STATE COLLEGE, PA - OCTOBER 22: The Ohio State Buckeyes wait to take the field during the game against the Penn State Nittany Lions on October 22, 2016 at Beaver Stadium in State College, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images)
Photo: Justin K. Aller/Getty Images
Photo: Justin K. Aller/Getty Images

Random thoughts: Ohio State-Penn State, national media failures, coffee, tattoos, etc. 

Before getting deep into another game week, how about we take the time to unload this reporter’s notebook? 

  • My early read on Ohio State-Penn State is there’s a bigger gap between the teams this year than last year. The Nittany Lions can still be explosive on offense but lack the offensive line to be consistent, and the defense is lacking difference-makers. However, Ohio State has had some lapses on D and needs to cut down on undisciplined penalties. Plus the loss of Nick Bosa makes simply trading big plays with a team and hoping to end up with more becomes more difficult to achieve. 
  • How much has the Ohio State offensive line been tested?
  • With another big game on tap, here’s a complete list of guys who should catch snaps on important plays for Ohio State this season: Haskins, Campbell, Dobbins, Weber. That’s it. 
  • The Bengals’ loss at Carolina could be just one of those things that happens in the socialist paradise that is the NFL. (For example, it is not nearly as weird as the terrible Bills beating the allegedly good Vikings.) However, seeing both lines neutralized (at best) is a concern, and I still see a back seven of the defense lacking playmakers. (Obviously there’s a reason the guy who started at middle linebacker is supposed to be third string, but still…) 
  • The AFC North looks pretty winnable regardless. 
  • Can you believe how many people have terrible tattoos? 
  • Beyond the local pro football neighborhood, the Patriots may be getting into that area where coach and QB enhance the rest of the roster just enough to be disappointing. (Ohio State fans will recognize this from multiple seasons of the Jim Tressel era.)
  • This is a week old but it’s my blog so I’ll post it anyway: One of my big takeaways from the Urban Meyer situation is national columnists seeming no more interested in getting all the facts and applying reasonable perspective before forging ahead with their TAKES than the average fan. That is pretty alarming not only because they have the most influence over the national discourse but also because it seems to me they are usually starting from behind in terms of general knowledge of a situation, at least compared to the people on the ground. The latter is through no fault of their own, but it highlights the issue with my first point. 
  • Another big takeaway from the Urban Meyer saga: Never do anything solely for public relations anymore. The pundit class is harder than ever to impress, and there’s always the question of how much the general public cares what they think anyway. 
  • And one more that goes beyond sports: The increasing willingness of people to form hard-and-fast beliefs based on limited availability of facts is a big concern that grows pretty much every day. 

RELATED: Urban Meyer back full-time for Ohio State

  • French press coffee is the truth. 
  • I don’t think the people green-lighting the return of other 80s/90s shows have any idea why the Roseanne reboot was so popular. 
  • As I watch teams struggle to block increasingly athletic and deep defensive lines I am thinking there are going to have to be some fundamental changes to how offensive linemen are developed and maybe the overall structure of running games entirely. Going to have to focus more on athleticism and technique than size. 
  • Aside from the unrelenting march toward outlawing hits on the quarterback completely, the worst rule in the NFL might actually be illegal contact in the secondary. Thought of this when Brian Urlacher noted college DBs can bump all the way down the field but it’s illegal after five yards in the NFL. One of the worst parts of watching a game is seeing a mostly meaningless bump negate a third and 20 with an automatic first down. 
  • If your recipe for homemade hot sauce includes a cup of hot sauce from the store, I feel like you should refund me the time I took to read your recipe (plus damages for pain and suffering).
  • And finally: A few random people doing something on social media doesn’t make it news. 

As always, thanks for reading! 

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About the Author

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