Ohio State-Northwestern | Rob Oller’s second thoughts

Staff Writer
Buckeye Xtra
Ohio State Buckeyes defensive tackle Dre'Mont Jones (86) and Ohio State Buckeyes linebacker Malik Harrison (39) tackle Northwestern Wildcats running back Isaiah Bowser (25) during the 3rd quarter in the Big Ten Championship game in Indianapolis, Ind on December 1, 2018. [Kyle Robertson/Dispatch]

• Over the past month or so, I’ve heard Ohio State fans say they hope the Buckeyes miss the playoff so they don’t have to play Alabama. I get not wanting to risk getting embarrassed by the Crimson Tide, which would be the likely matchup if OSU somehow jumped Oklahoma into the fourth spot (Memo: it’s not happening). But that view ultimately seems defeatist, because the upside of shocking Bama would more than make up for losing a game you’re supposed to lose, even if it’s by 30 points or more. Recall 2014. Much of what made the ending so memorable was knocking off Nick Saban and Alabama. The bottom line is if you make the playoff, you have a chance to win the national title. If you don’t, you don’t.

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• I’ve always been a proponent of offensive balance, a near equal mix of run and pass. But with these Buckeyes I could almost be talked into having them pass 90 percent of the time — instead of the 46 runs, 41 passes that happened against Northwestern — especially when they’re trying to run wide like they did against the Wildcats. Am I the only one who was scratching his head at that strategy? I know it is not true, but sometimes it seems like the coaches get bored calling the same successful passing plays and decide to mix in some runs just to make things more interesting. Or to keep the running backs engaged in the game. Give Dwayne Haskins Jr. time to throw and he’ll find the open receiver. Give the OSU tailbacks the ball and they might get 5 yards. Or they might get stuffed a bunch, like they did against Northwestern.

• How would you like to be defensive end Chase Young, playing well the entire season but having to listen to everyone say how much better the Buckeyes defense would be if Nick Bosa were still around. Sure, Young is no Bosa, but he did a more than admirable job picking up the slack after Bosa went down with a core muscle injury in the third game against TCU. The 6-foot-5, 265-pound sophomore was especially good against the Wildcats, finishing with three of OSU’s five sacks. The Buckeyes almost certainly won’t earn a playoff spot, but it won’t be because of Young, who also made one of the key plays of the season when he filled the gap to help stop Penn State on fourth down in the Buckeyes’ 27-26 win in State College.

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