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Close Calls and Great Expectations

Zeke ran wild against Indiana - Photo: FRED SQUILLANTE | DISPATCH

Are Expectations the Biggest Issue for the Buckeyes?

Let me ask you a question - How good were the Buckeyes in 2014? 

No, seriously... really think about it for a second and try to recall how the season played out and how they got from the start of the season against the Navy to the title game against Oregon. If your answer is that they dominated every opponent, with the exception of Virginia Tech, you, my friend, would be mistaken.

While the Buckeyes were dominant against Wisconsin, Alabama, and Oregon, the twelve games prior weren't exactly a walk in the park. Sure there was the 66-0 route of Kent State, the 55-14 drubbing of Illinois, and 56-17 beat down of Rutgers, BUT there was the scare against Indiana... and Michigan State... and Minnesota... and Cincinnati... and Penn State

You get the point.

The change of perspective, from also ran to defending champion over the course of a couple of months seems to have created this weird revisionist history in which the Buckeyes this unstoppable force of nature. They weren't. In fact, the Buckeyes ran into a lot of the same issues last season that have routinely tried to sabotage their title defense - turnovers, penalties, sloppy play, and questionable play calling. 

Run Zeke Run - Photo: Marvin Fong, The Plain Dealer
I guess the point that I'm trying to make here is that while this team is a near carbon copy of the one that won the national championship, it is also near carbon copy of the one that frustrated us to no end last season. It's going to take a lot of patience to get through this season in one piece with our sanity in tact.

In the famous words of OSU guard Billy Price:

"I think everybody needs to relax. We will take care of business."

And that's the thing. Despite the near scares and the lackadaisical approach over the first five games of the season, the Buckeyes have handled their business and will continue to handle their business. There is not any chance in hell that the Buckeyes lose a game between now and their back to back match ups between Michigan State and Michigan to end the regular season. Maryland isn't beating them today, nor is Penn State next week or Rutgers the week after.

The time to be concerned is during that two game stretch and in the games that follow. If the Buckeyes aren't able to turn it on and put the pedal to the medal on the biggest brightest stages against their arch rivals and the top competition in the nation, that's when we'll know that this is more than just a post-championship malaise.

However, what would be nice is to see the Buckeyes turn it on at least once before that point to relieve everyone's anxiety. It's quite possible that happens today against a Maryland team that is absolutely reeling. They're 2 and 3 with their head coach set to be fired any day now. They've surrendered more points than you can possibly imagine and they own the third worst passing attack in the country. They also have the ugliest uniforms in all of college athletics.

Basically, this is a bad team by whichever measure you choose to use. It's very likely that Ohio State will win this game running away, something in the range of 48-7 or 42-13. What will be interesting is how the Buckeyes look on their way to scoring all of those points. Will they rely on the running game to open up their passing attack, or will they force feed the ball awkwardly to the receivers with Cardale Jones. If it is the former, it should be a fun game to watch. If it's the latter, it could be another long frustrating day.

The bottom line is the Buckeyes should not struggle with the Terps and if they do, it will be another long week of questioning Urban Meyer and his decisions regarding the offense and his current quarterback situation. 

Everyone just needs to relax.
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About Brian Heise

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