After the first two weeks of the college football season, the mantra that Ohio State football head coach, Urban Meyer, most probably having his team tell themselves over and over is: “don’t look backwards — only look forward.” It has been a slow start for the Buckeyes.
Meanwhile, the offense — orchestrated by new offensive coordinator Kevin Wilson — has gotten off to a sluggish start of their own, scoring only 13 points in the first half of a 49-21 win at Indiana on opening night, and then only a field goal in the first half of the loss to the Sooners. Despite hosting the Oklahoma Sooners at home at Ohio Stadium, and again entering the second game of the home-and-home series as favorites to win, the Buckeyes played an uncharacteristically lackluster and mistake-filled game. Ohio fell to Oklahoma by a 31-16 score, and cast a major shadow over what the best case scenario for this year’s team could be.
Before the season started, many people felt that the Buckeyes were heavy favorites to return to the college football playoffs for the third year in a row, and make it back to the National Championship game for the second time in three years.
As the case has been since Meyer first arrived in Columbus, this team is absolutely loaded with talent, and featured a talented, accomplished, and experienced fifth-year senior at quarterback (J.T. Barrett). But this star-studded Buckeyes defense is now ranked 130th in the nation in passing yards allowed per game, allowing opponents to complete 67% of the passes they attempt.
But it isn’t just on Wilson or Barrett. In Meyer’s first 64 games at Ohio State, the Buckeyes averaged 41.9 points and failed to score 20 only twice, according to ESPN Stats & Information. In the past five games, the Buckeyes are averaging 22.4 points and failed to score 20 or more points three times. In other words: relieving yet another coach of his duties, or making a change at quarterback, isn’t going to suddenly make this team better.
Meyer’s teams — at Utah, at Florida, and at Ohio State — have been too good, for too long, to where he should feel forced to completely overhaul his coaching philosophy. More importantly, Meyer can look at his team and honestly tell them that he’s been there before — after his Buckeyes lost their second game of the season, in a shocker against Virginia Tech. Later that year, Meyer and the Buckeyes ended up with a National Championship ring.
So, going back to the mantra: it’s all about taking care of the business that lies ahead for the Buckeyes. Avenge last year’s loss to Penn State, who has to come to Columbus this year (and the Buckeyes get an extra week to prepare for that game, since they’ll have their bye week the weekend before). Beat the University of Michigan on Thanksgiving weekend. Win the Big 10 title game (nobody in the Big 10 West looks like they could dethrone whoever comes out of the East). That should wrap up the conference title, and a spot in the playoffs.
From there, it’s right back to a two-game season. And Ohio State will know better than to suffer a letdown in the second game.