This week our inspiration comes from Sam Spence, who has put together many spectacular tracks for NFL Films over the years.
What we learned last week: The Buckeyes really do have their sights set on a national championship, and they just might be able to pull it off.
I think I saw the first fan mention this on our www.BuckeyeSports.com message board within an hour of the NCAA handing down its 2012 postseason ban to Ohio State, but now we’ve heard a player confirm the Buckeyes’ intentions to run the table and take home the program’s fifth Associated Press national championship this season.
“Oh yeah, that’s definitely a goal for our team,” cornerback Bradley Roby said Saturday night. “We want to win every single game. We’re taking it one play at a time, one game at a time. We definitely want to go undefeated, and hopefully that’s something in the future.”
There are many obstacles to overcome, of course, but the Buckeyes are within shouting distance after moving up to No. 8 this week.
Winning is one thing, but winning with flare is another. I wonder if some voters treated the Buckeyes – perhaps understandably so – as afterthoughts in their balloting before the season and in the first month. They seem to be taking notice now, and that comes as no surprise given the way the Buckeyes have won, including dropping 63 points on Nebraska last week.
They have some clear problems on defense, but people love offense. Those scoreboard fireworks also give voters who might not see a snap of a game a more tangible way to envision what happened, too, although major offensive numbers are becoming par for the course in college football lately.
Do I think this is going to happen? It’s still unlikely, but anything is possible.
The rest of the schedule lines up favorably as Michigan is the only other Big Ten team currently ranked in the AP Top 25 (and the Wolverines barely qualify as they cling to the last spot). Ohio State doesn’t play a plucky Northwestern team that can’t play defense but has a dangerous offense, but there are trips to Wisconsin and Penn State.
Those are not easy places to play, but Ohio State has more raw ability on its roster than either squad so winning should be a matter of finding favorable matchups and executing the game plan.
I thought before the season Illinois could be dangerous as a sandwich game between those two road trips, but the Fighting Illini have looked awful pretty much all season.
Beating Michigan will be no cakewalk, but the emotion of that game should be through the roof as the Buckeyes look for payback from their only loss to the Wolverines in the past decade and welcome back the 2002 national championship team for a 10-year reunion.
There might even be a boost from an appearance by Jim Tressel, the former coach who recruited many of the current Buckeyes and has been invited back as part of the festivities for his most accomplished team.
Can you imagine what Ohio Stadium would be like with an undefeated Ohio State squad playing host to both its bitter rival and its most beloved team of the past two or three decades on Thanksgiving weekend?
It could be epic, but there is much for them to do between now and then.
This pie-in-the-sky scenario involves receiving plenty of outside help, too, as the Buckeyes are nowhere near controlling their own destiny.
Top-ranked Alabama looks to be head and shoulders above the field so far this season, and the other six undefeated teams ranked ahead of them would in all likelihood need to lose, too, because Ohio State’s schedule won’t be considered tougher than any of them have faced.
Some of those teams will take care of each other as fifth-ranked West Virginia and No. 6 Kansas State play each other Oct. 20, the same day No. 4 Florida hosts No. 3 South Carolina. The Gators also play Georgia and at Florida State while the Gamecocks’ second-toughest remaining regular season game is this weekend in Baton Rouge against LSU.
I’m still not sure how legitimate Notre Dame is, but the seventh-ranked Fighting Irish still has lose-able games against USC, Stanford and Oklahoma.
That leaves the Crimson Tide, who will have to down in all likelihood the winner of the Florida-South Carolina game in the SEC championship, and No. 2 Oregon. The high-flying Ducks have the easiest remaining schedule of the top seven but must also contend with USC and Stanford before facing someone in the Pac-12 title game.
What we can expect to learn this week: If the Buckeyes can keep their focus and continue to iron out the mistakes.
The trips to Happy Valley and Madison could be daunting, but Ohio State gets a couple of tuneups first from the state of Indiana’s Big Ten representatives.
First up is Indiana, a squad that enters this week’s contest with its customary bottom-dwelling defense but an offense with the potential to do damage under second-year head coach Kevin Wilson despite the loss of potential star quarterback Tre Roberson.
No one in the Big Ten has thrown for more yards than the Hoosiers so far this season, and their 304.8 yards per game through the air are 19th in the nation. They like to pick those yards up with short passes and a variety of screens, something that has bothered the Buckeyes this season as defensive coordinator Luke Fickell and co-defensive coordinator Everett Withers work to meld their defensive philosophies.
Indiana’s most dangerous weapon is sophomore wide receiver Shane Wynn, a Cleveland Glenville product once thought to be a future Buckeye, and they have a trio of interesting running backs in Stephen Houston, D’Angelo Roberts and Tevin Coleman.
On the flip side, they haven’t shown the ability to stop the pass or the run, so Meyer and offensive coordinator Tom Herman can likely pick their poison as they continue to evolve their version of the spread offense.
This one would be an easy one for the Buckeyes to overlook, but one also wonders about the mental state of the Hoosiers after a second-half collapse last week against Michigan State. Will that give them confidence that Wilson’s program is gaining a foothold, or did they shoot all their bullets at the Spartans?
We’ll find out Saturday night in Bloomington.