The Ohio State Buckeyes have played 10 games this college football season and have won them all. Every Ohio State fan knows, however, that the real season begins today, when the Michigan State Spartans come to town.
It’s been an interesting season for Ohio State, filled with twists and turns but with one, overriding theme: the Buckeyes’ failure to be as dominant and impressive as the pundits expected them to be. With Ohio State’s run to the National Championship still fresh in everyone’s minds and preseason expectations sky-high, anything other than a 60-0 drubbing is seen as a disappointment. Last week’s win over Illinois is a good example. The Buckeyes beat a Big Ten team with a winning record, on the road, 28-3 — and the talking heads kept talking about what was wrong with Ohio State.
If Ohio State can pull off a win today such talk should stop, because everyone knows Michigan State is one of the best teams in the country. The Spartans are ranked in the top ten and would also be 10-0, save for a flukey loss to Nebraska that turned on a questionable no-call by the refs. They’ve fought titanic battles with Ohio State, on even terms, the last few years. They’re an experienced team led by a probable first-round draft choice at quarterback in Connor Cook, and their coach, Mark Dantonio, has turned the Michigan State football program into a powerhouse. For the Spartans, this is a chance to avenge their loss to the Buckeyes last year and to take a further step toward cementing their status as one of the elite teams in the country.
This will be a tough, hard-hitting contest — but it also will be an opportunity for Ohio State to answer some of the critics and questions. Can Ohio State finally gel on offense, avoid the frustrating breakdowns and penalties, and reach the same level of execution that made them close to unstoppable in last year’s National Championship Game against Oregon? Can Urban Meyer and his coaches get Braxton Miller, Ezekiel Elliott, Michael Thomas, Jalin Marshall, and the Buckeyes other offensive weapons to fully mesh against a stout defense? And can the Silver Bullets get pressure on Cook and avoid the big-play breakdowns that have made some of the Buckeyes’ wins this year too close for comfort?
The quarterback controversy is behind us, and the big games are finally here. Everyone in Buckeye Nation wants to see a win for a great Buckeye, Braxton Miller, on Senior Day. In Columbus, where the forecast is for rainy game-time conditions, the real season starts today.