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Another Lovely Fall Morning in the Horseshoe: THE CORN NATION Q&A With Ohio State

Matt Tamanini of Land Grant Holy Land takes some time to give some thought-provoking and insightful answers about Saturday’s game as well as the current state of the Buckeyes program.

Minnesota v Ohio State Photo by Jamie Sabau/Getty Images

After two years of thrashings from the Ohio St. Buckeyes, Huskers fans enter today’s game, if not exactly confident, at least harboring hopes that strides made this season can at least produce an effort that will be something less than embarrassing. For the the other side’s thoughts how this contest will play out, Matt Tamanini of fellow SBNation’s Ohio State site Land Grant Holy Land was kind enough to answer some questions on their thoughts regrarding the upcoming game, the shocking Purdue loss, QB phenom Dwayne Haskins and, of course, Urban Meyer.

Many thanks to Matt for his time and detailed, candid answers - much appreciated!

Michigan lost early to Notre Dame and was quickly written off. Ohio State rolled until getting shellacked by unranked Purdue. Given that statement: How are Ohio State fans handling the current situation and what is your take on how the loss to Purdue has affected this team’s psyche moving forward?

Fans are taking an embarrassing, lop-sided loss to an unranked team that lost to Eastern Michigan about as well as you would expect. The thing that’s a bit unique with that game is that it wasn’t anything new. Yes, OSU ended up losing for the first time this season, but all of the problems that led up to the loss were the same exact things that had plagued them for the entire season. So, while the defeat was a bit of a bitter pill to swallow, many fans kind of anticipated the outcome beforehand.

I don’t think that we will know how the Purdue game has affected their psyche until they get on the field. As they have through all of the craziness of this season, the players have handled it remarkably well from a public-facing perspective. They’ve said the right things, they’ve handled themselves well. The players have been a model for how you would want representatives of your university to handle adversity.

The coaches on the other hand, that’s another story. And while the controversy and suspension at the beginning of the season is one thing, it hasn’t been too inspiring to see how Urban Meyer and defensive coordinator Greg Schiano have publicly discussed the performance and schematic problems that have haunted this team throughout the season. Now, that doesn’t mean that things aren’t being done differently behind the scenes, but at this point, I’m not too optimistic that much will change throughout the rest of the season.

I know it’s the last thing on earth (or at least in Columbus) anyone wants to consider, but are some starting to wonder if Urban is setting the table for another medical “retirement”? Or is the sentiment still that the media is trying to scream “FIRE” where there’s only a wisp of smoke?

Perhaps the staff at LGHL is a bit out of step with some of the more fervent Ohio state fans on this topic, but I think the majority of our team believes that Meyer will be gone from Ohio State no later than following the 2019 season; in fact there is a strong contingent that thinks he should have been gone before this season even began.

I also think that, as with most large programs, the vocal minority is giving the more level-headed fans a bad name. The suspension at the beginning of the year was obviously incredibly divisive, but since then – and perhaps because of that situation – the vast majority of Buckeye fans have approached this weird season pretty intelligently.

Tulane v Ohio State Photo by Jamie Sabau/Getty Images

Complete the following sentence - Dwayne Haskins is better than any Ohio St, quarterback since ___________

J.T. Barrett? I think that Haskins is the single greatest passing quarterback in Ohio State history, and I don’t really think that there is much of an argument against that. However, he has limitations that in his eight games as a starter have thus far prevented him from taking the step to getting to the elite level. Obviously the most obvious is that he is not much of a running threat. Now, I personally don’t think that’s nearly as big of a deal as others do, because he is athletic enough to avoid pressure, and there have been plenty of teams historically and recently at all levels of football that have been very successful with QBs who were great passers, but not a threat to run.

However, I think the thing that has really held him back is how he’s handled pressure. For all of the issues that Ohio State’s offensive line have had run blocking this season, they’ve done a pretty good job in pass protection. However, one of the tenants of the blueprint to be OSU is to simply send more rushers than the Buckeyes have blockers. Not only does that take away much of the running game, but it also eliminates Haskins’ ability to throw down field. So, he is forced to make quick decisions and get the ball out ASAP.

Now, he has proven to be pretty adept at that at times, but when teams have gotten to him, he’s shown that he doesn’t like taking hits, and is a bit jumpy when the pressure is bearing down.

Keep in mind though, that he’s still only started eight games, so this is something that likely he can improve, and if he does, I think that’s when he’s able to take the next step.

Does Tate Martell play one more game and back up Haskins for one more season hoping he turns pro? Or is he a transfer risk like every other 5-star freshman on the bench?

I don’t believe that Haskins will be in Columbus next year. I think that unless the wheels completely come off the remainder of this season, he will be a first round (early second at worst) NFL Draft pick, and that’s going to make things really complicated for the Buckeye coaching staff.

I had significant doubts about Tate Martell, and even before the season made the prediction that he would not be a QB at Ohio State in 2019 – either due to a position change or transfer. However, in his limited time this season, he’s proven to be a much better passer than we’d seen in the spring. But, he’s still a 5-foot-10, run-first quarterback, and that’s not really what QB coach/Offensive coordinator Ryan Day does.

The Buckeyes have a four-star pro-style commit in the 2019 class named Dwan Mathis, and he is the type of quarterback that Day prefers. But, if Haskins does head to the NFL, I think that Martell (who is also a favorite of Meyer’s) is the starter next year, almost by default.

Minnesota v Ohio State Photo by Jamie Sabau/Getty Images

Even with the Purdue loss, the Buckeyes can punch their ticket to the Big 10 title game by running the table. If they win that as well, can the CFP committee overlook that 29-point deficit?

I think that there is a distinct possibility that Ohio State goes 2-2 during the month of November, making this a moot point, but if as in your question, the Buckeyes win out, I think that they are likely to be in the CFP. If you remember last year when the 30-point loss to Iowa was used to keep OSU on the outside of the CFP, they also had an early season loss to a very good Oklahoma team, but it was a loss nonetheless. I think that the natural craziness of college football will continue to whittle down the unbeaten teams, and even work on the one-loss teams.

So, if the Buckeyes end the season with a top-5 win over Michigan, and then what will almost certainly be a top-25 win in the Big Ten Championship Game, I think it’s pretty safe to say their in. Certainly not a done deal, as four weeks is a long time in college football, but I’d feel pretty confident about it.

To quote Rocky Balboa in the movie...well…”Rocky Balboa”: “Hey yo, champ. Aren’t you a little scared?”

About Nebraska, or just the general state of the Ohio State program? Actually, don’t answer that, because the answer is the same either way, “Yes.”

What’s your prediction for Saturday?

I think after a week off, the Buckeyes – who have been beaten up lately – will look a little crisper. However, I don’t anticipate significant improvements in the running game or in the defense preventing big gains, I would be very glad to be wrong, of course.

But, I do think that the Buckeyes have enough to win the game, but Adrian Martinez is the type of quarterback that causes problems for OSU this season, so I think it will be a close one-ish one; 35-24 Ohio State.