Happy New Year everyone! It's 2015! Wow, did 2014 fly by or what? But one thing is for certain; 2014 was one of the best years of Ohio State Buckeyes football that I can think of over the last 10 years. J.T. Barrett was a huge part of that but, as we all sadly know, was knocked out by Michigan for the rest of the year. Then, seemingly out of nowhere, Cardale Jones comes in and saves the day for the Bucks, putting on an amazing show against Wisconsin in the Big 10 Championship. Which leads our heroes to New Orleans against the Alabama Crimson Tide, the number 1 team in the nation, at the Sugar Bowl for the second playoff game of the night.
What should we expect from Ohio State? More of the same that's brought them here. Yes, Alabama is probably the most talented team they've run in to but I also believe that the Bucks match as good with them as with any other team in college football. Quarterback Blake Sims and wide receiver Amari Cooper had spectacular years on offense while defensively, Bama was one of the best. Landon Collins may be one of the best safeties in college football with Trey DePriest leading their linebacking core.
That said, Ohio State brings Joey Bosa, Michael Bennett, Vonn Bell and Darron Lee on defense with Ezekiel Elliot, Jalin Marshall and Devin Smith bringing firepower on offense. They have speed and talent, something that perhaps the Buckeyes of 10 years ago didn't have. In fact, the Buckeyes are built more like an SEC team than any other team in the Big 10 at this point. But the biggest factor is how well Urban Meyer knows Nick Saban and his teams of the past.
My take: The Buckeyes face their biggest challenge in many years. It will be fun to see how they can run with Alabama, for better or worse. The biggest challenge for the Bucks will be if Cardale Jones can continue the success he had almost 4 weeks ago against Wisconsin. But the Buckeyes young defensive backs will have their hands full with Amari Cooper, just as they did last year with Sammy Watkins. (as a Browns fan, if he's there at #12, let's hope they don't pass him up like they did Watkins)
Prediction: Sadly, the Buckeyes are still too young and aren't ready to compete for the National Championship. Alabama rolls 38-27.
What: Ohio State Buckeyes vs. Alabama Crimson Tide at the Sugar Bowl
Where: Mercedes-Benz Superdome, New Orleans, Louisiana
Time: 8:30 PM EST
TV/Radio: ESPN / ESPN Radio