"Roughing the Passer - A PK Frazier Novel"

My new book, "Offsetting Penalties - A PK Frazier Novel" is the follow-up to "Illegal Procedure" and "Roughing the Passer" and is now available in print and in e-formats at amazon.com, smashwords.com and iBooks. Follow me on twitter @kevinkrest.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

OHIO STATE A SURPRISE THIS YEAR, BUT WHAT ABOUT 2015?

The Buckeyes pulled a big late season surprise behind a third string quarterback in 2014. Cardale Jones looked more like Cam Newton than an inexperienced backup as Ohio State swept Wisconsin, Florida State and Oregon on their way to the title. But as a Virginia Tech alum, all I see is the September 7 rematch in Blacksburg's Lane Stadium where Ohio State will have the opportunity to avenge its only loss of 2014. It wasn't just any loss, as it came very close to keeping the Buckeyes out of the very playoffs that they ended up winning.

The big question in Columbus, before the celebrating is even over, is who will be behind center for Ohio State when they take the filed on Labor Day against the Hokies' defensive coordinator Bud Foster's defense? There won't be a tune-up game for either team, so both will have the entire spring and summer to prepare for what could be an early playoff elimination game, or at least one that positions both teams for the rest of the season. Virginia Tech expects to be much-improved, with a more seasoned offense and many skill players back in the lineup after an injury riddled campaign. It doesn't look like the Buckeyes can go wrong with whoever they have at QB, but the chances of Braxton Miller, JT Barrett and Jones all being on campus for next season isn't too likely.

It's been widely rumored that Braxton Miller may transfer. He would be eligible to play immediately following graduation and there will be more than enough suitors to welcome him into their programs if he's deemed healthy. But what bothers me more about the Buckeyes is their weak out of conference schedule, which almost conspired to keep them out of the playoffs this season. Northern Illinois, Hawaii and Western Michigan are not exactly murderer's row, especially considering Ohio State doesn't play Nebraska or Wisconsin in the regular season. Games at Indiana, Illinois and Rutgers hardly look like massive hurdles to Meyer's crew heading into the last two games at home against Michigan State and at Michigan. And despite Jim Harbaugh's arrival in Ann Arbor, it might take a couple of seasons for the Wolverines to challenge for a title.

So will we have a repeat of the debate that raged about the Big Ten's supposed weaknesses? Probably not quite to the same extent, given that Ohio State prevailed against the unquestionable top two in this year's playoffs. But I expect the issue to dog the conference until they find a way to prop up thew bottom of the league and get the top teams to take more risk in non-conference action.