Depending on who, you ask, Ohio State might not even belong in this year’s installment of the College Football Playoff.
The Buckeyes failed to win their Conference Championship, an honor that went to the Penn State Nittany Lions, and have looked largely pedestrian many times this season.
Regardless, the Buckeyes are just two games away from their second National Championship in three years.
Yesterday I wrote three reasons why Ohio State would win the College Football Playoff, today I’m doing the opposite.
Here are three reasons why Ohio State won’t win the College Football Playoff:
The Passing Game Doesn’t Improve
Ohio State quarterback J.T. Barrett, by all accounts, is having a down year in the passing game.
This season, the redshirt junior has thrown the ball for 2428 yards and 24 touchdowns; a stat line that pales in comparison to his redshirt freshman campaign.
That year, Barrett threw for 2824 yards and 34 touchdown passes, breaking the Ohio State record for touchdown passes in a season.
Ever since former offensive coordinator Tom Herman – now the head coach at Texas – left Ohio State after the 2014 season, the Buckeyes’ passing offense just hasn’t been the same.
To put Herman’s supposed impact into perspective, Barrett has thrown the football for over 300 yards in a single game five times in his career.
Four of those times were in 2014, when Herman was calling the plays.
The Buckeyes’ downfield passing game, which dominated the likes of Alabama and Oregon in the 2014 College Football Playoff, has been largely absent for Barrett the last few seasons.
And while a lot of that has to do with a group of inexperienced wide receivers struggling to find space among opposing secondaries, Ohio State has to find a way to rediscover the downfield passing game of Barrett’s freshman season.
Defenses like Clemson and Alabama feast on one-dimensional offenses, which is exactly what the Buckeyes will become if the passing game doesn’t get fixed.
35 Day Without Football
Ohio State, because of their absence from the Big Ten Championship game, had one more week without football than the other three teams in the College Football Playoff.
The last time Ohio State took the field was on November 26; 35 days prior to their next game against Clemson in the National Semifinal.
That may spell bad news for the Scarlet and Gray.
In 2006, Ohio State was undefeated going into the National Championship against Florida. During that time, when the Big Ten was still only 11 teams, there was no Conference Championship to be had.
Consequently, the Buckeyes were faced with 50 days without competitive football, perhaps leaving the nation’s number one team unconditioned. And when January 8 finally arrived, Ohio State looked completely outmatched, losing 41-14 in embarrassing fashion.
Head coach Urban Meyer, who has never experienced a layover like this year’s Ohio State squad, voiced his concerns during his weekly press conference.
“I’d much rather play in that championship game and win it because your team gets another chance to prepare and get better at their skill sets,” Meyer said. “That just means we have to catch up that much. You have to somehow simulate that game here in the next couple weeks to get them ready to play in that final game.”
Sure, the Buckeyes may have gotten some much-needed rest with the extra week off, but there’s no denying the benefit of real game time on a stage like the Big Ten Conference Championship.
Buckeye fans better hope history doesn’t repeat itself this New Year’s Eve, because it might spell the end for Ohio State’s National Championship hopes.
Ohio State, still, is the most inexperienced football team in the country.
Out of the 120 players currently on Ohio State’s roster, six have started a game during the postseason. Of those six players, only two have started in a National Championship.
Compare that to a team like Alabama or Clemson, who feature 11 and 12 players who have started National Championship teams, and one can see the wide disparity.
And with no Conference Championship game to build on their already limited experience, Ohio State has a significant chance of being overwhelmed by the bright lights of the College Football Playoff.
Now with that being said, Ohio State does have several veteran leaders to try to maintain the team’s composure – J.T. Barrett, Pat Elflein, Raekwon McMillan, but who knows if that will be enough to keep the young guys settled.
When watching Ohio State this postseason, don’t forget that many experts saw this team as one year away from National Title contention. Even if the Buckeyes don’t win it all this season, their performance has to be seen as a success; especially considering their expectations at the start of the season.
Provided most of this team decides to return for another year with the Scarlet and Gray, next year is, by all accounts, the best chance Ohio State will have at a National Championship in the near future.
If you’re an Ohio State fan, and things don’t go according to plan, view this year’s College Football Playoff as a learning experience for all the underclassmen.
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