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Random Thoughts: Baker Mayfield, Bengals, the College Football Playoff and more

No, you’re not dreaming: There are two editions of Random Thoughts this week! That’s what happens when a historic beatdown happens in the greatest rivalry in all of sports. Yesterday I went over the fallout from Ohio State-Michigan. Today I am cleaning out the rest of my notebook… 

  • Despite blowing out Michigan, Ohio State is still on the outside looking in when it comes to making the College Football Playoff. The committee seems to view the losses by Ohio State and Oklahoma as a separator, and that’s probably fair since Texas is much better than Purdue. I happen to think avenging your only loss of the season (as Oklahoma can do Saturday) is a big deal, too, but the committee chairman shot that down Tuesday night. I generally want to see the four best teams make it, but resume works as a tiebreaker when one team is not clearly better than the other (as in this case). 
  • At any rate, pondering this year’s playoff scenarios reminded me what a problem picking between Alabama and Ohio State was last year. The weird thing 2017 is that while Ohio State didn’t really have room to complain about being left out of the playoff because the Buckeyes lost twice (once by 31), college football as a whole should have found putting Alabama in despite accomplishing nothing in the regular season very alarming yet few batted an eye. Even if the Crimson Tide really were one of the four best teams, picking a team coming off a loss to its rival that kept it out of its conference title game (and then seeing that rival lose in that game) was a terrible look for a sport that alleges the regular season is part playoff. 
  • This is also why Georgia absolutely should not make the final four this year if the Bulldogs lose to the Crimson Tide on Saturday and Oklahoma or Ohio State win. 
  • Moving on to pro football, Marvin Lewis should be fired for the downward spiral of this Bengals season, but I can’t believe he will be. In fact, the injuries provide a built-in excuse for seeing year two of the Marvin Bengals 3.0. 
  • The Bengals would be an average team if healthy. They aren’t, but they also don’t seem very motivated or ready to start games lately. Also the defense has been destroyed schematically in both games since Lewis became the coordinator even though both teams were starting rookie quarterbacks. Not great trends. 
  • Of course, failing to live up to even low expectations is the thing Cincinnati pro teams do best now. 

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  • I am very interested to see what Jeff Driskel can do, though, as I believe he has a higher ceiling than Andy Dalton. Until Saturday, I thought he was having a better season in Bill Lazor’s new scheme, but Driskel was once a five-star Florida recruit before kind of getting lost in the aftermath of Urban Meyer’s exit from Gainesville. His athleticism could provide some different options, but then also he might also struggle and remind us Dalton is good enough to win with the right supporting cast and the price is right. 
  • Baker Mayfield is really going out of his way to confirm that Mark Twain line about it being better to remain silent and thought a fool than to open one’s mouth and remove all doubt after extending the story about his postgame snub of former coach Hue Jackson into this week by explaining his view of Jackson’s taking a job with the Bengals after being fired by the Browns really is as ridiculous and dumb as it first seemed on Sunday. 
  • The Browns quarterback might want to hire a spite coach to tell him things that are actually worth getting a case of the goo over. This spat with Jackson reminds me of the flag-planting incident at Ohio Stadium last year when Mayfield said he was mad Ohio State sang their alma mater with fans at OU the year before. That made no sense either.  Related: Archdeacon: Who needs sleep? Browns’ rookie Mayfield thrashes Bengals in Battle of Ohio
  • Mayfield saying his diss of Jackson is “not personal” fits nicely with his claim he did not mean any disrespect when he tried to jam that flagpole into the fake dirt Columbus because in both cases the opposite is clearly true (whether his feelings are justified or not) and he apparently has no idea. 
  • Add Western Kentucky to the list of places that don’t deserve success because they are stupidly impatient.
  • I guess Marcus Mariota is the new Alex Smith. Athletic and accurate but too conservative to be a difference-maker. 
  • Here is a great story from The Athletic about why the worst arena in Ohio will remain the home of the Ohio State basketball team for the foreseeable future. This is also the funniest thing I’ve read in a while. “We’d do that thing probably everyone is in favor of but we don’t want to make a few rich folks mad,” is the most 21st century Ohio State thing ever. Only way it would be better is if they said they’d lose Coke as a sponsor if they left the Schott. 
  • If you think Ohio State has squandered advantages over the past few years, you should try being a Blackhawks fan. (They just traded away another top prospect.) The salary cap has been complicating things since the summer after the first glorious Cup run when they were almost literally too talented to lose. Of course they have won three Cups, which is more than one, but still there’s a sense of frustration they failed to maximize their core and the talent that followed in various moves made by a general manager who inherited pretty much all the most important pieces. Alas... 
  • I have a feeling the domestic auto companies deciding they don’t need to make cars anymore will turn out to be phenomenally short-sighted, but they wouldn’t be a true big American company if they weren’t run by foolish, greedy people with no vision for the future. 

“Random Thoughts” is a semi-regular feature here at blog. While most of our other coverage is concentrated on news and analysis, this is a place to share opinions and have some fun. Have your own thoughts? Send them along to marcus.hartman@coxin.com or find us on Twitter or Facebook. 

About the Author

Marcus Hartman has been a digital sports columnist and reporter at Cox Media Group Ohio since 2016. 

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