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Random Thoughts: Interesting times in the Big Ten, Bengals expectations and more

We’re back with more observations and whatnot with week 11 of the college football season upon us. The Bengals didn’t play yesterday, but we have thoughts on them, too. 

  • I had a feeling Ohio State‘s offense would get well against Nebraska. Not only is Nebraska’s defense not very good, this edition of the Blackshirts is also not very aggressive. The Cornhuskers just kind of sit back there and let you attack them. Ohio State should have done more damage against them, but getting a running game going is enough for now. Michigan State’s defense will present an entirely different challenge of course. 
  • Obviously the Ohio State defense could have played better, but Nebraska was going to get some yards and points because they have a really good offense. And also in this day and age you don’t often shut teams down completely unless their quarterback is out or playing hurt. (As was the case with MSU and Penn State against the Michigan, who ironically benefited just the same from Wisconsin’s usual starter being able to play.)
  • Where does this year’s “blackout” rank in your all-time list of promotions Ohio State has copied from other schools and laughably failed to pull off?
  • Interesting times in the Big Ten as Michigan made a mockery of three wounded, once-good teams and Ohio State struggled with programs trying to make a comeback. The Buckeyes have gone from worrying about how good they can be in late December to survive and advance mode as October turned to November. 

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  • Ohio State still has all that potential, but when will it be realized? Maybe not this season, but there is still plenty of time. Ironically with its loss to Notre Dame to start the season, Michigan dropped the bar from playoff contender to avoid being an also-ran and is now enjoying the dividends of exceeding those lowered expectations while Ohio State has played under the weight of playoffs-or-bust all year. 
  • The good news is this will all sort itself out in the season finale, as was always intended (assuming of course Ohio State takes care of business the next two weeks, no guarantee but essential to fulfilling its destiny anyway so you might as well embrace it).
  • Elsewhere in the nation, I am absolutely all-in for Oklahoma and West Virginia knocking each other out of the playoff race because of the Big 12’s phenomenally clueless decision to bring back a conference championship game despite maintaining a round robin schedule. The Athletic lays out the scenario and more here. There is no better reward for this abject stupidity from the league’s leadership. (Also Penn State and Michigan State both still being ranked somehow tells you a lot about this college football season.) 
  • I think this is the year Alabama becomes bad for college football. Or maybe next year. 
  • How does Microsoft manage to find the most annoying people possible for its Surface commercials? 
  • Twitter is a good place to spread information but a bad place to get news. 
  • With or without A.J. Green, the Bengals are a fringe playoff team. I am looking at 9-7 or 8-8. In this day and age where we have a bad habit of applying a negative slant to everything, I am tempted to say the best way for a Bengals fan to approach the rest of the season is to think they really have nothing to lose. There are things to like about this team, but it’s hard to see them winning a playoff game let alone making it beyond mid-January with this roster. They need to find things to build on for next year (there should be plenty), draft some more offensive linemen and linebackers and hope year two in defensive coordinator Teryl Austin’s scheme isn’t anything like year one (obviously more linebackers would help).

“Random Thoughts” is a semi-regular feature here at blog. While most of our other coverage is concentrated on news and analysis, this is a place to share opinions and have some fun. Have your own thoughts? Send them along to marcus.hartman@coxin.com or find us on Twitter or Facebook. 

About the Author

Marcus Hartman has been a digital sports columnist and reporter at Cox Media Group Ohio since 2016. 

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