Is Ohio State Better Off Not Making the Playoffs?

What if NOT making the College Football Playoffs is the best thing for the Ohio State football team?

It sounds ridiculous and resembles the mindset of a loser and non-competitor, I realize that, but what if the Buckeyes just aren’t that good this season? Maybe, despite all the preseason hype and an abundance of talented individuals, OSU isn’t actually one of the top four teams in the country after all.

It’s a thought that popped into my head after Ohio State lost to Michigan State in an incredibly forgettable performance. I first thought about the crazy collection of elite football players that litter the roster, even after all the season-ending injuries that have permeated the offensive lineup. Think about the playmaking possibilities outside of the quarterback position – Parris Campbell, Ezekiel Elliott, Jalin Marshall, Braxton Miller, Curtis Samuel, Michael Thomas, Nick Vannett, and Dontre Wilson. And that’s leaving a few names out. That’s a lot of athletic people who can run really fast, catch the football, and score touchdowns. Head Coach Urban Meyer and the rest of the offensive brain trust often mention the need to get all of their top playmakers more touches. In essence, it’s true – but that might be the exact mindset that is holding this team back.

The reality may just be that the 2015 Buckeyes are more a collection of talented individuals than one of the strongest teams in the country. That might explain why they lost their first game against a quality opponent – the Spartans in Game 11. The MSU roster comes nowhere close to Ohio State’s roster on paper, in terms of comparing athletes, but it does arguably constitute a better team. Their offense seems to be more predicated on getting the ball to the open man, instead of force-feeding specific players on pre-determined plays in order to come close to their respective quotas. Honestly, even though Michigan was absolutely throttled by Ohio State, the Wolverines’ offense seems better-suited to “find the open man” and move the chains, as opposed to throwing to a particular person because it’s his turn.

Speaking of the Buckeyes throttling Michigan this past Saturday, that looked like a darn impressive outing by the Scarlet and Gray. To beat that team, in that stadium, with that head coach, by the score of 42-13 is tremendously impressive. For the first time in 12 games, it looked like OSU had finally put together a complete performance and played up to their potential. And now, Buckeye fans are taking that one impressive outing and using it mental fuel as we hope for any slim chance at qualifying for the playoffs based on other teams’ misfortune. But what if that’s a mistake? If Ohio State played well in one out of 12 games, isn’t it more likely that the particular game was more of an anomaly than the other 11 games? One would be hard=pressed to say that the Buckeyes’ performance on November 21 against MSU was a true representation of their potential, but if the team that showed up that day is closer to the team’s true identity than the one that pummeled Michigan?

Perhaps the recency effect is taking over the minds of Ohio State fans around the country, and the impressive outing against the Wolverines is clouding our collective opinion of how good OSU actually is. We, as a fan base, are assuming that if were to slip into the playoffs that we’d continue to look like a fluid, dominating team. But what happens if we get into the playoffs as the No. 4 seed and play against Clemson or Alabama similar to how we played against Northern Illinois? Or like we played against Western Michigan? Would all this wishing and hoping and finger crossing be worth it if we got in and then lost to Alabama by 17 points? Maybe the Buckeyes are exactly where they should be, based on how good of a team – or collection of individuals – they actually are.

…Just kidding, I really hope Ohio State makes the playoffs!

Comments

  1. “Head Coach Urban Meyer and the rest of the offensive brain trust often mention the need to get all of their top playmakers more touches. In essence, it’s true – but that might be the exact mindset that is holding this team back.”

    While you want, need, to get your playmakers the ball, that should be done within the context of the specific situation during the game. For example, if the opposing defense is “loading the box” against the run, some passes to loosen up the defense, specifically designed to take what the defense is giving you and taking game weather conditions into account, are virtually necessary to open up the run game. Then, when the defense is on its heels, run the ball right at them.

    And I do think that the TTUN performance showed the benefit when the offensive plays are being called by the OC with minimal outside distractions. While it is possible to be both a position coach and offensive coordinator in pre-game preparations, it really is better during the game for the OC to focus completely on the task at hand, calling the offense and noting what the defense is doing and making immmediate adjustments. Offensive play calling should be continually adjusted to attack defensive weaknesses, not primarily to get certain players the ball.

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