Friday, October 23, 2015

Ohio State vs. Rutgers Will Be Season-Defining For Buckeyes

In what is shaping up to be a boring week across the college football world, it's a week for teams and fans to turn their focuses inward and do some self evaluation. There are a small handful of games that could turn out to be interesting, but it's primarily a chance to pay close attention to storylines specific to each school.

For the Ohio State Buckeyes, head coach Urban Meyer's recent move to insert J.T. Barrett as the starting quarterback over the underperforming Cardale Jones is one that will garner plenty of attention on Saturday night when the Buckeyes take on Rutgers.

It is no secret that OSU has underperformed to this point in the season. Sure, they're sitting atop the AP poll with a perfect 7-0 record, but "unblemished" is exactly the most appropriate word to use to describe their season. "Perfect," for that matter, isn't the correct word, either.

The Buckeyes have been sloppy. If not for the fact that they are the defending champions, I don't believe that they would be ranked No. 1 based off the way they've been playing this season. Particularly against Northern Illinois and Indiana, OSU has simply survived. The box score will still read as a blowout for several wins, but that doesn't tell the complete story.

Most glaringly, the quarterback position has been a weak spot for the offense. While at the helm, Jones has had to revert back to the basics of the position and simply manage the game. When forced to make a play, he's had trouble being accurate with his big arm, something that simply will not work now that OSU doesn't have a true deep-threat receiving option.

With Barrett at quarterback, Meyer's squad gains plenty of potential. His athletic ability far and away exceeds that of Jones, and with that we'll see a much faster and more efficient OSU offense.

When you combine Barrett's speed threat with running back Ezekiel Elliot's all-around talent, the read option becomes much more dangerous. Rather than simply relying on brute force from the quarterback, Barrett has the ability to make guys miss in the open field and then pull away for a big gain, or even a touchdown.

Against the Scarlet Knights on Saturday night, Ohio State will get an opportunity to show the nation why they are the No. 1 team in the country. Playing on the national stage, this is a bit of a redemption game for a team that has left many wondering if their even worthy of a spot in the college football playoff.

This is an opportunity to turn their season around and live up to the hype that surrounded the talented team in preseason. With a strong showing, and many expect that with Barrett back at quarterback, Ohio State re-stake their claim as the consensus No. 1 team in the country.