ESPN’s Kirk Herbstreit has talked highly about the Big Ten, especially the league’s East division that includes Ohio State, Michigan and Michigan State. Wisconsin has also been strong in the West.
Early this season, however, Ohio State has stood out the most – the Buckeyes are ranked No. 2. So, when asked on SportsCenter about Ohio State’s biggest competition in the Big Ten, Herbstreit didn’t name another team.
“The mirror will be their biggest competition, because I still feel like, and I said this before the season started, they’re a leg up athletically on everybody in the conference, including Michigan,” Herbstreit said.
Herbstreit said Saturday’s 45-24 rout at Oklahoma sent a message that the Buckeyes aren’t going to fall despite losing 12 players in the first four rounds of this past spring’s NFL Draft. Herbstreit said Ohio State showed the discrepancy in speed and athletic ability in all phases of the game against the Sooners.
“It just jumped off the screen at you how athletic they looked,” he said.
Herbstreit named the mirror as Ohio State’s strongest competitor because he said quarterback J.T. Barrett has to keep the young, talented players grounded and away from complacency, especially now that the Buckeyes are getting so much respect.
“J.T. Barrett is their X-factor,” Herbstreit said. “He is now back to being able to be free and loose and making good decisions based on who’s open, not ‘Who could we get touches to?’ because all those NFL players they had a year ago.”
We’ll know in the coming weeks if the Buckeyes let the compliments get to their heads. Ohio State is off this week and then returns to action Oct. 1 at home against Rutgers.