Just two months ago, the Ohio State football team was ranked in the Associated Press top five with a Heisman trophy candidate at quarterback, and it had been picked by many to appear in the first-ever College Football Playoff.
My, how things have changed.
Some expected the worst following senior quarterback Braxton Miller’s season-ending shoulder injury while others remained optimistic that the Scarlet and Gray could still make a run at a national title. As of now, neither group is right or wrong.
The Buckeyes currently sit at 4-1 (1-0) and are tied atop the East Division of the Big Ten. Outside of a less-than-impressive performance in a 35-21 loss to Virginia Tech, redshirt-freshman quarterback J.T. Barrett has filled in admirably for OSU, and should his play continue, there is an outside chance that he could still lead his team into a national semifinal game.
On the other hand, things could very easily go south for the Buckeyes.
Following a homecoming matchup with Rutgers on Oct. 18, OSU is scheduled to play three straight night games, two of which are on the road and in traditionally hostile environments.
Trips to State College, Pa., and East Lansing, Mich., loom as the Buckeyes’ biggest regular season tests. And how Barrett handles himself during those games could be the difference between staying in playoff contention, and watching the Big Ten title game from the couch.
There is no denying that the Buckeyes seem to be hitting full stride, but once again the poor strength of schedule rears its ugly head. Who have the Buckeyes really played that jump off the page? The only game I can think of is the matchup with the Hokies, and if you ask me, that game could have been a lot uglier for Barrett and company.
Think of what we could be talking about had OSU beaten the Hokies. There is a good chance the Buckeyes could be ranked as high as No. 3 in the country, as everyone ranked in front of them prior to the Virginia Tech game aside from Florida State and Auburn has since lost.
Think about if the Buckeyes had prepared for the bear defense the Hokies threw at them like they have since. OSU senior wide receiver Devin Smith said following a win against Maryland that he is surprised teams still line up in that defense because of how successful the Buckeyes have been against it since the Virginia Tech game.
If you thought you would hear that kind of statement anytime after the way things unfolded in Columbus on Sept. 6, give yourself a pat on the back.
So as the Buckeyes sit on the outside looking in for now, don’t count them out just yet, but don’t pencil them in either.
Just sit back, (try to) relax and enjoy the remainder of the college football season.