There’s a lot to like about Ohio State and its chances to beat Michigan State in the league title tilt and win the Big Ten championship. The biggest hope is a killer offense. Here are 10 reasons why the Buckeyes can win the conference and perhaps go to the BCS title game for the first time since making back-to-back appearances after the 2006-07 seasons.
1. Mojo. The Buckeyes are on a big-time roll, having won 24 games in a row. No one in the nation is hotter. There is an air of invincibility surrounding this team that never has lost with Urban Meyer standing on the sideline. That’s a heck of an intangible.
2. Braxton Miller. Is there a more sensational and dynamic player in the nation? Of course not. Miller is the epitome of the old adage “he can score any time he touches the ball.” He missed almost three games in September but has been on a roll since coming back from that knee injury, finishing the season No. 2 in the Big Ten in passing efficiency. And the junior has become a better passer, making him one of the nation’s ultimate weapons.
3. Something to prove. The Buckeyes went 12-0 last year but were ineligible to win the Big Ten or go to a bowl game while on probation. This team wants to show that it’s legit and worthy of its lofty ranking, as this would be a signature win on Ohio State’s resume.
Listen to the Ohio State’s Jack Mewhort, Ryan Shazier and Michael Bennett:
4. Carlos Hyde. He missed the first three games while serving a team suspension but has come on to develop into the top running back in the Big Ten—if not the nation. Hyde has eclipsed the 100-yard rushing mark in each of the last seven games. And on a few occasions, he has literally carried the Buckeyes to victory. Remember the game at Northwestern (26 carries/168 yards)? He averages a Big Ten-high 143.4 yards rushing per game.
5. Urban Meyer. The guy is one of the nation’s ultimate big-game coaches, boasting two national titles on his resume. He also coached the original BCS-buster at Utah in 2004. Few are better on game day than Meyer.
6. Blockers. This is the top offensive line in the Big Ten. A lot of credit goes to coach Ed Warinner, whose star pupil is tackle Jack Mewhort. Bookend Taylor Decker also is strong, and center Corey Linsley is a star.
7. Front seven. This is an athletic group that has few peers. The d-line replaced all four starters. No issue. End Noah Spence is one of the Big Ten’s top pass rushers. Tackle Michael Bennett is an underrated force who makes plays on the interior. And there is no better true freshman defensive lineman in America than end Joey Bosa. The linebackers have gone from suspect to strong, with Ryan Shazier proving to be the ultimate athletic linebacker.
Listen to Coach Urban Meyer and Coach Mark Dantonio:
8. Offense. This is one of the nation’s most high-powered attacks. The Buckeyes have the Big Ten’s No. 1 scoring offense (48.2 ppg); No. 1 total offense (530.5 ypg); No. 1 rushing offense (321.2 ypg); No. 1 pass efficiency offense (164.0). If this game turns into a track meet, the Buckeyes will run away with it.
9. Eyes on the prize. Ohio State knows what’s potentially at stake—a trip to the BCS title game. Pressure? You bet, but this team has dealt with pressure all season as the wins have accumulated. Ohio State is everyone’s biggest game. No stage fazes this team.
10. Devin Smith and Corey Brown. No, these wideouts won’t make Buckeye fans forget about Ted Ginn, David Boston, Joey Galloway or Terry Glenn. But they can get the job done, time and again getting behind defenders for big gains in an underrated Ohio State passing game. Brown has 50 catches for 602 yards and nine touchdowns; Smith has 41 grabs for 644 yards and eight scores. And if MSU sleeps on tight ends Nick Vannett and Jeff Heuerman, it’ll get burned.
|About Tom Dienhart||BTN.com senior writer Tom Dienhart is a veteran sports journalist who covers Big Ten football and men’s basketball for BTN.com and BTN TV. Find him on Twitter and Facebook, read all of his work at btn.com/tomdienhart, and subscribe to his posts via RSS. Also, send questions to his weekly mailbag using the form below and read all of his previous answers in his reader mailbag section.|
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