Southwest to Columbus, west to Cleveland.

This weekend was a football lover's dream for me.

• On Saturday, I took in my first Ohio State game of the season.

The Buckeyes hosted the Cincinnati Bearcats, coached by former Buckeye player and coach Luke Fickell.

This is a 'new' OSU football team with the retiring of Urban Meyer and assistant Ryan Day taking over.

Day was acting coach for three games last season when Meyer was suspended and compiled a 3-0 mark.

OSU is OSU. The Buckeyes had little trouble with the Bearcats, winning 42-0 in a game many thought would be closer.

OSU should be in the playoff conversation most of the year, provided there's not a 49-20 loss like last season at Purdue.

While the Buckeyes have too much talent and depth unlike most teams in the country, anything can happen in sports and teams can lose.

Oh, there's also that thing of defeating Michigan, which is must.

I was impressed with the Buckeyes defense flying around.

It's no secret the defense struggled mightily last season. Jeff Hafley and Greg Mattison were brought in as co-defensive coordinators.

The defense is much more aggressive with their speed.

Offensively, quarterback Justin Fields has taken over from Dwayne Haskins.

Fields is still young. Last season, while at Georgia, Fields saw action in 12 games.

He totaled 328 yards and four touchdowns passing and 266 rushing yards with four more TDs.

Fields is someone who has great potential. He just needs time and experience.

• Speaking of Fickell, he's done a good job with the Bearcats, going 4-8 in his first season in 2016 to 11 wins and a Military Bowl win last season. It was only the third 11-win season in UC history.

The Bearcats also defeated UCLA the past two years.

I remember Fickell the player. He was a tenacious, tough and passionate linebacker. He's that way as a coach as well.

Fickell took over under tough circumstances at OSU in 2011 after Jim Tressel resigned amid an NCAA investigation.

Fickell guided the team to a 6-6 record and OSU nearly beat an 11-win Michigan team, before losing 40-34, in Ann Arbor.

I can remember the passion showed in the postgame press conference after the Wolverines game. He showed passion and heart, even as rumors of Meyer being hired as OSU's coach were swirling and ultimately imminent.

I'm glad Fickell received another chance to be a head coach.

• On Sunday, the 'new look' Browns took to the field in their opener. But it felt like the same old Browns.

In an offseason that seemed to last three years, Cleveland finally got to showcase what it had for the first time in a real situation against the Tennessee Titans.

It turned into a total team loss — offense, defense, special teams and coaching. Oh yeah, and 18 penalties. In the end, it was a 43-13 Titans win.

It's hard to have high expectations with the Browns, considering they've generally been bad since returning to Cleveland in 1999.

The Browns have had just two winning seasons (2002 and 2007) since 1999 and one playoff appearance (2002).

But it appears Cleveland finally has the right people in place, starting with General Manager John Dorsey.

Dorsey has made just about a total makeover of the Browns. He's assembled a team capable of winning, led by second-year quarterback Baker Mayfield.

Mayfield has taken over as the face of Cleveland sports. He's young, brash, some will say cocky, others confident. Whatever it is, it's his team to lead.

It's just one game so there's no need for overreaction, but if the Browns want to change, then they have to prove it on the field.

Overall, it was weekend of football with mixed results.

It's a long football season. I think I may have to try this again sometime. 

Recommended for you