Sports Today: Can Bengals, Buckeyes bounce back? Weekend forecast

JACKSONVILLE, FL - NOVEMBER 05:  Andy Dalton #14 of the Cincinnati Bengals leaves the field with his teammates at halftime of their game against the Jacksonville Jaguars at EverBank Field on November 5, 2017 in Jacksonville, Florida.  (Photo by Logan Bowles/Getty Images)
JACKSONVILLE, FL - NOVEMBER 05: Andy Dalton #14 of the Cincinnati Bengals leaves the field with his teammates at halftime of their game against the Jacksonville Jaguars at EverBank Field on November 5, 2017 in Jacksonville, Florida. (Photo by Logan Bowles/Getty Images)

Credit: Logan Bowles

Credit: Logan Bowles

The Cincinnati Bengals begin the second half of their season this week in Tennessee, but it's hard to imagine Marvin Lewis' team creating any beautiful music while they're down there.

The 5-3 Titans aren’t great, but what signs of life have the Bengals shown? (Aside from this.)

Lewis insisted he saw progress from the offense last week even as they had arguably one of the worst performances in team history if stats mean anything to you.

If that wasn’t completely coach-speak and there was any validity to that statement, I would have to guess it was a matter of more guys carrying out their assignments more consistently.

That’s all well and good, but there are still too many offensive linemen who can’t block, so it doesn’t really matter.

›› Bengals receiver A.J. Green fined for fighting

Tennessee probably is more or less the team the 3-5 Bengals should have been this year, finding ways to win despite some flaws.

The Titans are just kind of solid across the board, and their potential franchise quarterback is getting healthier while Cincinnati’s continues to disappoint. Gotta go with the home team here.

Titans 21, Bengals 10… 

Ohio State tries to bounce back from a horrid loss at Iowa by beating unpredictable Michigan State. 

The Spartans are in the hunt for a Big Ten East title after knocking off Penn State last week, and it’s anybody’s guess which version of either of these teams will show up Saturday for a high noon showdown.

The better roster, as usual, belongs to Urban Meyer’s Buckeyes, but he’s squandered that advantage more than once already this season.

PREVIEW: Ohio State Buckeyes seek bounce back vs. Michigan State

While the defense has been disappointing more often than not this season, I am giving them a bit of a pass given the attrition on that side of the ball in consecutive years.

Perhaps we'll take some time in the offseason go to back over the ruins of the Silver Bullets if they don't rebound, but for now I'm still stuck on Ohio State's offense because that is allegedly Meyer's specialty.

The general impression I got from offensive coordinator Kevin Wilson's very informative interview Wednesday night was he knows all of his options for diversifying the stagnant running game, but he may or may not be convinced something different is necessary.

It’s also worth pointing out he may think his boss would rather stay committed to the spread than beef up inside with an extra blocker, so he might do that just to avoid Meyer’s ire.

That would be a mistake, in my opinion. I’d like to see them bulk up that running game with more 12 (two tight end) or 21 (two backs) personnel and/or swap that yucky zone blocking for the good ol’ power play (a.k.a. “dave” under Jim Tressel), but I’m not holding my breath.

Ohio State remains No. 2 in Football Outsiders S&P+, mostly because of how thoroughly the Buckeyes decimated the bad teams they played between Oklahoma and Penn State.

Michigan State is 22nd and has abysmal offensive numbers, but I get the impression the Spartans really are better than they look on paper because they have just improved since the start of the season.

So, who wins this one?

I think Ohio State will regroup and take care of business, but this really looks like a tossup.

Ohio State 31, Michigan State 24… 

Ohio football’s renaissance under Frank Solich continues. 

The Bobcats pounded Toledo (previously undefeated in the MAC) 38-10 last night with Covington’s A.J. Ouellette rushing for 70 yards and a touchdown.

Miami’s rival has gotten so good under Solich I actually saw at least one Bobcat alumn Tweet it don’t mean a thing without the ring (as in winning in the MAC championship game).

What a world.

Meanwhile, the RedHawks need two wins to become bowl eligible for the second consecutive season. They finish with the two worst teams in the MAC West: 3-7 Eastern Michigan and 2-8 Ball State…

College basketball is back tonight, and it promises to be an interesting season in the Miami Valley and beyond.

Dayton might be hard-pressed to win a third straight Atlantic 10 title, but the Flyers’ first season under Anthony Grant is intriguing for several reasons.

David Jablonski provides five things to watch tonight as they open the season against Ball State.

RELATED: Meet the UD freshmen

I look for this to be an athletic team that is strong defensively. Point guard play and outside shooting are open questions. If those are strong, this team could really surprise. If they are bad, it could be a long year.

RELATED: 'It starts for real' for Flyers on Friday

Having a guy in Kostas Antetokounmpo who could just show the ability to take over games is a wild card, too.

Meanwhile, Wright State opens the season tonight at Loyola. 

The Raiders are in year two under Scott Nagy, and they won’t begin the season with all their bullets in the holster.

Once they get to full strength, this will be an interesting team, too.

For better or for worse, early wins and losses don’t mean much for WSU since they are in a conference that typically only gets one NCAA tournament bid…

Of course, the high school football playoffs continue tonight with second-round games being played across the state. 

Some really intriguing matchups here, starting of course with Dunbar-Trotwood.

Dunbar has made quite a turnaround from getting blown out by Belmont in week one, and Trotwood is looking to get back to the state championship, where the Rams lost last season.

Talk about a chance for a statement win for the Wolverines.

Chaminade Julienne already got one of those last week by winning a rematch over Alter. The Eagles get New Richmond this week.

Then there is Valley View vs Clinton-Massie, a matchup of an old-school powerhouse against a newer one.

The most intriguing team to watch tonight might be Sidney. The Yellow Jackets have had a dream season, but they face a Herculean task to extend it: three-time state champion La Salle...

Lastly, in case you didn't bother paying attention to the release of the Silver Slugger awards because Joey Votto was obviously going to win one, well, I've got bad news.

Votto’s award went to Paul Goldschmidt of the Diamondbacks for some reason.

This is even more perplexing than the annually ridiculous Gold Glove voting because, well, there are actual numbers that can tell us who the best hitters are.

What gives, man?