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Random Thoughts: Weirdness of Ohio State-Nebraska matchup, why the Bengals offense is boom-or-bust, Reds World Series odd and more 

We’re back with another edition of ideas, quips and one-liners. Hope you enjoy... 

  • This Ohio State-Nebraska game might be one of the weirder situations I can think of over the past decade or so. While the sky seems to be falling in Columbus, Ohio State still has an opportunity to flip the switch with the calendar and finish 12-1, leaving memories of the loss at Purdue far behind (until the next time an average team blows out the Buckeyes of course). Meanwhile, the high of hiring Scott Frost took a huge hit with an 0-6 start, but the Cornhuskers have won two in a row and have the stat profile of a team that should probably be 5-3 so when Urban Meyer et al say Nebraska is dangerous they might actually mean it. 
Greg Schiano explains his view of the state of the unit with four games to go

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  • The Bengals are who we thought they are: Better than last year but not a Super Bowl contender. They have a small shot at winning a mediocre division but are going to need another offseason to finish fixing the roster problems that led them to back-to-back losing seasons. 
  • Cincinnati added some players, changed the scheme and got better on offense. 
  • The Bengals offensive line is still a liability, but it’s close enough to functional that Andy Dalton (who seems to be playing much better than the past two seasons) and his skill guys can be dangerous. However, they can’t run the ball when they want to and the tight end position being wiped out by injury limits Bill Lazor’s options. They will probably be boom or bust all season as a result. 
  • Meanwhile, the Bengals added some players, changed the scheme and got worse on defense… 
  • I guess I should weigh in on the Browns’ firing Hue Jackson... I thought Hue did a great job in multiple stints as a Bengals assistant. He’s clearly a guy who knows football, unlike the general manager who intentionally saddled him with a bad roster in year one in hopes of better returns in the long run, but those who follow the Browns much closer than I do don’t seem to think he made the best of the situation, either. Whatever the case, it’s a shame Jackson’s two shots at being a head coach came with dysfunctional franchises, but maybe he’s just better suited as a coordinator like Wade Phillips and Dick LeBeau (who also only got a shot as a head coach with a franchise that had no idea what it was doing, at least at the time).  
  • In case you were wondering, Bovada gave five teams worse 2019 World Series odds than the Reds, who are at 125/1 (as are the Texas Rangers). Behind them are the Padres (150/1), Tigers, Royals and Marlins (all 250/1) and Orioles (350/1). 
  • I enjoyed the World Series, but I wonder if MLB has considered charging batters per timeout. That would make them really value that right. Nothing crazy, like, maybe $750K per step out? Also to make things fair what if rather than installing a pitch clock we just fine a pitcher every time he takes more than 10 seconds between pitches when no one is on base? Maybe suspend after the sixth inning, but we really need to move the early innings along. 
  • I too find baseball celebrations to be out of control so here’s a guide to when they should and should not pop the champagne: Clinch division? Yes, if you haven’t won’t it recently. Clinch wild card? No. This is the backdoor into the postseason. It shouldn’t be there, but it has become a necessary evil to keep more teams interested longer in the regular season. Win wild card game? Maybe — if you haven’t made the postseason in a while. Win division series? No. League series? Yes. World Series? Duh. 
  • Maybe it’s just me, but LeBron’s going to the Lakers has really sapped my interest in the start of the NBA season. I’m sure I’ll be ready for the playoffs, but I really couldn’t care less right now. 
  • Kind of interesting: The NFL keeps making passing easier, but blocking pass rushers keeps getting harder. 
  • I don’t know if we appreciate just how great ice cream is. 

“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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