This is the first of a series of spring game recaps, check-ins with our opponents to see how they're doing following their spring games. Spring tends to be a time in which we're all looking inward - it seems as if the only time we look to other teams is to see how well their spring game was attended, then pat ourselves on the back, put our heads down and trudge on ‘til football season.
Nebraska doesn't play the Ohio State Buckeyes during the regular season in 2013, but you could take the bet and get decent odds that the two teams will meet in the Big Ten Championship game next season, ergo they are the first team in the series.
Luke Zimmermann of SB Nation's THE Ohio State University site Land Grant Holy Land was kind enough to answer some questions regarding his observations from the Buckeyes this spring:
The 2012 12-0 Buckeyes received big, gaudy rings. Did they deserve them, or was this a stick in the eye of the NCAA?
They were the only team in the country to go 12-0. Not one other team achieved perfection and I'm perfectly fine with them commemorating doing so as such; it was a special year for the players and fans alike.
The 2004/05 Auburn Tigers produced rings after their 14-0 season that read ‘national champs'. If Ohio State had done that, I might've been more inclined to take issue with it.
Around 37k attended the spring game that is normally attended by around 60k because Urban Meyer moved the game to Cincinnati and played it in the Browns' home stadium. Was this a good move and how was it received by the Buckeye faithful?
I think Columbus townie Ohio State fans weren't on board with it, but any die-hard Buckeye football fans were certainly okay with the move. Broaching the fertile Cincinnati recruiting area is critical and with Ohio Stadium unavailable due to construction, taking the show on the road helps them also network with southwest Ohio alums, both sidewalk and actual. I won't be opposed to a Spring Game next year or the year after in Cleveland.
Were there any concerns you had before the spring game, and were they alleviated? What is your main concern heading into fall?
I think there's always going to be some trepidation going from one year to the next. Right tackle was (and still remains) a venerable unknown quantity. I suspect Urban Meyer's got his guy in former 4-star now sophomore tackle Taylor Decker, but he's not tipping his hand (Decker was so-so in the exhibition, FWIW).
There were some questions about the defensive front seven, but I think with Ohio State making an emphatic case (7 total sacks) they have maybe the two best rush ends in the country (and both sophomores at that), that's not going to be a concern any longer.
I think even bigger than "which warm body will occupy the right side of the o-line" is now "can this offensive line survive an injury or two?" For as good as Noah Spence and Adolphus Washington looked, how much of that was the fact that the starting o-line was divided into two groups?
One of 2012 USC, the preseason number one team,'s greatest shortcomings was that after an injury or two on the line, they became one dimensional and vulnerable. There's definitely some worry in the back of my head that that could repeat itself with this group.
What rising stars came out of the game that Big Ten fans should pay attention to heading into next season?
The aforementioned Spence and Washington. The crazy thing about Washington is that he's just as comfortable at the three technique as he is coming from either end spot. Freshman cornerback Eli Apple was a revelation as well and could spell terror for opposing quarterbacks in a nickel type role situationally. Fourth string (!) running back Warren Ball looked to be the real deal too in small quantities. If OSU is really as deep at tailback as they superficially appeared, an already stocked warchest gets even more loaded.
Does Ohio State go undefeated in 2013?
I don't see a loss on the schedule given the current makeup of the team. It'd be gambler's fallacy to assume a loss for the sake of a loss, but outside of a potential Big Ten Championship Game one, I think this team makes it through a second straight regular season unscathed.
Of course things get dicey if they're one of three unbeatens as their strength of schedule is absolutely horrendous. Injuries (or god forbid suspensions) could always derail the train, but Ohio State fans' stereotypical chest puffing is probably at least somewhat merited... at least as of right now.