COLUMBUS, Ohio – Going back to last December, when Michigan State stopped Ohio State’s winning streak and ended the Buckeyes hopes of winning the national title, it was easy to look ahead and circle Nov. 8, 2014 — Ohio State at Michigan State — as the one really big game this season for Ohio State.
Well, Braxton Miller got hurt, and the Virginia Tech upset happened, and a really young Ohio State team looked like it was years away from being ready to go to Michigan State and compete.
Can we fast forward to that game?
The Buckeyes have been on fast forward. No, the competition hasn’t been great, but suddenly Ohio State is 5-1, has scored 50 or more and gone over 500 yards of offense in every game since that Virginia Tech game, freshman quarterback J.T. Barrett is playing like he’s been doing this for years and a team that’s still very young across the depth chart seems to be growing up nicely.
Maybe we all jumped to premature conclusions in burying these Buckeyes or pointing towards one of the ready-made excuses?
Ohio State has outscored four opponents by a total of 224-69 since that Sept. 6 loss. Saturday, Rutgers provided little opposition in a game that ended 56-17. It seemed like Urban Meyer wanted it to be worse.
It probably could have been.
"We had a lot of respect for Rutgers," Meyer said. "They were 5-1 and really could have been 6-0.
"Our whole talk all week was they were a 6-0 team. That’s the way we approached it. It was earned respect from the way (Rutgers) beat our rivals."
Meyer doesn’t call Michigan by name. He’s really good at talking up the likes of Rutgers and Maryland, and stay tuned over the next two weeks when he does the same about Penn State and Illinois.
He’ll never admit it, but he can’t wait to see Ohio State play Michigan State either.
"This is a really good team to coach right now," Meyer said. "They’re as hungry as our coaching staff and that’s a really good thing."
Ohio State is playing well. It’s not just the (lack of) competition. The Buckeyes have some really good players. The young offensive line has confidence. Barrett’s numbers say he’s as good as anyone in the country.
Go ahead. Look them up.
He’s thrown for 20 touchdowns and five interceptions, none in five weeks. He’s completing 65 percent of his passes and is on pace to throw for almost 4,000 yards. He’s approaching 400 rushing yards, too.
Barrett was still in the game in the fourth quarter Saturday, still running around and trying to make things happen.
"He’s still a freshman trying to get as many game reps as he can," Meyer said.
This the fastest offense Meyer has had at Ohio State as far as tempo, and there are plenty of playmakers. Barrett isn’t perfect, and neither is the defense, but both are coming along nicely. Barrett completed his first nine passes Saturday. Byt the end of the game, nine different players had caught at least one.
"We have a lot of pieces," Meyer said.
Meyer was asked in his postgame press conference if he feels Ohio State is a top-10 team. He answered yes, he thinks, then followed that with a political response about how he doesn’t see other teams and doesn’t want someone to "blog…that he’s ranting raving again."
He’s been around a while. He knows a good team when he sees one.
"I think we’re playing at a pretty high level right now," he said.
Meyer can’t wait to see Ohio State play Michigan State.