Ohio State survived against Maryland, 52-51. This year’s Buckeyes are not a vintage variety, with plenty of glaring weak spots. It’s been a tumultuous season in Columbus. And yet we’ll go into the final Saturday of the regular season in a familiar way. With the conference crown on the line between OSU and Michigan — as well as a potential spot in the College Football Playoff.
The Wolverines have arguably the most fearsome defense in the nation. Urban Meyer’s side does not. They’re giving up 24.6 points/game. Compare that to other playoff hopefuls:
- Alabama 12.7
- Clemson 12.7
- Michigan 12.9
- Georgia 15.8
- LSU 16.7
- Notre Dame 18.7
Even Washington State (22.1) has been more stingy. Oklahoma, playing in the points-happy Big 12, has been worse (29.8). Considering the scrutiny the Sooners and others from that conference are put under when it comes to defensive shortcomings, is it crazy to think Ohio State’s chances will also be dampened?
The season’s only loss came via 49 Purdue points. Nebraska posted 31. Maryland put up 51 today. These are a painful, crooked numbers. Ohio State knows all too well what a 50-burger can do to title hopes.
Beating Michigan will go a long way. Beating Northwestern will help, a little. But as we sit here with most of the body work complete, the Buckeyes just don’t have the eye-popping attractiveness of a playoff-caliber team. These shootouts are fun, but not entirely indicative of a dominant squad.