Today, we are joined by Adam Woodard from Land-Grant Holy Land to answer our questions leading up to the game this Saturday against Ohio State.
1. Ohio State now has the possibility to finish the first two years of the Urban Meyer era undefeated, but without a National Championship. You would have to feel great about these last two years, but some part of you must feel unfulfilled without even having the shot at a title.
It was tough last year to see the team, and more specifically Braxton Miller, make such great strides from the struggles of 2011 and come out with little to no recognition. To come back from a 6-7 record and finish the season unblemished was a special thing, and it was a real shame to see such hardworking senior leaders like John Simon not even get a shot at the Big Ten Championship Game, let alone a national championship. As far as this year is concerned, the team looks even better offensively, with the defense being the only major question mark early in the season. The team is really hitting the its stride going down the final stretch of the season. The argument can be made for multiple teams to be in the BCS Championship Game, but ultimately everybody knows that you still need to finish out and worry about being 10-0 before you even consider 13-0.
2. Ohio State looks to have a clear path to 12-0, but with a showdown with Michigan State in the Big Ten Championship looming, what odds would you give the Buckeyes of winning out?
On paper, it looks great for the Buckeyes to win out and get to the Big Ten Championship Game, especially with the struggles that Michigan has had all year. However, in a rivalry game, anything can happen. You can bet that Michigan is going to come correct in Ann Arbor at the end of November. But as far as Illinois and Indiana are concerned, because of their less than ideal seasons, it's not out of the question Buckeye players overlook them. Meyer's biggest responsibility now is to keep the team focused and go one game at a time. We'll put the odds at 6/5, at least to make the Big Ten title game unbeaten.
3. Florida State and Alabama are clearly ahead of the Buckeyes in the polls, but if one happened to lose, the next shot at the title will likely fall to an undefeated Baylor, or an undefeated Ohio State. Many think Baylor will jump OSU if both finish the year without a loss. Should that be the case?
I think if either (or ideally both) Alabama or Florida State lose before their respective conference championships, then Ohio State should be the team to move up. The Buckeyes win against Northwestern doesn't look too good now, seeing as the Wildcats have now lost 5 consecutive games. The win against Wisconsin still looks good to the voters, and Baylor's only really challenging game was their impressive win last weekend against Oklahoma. The Bears still have an unranked 7-3 Texas Tech this weekend, plus no. 12 Oklahoma State and no. 24 Texas. If Ohio State and Baylor both end up undefeated, winning their conference championships, then it's a great argument for the Bears to jump the Buckeyes if FSU or ‘Bama lose closer to the end of the season.
4. Do you think Ohio State would beat Alabama in a championship game? Florida State?
Alabama has one of the most efficient offenses in the country and Florida State's defense is just downright fun to watch. I don't think Ohio State would get rolled like they did against Florida in 2006, but I will say I think they have a better chance against Florida State compared to Alabama.
5. Now to get to our game? Do Ohio State fans really care about the Illibuck trophy. One of the greatest moments for me as an Illini fan was winning the trophy in 2007, beating number one OSU on the road, but with the Buck's dominance in these games, do Ohio State fans even care?
The sentiment for smaller rivalries like this definitely depends on the year. Because Ohio State fans have their sights on a national championship, the meaning behind the game is lost in translation a bit. That being said, any historical fan will say they care about the game and the trophy. Regardless of what else is at stake for the season, you can bet Coach Meyer's Ohio background will have him fighting for possession of the Illibuck
6. Which players should we be on the lookout on offense? Defense?
Ohio State has this quarterback named Braxton Miller. Word on the street is he's pretty good. Illinois is 115th in the nation in rushing yards per game, giving up 239.6 per game. The Buckeyes average 301.1 yards per game on the ground, meaning the Illinois defense is going to have their hands full with Carlos Hyde, Braxton Miller and true-freshman speedster Dontre Wilson. The Illini have the 24th best passing attack in college football, so you can bet that Coach Meyer will be calling on Bradley Roby and Doran Grant to step up on the corners this weekend.
7. How was Urban Meyer able to turn it around so quickly?
Plain and simple: his organizational leadership, top down. Luke Fickell is a great coach, and will be a fantastic head coach whenever he leaves Columbus. However, Meyer is a generational coach. He's always been able to get the most out of his players and maximize his team's productivity. Meyer expects perfection in every aspect of the game, and for the most part, his actions and his team's actions show that year in and year out.
8. Prediction for the game?
Sorry, The Champaign Room-ers (Edit. note: we prefer the term CHAMPAIGNIACS), but I've got the Buckeyes in this one, and I've got them big. Coach Meyer knows the Buckeyes need some big statement wins to stay in the national championship race, and if I were a gambling man, I'd bet the Buckeyes to cover the 32 point spread.
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Thanks again to Adam. Be sure to check out Land-Grant Holy Land for news on Ohio State.