “easy” victory against Michigan.
The Buckeyes have made good progress this season in every aspect of the game, except pass defense. The defense has a lot of new talent on it, and it’s only a matter of time before this team gets it together and starts playing Silver Bullet style football again. Bottom line, if we expect to have any shot at winning a National Title this year, our pass defense must get better. Right now, pass defense is this team’s Achilles heel. This year’s team plays much better against the run than last year’s team did, which is very comforting, considering last year’s team made me want to throw my remote at the TV every time the other team ran the ball.
On the offensive side of the football, Carlos Hyde and Braxton Miller have basically picked up where they left off last year. Hyde is a beast and Miller still has everybody anxiously waiting to see what he is really capable of. Meanwhile, Kenny Guiton has continued to be that steady backup force that we saw a brief glimpse of last season. Having Kenny Guiton around makes me feel comfortable, especially with us having a fairly weak schedule moving forward. If something happens to Braxton Miller, say his knee flares up or he suffers some other injury (heaven forbid), the Buckeyes don’t have to feel like all is lost because they have the Old Right-hander warming up in the bullpen. That said, it’s time for Braxton Miller to step up. Gone are the days when the excuse that “he still needs time to develop” would stand up. He’s had a full season under Urban Meyer to develop, and right now, he still looks unsure of himself and the system. Every now and then, we get glimpses of what he could be, like the 4th quarter of the Northwestern game. But it’s time for those glimpses to become the picture we see on a regular basis.
So where are the Buckeyes right now? The Buckeyes are right where they need to be. They are undefeated, they are playing at a high level, and they are poised to finish the season in the same manner. Yes, we can talk about style points and blow out victories all we want, but bottom line, the Buckeyes absolutely must take care of business. If they manage to do that, I think they have a very good chance at playing for a National Title in January.
Until then, we here at Our Sports Report will keep you updated on our beloved team’s progress, every week on The Buckeye Hangover. So please, join us, every Sunday right here.
In the meantime, what say all of you out there? How do you think the Buckeye season will turn out? Do you think the Buckeyes can win it all this year? Let us know!