Urban Meyer, Ohio State have big challenges aheadWritten by Fred Altvater | | BackNine@toledofreepress.com
The Ohio State Buckeyes are coming off a bye week to rest and heal before their last big push to an undefeated season. They are the only unblemished team in the Big Ten and will travel to Wisconsin Nov. 17 before facing that “team from up north” next week.
Because of NCAA and self-imposed restrictions the Buckeyes won’t be playing in the Big Ten Championship game or a BCS Bowl in 2012. The satisfaction of the undefeated season is the motivation for going the extra yard and finishing off the perfect season.
Urban Meyer has the Bucks performing at a high level. The offense is ranked No. 2 in the Big Ten, averaging 445 yards of total offense per game and they lead the conference averaging 39.9 points per game.
The Buckeye defense has experienced a couple of bumps along the road and Coach Meyer even had to switch fullback Zach Boren to linebacker to fill in for injured players.
The defense gave up 38 points to Nebraska at the Horseshoe and narrowly survived 52-49 at Indiana. The defense did buckle down in wins over Purdue, Penn State, and Illinois and is ranked No. 4 in the Big Ten.
The defense also leads the conference with 13 interceptions two of which were returned for touchdowns.
Wisconsin is 4-2 in the conference and 3-0 in the Leaders Division. They have locked up a trip to the Big Ten Championship game because Ohio State (6-0 in the conference and 4-0 in the Leaders Division) as well as, Penn State (4-2 in the conference and 2-1 in the division) are both ineligible.
This is a very large statement game for the Buckeyes. They can proclaim to the rest of the country that Wisconsin may go on to win the Big Ten, but Ohio State beat them at Camp Randall Stadium.
“The Game” against Michigan on Nov. 24 in Columbus should be one for the ages. It will be Urban Meyer’s first as head coach and, depending on the outcome at Wisconsin, could cap off the undefeated season.
Michigan is 7-3 overall, 5-1 in the Big Ten and 3-1 in the Legends Division. They are battling Nebraska for a spot in the Big Ten Championship game and the OSU game could decide their fate.
Michigan has a high-powered offense that will test the young Buckeye defense that is allowing 367 yards per game.
The Buckeye offense may also have a problem with a vastly improved Wolverine defense that is only allowing 302 yards and 18.2 points per game.
The Buckeyes have been fun to watch in 2012 as Urban Meyer has added some offense for fan enjoyment. The defense continues to be a work in progress and will have to step up big in these last two games if they plan to deliver a perfect season for Buckeye fans.