“At some point in an individual battle, the other guy says, ‘I don’t want to go anymore, I’ve had enough.’ The same thing with a team. At some point that team says, ‘No, wait a minute. That’s too much for us to handle.’ That’s called tapping out. We will never see this here. That’s a culture. That’s a mindset.” — Urban Meyer, 2012
Heading into his seventh season as Ohio State’s head coach, Urban Meyer has successfully implemented the desired culture and mindset in every aspect of the Ohio State football program.
Competition throughout every position group reigns supreme, and the bluest of blue-chip recruits are always on the way in the form of reinforcements.
Throughout the spring and summer, I want to review the upcoming 2018 Ohio State football opponents, using the theme of competition as the baseline. While Ohio State has had more challenging schedules in the past, there are several games on the schedule that could potentially trip the Buckeyes up and end their goal of repeating as B1G champions.
These articles will examine the 2018 opponents, from least concerning to most concerning, based on various factors that I will list in the respective articles.
As always, I encourage interaction, either through the comments section below, or directly @ChipMinnich. I hope you enjoy reading them as much as I look forward to writing them.
2. Michigan Wolverines (8-5 in 2017)
There are certain things I believe every Ohio State fan can come to expect during any football season. For example, THE GAME has been played as the last game of the regular season between Ohio State and “That Team Up North”, the Michigan Wolverines, every season since 1935. Kickoff has moved from network to network over the years, and despite its appeal, has usually kicked off at 12pm EST.
Another item that I believe rings true, when it comes to THE GAME? That it is usually not easy.
You are probably thinking, “Here’s another of those guys who is stuck in the John Cooper era when Ohio State went 2-10-1 from 1988-2000.” That is true — I probably do suffer from PCSD, or “Post-Cooper Stress Disorder”, as my colleague @ShannonCFB usually laments.
I realize that Ohio State has been on the positive side of the ledger substantially since 2001, winning 14 times. (Yes, I know that Ohio State won 37-7 in 2010, but since the NCAA vacated it, I figured I had to do the same…despite my vivid recollections of how cold that day was in Ohio Stadium.)
I also agree with the comments made by Tony Gerdeman and Tom Orr on many episodes of their “Accost The Field” podcast this offseason — Ohio State’s recruiting efforts have been better than Michigan’s, and the results have manifested themselves on the field.
A case in point is Ohio State’s highest-ranked recruit in the 247Sports.com composite for 2018 is OT Nicholas Petit-Frere, ranked 7th overall. The highest ranked Wolverine recruit? Defensive end Aidan Hutchinson, ranked #112th overall…after another twelve Ohio State incoming recruits besides Petit-Frere.
I know Michigan has a strong defense returning, with nine starters coming back, led by defensive coordinator and future star of #BrownThunder Don Brown. (If you haven’t listened to those Accost The Field podcasts, you are missing out on what promises to be television’s next big hit, courtesy of the aforementioned Mr. Gerdeman and Mr. Orr). Defensive ends Rashan Gary and Chase Winovich, linebacker Devin Bush, and the entire Michigan secondary come back.
While Michigan is counting on Ole Miss transfer quarterback Shea Patterson to resuscitate the offense, another area of the offense could be dramatically improved. That improvement would be due to a name familiar to Ohio State fans — Ed Warinner, who was hired by Jim Harbaugh in the offseason to improve the typically poor Michigan offensive line.
Having seen how Warinner was able to develop Ohio State’s line into a dominant unit during his time as the offensive line coach from 2012-2015, it seems plausible that he will be able to get the Wolverines back to a level of respectability that will keep Patterson upright. This should then allow Jim Harbaugh to establish the type of ground game that he had during his stops at Stanford and with the San Francisco 49ers.
Finally…this one comes down to pride. Harbaugh knows that the Michigan faithful are sick and tired of being sick and tired. The brash quarterback who guaranteed a Michigan victory in Ohio Stadium in 1986 may be wearing WalMart khakis and a block ‘M’ hat now instead of a football uniform, but the burning desire to exact revenge on a hated rival is still burning intensely within.
Nothing would make him happier — and Michigan fans happier — than to beat Ohio State, in Ohio Stadium, on November 24th.
Of course, maybe you will all say I am wrong, suffering from PCSD, and perhaps you are right.
I just have too much history with this rivalry, pre- and post-John Cooper, to treat it as an easy game, no matter how much I have reveled in Ohio State’s recent dominance this millennium.