Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Ohio State Football: Why the Buckeyes and Terrelle Pryor Deserve To Be No. 1

Tim Bielik—Featured Contributor / Storm the Field Founder

It hasn't been since before the kickoff of the 2008 BCS National Championship Game that the Ohio State Buckeyes were the No. 1 team in the country until Sunday's polls came out.

Thanks to Steve Spurrier and the South Carolina Gamecocks' 35-21 victory over the then-top-ranked Alabama Crimson Tide, the Buckeyes rose to No. 1 in both the AP and USA Today Coaches' Poll, and they were also No. 1 in the first Harris Poll of 2010.

But even though the Buckeyes slid into the top spot by default, this group is very worthy of being the top team in the country.

One reason Ohio State belongs at the top is Heisman hopeful Terrelle Pryor who showed Saturday against Indiana that he could throw the football all around the field.

Against an Indiana team that gave up 42 points to Denard Robinson and Michigan, Pryor threw for a career-high 324 yards and three touchdowns, completing 80 percent of his passes despite a left quad strain.

Pryor's spectacular season has the Buckeyes' offense in the Top-20 in yards per game, rushing yards per game and sixth in the country in points per game.

The play of the Ohio State offense has been a big surprise when considering how much the unit struggled in 2008 and 2009, when Jim Tressel was pegged as being too over-conservative in his play calling.

And in addition to the surprising success of the OSU offense, the Silver Bullets defense has been quite good once again.

Despite the lack of QB sacks (eight in six games), the Buckeyes' defense ranks third in the country and first among AQ teams in total defense and sixth in scoring defense at 13.5 ppg.

But even with the tremendous amount of success that the Buckeyes have had in the season up to this point, they have not been tested like some of the other teams in the hunt for a national title spot.

So far on the season, Ohio State has played only one team that was ranked at the time, a Miami squad that was blown out of their home stadium Saturday night by Jimbo Fisher's Florida State Seminoles 45-17.

Now the Hurricanes are unranked, leaving Ohio State in a shocking predicament in mock BCS standings where even though they are first in all human polls, they are fifth in ESPN's earliest projections due to a very bottom-heavy schedule.

But playing in the much-improved Big Ten, especially with three of their final six conference opponents ranked in the Coaches' Poll, should help balance the computers to where OSU would play in Glendale in January for the National Championship.

Despite the computers, Ohio State has the makings of a true No. 1 team, with a great offense to complement a very consistent defense.

The biggest improvement for this team has been the fact that the special teams has started to turn itself around after a disastrous stretch of giving up three special teams TDs in the first two games and lengthy kickoff returns for most of September.

But this team will be very heavily tested against a tough Wisconsin team hungry to knock off the new No. 1 in Camp Randall, a place where Ohio State has had problems historically, especially in 2003 where the Badgers ended OSU's 19-game winning streak dating back to the 2002 championship season.

The fans will be loud as ever, and John Clay, James White, and the Badgers will have extra motivation to do what Spurrier did to the Crimson Tide just a few days ago.

And if Ohio State can win in Madison, they will have earned the right for the time being to be the best team in the country.

But for how long is up to them.

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  1. Yes, Ohio State is talented this year and yes they are a very good team. Do they deserve a #1 ranking? That is debatable. So far they have benefited from playing some weak opponents. I liked how you pointed that out.



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