COLUMBUS, Ohio — Ohio State is right where it plans to be when it writes down its goals every offseason.
The Buckeyes were victorious in The Game. They won the East Division. And a conference championship in Indianapolis looks like it could propel them back to the College Football Playoff.
No, the journey didn’t go exactly as planned thanks to that weird detour back at Iowa. But the Buckeyes have been checking off the boxes on their to-do list recently, and they are rolling into the Big Ten Championship Game against Wisconsin again as the favorite to lift the trophy. That doesn’t mean, though, that there aren’t questions about Urban Meyer’s team or areas to address before showing up to take on the Badgers.
So, like every week, it’s time to tee up the week ahead for Ohio State and identify what topics are the most important as it prepares to compete for a title.
J.T. Barrett’s knee
The search for the rogue cameraman may head to the back burner for Meyer, but the knee injury his quarterback suffered warming up in the Big House is obviously going to have his attention. J.T. Barrett was able to play for more than two quarters after aggravating a health concern that has apparently lingered all season, but Dwayne Haskins had to take over in the third quarter and lead the offense to the finish line in the 31-20 win over Michigan.
How serious is this situation for the most prolific touchdown producer in Big Ten history? The three-time captain indicated after the game he would be ready to go against the Badgers, but will there be any limitations for him physically on the practice field or Saturday night? Could Haskins need to play again? This will be the most pressing issue for the Buckeyes considering not only the position, but the fact that it’s Barrett under the microscope.
Greg Schiano’s future
The reports emerged on Sunday that Ohio State’s defensive coordinator was nearing a deal to take over at Tennessee, throwing an unexpected wrench into the preparations for the game against the Badgers. Then the situation got even weirder, appearing to fall apart and surely complicating life for Schiano ahead of a critical week for his current team.
Whether Schiano winds up with Tennessee or another suitor emerges, the Buckeyes have been through this a couple of times previously with assistants needing to work two jobs at once. Tom Herman and Luke Fickell handled that difficult task impressively before leaving for Houston and Cincinnati, respectively. Schiano isn’t going to leave his close friend Meyer or his Ohio State players high and dry heading into the postseason, but there’s no question that it’s a grind to juggle those different responsibilities while the stakes are at their highest. The Buckeyes, too, will have to make sure they aren’t paying any attention to that sort of speculation and what the future would for the program if it needed a new defensive coordinator.
The playoff conversation
The Buckeyes are squarely in the thick of the discussion for the College Football Playoff, and the debates are going to be impossible to ignore. Meyer will likely need to address the situation in some capacity, if for no other reason than to remind the Buckeyes that none of that talk makes any difference if they don’t stay locked in during the week and win the Big Ten title on Saturday night.
Ohio State appears to be in solid position to make another return to the four-team field, and there will be plenty of time to debate all the various scenarios that could play out in the days ahead — or after the Tuesday release of the new rankings. But the key at the Woody Hayes Athletic Center this week? Tune out the noise.
The post Ohio State: J.T. Barrett’s knee will be hot topic ahead of Big Ten championship appeared first on Land of 10.
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