Dot Commentary: Which team with a loss is most surprising?
Dot Commentary is back for Week 3, which means Tom Dienhart and Alex Roux of BTN.com are back to dish their takes on a Big Ten football topic.
Hear more of BTN.com’s Week 2 analysis, including input from Associated Press national college football writer Ralph Russo on this week’s BTN Take Ten Podcast.
This week’s discussion topic as we get set for Week 3: Which team are you most surprised already has a loss?
Dienhart: Ohio State
I thought the Buckeyes would take care of business vs. Oklahoma and be 2-0. Alas, Ohio State not only lost to the Sooners, but they got thumped in a 31-16 loss last week. It was the Buckeyes’ worst home loss since 1999 and cast doubt on how good Ohio State is. What’s the confidence level of this team after another big-game flop? This team looked a lot like the one that got beat 31-0 at the hands of Clemson in the College Football Playoff to end last season. The Buckeye passing game looks as pedestrian as it did in 2016, as Ohio State hit just 19-of-35 passes for 183 yards. The downfield passing game lacked consistency. And it’s doubtful much can be done to remedy it during the season. Just as worrisome: Ohio State’s pass defense continues to bleed yards. OU had 386 yards in the air. In an opening win at Indiana, the Hoosiers had 420 yards passing. Ohio State is good enough to win most of its game with a power rushing game. And it should be 6-1 when Penn State comes to Columbus on Oct. 28 in what should be a huge game. How will the OSU deal with what arguably is the best offense in the Big Ten coming off a trip to Nebraska? This could end up being a very good Ohio State team … but not a championship squad—once again.
My sleeper pick to potentially make some noise in the B1G West has looked, well, asleep through two games so far. The Wildcats’ 31-20 season-opening win against Nevada was anything but easy, and Duke blew the doors off them last Saturday in Durham, 41-17. The offensive line is one of the primary causes of concern, and you know things are bad when feature back Justin Jackson had just 18 yards rushing on seven carries against the Blue Devils. This guy is one of the Big Ten’s all-time leading rushers, and if he’s “banged up”–as Pat Fitzgerald admitted after the game–enough to struggle that mightily, it only makes matters worse for Northwestern. Quarterback Clayton Thorson couldn’t get much going either, and Fitzgerald shouldered the blame after the loss. We’ll see what adjustments the head man makes going into this weekend’s home matchup with Bowling Green.
It could be said that the silver lining on this slow start lies in the bounce-back from an 0-2 start to last season and an eventual bowl win for Northwestern in 2016. But it’ll be tougher to rebound in similar fashion this year, because after Bowling Green, the schedule looks downright doom-worthy. At Wisconsin, home vs. Penn State and at an awakened Maryland squad. Yikes. And it doesn’t get much easier from there. The Wildcats have their work cut out for them if they hope to avoid a disappointing start snowballing into an uncomfortable first half of the 2017 season.