This article originally appeared at ohiostate.scout.com
Thoughts on Last Week
I didn’t expect Maryland to put up much of a struggle, and I was right – the Buckeyes rolled again with a 62-3 victory for the second straight week. J.T. Barrett continued to look more comfortable throwing the ball, and Mike Weber, Demario McCall, and Curtis Samuel again led the run game past the 250-yard mark. On defense, the Buckeyes swarmed to the ball all game and held Maryland in check no matter who was in at quarterback. If you can hold a team to 1.1 yards per carry for 60 minutes, then you’re going to make it hard to win, and the Ohio State defense did just that last weekend.
On Michigan State
I made the long trek north last year for the Michigan State game and left Ohio Stadium a cold, wet, miserable person – along with over 100,000 of my closest friends. This year, the Buckeyes travel to East Lansing to take on the struggling Spartans. Michigan State finally ended a seven-game losing streak by beating Rutgers soundly last week. Despite Michigan State’s record this year, this is still a rivalry game, and the Buckeyes shouldn’t underestimate Mark Dantonio’s Spartans.
Ohio State will face off against familiar foe Tyler O’Connor, who replaced an injured Connor Cook last year to lead the upset at the Horseshoe. He has the ability to be a dual threat quarterback, but he’s been unsuccessful running the ball so far this season. The Spartans do have one of the best running backs in the Big Ten in LJ Scott. His touchdown numbers are down this year, but his average rush is higher. On the outside, they boast two talented receivers – R.J. Shelton and Donnie Corley. If Corley’s name sounds familiar, it’s because he ultimately picked Michigan State over Ohio State in the last recruiting cycle. The Spartan defense hasn’t been the same as since their run to the College Football Playoff last year, but they’re still ranked 31st in the FBS in total defense, only allowing 360 yards per game.
I don’t expect this to be an easy game for the Buckeyes. Hopefully they aren’t looking ahead to Michigan week because the Spartans have proven time and again they can rise to the occasion to knock us off our perch. I think the Buckeye offense will keep taking steps in the right direction, and the defense will contain O’Connor and Scott for minimal damage.
Prediction: Ohio State 35, Michigan State 13
A Fan’s Playoff Standings
- Alabama – Alabama remains one of only two undefeated teams (the other being Western Michigan) left in the country behind the arm and legs of Jalen Hurts. His career day against Mississippi State showed that, despite being only a freshman, he’s mature enough to lead this team to the playoffs. The Crimson Tide face a (not) tough game against Chattanooga this weekend.
- Ohio State – The Buckeyes benefited from the upheaval in the top echelons last Saturday. With Michigan, Clemson and Washington all losing, the Buckeyes move back into my top four. However, will they make the committee’s final four without a Big Ten Championship?
- Clemson – Clemson reminds me a lot of FSU circa 2014, and Ohio State last season, in that they are not playing up to their talent level the year after making a national championship run. Their loss last week wasn’t devastating as they still control their own destiny to this year’s playoff. Deshaun Watson and Mike Williams form one of the deadliest duos in all of college football, and they should still be the ACC champs.
- Louisville – I put Louisville here over the likes of Michigan or Washington because of Lamar Jackson. He has the ability to make teams look foolish, and, even though he lost at Clemson, he still had a fantastic game. Will Louisville make the final four as a non-conference champion? Doubtful, but for now they can sit here on my list.
(Note: Standings do not reflect this weeks results, including Thursday night games.)
A Fan’s Heisman Standings
- Lamar Jackson, QB, Louisville – Jackson had his worst game of the season so far, only accounting for one touchdown in Louisville’s fourth quarter comeback win over Wake Forest. Although the final score was 44-12, the Deacons led 12-10 before the wheels came off in the final quarter.
- Jalen Hurts, QB, Alabama – Hurts is a true freshman, but he hasn’t played like one all season. He’s led the Crimson Tide to a 10-0 start and the cusp of their third straight appearance in the College Football Playoff. Hurts has 27 total touchdowns this season while completing nearly 65 percent of his passes.
- Baker Mayfield, QB, Oklahoma – He had another 300-yard passing game as the Sooners blasted the Baylor Bears. Mayfield now has 33 passing touchdowns on the season and a 72 percent pass completion rate.
- Donnel Pumphrey, RB, San Diego State – He made an appearance on one of my earlier lists, and he returns this week after nearly eclipsing 200 yards for the 5th time this season. Pumphrey now has 1,779 yards on the season to lead the FBS. He has at least two games left to get over the 2,000 yard mark.