After the recent child sex abuse scandal regarding former Penn State defensive coordinator Jerry Sandusky, Penn State head football coach Joe Paterno announced today that he plans to retire at the end of the season.
While what happened at Penn State is a tragedy, fans must now wonder how the recent chaos will affect the Penn State football team and the teams that trail them in the Big Ten.
However, a question must be asked: Do the Ohio State Buckeyes have a chance to jump ahead of the Nittany Lions and play in the Big Ten championship?
Before the college football season started, the Buckeyes had all odds against them. By now, everybody knows about Terrelle Pryor and the four other players being suspended for receiving improper benefits and Jim Tressel's attempt to cover it up. This scandal led to Pryor entering the NFL's supplemental draft and Tressel resigning after 10 years as the Buckeyes head football coach. When it was all said and done, it looked as if the Buckeyes had everything against them, and they did.
In comes interim head coach Luke Fickell.
Fickell, a former player and co-defensive coordinator, had trouble coaching this team at the beginning of the season. With uncertainty at the quarterback position and a young team, Fickell had, by far, one of the toughest coaching jobs in America.
After the close debacle against the Toledo Rockets in Week 2, it certainly looked like it was going to be a long season for the Buckeyes. That very next week, Ohio State was dismantled by a Miami Hurricanes football team that normally would never stand a chance against the Buckeyes. After this game, Fickell realized it was time to make a move and gave freshman quarterback Braxton Miller the keys to the offense. Ever since then, the Buckeyes haven't looked back.
In his six starts, Miller has posted a 4-2 record. In those two losses, the Buckeyes lost by three to Michigan State and seven to Nebraska, in a game that probably would have been awarded in the Buckeyes favor if Miller hadn't gotten injured. Even though Miller has been playing well as a true freshman this season, the underlying factor into the Buckeyes' recent success is the return of senior running back Daniel "Boom" Herron.
In three games this season, Herron has rushed for 415 yards and two touchdowns. It's easy to say he has not missed a step. With the resurgence of Herron and the play of Miller, the Buckeyes are gaining momentum as they head into their final three games of the season, all of which have Big Ten championship implications.
Currently trailing Penn State by two games in the Leaders division, the Buckeyes have a golden opportunity to jump ahead of the Nittany Lions and play in the Big Ten Championship Game. In order to do this, the Buckeyes must win their final three games, which includes a game against Penn State. With that being said, Penn State must lose to Ohio State and either Wisconsin or Nebraska in the upcoming weeks for the Buckeyes to stand a chance.
As of right now, the odds look like they're in Ohio State's favor. With a strong defense and a dangerous offense, the Buckeyes could play their way into the Big Ten Championship Game. Those are words no Buckeyes fan expected to hear at the beginning of the season.
Expect Ohio State to win out and, with a little help from Nebraska or Wisconsin, play in the Big Ten Championship Game against Michigan State on December 3rd.
In addition, the Buckeyes should finally get their No. 1 receiver DeVier Posey back next week against Penn State, in a game that could spring the Buckeyes into the top spot of the Leaders division.
UPDATE: According to a recent report, Penn State head football coach Joe Paterno has been fired by the Penn State Board of Trustees, effective immediately.