Week 7 brought us a slate of games that was more interesting and impactful than any we've seen so far this year. The Buckeyes rolled out the black carpet for a big game of their own. After the dust settled, what did we learn about the national picture? How do the Buckeyes fit in?
What We Learned About the Buckeyes:
First, let's get this part out of the way: the black jerseys were special. The Buckeyes have done this alternate jersey thing before. Every time it has come off as a cheap gimmick to sell a few extra shirts. The alternate jerseys have seldom looked good and hardly look like they belong to the Buckeyes. This time was different though. The fans were asked to be involved beyond just getting out their wallets. Over 108,000 people, the largest crowd in the storied venue's history, all wearing black. Other schools have done this kind of thing, but Ohio State's size and history and mystique has a way of making an unoriginal idea like this one feel a bit unique, and that's what happened last night.
The atmosphere inside Ohio Stadium has seemingly declined in recent years. Frequent and ceaseless TV timeouts take the crowd out of the game. Spoiled fans have expectations so high sit on their hands because they feel like they are owed greatness on every play and don't see fit to use their voice to support the team. The stadium PA seemingly does everything in their power to take the air out of the place, interrupting the band and the students to pump in canned videos, advertisements and lame music. Sometimes when you're at the game, it feels like everybody is pulling in different directions. The blackout was something different. It required everybody doing the same thing to pull it off - from the players to the athletic department to the fans. It worked, and it felt special even if you weren't there.
As for the game itself, the Buckeyes performed in fits and starts, but it was still enough to win comfortably.
On offense, the Buckeyes looked like they finally re-discovered an identity with JT Barrett at the controls. He looked more assured than he had all season. Though he didn't get the chance to pass very much, it was clear that his abilities as a runner could open up the passing game in a way that hasn't been possible with Jones at quarterback. Urban Meyer has frequently said that Jones has remained the starter because Barrett has not earned the job back yet. It looked like he may have done enough last night to get the nod though. It seems that most people would be shocked if he isn't given they keys going forward.
On defense, they lost Joshua Perry to an early injury and allowed freshman RB Saquon Barkley to run for huge yardage. Except for a couple fluke deep balls though, the Penn State passing attack was mostly shut down. Giving up a ton of rushing yards seems concerning. Here's why it isn't (yet): The Buckeyes seem to be content to give up rushing yards if they can win the battle of preventing big chunks of passing yards. Barkley found a lot of open space and broke a lot of tackles on early downs. When the chips were down in short yardage situations though, Ohio State stuffed him. When they want to, the Buckeyes can and do stop the run. It's just not a priority when they know they can't really be hurt by it. Last night's performance can't really be called an elite one, but it was effective.
What We Learned About the National Picture:
- First of all, the polls are meaningless. With the advent of the playoff it seemed like many feared that they would unduly influence the selection committee. It has actually turned out the other way around - poll voters saw the way the committee did things last year, how it broke with the way poll voters usually thought, and now those voters are clinging to relevancy by trying to get inside the heads of the committee and predict what they might decide. The polls now are more reflective of what might take place in a hotel conference room than what might take place on a football field. In some ways it's rather insightful. In other ways, it has as many built-in biases as the old way the polls were ran.
- The Buckeyes have slowly been losing #1 votes in the polls, meanwhile the ranks of the undefeated have been steadily dwindling. Everybody knows that if the Buckeyes keep winning they'll be fine. The question has been, are the Buckeyes actually good enough to keep winning? For those who think the answer is "yes" there are more reasons to be confident in that answer than there have been since the first week.
- Baylor sits right behind Ohio State in the polls by virtue of beating up on tomato cans. Seriously, go look at the defensive ranks of the teams they've played. It's beyond embarrassing. They did get revenge this week on West Virginia - the mediocre team that ultimately took them out of playoff consideration last season, so maybe you could say they are ahead of where they were a year ago now.
- Utah just keeps winning, and has a very impressive resumé. After beating Arizona State they have a two-game lead in their division and seem to have a clear path to an undefeated regular season. On the other side of the PAC-12, Stanford has bounced back from their season-opening loss to Northwestern and look like the favorites in the North. It's shaping up to be an enticing conference championship game matchup, and the winner will likely secure a playoff spot - perhaps even if it's a one-loss Stanford.
- LSU continues to roll and it seems like there's no stopping Heisman frontrunner Leonard Fournette. There are still a lot of big games left on their schedule and it's easy to envision places where they might trip up. Their matchup with Alabama looms large. Meanwhile, Florida remains in the picture despite the loss. The question with them has to be, will they be OK with out Will Grier, or was last night's game a matter of LSU playing near the same level as their weakened opponent? They still control their destiny in the SEC East, and as long as they have a shot at getting to the conference championship game they'll be alive for the playoff.
- The AAC is quietly shaping up to be the most interesting conference race in the country. Houston, Temple and Memphis are all undefeated, and with the latter upsetting Ole Miss yesterday, each has a notable win over a Power-5 opponent. This conference is technically the old Big East and this is shaping up like those old races from a decade ago when Rutgers, Louisville and West Virginia were all undefeated going into November, with a sort-of round robin to determine who would come out on top. Back in those days, those teams all ended up taking each other out, sometimes with the help of a second-tier spoiler. Is that what will happen this time? If one of these three teams runs the table, do they consider playoff consideration?
- Iowa remains undefeated. They may get to Indianapolis with a 12-0 record. Nobody cares.
- Notre Dame remains nominally in the playoff hunt. They have one loss, but their name and strength of schedule means it takes two losses to kill their chances. They got past a tough test in their rivalry game with USC where the Trojans seeming enjoyed the same kind of bounce that teams sometimes get with an interim coach in a bowl game. Three of their last five games are going to be against teams that are currently ranked. Temple is an upstart, but is beatable. Pitt is having a sneaky-decent season so far under first-year coach Pat Narduzzi, but probably can't hang. Stanford is the final game of the regular season for the Domers, and it will be the toughest test of the three. All of these games are on the road. As the Buckeyes showed last year, being outside of the top ten at this point in the season is not necessarily a curse.
- Oh, and this was a thing that happened:
There's not much more that can be said about that finish that hasn't already been covered and won't be said for years to come. There was a lot more going on though besides that hilarious freak play. Sparty re-affirmed that their reputation as choke artists is gone under Mark Dantonio. They remain in the playoff race, but confidence in them as contenders continues to diminish. They simply do not look to be as good as either of the last two seasons. Jim Harbaugh re-asserted his smashmouth football credentials. He has already made the team tougher than any edition that program has fielded in the last decade. They were bestowed dark horse playoff contender status last week, but that has evaporated. They look formidable in some ways, but there is a distinct smoke-and-mirrors feel about them, especially with Rudock at quarterback. They controlled that game with M*ch*g*n State until the final play, and other than the play of their front seven I'm not quite sure how they did it.
Lost in the way that game finished was the performance of the referees. I from the glorious ways in which M*ch*g*n got screwed to the infuriating ways M*ch*g*n State got the shaft, it's hard to think of a game that was adjudicated as poorly as this one was from start to finish. There have been plenty of worse individual officiating errors, but not many 60-minute debacles like that one.
Do you, man:
This tweet was funny when it was simply making fun of the boner scUM fans got in the first quarter over a punt. It's a comedy ALL-TIMER now:
Must be looking for those lottery tickets Sam Webb was talking about:
That feeling when you've been demoted from starting linebacker to male cheerleader:
Future school shooter / manifesto author:
Does Les Miles have him on retainer so that he looks like a sane human being by comparison? He should consider getting that written in to his next contract:
When the going gets weird...
...The weird turn pro:
This person, and all of the sad people like him:
Follow us on Twitter @buckeyeplanet and @bp_recruiting, like us on Facebook! Enjoy a post or article, recommend it to others! BP is only as strong as its community, and we only promote by word of mouth, so share away!Dismiss Notice
Consider registering! Fewer and higher quality ads, no emails you don't want, access to all the forums, download game torrents, private messages, polls, Sportsbook, etc. Even if you just want to lurk, there are a lot of good reasons to register!Dismiss Notice