After their Week 1 dismantling of Virginia Tech down in Blacksburg, College Football Nation couldn’t contain itself when it came to our collective praise of the Ohio State Buckeyes.
Though the Buckeyes weren’t flawless that evening, they were certainly the better team in the end, and there were a few moments of brilliance—absolute brilliance—during those 60 minutes that convinced pretty much all of us that, just based on athleticism and other-worldly skill alone, the Buckeyes were going to be close to impossible to stop.
We saw a team with not one, but two Heisman-quality quarterbacks. Oh, and a Heisman-quality tailback, too. We saw a team with NFL talent dotted all over the defense, a team that had successfully (or so we thought) transitioned Braxton Miller from an All-Big Ten quarterback to a potentially All-Big Ten H-Back, and a team that, quite conveniently, was going to take the field every single week knowing that it was being led by one of the greatest coaches the game had ever seen.
The Buckeyes, we thought, were unbeatable.
Fast forward a few weeks and I think can now agree: We were wrong.
While the Buckeyes are currently unbeaten, they most certainly are beatable—and unless they find a way to reclaim their sense of identity and purpose, there is simply no way they’ll be hoisting the national championship trophy come January.
On Saturday in Bloomington, the Buckeyes struggled—and struggled mightily—to put away an Indiana team that, while also undefeated, simply should not have even been able to keep things close against Urban Meyer and gang. This wasn’t just a game that the Buckeyes should have won, it was a game that, in reality, they should have won easily. And that’s no knock against the Hoosiers, either. Coach Kevin Wilson is doing a phenomenal job at the moment. But let’s be honest: the Hoosiers don’t have enough size, speed or strength to compete with the Buckeyes.
And yet, that’s exactly what they did on Saturday. Though their defense allowed Ezekiel Elliot to run wild for much of the second half, though their pass rush was most inept, and though they would eventually lose starting quarterback Nate Sudfeld to injury, the Hoosiers just kept hanging around in this one. Kept fighting. Kept all of thinking that, in the end, they might just pull it off. And while they may have fallen 34-27 in the end, they were literally just inches—one tipped pass—away from taking this one to overtime (or, assuming they went for two, winning it outright).
Was this a gutty and admirable performance from Indiana? Sure.
Do the Hoosiers deserve credit for pushing Ohio State to the limit? Of course.
But was this good enough, in any way, from the Buckeyes? No way. Not even close.
At the moment, this is a team of fantastically talented individuals who are playing without any confidence, without any sense of purpose, without any urgency at all. They don’t look hungry. They look, yes, like they’ve grown complacent.
When the Buckeyes were at their best last year, they didn’t just win football games. They dominated football games. They got their opponents on the ropes and they went for the kill. In coaching parlance, they got after it.
This year, they don’t.
Meyer must know this. Heck, the entire team must know this.
But until they actually do something about it?
Well, until then, we’ll see more performances from them like we saw on Saturday against Indiana.
And very likely, in the end, that’s going to cost them.