Sure, the Ohio State Buckeyes didn’t take the field this weekend, but OSU fans across the country still learned a lot of things about the Buckeyes, the Big Ten and college football.
OSU was the only Big Ten team that didn’t play Saturday, and despite not being in action, it moved up one spot in The Associated Press top 25 poll, to No. 22 from No. 23.
So what can we take away from the OSU bye week? Plenty.
1. Rankings don’t matter
Following last week’s 66-0 drubbing of the Kent State Golden Flashes, the Buckeyes fell to No. 23 from No. 22 in the AP top 25. After a bye week in which all but one active Big Ten team won Saturday, the Buckeyes actually jumped back up to No. 22.
With the BCS system gone and the College Football Playoff taking its place, rankings have become irrelevant and I don’t believe I’m alone in saying this: it’s about time.
But, if you still care about the polls, don’t expect the Buckeyes to be jumping anytime soon. OSU is currently scheduled to take on just one ranked opponent this season — No. 9 Michigan State on Nov. 8 in East Lansing, Mich.
If the Buckeyes want to make an impression on the voters, they’ll have to beat the Spartans.
2. The Big Ten isn’t dead … yet
After week two saw the Big Ten lose three prime-time games, it seemed like the conference was locked in the proverbial cellar until further notice.
Following Saturday’s performance, the Big Ten has resurrected itself — at least for the time being. Without OSU playing, 12 Big Ten schools walked away with victories including Indiana’s stunning 31-27 upset of then-No. 18 Missouri of the all-mighty SEC.
The only loss the Big Ten suffered Saturday was a 26-10 final in which Utah dominated Michigan in Ann Arbor, Mich.
The game, which was delayed more than two hours in the fourth quarter because of a fantastic lighting display, ended with Michigan playing two quarterbacks and not scoring an offensive touchdown.
Other notable games included Nebraska beating the University of Miami at home and Wisconsin racking up 756 total yards on Bowling Green. Most said the Big Ten was down, but after Saturday, it’s not out.
3. There is no powerhouse team thus far
Last season, we saw the Florida State Seminoles dominate every team that got in their way before squeaking by Auburn to claim the 2014 BCS National Championship.
Without their Heisman trophy-winning quarterback, the No. 1 Seminoles needed overtime and a few lucky bounces to defeat a Clemson team that was led for the majority of the game by a true freshman quarterback.
No. 2 Oregon needed all four quarters to inch past a Washington State team that lost its season opener to Rutgers at home Aug. 28. The Ducks might, however, have the future Heisman winner on their team as quarterback Marcus Mariota led Oregon to a 38-31 win and tossed five touchdown passes without throwing an interception.
4. Cincinnati lacks consistency
OSU is set to take on its intrastate foe Cincinnati this weekend, and suddenly the Bearcats don’t look as intimidating.
Cincinnati struggled to defeat the Miami (OH) Redhawks on Saturday, a team that has not won a game in its last 20 tries.
Bearcat redshirt-sophomore quarterback Gunner Kiel, who threw for six scores and 418 yards in Cincinnati’s first game against Toledo, looked less impressive against the Redhawks as he threw two interceptions on the way to a 31-24 Bearcat victory.
Cincinnati was forced to throw the ball 39 times Saturday, largely because its running game was shut down. The Bearcats were held to just 3.3 yards per carry, finishing with only 99 yards on the ground.
Needless to say, the Buckeye pass defense, which has been under scrutiny for more than a year, will be tested early and often against Cincinnati.
5. Penn State should not be ignored
Yes, I know they played the University of Massachusetts, but the Nittany Lions are playing with a very large chip on their shoulders.
Penn State is one of just two undefeated teams left in the Big Ten, and it absolutely dominated the Minutemen, 48-7, on Saturday afternoon.
Sophomore quarterback Christian Hackenberg is a star in the making, and is leading a team that just recently found out it is bowl eligible for the first time since the 2011 season.
There is nothing scarier than a hungry football team and if OSU, or any Big Ten team, has aspirations of winning a Big Ten title, they better have the Nittany Lions circled on their calendar. The two teams are scheduled to play Oct. 25 in State College, Pa.