- Austin Ward Ohio State – Land of 10
During the week, Land of 10 reporters following the Buckeyes address pressing questions on the minds of the Ohio State fan base with our daily feature. To ask Austin Ward a question, follow along on Twitter and suggest a topic right here. Check back Monday through Friday as we dive into the Ohio State Question of the Day. Go here to see all of our previous answers.
Is Michigan currently burning to the ground or are they trying to gloss over everything that happened today?
— Bryant Schaefer (@bryantschaefer) February 7, 2018
The perfect record in six editions of The Game speaks for itself as proof of Urban Meyer’s mastery over rival Michigan. But looking forward, it’s hard to see exactly how Ohio State’s edge will fade when it’s stacking up historic recruiting classes ― one after the other ― while the Wolverines are stumbling to the finish line and winding up at No. 21 nationally, as it did this week. The matchups on the field have continued to be hard-fought, competitive affairs ― but comparing these two groups of signees is nothing if not an incredibly lopsided blowout.
Pick any of the rankings or measures, and Ohio State has a decisive edge. And while some schools might try to downplay the importance of the star-rating system, there is plenty of proof that it matters a great deal in projecting future success and the ability to compete for championships. Ohio State’s Class of 2018 lists 23 players with 4-star evaluations or better; Michigan has seven. That bodes well for Meyer and the Buckeyes as they build a monster roster and look to extend the winning streak in The Game, and it also should raise more concerns for the Wolverines and Jim Harbaugh.
Michigan’s on-field lack of success in 2017 already had opened the door to criticism of the coach who was heralded as a savior when he returned to his alma mater three seasons ago. But Ohio State hasn’t been the only rival Michigan has struggled with over the last few years, and after failing to post any wins of significance on the way to an 8-5 record last season, it’s clear that has taken a toll on Harbaugh’s ability to land elite targets. It also seems as if some of his gimmicks are starting to wear thin with players since he whiffed on Nicholas Petit-Frere despite moving bowl practices to the 5-star offensive lineman’s high school ― only to see him sign with Ohio State.
Ordinarily it wouldn’t be worth raising much of an issue with a class that still finished among the top-25 teams in the nation. But with Penn State finishing at No. 5 and on the same side of the Big Ten along with the Buckeyes, that’s a troubling development for Michigan. Scheme, discipline, work ethic and technique are all important. But championships also take a lot of talent, and right now it’s clear where the greatest concentration of it can be found in both the Big Ten and the sport’s best rivalry.
These two programs are always the measuring stick against which they evaluate success. The competition has always been a year-round affair as well, but it turns out the seemingly nonstop recruiting calendar has just become one more way for Meyer to show off his dominance of Michigan.
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