- Marcus Hartman
Ohio State’s laugher at Rutgers was part of a pretty tame Saturday across the country.
Here are five takeaways from the Buckeyes, Big Ten and beyond.
1. If Ohio State’s 56-0 win over Rutgers was worth anything, it was giving the receivers more reason to have confidence.
The oft-maligned position seems to be building swagger over the past couple of weeks, something that could pay dividends later in the season since this is a group that has had a tendency to disappear at key points in the Urban Meyer era.
2. On the flip side, am I the only one wondering if the defense needs another test soon?
Two weeks in a row the Silver Bullets have hardly had to break a sweat. That’s good for getting playing time for youngsters, but this is still a young group that needs time together on the field. They also need to be sure they have the stamina to play four quarters the next time that’s necessary.
Strange as it might sound, the Ohio State defense might actually be better off getting in another close game soon so the defense can get more serious reps.
3. Michigan State and Iowa played a close game probably indicative of neither being all that good.
I’ll be curious to see how good each offensive line turns out to be as the season wears on because neither of them got much push, though of course the defensive lines had something to do with that.
Neither team has a quarterback or running game a defense has to fear, which is what led to the defensive slugfest they held yesterday.
4. Indiana might have been competitive against Penn State it not for numerous major mistakes.
The Nittany Lions have rebuilt their offense to a satisfactory degree. They have more weapons at receiver than they did last year, and Saquon Barkley has actually gotten better.
The offensive line looks improved, too.
If there is a difference between this year and last year for Penn State, it might be the pass rush. The DL is still stout, but I’m not sure they can generate as much edge pressure with their ends.
5. On the first of October, the playoff picture is wide open but the race for the national championship appears to include only two teams.
Clemson has already laid waste to the two best teams in the ACC and beaten a probably-good SEC team (Auburn).
Alabama already ruined Florida State’s season and won’t be tested until they play that same Auburn team the last game of the season, but the Crimson Tide have earned the benefit of the doubt even if we’re unsure how good the rest of the SEC is again.
I was tempted to say this is a year when the BCS might have sufficed because all we need to know is who is better, the Tigers or the Tide, but on the other hand it’s a great example of why we always needed a playoff.
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Comparing strength of conferences is just not very easy. There’s not enough data, so it’s nice not to have to assume what happens in three of those conference races doesn’t matter.
Making Clemson and Alabama earn it against another top team before holding another championship game rematch is also good in case their dominance of their leagues was deceptive.
So, who will be left out between the Pac-12, Big Ten and Big 12?
Right now it looks like the West Coasters as chaos could reign there. Even if there are no upsets, only one undefeated team can come out of that league because South leader Utah plays North leaders Washington and Washington State, who of course have a rivalry game at the end of the regular season.
That’s good for Ohio State since the Buckeyes aren’t getting in over even a one-loss Oklahoma if the Sooners win the Big 12.
Of course, Urban Meyer’s team still has a lot of work to do before needing to worry about all that.