1. Ohio State needs a miracle.
The College Football Playoff committee might be capable of a surprise. It's possible Michigan State's 55-16 blowout of Penn State helped OSU's cause. The Buckeyes' 17-14 stumble against the Spartans in the wind and rain at Ohio Stadium on Nov. 21 kept them from playing in next weekend's Big Ten Championship Game against undefeated Iowa and almost surely ended their hopes of repeating as national champions. If Iowa beats Michigan State, some analysts might believe the Buckeyes are better than the Hawkeyes. But will the CFP committee? I could see them fearing that an OSU-USC Rose Bowl would steal the playoff's thunder. But where OSU rates with Iowa and MSU will probably serve only as good post-season argument fodder.
2. How high will Ezekiel Elliott be drafted?
The running back position has been devalued in the NFL, but the junior who passed Eddie George Saturday and moved into second place on OSU's all-time rushing list deserves consideration as a top 10 pick in the 2016 draft. With 214 yards on 30 carries and two touchdowns against Michigan, Elliott plays his best in big games. His 698 yards to close out the 2014 national title run against Wisconsin, Alabama and Oregon should be enough evidence of that. He's an all-around back who can block and catch, meaning he would never have to come off the field. And he's a team player, genuine in his apology for criticizing the OSU play-calling last week. Five years ago, those would be credentials for a top five pick.To read more or comment...
Following Ohio State's loss on Saturday to Michigan State, Buckeyes running back Ezekiel Elliott went off on the playcalling.
On Monday, he issued an apology on Twitter for his rant.
"I am sorry for all those offended by the statements made by me Saturday after OUR loss," the apology said. "My intentions were not to point fingers at anyone for OUR failure."To read more or comment...
1. OSU coach Urban Meyer never found a way to regroup after the departure of offensive coordinator/quarterbacks coach Tom Herman at the end of last season to become coach at the University of Houston. Meyer tried to make it work with co-offensive coordinators Ed Warinner and Tim Beck, with both taking their turns at play-calling, with Meyer's input. Quarterback J.T. Barrett denied the change affected the offense, saying, "Um, no, I don't think so. Coach Beck is a great coach and our offensive staff does a good job preparing us. We had a good week of practice. We just came into the game and didn't execute the game plan. I don't think that's part of it." But Barrett was giving the politically correct answer.
2. Ezekiel Elliott said "there's no chance of me coming back next year." While that's no surprise, the loss illustrated that the junior running back was the No. 1 reason the Buckeyes won the 2014 national title. The OSU offense doesn't hum when Elliott is not at his best, and he spent Monday through Wednesday in the hospital with an infected cyst in his leg, then got two carries in the second half and 12 for the game. Perhaps Meyer thought he could rest Elliott since Michigan State was without starting quarterback Connor Cook, but that plan backfired.
3. Season-ending broken legs suffered by receivers Noah Brown and Corey Smith were major blows. Michael Thomas can play in the NFL, but the Buckeyes' leading receiver managed only two catches for 8 yards vs. the Spartans. OSU has talent with Jalin Marshall, Curtis Samuel, Braxton Miller and tight end Nick Vannett, but not nearly as much as expected. Miller's switch from quarterback seemed more of a distraction than an asset.
4. This game might have shown that the quarterback switch from Cardale Jones to J.T. Barrett put the offense behind. Barrett said he didn't deserve to be the starter on Sept. 7 at Virginia Tech because of his poor practices. But Barrett's limited work while Jones was No. 1 left Barrett unpolished going into crunch time.To read more or comment...