Fortuna Files: Are we not giving Ohio State enough credit?
The undermanned Buckeyes continue to answer the bell. Will that be enough in a muddled Big Ten this year?
Let’s get this part out of the way first: This is Ryan Day’s least-talented Ohio State team. This is probably the worst Ohio State team since Urban Meyer took over for Luke Fickell in 2012, or at least the most beatable of the bunch. Certainly, this can make for an uneasy watch if you’re a fan of the Buckeyes.
When you lack a first-round pick at quarterback, or at the very least a dual-threat quarterback — OSU has had one or the other every single year since 2007, when Todd Boeckman was the starter — this Buckeyes offense just does not look like its usual self.
Ohio State averages 33.7 points per game. The program has not finished a season with a lower points per game number since 2011, when it averaged 24.5.
And yet here the Buckeyes are, ready to enter Madison this Saturday to take on Wisconsin and old friend Fickell as a 7-0, third-ranked football team that has a pair of top-10 wins.
The win at then-No. 9 Notre Dame was what it was, a victory that itself was overshadowed in the heat of the moment by the Irish’s 10-men-on-the-field gaffe and Ryan Day’s heated comments toward Lou Holtz. Strip away the emotion, though, and look at the meat of this past weekend’s 20-12 win against then-No. 7 Penn State. You have a football team that has passed multiple difficult tests so far, and one that looks more likely than not to be undefeated yet again when it faces Michigan in the regular-season finale.
Isn’t that the point in a season like this one? To survive and advance?
Alabama seems to be appreciated for that. And the Crimson Tide actually have a loss on their ledger.
Think of the circumstances surrounding this latest Ohio State win: A top-10 opponent — a conference rival that is said to have its best team in years — comes to town as a small underdog feeling good about its chances. Everyone in the world is wondering if you’re for real, or if you simply got lucky against the Irish last month. And oh, by the way, you’re going to be without your top running back (TreVeyon Henderson), without a receiver who would be the No. 1 target on 99 percent of college football rosters (Emeka Egbuka), and without your top corner (Denzel Burke).
Your actual No. 1 target, Marvin Harrison Jr., is widely looked at as the only way you can win this game, and given the relative deficiencies at the quarterback position, even Harrison’s potential effectiveness is a legitimate question mark, especially against the nation’s No. 1 defense.