AP Top 25 Takeaways: Ohio State’s Day will face doubters now
Welcome to Jim Harbaugh’s previous life, Ryan Day. This is the way things go at the top of college football’s…
Welcome to Jim Harbaugh’s previous life, Ryan Day.
This is the way things go at the top of college football’s food chain. If you can’t win the most important game on your schedule, there will be questions about whether you are the right man for the job.
For the second straight season, Harbaugh’s Michigan team pummeled Day and Ohio State.
Day is 45-5 at Ohio State as Urban Meyer’s replacement, but 1-2 against Michigan.
“We’ll figure out what’s next. I don’t know exactly what’s next right now, but that’s life at Ohio State,” Day told reporters. “When you lose, it all comes back to me as head coach. And that’s probably what hurts the most.”
What probably hurts most for Ohio State fans is The Game played out in a way that was supposed to be to the second-ranked Buckeyes’ advantage, a back-and-forth affair where the quarterbacks needed to be difference-makers.
The third-ranked Wolverines transformed themselves from ground-and-pound into a big-play machine, ripping off five touchdowns that covered a total of 349 yards.
Meanwhile, Day was punting on fourth-and-short from around midfield.
“In games like that, you have to play the field position game.” Day said. “I just feel like you’re not in those situations if you’re converting on third downs.”
Ohio State was 5 for 16 on third down.
Under Day, Ohio State has become a quarterback and wide receiver factory. C.J. Stroud will almost certainly become the third straight Buckeyes passer to be a first-round draft pick next April.
Marvin Harrison Jr. is the best receiver in the country and he has another season in college. He is part of a room-full of blue chippers that produced two first-round picks in the last draft.
The talent doesn’t stop there. According to 247 Sports composite rankings based on recruiting stars, Ohio State has the third-most talented roster in college football behind Georgia and Alabama.
Michigan? No. 14.
So, of course, it must be the coaching? And whether it truly is the coaching is not the point. Michigan planted its flag right in the middle of Ohio State’s block “O” at the 50-yard line. Somebody in Columbus is going to be held responsible for letting that happen.
Meyer never lost to the Wolverines. Before that it was Jim Tressel who flipped the rivalry the Buckeyes’ way, going 9-1 against Michigan.
Ohio State fans have grown accustomed to the dominance over That Team Up North.
When Harbaugh arrived in Ann Arbor, Michigan, from the NFL as a potential savior for his alma mater’s wayward football program, Wolverines fans hoped he could change their fortunes in The Game.
Instead, Harbaugh went 0-5. No matter that he rebuilt the program and pulled Michigan out of its greatest depths. At the top of his resume: Can’t beat Ohio State. And he was pilloried for it.
Not anymore. Michigan might not be the more talented team, but it certainly looks like the tougher team, the team that better handles adversity.
“This is a spiritual team,” Harbaugh said. “They’re happy. They’re celebrating, but they see bigger things.”
Next week, the Big Ten championship against Purdue awaits. Win that and Michigan makes its second straight College Football Playoff.
There’s still a chance the Buckeyes can back into the CFP and maybe find redemption there. The selection committee seems to be running out of good options after Clemson also lost on Saturday.
This is not what Ohio State had in mind. Last season, after the defense melted down in big spots, Day took those Buckeyes bucks and lured coordinator Jim Knowles away from Oklahoma State to fix it.
Didn’t work. At least not when it counted most.
So now Day, a coach with a mountain of accomplishments and a more than $9 million annual salary, is the one being judged for his failures and getting compared to former Buckeyes coach John Cooper.
Cooper is a Hall of Famer, but for Ohio State fans he is mostly remembered for this: 2-10-1 against Michigan.
For the second straight week, South Carolina stepped into the playoff races and played spoiler.
This time against its in-state rival.
The Gamecocks followed up their victory against Tennessee last week with another against Clemson, giving them back-to-back victories against top-10 teams.
“I feel like we’re in our own College Football Playoff they way we’ve played the last two weeks,” South Carolina coach Shane Beamer said.
The South Carolina-Clemson rivalry has been as one-sided as Ohio State-Michigan in recent years.
Dabo Swinney’s Tigers had won seven straight Palmetto Bowls before South Carolina put an end to that with another terrific performance by quarterback Spencer Rattler and an array of special teams contributions.
Clemson will limp into the Atlantic Coast Conference championship game against No. 18 North Carolina. The two will both come in off a rivalry game defeat and have a combined five losses.
So who is getting in this playoff?
Well, undefeated No. 1 Georgia (12-0) is headed into the Southeastern Conference championship game with its position seemingly secured and No. 6 LSU (No. 5 CFP) not looking like much of a threat to pull off an upset.
At this point, Michigan and No. 4 TCU (12-0) might also be in regardless of what happens next week, though surely they would like to seal the deal with conference titles.
Then who? Ohio State (11-1) didn’t really look like a team deserving of a mulligan.
No. 5 Southern California was playing No. 13 Notre Dame on Saturday night, with a Pac-12 championship game berth already clinched.
USC will play either No. 14 Utah or No. 10 Oregon, which blew a chance to neatly wrap up its spot in the title game with an epic second-half meltdown against No. 22 Oregon State.
Hey, maybe Alabama’s not out of it after all?
Just kidding. The Crimson Tide (10-2) are out. We think.
AROUND THE COUNTRY
For the first time since 1994, Minnesota gets to keep Paul Bunyan’s Axe. The Gophers beat Wisconsin for the second straight year, but a 4-3 finish will likely be enough for Badgers brass to name interim coach Jim Leonhard to the permanent job early as Sunday. … Soon after Oregon’s collapse, news broke that Ducks offensive coordinator Kenny Dillingham was on the verge being named the youngest head coach in the Power Five by Arizona State. Dillingham, 32, is a Phoenix native and Arizona State graduate. … The Iron Bowl didn’t get as much attention as usual, unless you count all the speculation about Auburn’s next coach. But let’s take a moment to appreciate Tide quarterback Bryce Young, who likely played his last home game. Maybe even his last college game altogether. Young threw for 343 yards and three touchdowns against Auburn. He won’t win another Heisman and he won’t win a national title as a starter, but he has undeniably been one of the greatest players of the Nick Saban dynasty.
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