E-mail Pete Fiutak
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– There’s making a point, and there’s making 59 of them. It’ll be a shame if Ohio State is left out of the College Football Playoff, but if it is, the Virginia Tech loss will be the anchor. It might not be fair, and it might not be right, but it’ll be the differentiating factor. However, this team as it is right now deserves to be in. This team has turned into a powerhouse as the season has gone on, but Florida State didn’t lose. Alabama lost to a team that’ll finish in the top ten. Oregon lost to a team ranked No. 7 last week. TCU lost to No. 6 Baylor. There’s just no getting past the Virginia Tech loss, but if the Buckeyes get in, it’ll be fun.
– We can all stop talking about Cardale Jones as being a third-string quarterback, like he was some try-hard walk-on who stepped in out of the blue and thrown into the fire. He was a top 25 quarterback recruit, and on pure talent, he’s one of the best in the Big Ten coming in off the bench cold. With all the talent around him, he had to make a few plays against a secondary that wasn’t nearly as strong as the stats, and he got the job done.
– Wisconsin started the season with a loss to LSU because the other team had more talent. Wisconsin ended the regular season with a blowout loss to Ohio State because the other team had more talent. The “recruit to a type” thing works to a point, but there’s a hard ceiling when going against the teams with four-and-five-star guys. It’s time for Wisconsin to stop fooling itself. Beating Minnesota and Nebraska at home is great, but if the program wants to be a true playoff contender, it’s time to start recruiting. Being in the 30s in the recruiting rankings isn’t going to fly to take the next step …
– And it all starts with the receivers. Alex Erickson is a serviceable target, but the Badgers need to get back to the days of Chris Chambers, Nick Toon and Lee Evans – real talents. Joel Stave completed 17-of-43 passes with three picks, and while Ohio State had a lot to do with that, he didn’t really have anywhere to go. Not worrying about the pass, Ohio State was able to load up and slow down Melvin Gordon, and it worked.
– Urban Meyer didn’t have to worry about working the ground game after failing to do it enough in last year’s championship game. It helped to have Ezekiel Elliott, one of the underrated performers in a running back-loaded Big Ten. He got a ten-mile-wide hole to run through, but his 81-yard touchdown dash ended the game. 20 carries for 220 yards and two touchdowns – that’s how you help out a green quarterback.
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– Urban Meyer and offensive coordinator Tom Herman put on a coaching clinic for the ages tonight in Indianapolis. It’s going to take a while to process the fact that Ohio State slapped 59 points and well over 500 yards on one of the country’s stingier defenses … with an inexperienced third-stringer under center. Hard to fathom.
– Scary thought, rest of the Big Ten. The Buckeyes became league champs with a roster dotted with underclassmen. In other words, Meyer and his staff are just beginning to warm up in Columbus.
– Blown away by Ohio State’s performance tonight against the Badgers. But it’s still one game. It’s going to be fascinating to see whether that one game will be enough to trump the best of the Big 12, which is a better all-around league than the Big Ten. Remember, the Buckeyes are also saddled with the worst loss among the contenders for the fourth and final spot.
– Now Wisconsin knows how Nebraska felt two years ago. The Badgers could not have seen this storm coming. Actually, they didn’t see much of Cardale Jones either, which couldn’t have helped the defensive staff’s preparation.
– Beyond winning the Big Ten title and possibly earning a playoff berth, Ohio State just delivered quite a compelling argument why elite high school quarterbacks should consider Columbus. If the Buckeyes can turn second and third-stringers into stars, imagine what you can accomplish here, hotshot blue-chip high school hurler.
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– Okay College Football Playoff Committee members, you’ve got your work cut out for you. The difference in résumés between the one-loss teams is razor thin, and Ohio State made a very strong case for inclusion.
-Can you imagine the outcry in Columbus if Ohio State doesn’t get tapped for a chance to play for it all? After this performance against this team, I don’t know how you keep Ohio State out of the playoffs? Not only did OSU score a bushel of points, but holding a solid, solid Wisconsin team to a goose-egg has to count for something.
-If new starting quarterback Cardale Jones is a third-string quarterback, then let’s call Ohio State the new “Quarterback U.” Can you imagine the competition for the starting job beginning next spring? Braxton Miller vs J.T. Barrett vs. Cardale Jones. Talk amongst yourselves.
-The four teams that should be in the College Football Playoff are Florida State, Oregon, Alabama and Ohio State. End of discussion.
– Oh, to be a fly on the wall in the hotel where all the discussions are taking place. Let the campaigning begin …
E-mail Pete Fiutak