Monday, January 7, 2008

The Matchup

How good is Ohio State?

It’s an honest question. The Big Ten was anywhere from mediocre to outright terrible this season, so it’s a little difficult to gauge the quality of the buckeyes. Yes, they are a good team and it’s stupid to hold their conference against them. After all, conferences don’t play, teams do. Just ask Florida. The question is: HOW good are they?

The infuriating answer is this: no one has any idea. Anyone who says they do is either deluded or lying. They are certainly the #1 team in the country, more by default than anything, but no LSU fan can really get on anyone for accomplishing something by default. The thing is, they did win a BCS conference, and they did it with apparent ease. The problem is trying to determine what it all meant.

For example, Ohio State has the #1 scoring defense in the country. It’s a unit that can play. The linebacking corps especially is topnotch. I don’t think anyone has gotten up and said, “Ohio state does not have a good defense.” Because they most certainly do. But here’s the rub, how good is that #1 ranking? Ohio state has only faced ONE scoring offense ranked in the top 25, and that was #24 Purdue. They’ve only face five teams ranked in the top 50, which makes it hard to get a feel for their real quality. It’s not OSU’s fault the bottom fell out of the Big Ten this season, but it does make the evaluation of their team difficult.

Also, cracks have shown in their defense. In four of their last five games, OSU has allowed at least 17 points. This was from a defense which had not allowed double digit points up until that point. Now, is that because the team got tired or other teams figured them out? Who knows?

Now, there’s been some talk that LSU’s defense isn’t playing that great. Which is true. Our defense has not lived up to the preseason hype for a variety of reasons. But that ignores the fact that LSU’s offense has been downright awesome. You don’t score 503 points with a mediocre offense. And LSU has put points up on top ten defenses like Auburn and Florida. But the contrast is that LSU’s offense has pretty consistently put up 30 points in every game. OK, LSU laid an egg against Tennessee, but that was LSU’s worst offensive output of the season: 21 points. LSU scores and they score a lot in almost every game.

Irresistible force meet the immovable object. But how immovable is it? Well, we find out tonight. Honestly, I have no idea. Sorry. I wish I could give you the answer, but the entire point here is this: no one has any idea. And that’s what makes tonight’s game so intriguing. There really is no way to break down this matchup because of the weakness of Ohio St's conference this year. we know the Buckeyes are really good. How good is really good?


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