Skull Session: The Buckeyes Flying Under the Radar, Ohio State is Making a Case to Be Wide Receiver University and It’s Only Getting Colder in Columbus

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It was a loaded Tuesday in Buckeye Nation.

For the second straight week, Ohio State was considered the No. 2 team in the country by the College Football Playoff committee.

A few hours after those rankings were released, the Ohio State University women’s basketball took down No. 5 Tennessee, 87-75, in the Buckeyes’ first regular-season game of 2022-23.

Jacy Sheldon led the way for Ohio State with 14 points, seven assists and eight steals. Meanwhile, Taylor Mikesell scored 25, Rebeka Mikulasikova added 17 and Cotie McMahon and Taylor Thierry each scored 10. As a team, the Buckeyes forced the Volunteers to commit 29 turnovers, and that made all the difference as Ohio State claimed a top-five win to start the year.

Phew. What a Tuesday. But, we move on! Let’s have a good Wednesday, shall we?

UNDER THE RADAR. In association with ESPN, FiveThirtyEight is a website that uses data and analytics as the primary resource of its writing. In fact, much of their work doesn’t use quotes or outside sources. It’s good old-fashioned numbers explained through the medium of an online article.

On Tuesday, FiveThirtyEight contributor Josh Planos asked readers, “Why is the college football world sleeping on Ohio State?”

Planos explained that the Buckeyes have been one of the most dominant teams in the nation this season, according to ESPN’s efficiency ratings, and are playing some of the best football the program has seen since 2014. However, he believes Ohio State isn’t proper attention from college football experts and fans.

At this point in the season, Planos argues, Ohio State has looked this good only once, and it was in 2019. The Buckeyes are also seven points of efficiency higher than the 2014 national championship team.

OHIO STATE EFFICIENCY RATINGS

season

Offense

Defense

sp. Teams

total

2014 87.3 69.8 55.7 85.6

2015

58.7

81.5

67.0

78.5

2016

77.5

87.1

52.5

87.8

2017

83.9

77.1

49.9

86.0

2018

77.4

55.4

66.9

74.6

2019 96.1 92.5 58.3 97.9

2020

95.0

71.2

35.6

91.1

2021

89.1

65.5

61.2

85.6

2022 93.3 83.5 39.6 92.9

So, Ohio State is one of four undefeated teams, one of the most talented and efficient teams in the FBS. Why aren’t the Buckeyes getting their due? Planos writes:

Without question, the defending national champion Georgia Bulldogs have intermittently looked the part of a title favorite again, with the season-opening blowout of Oregon and last weekend’s stellar defensive effort against Tennessee sticking out for voters. A year after winning it all, Georgia will likely retain the top spot in every poll moving forward unless it loses. But this is also a team that very nearly an upset to an unrank Missouri team with a losing record.

Ohio State doesn’t have the strength of record that Georgia does, nor does it measure as well in ESPN’s Football Power Index (or our Elo model). But the Buckeyes also have never been in jeopardy of losing and are the only team with a top-five offense and defense. They have produced more points per game (45.78) on more yards per play (7.3) than any team in the country — essentially doing it entirely without (Jaxon) Smith-Njigba, a receiver who last year broke a 20-year-old conference receiving record and was favored to win the Biletnikoff Award. And yet, they received a single first-place vote in the most recent AP Poll.

“Disrespect” is subjective, relative and perhaps even a touch strong for what Ohio State has experienced in 2022. Perhaps “overlooked” is a better way of putting it, or “taken for granted.” But the Buckeyes should be comfortable being in that spot. Astonishingly, it’s been seven years since they were last ranked first in the AP Poll. That’s right: They were not even No. 1 when they earned two top-15 road wins by mid-October in 2016, nor when they won two top-15 games by the end of September in 2018, nor when they bulldozed the regular-season slate by a playoff-best average margin of victory of 33.1 points in 2019.

Will that change this season in Columbus? Maybe — the Buckeyes keep provided winning enough to grab the attention of voters and the playoff committee. But for now, one of college football’s powerhouse programs has been flying strangely under the radar all season long.

Now, I’ll admit that the premise of the No. 2 team in the country “flying under the radar” feels a little silly, but perhaps Planos is onto something. All season – really up until the Northwestern game – Ohio State felt like the most complete team in the country. Then the Fighting Fitzgeralds played the Buckeyes to a 14-point game in inclement weather.

Perhaps recency bias caused the college football world to forget how talented and efficient Ohio State really is. At the end of the day, I guess we will find out what this team is made of over the next three weeks, with the final exam coming up on Nov. 26 against Michigan.

OSU IS WRU. If Ohio State isn’t already the Wide Receiver University of college football, it will be soon.

Michael Thomas, Terry McLaurin, Parris Campbell, Curtis Samuel, Noah Brown, Binjimen Victor, CJ Saunders and rookies Garrett Wilson and Chris Olave are all former Buckeyes currently on NFL teams.

Not only does Ohio State have a quantity of players, but the quality is also notable. From the “WOW!” plays like Samuel’s 49-yard catch in triple coverage on Sunday to the silky smooth route running and release of Wilson and Olave, the Buckeyes bolster their resume with both numbers and talent.

Of course, we must consider Alabama and LSU in the conversation for WRU. The Tide have Julio Jones, Amari Cooper, Calvin Ridley, Jerry Jeudy, DeVonta Smith, Jaylen Waddle and Jameson Williams (who played two years at Ohio State). At the same time, the Tigers lay claim to Jarvis Landry, Odell Beckham Jr., Justin Jefferson and Ja’Marr Chase.

While those schools might be ahead now, Nick Saban and Brian Kelly don’t have talent at receiver like Ohio State this fall, outside of Kayshon Boutte at LSU.

The Buckeyes have Jaxon Smith-Njigba and Marvin Harrison Jr. as locks for the NFL – the former as a projected first-round pick and the latter making a solid case to be the first receiver taken in 2024. Additionally, possess Emeka Egbuka and Julian Fleming continue maximizing both traits that will entice professional teams in the drafting process.

And why stop there? With plenty of depth behind them in Jayden Ballard, Kaleb Brown, Kyion Grayes, Caleb Burton and Kojo Antwi, and a loaded 2023 recruiting class of Brandon Inniss, Noah Rogers, Carnell Tate and Bryson Rogers coming to Columbus next year, the Ohio State receiver room will only keep producing top talent. Time to sit back and watch it all unfold before our eyes.

ONLY GETTING COLDER. Ohio State men’s basketball guard Isaac “Ice” Likekele’s hometown in Arlington, Texas, and he played his first four years of college hoops in Stillwater, Oklahoma, for the Cowboys.

After only a few months as a Buckeye, Likekele might be reconsidering his decision to transfer to Ohio State – only just a little bit. Not because of anything on the court, but because it gets too darn cold in Columbus.

I regret to inform Mr. Ice that the temperatures in Central Ohio will only continue to drop in the coming weeks, so he’ll probably need to keep that winter jacket in the outfit rotation.

Those feverishly checking the weather after Ohio State’s performance against Northwestern last weekend probably already know this. Still, the weather in Columbus will be in the 60s for the rest of the week, peaking at 70 degrees on Thursday. Sounds great, right?

But there’s more…

When the football team hosts Indiana on Saturday, the low will be 30 degrees, and the high will be 42 degrees with winds around 10-15 mph, so It looks like we will see how the Buckeyes do in colder weather sooner rather than later.

MOCK DRAFT SZN. If you love mock drafts or always wanted to see how skilled you would be as the general manager of your favorite NFL franchise, Pro Football Focus has a tool for you that could be pretty fun.

This week, PFF updated its Mock Draft Simulator for the 2023 NFL draft, which allows you to place players like Stroud, Smith-Njigba, Paris Johnson Jr., Dawand Jones, Cade Stover and other Buckeyes onto professional teams.

I spent some extended time using the feature on Tuesday and would recommend playing with it during some free time. And if you choose to use it at work, make sure to have a separate tab to click away to in case your boss walks by. If your boss catches you, tell them it was my fault. I’ll take the heat!

SONG OF THE DAY. “The Cave” by Mumford & Sons.

CUT TO THE CHASE. T rex skull unearthed in South Dakota to be auctioned in NY… NASA launch of moon rocket delayed again by tropical weather… Photos of the total lunar eclipse in North America, East Asia… Chris Evans named Sexiest Man Alive by People magazine… Ancient bronze statues found in prime condition in Italy.

DON’T FORGET: Vote for Ohio State women’s ice hockey defenseman Sophie Jaques to win the AAU James E. Sullivan Award (Click here). Today is the last day you can vote!

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