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Random Thoughts on Ohio State-Michigan and the Big Ten championship game

It’s a bonus week of college football as Ohio State earned a spot in the Big Ten championship game by crushing Michigan’s hopes, dreams and football team last weekend. You might have heard a little about that, but if not, The Game is the focus of this edition of “Random Thoughts”… 

  • What can you say about Ohio State that hasn’t already been said? Dwayne Haskins and the receivers magnificently executed a great game plan. The offensive line neutralized a great front. Ohio State’s defensive front seven got after it, and the secondary, well, the secondary survived, at least providing enough support to avoid any mega-huge plays. That’s progress I guess. Bottom line: After a weird season of ups and downs (but only one loss), Urban Meyer had his guys ready to go, and they did the job. 
  • In hindsight, I had where the Wolverines were overrated and/or deficient pretty much exactly right. Good skill players with an average quarterback and still a below average offensive line. Defensive talent impressive but scheme presents potential to make big plays no matter how good they are*. Based on how the first 11 games went, I just was not convinced Ohio State would take advantage. The way the second quarter ended reminded why, but that’s why the play the games — all 60 minutes of them. 
  • In a related note, it is usually pretty safe to be skeptical of just about any college secondary based on how little they are usually tested (outside the Big 12). Michigan got fat on a schedule that wasn’t nearly as tough as expected before the season mostly because of the quarterback situations at Wisconsin (average starter regressed and was later injured), Michigan State (average starter injured) and Penn State (good starter injured).  
  • Will people learn from this and not overreact to Michigan bullying overmatched Big Ten teams in the future? Of course not, but it does provide the rest of the conference with a big shot of schadenfreude annually, so I guess it’s not all bad. 

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  • I’m still vexed by Michigan’s inability to develop an offensive line, though. 
  • I’ve been understanding of the limitations Jim Harbaugh’s early Michigan teams faced, but this is a pretty bad face-plant. The Wolverines seemed to fall prey to the hubris that gets Ohio State at times, staying so committed to doing what they do that they ended up being way more vulnerable than a good coach’s team should be. Everyone knows they are a man overage team and that Ohio State would attack that, but Michigan did it anyway. And when they adjusted, well, Ohio State already knew what those adjustments would be. 
  • Meanwhile, Ohio State played The Game in its regular helmets for only the second time in 10 seasons and put forth the Buckeyes’ best performance in 50 years. Coincidence? I think not.  There is just something right about seeing those silver lids covered in buckeye leaves matched against the maize and blue winged helmets under a gray sky in November, but the OSU athletics department has let Nike hi-jack the aesthetics of The Game more often than not recently. Hopefully this is the start of a new trend. 
  • Regarding the Big Ten championship game, there is some good news for Northwestern and some bad news. On the bright side, the Wildcats defense has a bend-but-don’t break style that could keep the game close and prevent all those fireworks that burned up Michigan. On the down side, Ohio State is best-suited to attack that kind of defense this season. 
  • In case you missed it, Dan Wetzel of Yahoo Sports! wrote an insanely good takedown of the conference championship games and explained in great detail how much better CFB would be if they were gone and the first round of an eight-team playoff took their place this weekend. Read it all here. I am proud to be a Power Conference Championship Game Opponent Pioneer, although until this year the Big Ten has against all odds manage to have games that actually pit teams with legitimate claims to the title and hadn’t already played in the regular season so the league is better off than most. 

“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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