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Today is Tuesday, Nov. 1, and this is your Ohio State Wake-Up Call.
Veterans talk playoff
It’s here. The inaugural 2016 College Football Playoff rankings will be released tonight at 7 p.m. (ET) on ESPN. For a big program such as Ohio State, these rankings do mean a lot. However, the hype that comes with these rankings is nothing new for this football program.
“That should be a given at Ohio State,” Buckeyes linebacker Raekwon McMillan said. “Always in the conversation about the playoff and the Big Ten championship.”
No matter where they are ranked in the first CFP Poll, the Buckeyes seem to have the opportunity to control their own destiny in regards to a playoff appearance. The team mentality since the Penn State loss has been focusing on one game at a time.
— Buckeye Fans Only (@buckeyefansonly) October 31, 2016
“I feel like if I am thinking about that right now, we have to beat Nebraska before any of that can be possible,” Ohio State defensive end Jalyn Holmes said. “Just take it one week at a time and we will see wherever we land.”
Quarterback J.T. Barrett has been here before. He has been in the pistol set through the championship season in 2014 and through the heartbreak of 2015. If anyone can attest to the importance of the one-game mentality, it’s him.
“Last year, we were in it and we lose a game in November,” Barrett said. “Then the year before, we weren’t in it, won a couple of games, and then we are. Were are not playing the playoffs this Saturday.”
Even though it may not be a playoff game, this Top-10 matchup may feel like one. No. 6 Ohio State now has No. 9 Nebraska to look forward to on Saturday night. With the team focusing on one game at a time, McMillan said that the team has to focus on bettering themselves before worrying about the future.
“This is the pressure around here that we always have,” McMillan said. “You tend to get tensed up and not play loose and start to worry about ‘what if’s’ and ‘what if this happens’ or winning losing or about the playoffs. Like I said a couple of weeks back, we just have to worry about the next day getting better every day and the task ahead.”
As far as watching the rankings being announced, Holmes has better things to do.
“I’m going to be watching Luke Cage. I’m not going to be worried about that.”
Barrett sees growth
Every week, quarterback J.T. Barrett is asked about the state of the passing offense. The answer is very similar week to week.
“I don’t think we want to be content at all as far as the way we play,” Barrett said. “We always want to progress and get better. I think it’s at a good spot.”
This week, the focus seemed to shift on how the opposing teams have been defending the passing game. In his game against Northwestern, the newly named semifinalist for the Maxwell Award threw 21 passes for 223 yards, averaging 10.61 yards per completion, with no touchdowns.
J.T. Barrett is one of 18 semifinalists for Maxwell Award given to top offensive player in college football.
— Bill Rabinowitz (@brdispatch) October 31, 2016
The “big play” in the passing game has not been there in the past couple of weeks, with his longest completion this week going for only 34 yards. The short to intermediate passing game has moved the ball down the field. If that leads to a touchdown, that’s all that Barrett cares about.
“This year it’s like ‘we see y’all have weapons so we are going to back off’ and nickel and dime us down the field,” Barrett said. “I think you just take what they give you and not force anything. We like scoring fast and things like that, but as long as we are scoring, there is no problem.”
The most important part is that Barrett sees progress in his young receiving corps.
“I think there is always kind of a growth, more uphill,” Barrett said. “I don’t think there has been any regressing by any means. Even when it looks bad and you are probably like they are stepping back, there’s a need for that to push through those things because if everything is easy, when something hits you hard later on in the season, you will not know how to handle it.”
Cornhuskers are coming to Ohio Stadium mad
Buckeye fans have heard this one before. After its 23-17 overtime loss to No. 8 Wisconsin, Nebraska coach Mike Riley, according to an article from the AP, took a page out of Ohio State coach Urban Meyer’s book after his team lost to Penn State.
“I think our team actually will be mad,” Riley said. “You can be sad, or you can be mad, and you can have a chip on your shoulder and know we can be better and go play hard. We’ll have to play hard and well to win, but that’s the approach our team will take.”
His Cornhuskers team is in the middle of a tough two-game stint where they take on two Top-10 teams on the road. They will come into Ohio Stadium as two-touchdown underdogs Saturday night. For defensive lineman Carlos Davis, that makes him fired up even more.
“It makes us more passionate to go get these guys after the tough loss,” Davis said. “You’ve got another big opponent, and after losing, it fires you up a bit.”
A new Mike Vrabel?
Offensive lineman Branden Bowen has earned some playing time for the Buckeyes. However, coach Urban Meyer may have some other ideas regarding his use.
— Kevin Noon (@Kevin_Noon) October 31, 2016
When asked about Bowen, defensive end Jalyn Holmes talked about how athletic he was. However, the conversation quickly turned to if he could do it. He responded with this.
Jalyn Holmes said if asked to catch a pass, he could. Asked about being the next Mike Vrabel, he said he had more "swagger" than that. pic.twitter.com/WL2jRSm8pE
— Nick McWilliams (@NickM_OSU) October 31, 2016
Maybe at some point, Holmes will get a chance to be like former All-American Mike Vrabel. Maybe not in a Buckeye uniform though.