Like every year, I’ve been so preoccupied with Buckeye football that my basketball preview is a few months late. Sue me. The Ohio St hoopsters have dominated a weak non-conference schedule, and will head into the New Year and Big Ten play owning a 13-0 record and ranked #3 in the nation. I mentioned that the schedule wasn’t exactly a gauntlet, but I am surprised by how well this Buckeye team has played.
The highlight of the season thus far was clearly the thrilling victory over Notre Dame last weekend. It was a close, back-and-forth battle the whole way, until the OSU offense fell apart mid-way through the second half and the Irish appeared to be well on their way to handing Ohio St its first loss. But facing an eight-point deficit with 50 seconds left, the Buckeyes pulled off one of the craziest comebacks I’ve ever seen. There was a ten second period where OSU Reggie Miller’d it, scoring six points with a basket, steal, basket, steal, basket. It was wild. Lenzelle Smith, who was a large part of the scoring problem in the second half, led the charge by scoring seven points in the closing minute, including going 5/5 from the line.
Let’s look ahead to see what could help or may hinder a Final Four run.
Why they could go to the Final Four.
The biggest strength of this Buckeye team is certainly its tenacious defense. Aaron Craft, Shannon Scott, and Lenzelle Smith make up the nation’s best perimeter defense. Craft has been dubbed as the best on-ball defender in the nation for two years now, but I could argue Scott is every bit as good. Amir Williams isn’t a Dallas Lauderdale-type enforcer in the middle, but has really improved since last season and isn’t a liability on the defensive end.
Speaking of Scott and Williams, their progression from a year ago is another big reason this team is doing as well as it is. I absolutely love AC, but I really think Scott is just as important to the Buckeyes’ success. Williams was basically a piece of shit last year, but would be my vote for Most Improved Player in the country. I always got on him last year for being a little girl, so often being stripped of the ball on his way back up after and offensive board. On the rare occasion he actually got the ball to the rim, he inexplicably wouldn’t dunk it despite being 7’1 and often missed the gimme layup. This year is an entirely different story. He has been very effective around the rim, averaging 10 points and 7 boards a game.
Lastly, as is usually the case with Ohio St in the Thad Matta era, they can be a very good three-point shooting team and have great leadership. Zelle is basically automatic when he gets to his sweet spot in the corner, LaQuinton Ross can be streaky but is still shooting 40% from beyond the arc, and although his game isn’t developed enough to warrant a lot of minutes, Amedeo Della Valle can stroke it better than anyone when he is on the court. A lot of attention has been given to the fact that Craft was the starting quarterback and valedictorian of his high school and the senior’s leadership on the court is unparalleled. And of course, there’s always one of the top coaches in the country roaming the sideline.
Why they won’t win it all.
While this team has really impressed me this year, one glaring weakness has still been holding them back – the lack of a “go-to” scorer. Ever since Thad Matta came to Columbus and the hoops program has become relevant again, every team had that one guy that you would give the ball to with unwavering confidence in a clutch situation. Not just at the end of games, but anytime you needed a big score to stop a run or break a scoring drought. From Mike Conley/Ron Lewis to Jamar Butler to Evan Turner to William Buford to DeShaun Thomas – it was always there. Unless someone steps up big in the next couple of months, this team does not have that guy.
No disrespect to Aaron Craft, but he is surely known more for his defense then being a scorer. I’d say Zelle is the best option, but he needs to be open and can’t really create his own shot like the Willy Buckets and ETs of the past. Q was the front-runner to be that guy coming into the year but has not shown any signs of being able to fill that role in the first 13 games. It’s not that none of these guys are capable of making a big shot – all three of them are – it’s just that I don’t have a whole lot of confidence in them being able to do it on a consistent basis.
Whether someone develops into that guy or not, this season promises to be another exciting and successful one that shouldn’t end until late in March, hopefully April.
Saturday, December 28
Like every year, I’ve been so preoccupied with Buckeye football that my basketball preview is a few months late. Sue me. The Ohio St hoopsters have dominated a weak non-conference schedule, and will head into the New Year and Big Ten play owning a 13-0 record and ranked #3 in the nation. I mentioned that the schedule wasn’t exactly a gauntlet, but I am surprised by how well this Buckeye team has played.
Monday, December 23
Check me out, rollin' next to the court like a baller. And by "baller" I mean 8-year old kid with an Oden Trail Blazers jersey and an Oklahoma City Thunder yarmulke. Don't parents instill local team allegiance anymore?
I also took this well-timed photo of the opening tip. I did not take a picture of Damian Lillard's back-breaking last-second game-winning bomb.
Tuesday, December 17
Well, I haven’t had to do this in a while. Ohio St’s 34-24 loss to Michigan St in the Big Ten Championship was painful, and frankly reliving it here on FCF isn’t exactly high on my priority list, so don’t expect much from this piece. With the standards as high as they are in Columbus, every loss is tough to swallow, but when it happens for the first time in two years and keeps you out of the National Championship is has some extra sting to it.
The Spartan defense came into the game as one of the best in the nation, and held its ground early, forcing the Buckeyes to punt on each of their first four possessions. MSU quarterback Connor Cook connected on two long scoring passes, and Ohio St found themselves in a very unfamiliar position, giving up the game’s first 17 points.
I stayed relatively calm at this point (although much more nervous than I was going in), knowing that Ohio St had plenty of firepower to get right back in it. Braxton Miller and company must have been feeling the same way, and Brax’s TD pass to Philly Brown got the Bucks on the scoreboard. A Drew Basil FG as time expired cut the lead to a very reasonable 17-10 at halftime.
The Buckeyes received the second half kickoff and marched right down the field, tying the game on a Miller run. A C.J. Barnett interception caused the first turnover of the game, and each defense held serve for much of the third quarter. That was, until Braxton’s second rushing touchdown of the half gave the Buckeyes their first lead of the game at 24-17.
Now this was the point where I got really complacent, and I wonder if that was the case with the guys on the field as well. Even though I was well aware it was only a one-score game, the fact that OSU just rattled off 24 unanswered points made it seem like any other blowout we’ve played in for most of year. The problem here, of course, was that Michigan St was not exactly the caliber opponent that Ohio St was used to facing this season.
The Spartans came back with a long field goal followed by another Cook TD pass to put Michigan St back on top, 27-24. The play of the game came with about six minutes left to play, with the Buckeyes facing a 4th and 2 from the MSU 39-yard line. The Michigan St D proved their prowess one final time, stuffing Miller on a designed run and taking over on downs. A lot of people had complaints about the play-call, but I think it was the right move. They were stuffing the middle all night long, I agree that the best option was to send Braxton to the outside and try to get him into open space.
Ohio St’s defense was not up to the challenge of getting the Spartans off the field, and Jeremy Langford’s 26-yard touchdown run sealed the Buckeyes’ fate.
Up Next: Orange Bowl vs. Clemson (10-2), 1/3, 8:30, ESPN
It is going to be very difficult to come back from a loss like this. After two seasons of thinking only about a 2013 National Championship game, a date with Clemson in the Orange Bowl doesn’t seem like a very big deal. The good news is that Urban Meyer got his team to play hard in 12 “meaningless” games last season, so I have full faith that he can get his boys up for this one.
On another positive note - these two teams couldn’t have more opposite track records in big games in recent years. Ohio St has won their last two BCS Bowl games, defeating Arkansas in the 2011 Sugar Bowl and Oregon in 2010’s Rose, not to mention their domination of the school up north over the past decade. Clemson on the other hand, was routed in their lone BCS berth in 2011 when West Virginia dropped 70 on them in the Orange Bowl, in addition to their embarrassment at the hands of Florida St this season.
Expect a TON of points to be put up by both sides in this one. Urban Meyer owns a 7-1 career record in Bowl games, and I wouldn’t start betting against him now.
Prediction: Ohio St 45 Clemson 35
Thursday, December 5
Ho-ly shit. In one of the most exciting games in the rivalry’s 110 years, Ohio St held off that school up north 42-41 last Saturday. The Bucks’ D was not up to par, but the offense, particularly the running game, was just enough to keep OSU’s win streak and National Title hopes alive.
So remember in last week’s post where I said Ohio St came right out and scored for what seemed like the 11th time? Well, I was close, it was 10/11. But that percentage went down to 83% when Cameron Johnston punted after the Bucks received the opening kickoff. The kick was downed at the one, but an 84-yard devin gardner to jeremy gallon pass play set up a quick gardner touchdown. In a theme that would confuse me all afternoon, Bradley Roby was on the opposite field as gallon and had to run him down across eighty yards to finally make the tackle. I know Roby hasn’t been his best this season, but not having him on gallon 100% of the time baffled me.
Ohio St quickly answered on Braxton Miller’s 53-yard touchdown to Devin Smith. They faced two more third downs on that drive, and I was getting nervous that our offense may be out-of-sync. The TD to Smith was foreshadowing that that was not true. The defense on the other hand…not quite as effective. bitchigan came right back with a quick fitzgerald toussaint-scoring drive. Brax responded nicely again with a 53-yard TD run and the quarter ended even at 14.
Thirty seconds into the 2nd frame, gallon caught another touchdown from gardner, again on Doran Grant and not Roby. A melee broke out on the ensuing kickoff, and Buckeye returner Dontre Wilson was gang-tackled and stood in the middle of a half-dozen wolverines all by himself. After getting his helmet ripped off, 'Tre threw a punch (who could blame him at that point?) and was ejected. Starting OT Marcus Hall came off the sideline to defend his much smaller, outnumbered teammate, and was also sent packing. He awesomely left the game giving the bitchigan crowd the double bird. No word yet on whether these two will face any further punishment. (Editor: neither player faces additional discipline from the B1G nor coach Meyer)
Miller was intercepted on the Buckeyes’ ensuing drive, but the defense finally held and forced scum to punt for the first time on the day. Both teams punted on their next series, with Ohio St getting it back pinned inside their own ten. Carlos Hyde got them out of the hole, then Jeff Heuerman caught a 37-yard pass on a drive that ultimately ended with another Braxton touchdown run. The rivals went to the half all-squared at 21.
Ohio St owned the third quarter, with their defense finally playing up to their potential - for 15 minutes at least. They forced a punt on that school up north’s first drive, then the freshman duo of Armani Reeves and Tyvis Powell forced and recovered a gardner fumble on their next. Hyde had a big run on off the later, and Miller capped the possession with his third TD on the ground to give the Buckeyes their first lead of the game.
When scum got it back, OSU held on 4th down forcing a gardner incompletion. Heuerman was on the receiving end of a 22-yard Braxton touchdown, and Ohio St looked good up 35-21 going into the final quarter.
I’ll admit, even as a fan that doesn’t take much for granted because I’ve seen too many Browns games, I got awfully complacent at this point. Possibly the Buckeye defense did as well, letting the wolverines run right down the field and cutting the margin to seven on a drew dileo TD reception. Hyde, who quietly rushed for over 200 yards in this game, made his lone mistake fumbling the ball right back to michigan. scum went 41-yards and gardner threw a touchdown to a dude aptly named butt to tie it with five minutes to play.
Brax came back with a long run on the first play of the next Buckeye series and Hyde finished at the goal line to bring OSU back into the driver’s seat. With 2:20 left, bitchigan went 84 yards in a minute forty-eight, and gardner hit devin funchess to cut it to 42-41. fatty hoke decided to go for the win, but no one was open and gardner’s pass was intercepted by Tyvis Powell at the goal line. Ohio St beats that team up north in chaotic fashion, 42-41.
Per tradition, Coach Urban Meyer gets the GB for the michigan win. He’s 24-0 as Ohio St football coach, but more importantly, 2-0 vs. that school up north. Braxton was also fantastic, accounting for five touchdowns, as was Carlos Hyde rushing for 226 yards. But it all comes down to your head man winning the most important game of the year, and Urban Meyer did just that, again.
Game balls to date: Guiton (4), Hyde (3), Miller (2), Shazier, Meyer
Ho-ly shit. Auburn pulled off the outrageous miracle in the craziest possible way, beating Alabama 34-28. So Florida St inevitably wound up number one, but in the much-talked-about BCS rankings, Ohio St edged Auburn for the #2 spot. Clearly I have a bias, but I think at this point it would be crazy not to give the Buckeyes a shot at the title. If both Ohio St and Auburn win their respective conference title games this weekend, the debate will rage on for weeks. Should one win and one lose, the BCS title game should be set, assuming recently rape-cleared Jameis Winston and FSU take care of business against Duke.
Up Next: B1G Championship (in Indianapolis) vs. #10 Michigan St (11-1, 8-0), 8:17, FOX
Things could not have worked out better for the Buckeyes. They finished the regular season undefeated, and have a chance to gain the big-time quality win they have coveted all season long, as the Spartans come into Indy also sporting an unblemished conference record. It will be the ultimate battle of strength vs. strength, where Ohio St will bring its unstoppable 2nd ranked rush offense against the stout #1 ranked run defense of Sparty.
There’s no question OSU won’t be able to put up the offensive numbers they’re used to, but I don’t even see NFL defenses totally shutting this unit down. On the other side of the ball, Michigan St’s offense doesn’t do a whole lot to impress, and could be exactly what the doctor ordered for a Buckeye defense that was roughed up by michigan last week. I think the D steps up and the offense does enough to complete another perfect season.
Prediction: Ohio St 30 Michigan St 21
Friday, November 29
The last 23 times Ohio St has stepped onto the gridiron, they left victorious. The 42-14 whooping they gave Indiana last Saturday broke the tie with the 1967-69 teams for the most consecutive wins in school history. The Hoosiers nearly matched OSU in terms of yardage, but failed to finish off drives time and time again. With the win, the Buckeyes clinched a spot in the Big Ten Title game against Michigan St. But of course, there’s one more relatively important game before that.
Ohio St received the opening kickoff, and for what seems like the 11th time this year, marched right down the field and began the game with a touchdown. Braxton Miller had a 41-yard run to help set up Carlos Hyde’s 16-yard score. A quick IU punt left the Bucks with a short field to work with, and Braxton didn’t waste time making it 14-0 on a 37-yard run. The Hoosiers were able to grind out a couple of first downs on their second crack, but still ultimately punted. Miller had the Buckeyes on the move again but fumbled the ball away when he was sacked by Ralpheal Green. If there was ever a knock on Brax, it would be his ball security, but I can live with a fumble every now and again if it means several jaw-dropping runs in between. No word on whether or not Green used his twin daggers to aid in the sack. The quarter came to a close with the score 14-0, moving Ohio St’s 1st quarter scoring to 83-0 in the last four games. I don’t even know how to respond to that statistic.
The second quarter opened up with a Mitch Ewald missed field goal. Ewald came into the game a perfect 8/8 on the year, but the blistering wind and flurries of snow did not make kicking conditions optimal this afternoon. The teams matched punts, but Indiana’s was blocked by (any guesses?) Bradley Roby. Roby’s coverage skills seemed to have dropped off a bit from the last two seasons, but he still has a knack for big plays. Miller ran in his second TD of the game two plays later.
After each squad punted again, Tre Roberson and Nate Sudfeld split time under center and had the Hoosiers in business. They were unable to convert it into points again, however, when Michael Bennett sacked Sudfeld on 4th down. Bennett was a menace all afternoon. A Jeff Heuerman 34-yard catch had OSU in the red zone again, and Hyde capped the drive with a 5-yard score to end the half at 28-0.
Indiana put together another good drive to begin the second half, but it just wasn’t Mitch Ewald’s day. A Joey Bosa sack on third down made Ewald’s attempt a little longer, and it made the difference as he was no good from 41-yards out. Miller was intercepted on the first Buckeye possession of the half but he got it right back when IU went four-and-out with their second failed 4th down attempt of the day. Braxton threw a quick swing pass to Dontre Wilson, and ‘Tre did the rest with 24 yards after the catch to extend the lead to 35-0.
In what was the theme of the day, the Hoosiers continued to rack up yardage but failed to turn it into points. On 4th-and-goal from the two, Roberson’s pass fell incomplete. In an attempt to possibly impress voters, Brax and Hyde were still in the game in the 4th quarter and took the Buckeyes on a 98-yard drive. Devin Smith, who has been relatively quiet in recent weeks, caught the 34-yard touchdown.
It was clear that would be Miller’s last throw of the game, and I along with thousands of others waited on the edge of my seat in anticipation of Kenny G’s final appearance in Ohio Stadium. The Buckeye defense couldn’t close out the shutout, as Sudfeld threw a 4-yard touchdown to Shane Wynn. Guiton entered to a raucous ovation, but unfortunately fumbled on his first play after a long run. Indiana capitalized with another scoring drive to make it 42-14. Guiton came back on the field to take a few kneel downs so his final memory at The Shoe wasn’t his turnover.
It was just another ho-hum 300-yard and four-score day for Braxton and 117-yard, two-score output for Hyde, so I finally get an opportunity to give Ryan Shazier some praise. Shazier, wearing #2 in honor of injured senior Christian Bryant, was an animal all game long. He was seemingly in on every single play, finishing with 20 tackles, four for a loss, two sacks and a forced fumble, as well as often affecting plays in pass coverage. Although I really hope it’s not the case, it was most likely the Junior’s final fantastic performance in Columbus.
Game balls to date: Guiton (4), Hyde (3), Miller (2), Shazier
Michigan St solidified their spot opposite Ohio St in Indianapolis on December 7th with their 30-7 thrashing of Northwestern. Iowa rallied for a 17-0 second half to beat michigan, while it took overtime for Nebraska to top Penn St. Wisconsin ended Minnesota’s win streak to retain Paul Bunyan’s Axe for the tenth straight year, and Illinois and Purdue played a game of what can only loosely be called “football.”
Alabama and Florida St, not surprisingly, came across no hiccups with Chattanooga and Idaho, respectively, and remain comfortably in the top two spots. Alabama has a HUGE contest this weekend in the Iron Bowl against 4th-ranked Auburn. FSU will travel to The Swamp to face a Florida team who was just embarrassed last week with a loss to FCS Georgia Southern. Ga. Southern won that game without completing a pass. Seriously, their quarterback was 0-3. Simply stunning.
Baylor was smoked by Oklahoma St and Oregon was upset in Arizona, so we don’t have to worry about all that talk of one of those team’s jumping us. Clearly the best hope for Ohio St to slide into one of the top two slots would be Auburn beating Alabama, but that also could put Auburn in position to leapfrog the Buckeyes and play the Seminoles in the title game. Stanford and Arizona St are each one win away from meeting in the Pac 12 title game, with the winner being Ohio St’s Rose Bowl opponent, assuming the Bucks take care of business but are left out of the BCS Championship.
Up Next: The Game, 12:00, ABC
Happy michigan Week! The gay house will host the 110th meeting between these storied rivals this Saturday at high noon. Ohio St has won eight of the last nine battles with that team up north, including last year’s thrilling 26-21 victory in Urban Meyer’s debut to the rivalry. The wolverines’ struggles this season have been well-documented, especially here at FCF where I won’t let an opportunity to criticize bitchigan slip by. Their defense can’t stop anybody, and brady hoke’s job could be in jeopardy if he doesn’t pull a miracle out of his over-sized ass this weekend. jeremy gallon is an All-Conference caliber receiver, and will be the focal point of the Buckeye defense. Bradley Roby will get the opportunity to showcase his talents to NFL scouts going against the senior wideout. devin gardner has had a very ‘Jekyll and Hyde’ type season, rewriting the scum record books against Indiana but only averaging 189 total yards per game in the four contests since.
Ohio governor John Kasich kicked the rivalry up a notch this week by declaring Nove*ber 30 “Scarlet Letter Saturday,” urging Ohioans to avoid using the letter ‘m.’ This is aweso*e. God I love watching us beat those assholes.
Prediction: Ohio St 110 that tea* up north 0
Thursday, November 21
Carlos Hyde is a bad man. Not “bad” as in he punches women at bars (well…), but as in Michael Jackson Bad. It was another lightning start by Ohio St to go up 28-0 early, but it took Hyde’s dominating performance to deter the Illini momentum after they brought the game back within reach. The defense showed its weaknesses again in this one, allowing Nathan Scheelhaase and Illinois to post 420 total yards en route to 35 points, but it wasn’t nearly enough to overcome Hyde’s monster day. Carlos rushed for 254 yards while scoring four times on the ground and once more through the air. When the Illini clawed their way back from a big hole to cut the lead to 47-35 in the fourth quarter, it was Hyde’s two TD runs of 50+ yards that ultimately sealed the deal for the Buckeyes.
Ohio St has just destroyed B1G opponents in the first quarter, and last Saturday was no different. The Buckeyes were on the board 36 seconds into the game when Braxton Miller took off for a 70-yard touchdown. He didn’t have to do much to get into the open field, and once he did, there wasn’t an orange jersey that could come near him. As good as the start was for the Ohio St QB, it was the exact opposite for his counterpart, as Scheelhaase was picked off by C.J. Barnett on his third pass attempt of the game.
Later in the quarter, Miller engineered a 94-yard drive, capping it with an 18-yard score to Hyde. Scheelhaase was intercepted again on the ensuing drive, and Bradley Roby took this one back to the house for a 21-0 lead. Roby is becoming the Ed Reed of the NCAA, scoring almost any time he gets his hands on the ball. This was his third career pick-six, to go along with a fumble return, two punt returns, and two blocked punts, all for scores.
The end of the 1st quarter and beginning of the 2nd saw the only gap in offensive production, with three consecutive punts from the two teams. Miller got the ball rolling again with a 28-yard run followed by an 11-yard touchdown toss to Philly Brown, and the game appeared like it was headed to become yet another joke. But when Cameron Johnston was out to punt on the next Buckeye possession, V’Angelo Bentley took it all the way back to put Illinois on the board. Johnston and the punt team had been flawless this season before the Bentley return, allowing a staggering three yards all year on punt returns.
OSU answered quickly when Hyde was the beneficiary of a great Jordan Hall kick return to extend the lead to 35-7. Scheelhaase kept the scoring frenzy going minutes later with a TD pass to Steve Hall. After another Johnston punt, Illinois failed to convert on 4th down and the fast-paced half came to a close with the Bucks leading 35-14.
Halftime didn’t slow anything down, as the Illini came out of the gate hitting on all cylinders and closing the deficit to 35-21 on a Scheelhaase-to-Evan Wilson score. Ohio St took the ball right back into Illinois territory, but a Braxton fumble stopped the drive. Each team traded punts, but Johnston’s 71-yard boomer left Illinois in the shadow of their own goal line. When Scheelhaase was forced to leave the game for a play after he lost his helmet, back up Reilly O’Toole (what a terrific name) was sacked by Ryan Shazier and fumbled in his own end zone. I don’t know if I've talked about it on this blog before, but Shazier is really, really good. Illini TE Matt LaCosse minimized the damage to a safety by recovering the fumble.
After a Chris Fields 47-yard catch set up the Buckeyes for another score, Ohio St fans looked on anxiously as Brax was hit late and stayed on the turf for a loooong two minutes. He walked off on his own power and we were all generously rewarded with a Kenny G appearance. Guiton didn’t need to show off his prowess, however, as two handoffs to Hyde put the Buckeyes up comfortably yet again, 44-21. Miller was back for the next series and a Drew Basil miss from 50 yards closed the third quarter.
With the game seemingly out of reach for the second time, those damn Illini refused to go away. Two more touchdowns (along with a two-point conversion) sandwiched a Basil FG and brought the game to the smallest margin since the middle of the first. Then Carlos Hyde decided to take the game into his hands. His 51-yard score with five minutes left FINALLY put the game away, then his 55-yarder was just icing on the cake. After the game, Hyde was confused as to why it wasn’t this easy all game long. “That last run, in my head I was like, we could have done this the whole time.” Dear Carlos, you did. You had 150 and three touchdowns before that.
Well if you’ve read this far you know where this is going. But I would like to take this time to shout out LB Ryan Shazier on another dominating performance. I would love to give him a GB at some point this season if a defense can actually find a way to stop Hyde and Miller.
Game balls to date: Guiton (4), Hyde (3), Miller (2)
In a game that decided the Legends Division, Michigan State remained unbeaten in conference play with their 41-28 win at Nebraska. The Spartan D showed some holes for the first time all year (while still forcing five turnovers), but the offense also showed some life for the first time by capitalizing on all Cornhusker mistakes. Northwestern was once again on the brink of their first Big Ten win but fell short in overtime against bitchigan. Wisconsin and Penn St rolled over Indiana and Purdue, respectively.
While the Buckeye offense continues to rack up outrageous numbers, the defense is having its struggles. Granted, although Illinois is a pathetic team as a whole, their offense has put up some decent numbers this year, and starting linebackers Curtis Grant and Joshua Perry were out for this game, but it would be nice to see some consistency out of this unit. There is a ton of talent here – Shazier is one of the best LBs in the nation, Barnett is flourishing in the absence of injured Christian Bryant, and Joey Bosa and Noah Spence have turned in some dominating performances this season, but they just seem to be lacking the ability to put it all together.
Up Next: vs. Indiana (4-6, 2-4), 3:30, ABC/ESPN 2
Ohio St should have no troubles sending out their seniors with a win at The Shoe. Along with Carlos Hyde, Kenny G, and most of the offensive line, this will also be Bradley Roby’s (who already weirdly declared for the draft) and possibly Ryan Shazier’s final game in Ohio Stadium. Indiana has some players that aren’t worth talking about. Hyde could go off for 300+ in this game.
Prediction: Ohio St 66 Indiana 20
Thursday, November 7
While I’ll get to all of the fun parts of Ohio St’s 56-0 thumping of Purdue last Saturday in a moment, I’m going to start this piece by airing a grievance. Why is it that when Oregon beats a team by eight touchdowns, it’s because their offense is so invincible, but when the Buckeyes do it, it’s because the Big Ten sucks? There is just such a bias against the B1G that we can’t ever seem to win here. I’ll be the first to admit that our conference has not been its best in recent memory, and no, of course we haven’t been up to par with the SEC. But this double standard against Ohio St is starting to get ridiculous. You’re telling me that the Virginia’s and N.C. St’s that Florida St is beating up on or the Colorado’s and Cal’s of the Pac 12 are any better than the dregs of the Big Ten? Now again, don’t get me wrong, my rankings would have the Buckeyes at #4 as well - I just don’t understand the media’s viewpoint of things when OSU has these games and all they can talk about is how easy our schedule is but when teams from other conferences do it they just talk about how great they are. OK, rant complete, let’s get to the fun stuff.
Wow, Purdue isn’t very good. The Boilermakers set several records of ineptitude during their ass-whooping at the hands of Ohio St. The 56-point margin was the biggest in this series, and Purdue was shut out for the second consecutive game for the first time in 60 years. They also haven’t even reached the red zone in THREE games – that’s just astounding. On the Buckeyes side of things, it was just a stat-padding field day. Braxton Miller threw four touchdowns before giving way to Kenny Guiton, who scored three of his own. Carlos Hyde was over the century mark per usual, and five different Buckeyes caught a TD pass. Oh, and we outgained them in yardage 640-116.
Two plays and 57 seconds into the game, Ohio St was on the board, when Doran Grant stepped in front of a Danny Etling pass and took it to the house. I guess you could say Grant was hungry like the wolf on that play. Purdue quickly punted and the OSU offense scored on its second play, with Braxton hitting a wide-open Jeff Heuerman, who began his 116-yard career day with this 40-yard TD. The Boilers achieved a rare first down on their next series then punted right after, but the Buckeyes didn’t capitalize this time as Miller threw an INT.
It was less than a minute before the ball was back in Brax’s hands, and this time he came through. After another long Heuerman catch, it was the other tight end, Nick Vannett, who hauled in the eight-yard score. Purdue RB Brandon Cottom never got a hold of the handoff on the first play of their next drive, and Noah Spence was there (where wasn’t he in that first half?) to fall on the loose ball. With a short field, it again only took Miller two plays to reach the end zone, this two-yard score to Philly Brown being his most exciting and creative of the afternoon. He scrambled to the far side of the field, and I was just waiting for him to tuck it and run. So were the Purdue defenders, as they cheated in to flush Brax to the sideline. This left Brown open, and Miller, while facing the sideline mind you, threw a sideways shovel pass right into the breadbasket for a 28-0 Ohio St lead ,after a quarter of play.
The trend continued in the 2nd, with Purdue punting and Braxton driving down the field. This time it took a whole 11 plays to reach paydirt, and it was Kenny G in the Wildcat formation who threw the touchdown to Chris Fields. Two more Boilermaker punts sandwiched the Buckeyes’ lone three-and-out of the game, and Carlos Hyde broke one off for 42 yards when the Bucks got it back to set up Miller's fourth and final touchdown of the game. Freshman running back Ezekiel Elliott was on the receiving end this time, making a very good run-after-catch to complete the 10-yard score. The clock couldn’t hit zeros fast enough for Purdue, and most of their fans were gone when the half finally did come to a close with the score at 42-0.
Guiton was at the helm to begin the second half, but nothing changed. Another easy drive ended in another seven points, with Guiton rushing it in. Dontre Wilson got a couple of touches on this series and had a big 24-yard catch on a swing pass. As someone who has a weird obsession with shortening everyone’s first names to one-syllable nicknames, you have no idea how happy it makes me to have ‘Tre and ‘Zeke running the ball for us for the next three seasons.
I’ll give you one try to guess what Purdue did on its next possession. When OSU took over they moved it down to the Purdue 26 and were facing a 4th and 7. Ohio St went for it, which is the norm in football as kicking a field goal is seen as rubbing it in. I have always been confused by this notion. The Bucks attempted a pass on the down, and while it was incomplete, isn’t throwing and going for 7 rubbing it in more than kicking the FG? The only way I could understand this logic was if a team went for it and took a knee or did a QB sneak. I guess it will just always be one of those things that doesn’t make any sense to me but I just concede to the people who know way more about coaching football than I do, like going for two when up four late in the game or punting when you’re getting blown out.
Rod Smith and Kenny G did a lot of running in the 4th quarter, with Guiton crossing the goal line for the second time to cap the scoring at 56-0. Cardale Jones closed out another game, which is always fun so I can make a “playing football not playing school” joke.
Kenny motherfucking GGGGGG! While Braxton Miller (19/23, 233 yards, 4 TDs) may deserve this GB, my man-crush on Kenny G takes precedent. I had every intention of giving Guiton another game ball at some point this year just for holding PATs, so when he accounts for over 150 yards and three scores, it was really no contest. His jump pass to Fields was just awesome. But back to Braxton, he’s completing 72% of his passes this season. If he doesn’t miss those three games and pads his stats against those shitty teams, he is right there with Mariota, Manziel and Winston in the Heisman running. I can’t even fathom the potential of him coming back next season.
Game balls to date: Guiton (4), Miller (2), Hyde (2)
For really the first time all year, there were actually some other entertaining games to talk about. In the only irrelevant game, Minnesota outlasted Indiana in a 42-39 shootout that probably would have been very fun to watch had anyone actually watched it. Penn St beat Illinois in overtime in an exciting, back-and-forth battle. Wisconsin overcame a sluggish start to outscore Iowa 21-3 in the second half behind James White’s 150 rushing yards to win in Iowa City. On the brink of their first conference win, Northwestern was devastated by a Taylor Martinez hail mail in the final seconds to lose to Nebraska.
Then in the big one, Michigan St’s D proved legit as they straight dominated that school up north, 29-6. The Spartans dropped devin gardner seven times behind the line of scrimmage, leaving bitchigan with -48 total rushing yards. Yes, that is a negative sign in front of that number. I said a couple of weeks ago Ohio St’s best chance to impress voters would be if MSU ran the table in the conference and held a Top 10 ranking when we beat them in Indy.
Up Next: 11/16 @Illinois (3-5, 0-4), 12:00, ESPN/ESPN 2
As Ohio St enters their second bye week of the season, all eyes will be on Thursday night when two of the remaining power conference unbeatens face their toughest tests. Baylor will host Oklahoma, and while the Bears are a super long shot to jump an undefeated Buckeye squad, it can’t hurt to have fewer teams with a goose egg in the loss column. More importantly, Oregon travels to Stanford Stadium to take on the Cardinal. Stanford appears to be the only team capable of stopping this high-powered Duck offense, as they handed Marcus Mariota his only career loss last season when they upended Oregon 17-14 in Eugene. Ohio St’s title hopes rest on them doing that again. And then there's the showdown on Saturday in Tuscaloosa when #1 Alabama faces LSU, again, probably their toughest test of the season. The odds are certainly against it, but it's definitely not inconceivable to think that the Bucks could be ranked number two and in position to play for the Title by the next time they take the field.
On to the Buckeye game in two weeks - this should be another laugher. Illinois showed some fight against the Nittany Lions last week, but then again we beat PSU by 49. 10th-year senior Nathan Scheelhaase leads the Illini, who have put up some points this year but whose defense hasn’t been able to stop anybody (see: Sothern Illinois’s 34 points). Ohio St will continue to roll, we’re just going to need some outside help (C’MON STANFORD!!!)
Prediction: Ohio St 49 Illinois 20
Friday, November 1
Ohio St needed a statement win, and Penn St took the brunt end of it. The 63-14 ass-whooping the Lions took was their worst lost since 1899. Going into the game, I was very confident in a win. A freshman QB going into The Shoe in primetime usually doesn't work out so well. But nothing could have prepared me for what unfolded last Saturday night.
Ohio St jumped out to a quick lead after a Braxton Miller to Devin Smith completion netted 35 yards to set up a short Carlos Hyde touchdown. That would be the first of SIX rushing touchdowns the Buckeyes would accumulate during the game, to go along with its staggering 408 yards on the ground. Penn St responded with a good drive into the OSU redzone, but Corey Brown picked off Christian Hackenberg in the end zone and effectively ended the game.
Cameron Johnston punted after a Buckeye three-and-out, but it would be his only appearance of the half. PSU punted right back and Brax made it 14-0 on a 39-yard TD run. It was C.J. Barnett’s turn to victimize the young Nittany Lion QB on the next series, intercepting Hackenberg. With Christian Bryant out for the season, a lot of pressure has been put on his fellow senior safeties Brown and Barnett, and they certainly rose to the occasion early on in this contest.
The second quarter was 15 of the most dominating minutes of football Ohio St, or just about anyone in the nation, will play all season. Miller ran in his second score early in the period to extend the lead to 21. Penn St quickly went three-and-out then Braxton hooked up with Smith three more times before hitting Chris Fields for the score. Penn St did score once this quarter, when Hackenberg hit Brandon Felder to make it 28-7. Dontre Wilson took the kickoff back into PSU territory and two plays later Carlos Hyde scored on a 39-yard run. In the closing seconds of the half, Miller put up his fourth score by connecting with Philly Brown for a 42-7 halftime massacre.
After a Zach Zwinak fumble early in the second half, Braxton threw a swing pass to ‘Tre who sprinted 26 yards for another Buckeye touchdown. This dude is going to be a fucking stud. At 49-7, the evening was over for Miller and Hyde, but Jordan Hall and Kenny Guiton had no trouble keeping the momentum going. Kenny G ran for two scores of his own during his quarter of play before giving way to Cardale Jones, who closed out the game under center. Penn St superstar wideout Allen Robinson scored a late TD, bringing the final count to 63-14.
You know you’ve had a productive night offensively when your All-Conference tailback can ring up 147 yards and two touchdowns while gaining over nine yards per carry and not even be considered for the GB. Braxton Miller was untouchable in this game, flawlessly shredding the Nittany Lion defense time and time again. He finished 18/24 for 252 yards passing with a 3/0 TD/INT ratio, while rushing for 68 yards and another two scores.
Game balls to date: Guiton (3), Miller (2), Hyde (2)
There were only three other conference games on last week’s slate, the main one of note being Minnesota’s upset over 24th ranked Nebraska. That makes the Gophers second straight big conference win after beating Northwestern the week Pryor. Michigan St’s offense finally showed up, routing Illinois 42-3. The Spartan are quietly 7-1 and undefeated in conference play, and sport one of the best defenses in the nation. Buckeye fans should be rooting for MSU to run the table and move their way up to a top 10 ranking, so we can get a quality win in the B1G Championship. Also, Iowa beat Northwestern in OT. Wahoo.
Up Next: @Purdue (1-6, 0-3), 12:00, Big Ten Network
We all remember what happened last year when a beat-down Boilermaker squad came into Columbus expecting to be blown out of the stadium. While it turned out to be the most exciting victory of the season and the birth of the myth that is Kenny G, it was astounding how poorly the Buckeyes played. It won’t happen again this Saturday. Purdue has fielded some pretty poor teams in recent memory, but this one probably takes the cake, averaging 13 points per game offensively while giving up 34 on defense. Expect the Bucks to keep last week’s momentum going full force.
Prediction: Ohio St 55 Purdue 7
Thursday, October 24
Last Saturday's 34-24 win over Iowa was entirely a tale of two halves. Nothing looked good from the Ohio St perspective in the first 30 minutes, as the Buckeyes trailed 17-10 after two quarters of play. The defense was abysmal, Carlos Hyde was bottled up, and the struggling D took a significant hit when Bradley Roby was ejected in the 1st quarter for targeting on a bullshit call. The problem with the defense came down to not being able to get off the ball. The Hawkeyes completely dominated the line of scrimmage, and stretched 90% of their plays to the hash marks to stay away from Ryan Shazier. There was a point in the second quarter where every series of downs went the exact same way for two straight drives – Iowa would run up the middle on first down and easily get past the OSU defensive line to gain three or four yards before Shazier would make the tackle. On second down they would do a stretch run or throw a swing pass or short button hook to the outside, which would net 6-8 yards. Rinse and repeat. It was painful to watch.
I remarked to the older gentleman sitting next to me at The Shoe that their gameplan was clearly to just get as far away from Shazier as possible, and that Meyer would have to make some sort of adjustment, or they would do this all afternoon. Well, Meyer made that adjustment at halftime, and save for one long pass play, the Buckeye D dominated Iowa for the final two quarters. The offense also came to life, particularly Hyde, who ran for 106 of his 149 yards and both of his touchdowns in the second half. The final second-half tally showed a 306-153 yardage advantage and a 23:05–6:55 time of possession tilt in favor of the Buckeyes.
The 10-point victory extended two very impressive streaks. It was Ohio St’s FBS-leading 19th straight win (undefeated in the Urbs era), and also marked my 9th consecutive victory in attendance at Ohio Stadium.
Iowa had to convert two third-and-ones on their opening drive, but basically made the 7-0 lead look easy. Jake Rudock hit C.J. Fiedorowicz for the short score and early Hawkeye advantage. Ohio St responded with multiple short chunks of yardage (the longest play coming on a 16-yard Braxton Miller scramble), and ultimately cut the margin to 7-3 on Drew Basil’s 27-yard chip shot. Iowa came right back to match the three-pointer and the first quarter closed with Kirk Ferentz’s bunch up 10-3.
Brax quickly tied up the score at 10-10 when he found a WIDE open streaking Philly Brown for a 58-yard touchdown. Iowa’s ensuing drive consisted of the four-yard up the middle, six-yard to the sideline back-and-forth I discussed earlier, and was handsomely rewarded with Rudock’s second TD toss of the day, making it 17-10 Hawkeyes. The Buckeyes drove down the field again in small doses, but this time instead of giving Basil another attempt, Meyer elected to go for a 4th-and-10 from the Iowa 29. I disagreed with this call vehemently at the time, calling the move “desperate.” Miller threw an incompletion, and the Hawkeyes took over. Ohio St forced the first punt of the game, and went into the half trailing after only possessing the pigskin three times.
The Bucks received the second half kickoff and continued their drive theme of lots of little plays. Hyde ran for 12, Devin Smith caught one for 13, Dontre Wilson caught one for 9, Brax ran for 6, etc. This time, however, they were able to put the ball in the end zone to tie the game once again. Hyde barely got the nose of the ball across the goal line on his one-yard score, making him the first person to score a rushing touchdown on Iowa all season.
After an Iowa punt, Brax was right back at it, dinking and dunking his way down the field. Devin Smith’s athletic run after the catch got him to paydirt and put the Bucks on top for the first time all afternoon. The Hawkeyes answered on really their only successful offensive play of the second half when Armani Reeves got beat deep by Jake Duzey for an 85-yard passing score. I said I could live with this play, seeing as how the adjustments the Buckeyes made put more focus on the run game, and our freshman simply just got beat on an island. If only we had an All-American corner that could run one-on-one with anyone in the nation…oh, wait.
With the score tied again, Miller hit Smith for 15 yards on the final play of the third to get the Buckeyes moving. Two and a half minutes into the final frame saw the game’s most exciting play. On 1st-and-10 from the Iowa 19, Carlos Hyde ran to the outside and was hit hard by Iowa safety Tanner Miller. Hyde was knocked off balance and stumbled towards the sideline, but corrected himself right before stepping out of bounds. Without a Hawkeye defender in sight to clean up the play, Hyde righted himself and made a Matta toward the endzone. (If you didn’t catch what I did there, I replaced the stupid word ‘beeline’ with the much cooler sounding ‘Matta’) With one defender closing in, Hyde leaped to the pylon and just made it regain the lead for OSU.
Iowa’s assholes were tight at this point, and the Buckeye defense stiffened even more, forcing a quick punt. Hyde and Miller were able to milk 5:20 off the clock and add to the lead with another Basil FG. Freshman Tyvis Powell sealed the Hawkeyes’ fate with his interception of Rudock’s desperation pass. Ohio St ran out the final 4+ minutes to stay perfect in Meyer’s tenure.
This game was all about the second half for the Buckeyes, and the second half was all about Carlos Hyde. The Buckeyes' top back finished the day with 24 carries for 149 yards and two scores. He averaged 6.2 yards per carry, and didn’t have any huge runs that inflated that stat – he was pretty much just getting six yards every time he got the rock. His go-ahead TD run was probably the team’s highlight of the year so far. I also want to give kudos here to Ryan Shazier, who made a team run an entirely different game plan to avoid him, and Braxton Miller, who didn’t really do anything flashy and hasn’t gotten much attention because of it, but actually had an outrageously efficient game. He earned an 83.9 passer rating by going 22/27 for 222 yards and 2 touchdowns with no picks. He added 102 yards on the ground.
Game balls to date: Guiton (3), Hyde (2), Miller
Outside of this game, it was a pretty boring week in the conference. Northwestern made us look bad when they dropped a home contest to Minnesota, Michigan St continued to win without any resemblance of an offense in a shut ut of Purdue, Wisconsin steam rolled Illinois, and devin gardner and jeremy gallon rewrote the scum record books in michigan’s 63-47 victory over Indiana. Two things to point out in that game – michigan gave up 47 points to Indiana, and 100% of quarterbacks who have ever worn the number 98 couldn’t read.
Live from The Horseshoe
As I mentioned, I was one of the 105,000 plus in attendance for this W. Apparently so was Andy’s brother-in-law, who in some outrageous coincidence sat a few seats down in the same row as me. Crazy. Too bad I wasn’t exactly in the right state of mind to remember who he was. But I do remember Gary, the kick-ass old dude I sat next to. I’ve been very lucky in the fact that every time I don’t sit next to the people I came to the game with, I’ve been fortunate enough to still be in good company. I guess that just proves that all Buckeye fans rule. Gary graduated from OSU in 1968, when Ohio St won a National Championship. He had some really cool stories.
My record now stands at 10-1 in Ohio Stadium (with another four wins against that school up north where I was on campus but not in The Shoe). Iowa is the eighth different B1G school I’ve seen, with only Minnesota, Nebraska, and michigan left on the agenda. Stupid Rutgers and Maryland are going to delay my plans further of seeing michigan last.
Up Next: vs. Penn St (4-2, 1-1), 8:00, ABC
The Lions visit The Shoe this weekend in another primetime game. Penn St is coming off a bye following a thrilling 4OT win over bitchigan. They will come into Columbus fired up, where they have beaten us the last two times. Ohio St has yet to have a quick start in conference play, and will aiming to do just that on Saturday. I’m betting that they will, followed by a slower-paced, back-and-forth game.
Prediction: Ohio St 29 Penn St 17
Friday, October 4
Ohio St finally faced a worthy adversary last Saturday in The Horseshoe, and despite a poor fourth quarter, proved that they are still the class of the Big Ten with a 31-24 win over Wisconsin. Braxton Miller was back and looking as good as ever, throwing for a career-tying four touchdown passes while showing no rust from the leg injury, rushing 22 times for 83 yards. The rush defense did a terrific job containing Heisman candidate Melvin Gordon, holding him under 100 yards for the first time all season. Letting a large lead slip away in the second half is a bit concerning, but against a team like Wisconsin you take the wins when you can get them.
Wisconsin accomplished nothing other than shanking a punt after receiving the opening kickoff, and Brax took back the reins of the offense with good starting field position. He made quick work of it, needing just over a minute a throw a dart to Evan Spencer for a 25-yard score and early Buckeye lead. Both teams squandered decent field position on their next drives, then Badger QB Joel Stave took UW 90 yards down field to tie the game. The scoring toss went to go-to wideout Jared Abbrederis, the first of many times he would victimize All-American Bradley Roby on the evening.
With the score tied at seven and the first quarter winding down, Miller completed passes on four consecutive plays, the final being a 26-yard score to Devin Smith. The last play of the quarter was a 64-yard pass from Stave to Abbrederis. Abbrederis would finish the night with a career-high 207 yards. Roby did get a shot in at the end of the drive, when he broke up a pass attended for Abbrederis near the goal line on third down. The play become even bigger when Badger kicker Kyle French missed the 32-yard FG attempt. A few minutes later, Drew Basil put the Bucks up 17-7 when he connected on his 45-yarder. It’s always nice to have the advantage on special teams, and it’s a very rare occasion when Ohio St does not.
Stave, who had a solid game and showed me I may have underrated him a bit, responded with a good drive and his 2nd TD pass of the game, this one to Sam Arneson. Only trailing 17-14, the problem for Wisconsin was that they left 1:30 on the clock, which was evidentially just enough time for Brax. After scrambling for a first on third down near midfield, Miller’s pass to Smith was broken up with about 10 ticks remaining. Knowing this would probably be their last shot to add points before the half, Braxton launched a 40-bomb that hit Corey Brown, who somehow got behind the Badger defense, right in stride in the endzone with two seconds remaining. The sensational play gave the Buckeyes a 24-14 halftime lead.
Ohio St gained some first downs on their opening possession on the second half, but when they stalled at the Wisconsin 38, I was disappointed to see Meyer elect to punt instead of giving Basil a shot at the 55-yarder. I guess Urbs knows his players better than I do, and this must have just been out of Drew’s range. Of course it ended up working out, as OSU downed the punt at the five and Wisconsin went three-and-out. Getting the ball right back in UW territory, three straight three-yard runs set up a 4th and 1 back at the 38. This time Meyer elected to go for it, but Carlos Hyde was stood up at the line and Wisconsin took over.
The biggest play of the game possibly occurred on this series, when Roby picked off Stave deep in Badger territory. While Roby did a fine job to catch the ball, this INT belonged to Adolphus Washington, who just flattened Stave as he was releasing the ball. The result was the ball falling far short of its intended target, and into Bradley’s lap. The interception led to Braxton’s fourth touchdown of the game, and Philly’s second scoring grab gave the Buckeyes what seemed a near insurmountable 31-14 lead.
But Wisconsin had other ideas, as they shut the OSU offense down in the 4th quarter and Joel Stave went to work. The Buckeye D stifled this blazing Badger rushing attack for the majority of the game, but early in the final frame James White finally broke one and took it 17 yards to the house to cut into the advantage. With the clock running down, Abbrederis got the best of Roby a couple more times and helped set up a 42-yard field goal that French connected on to make it a one possession ball game.
Three unsuccessful runs and three UW timeouts later, Abbrederis was back to receive a punt with 1:29 on the clock. Freshman punter Cameron Johnston got a hold of a boomer and the Buckeye coverage was all over the star receiver, pinning Wisconsin back at their own 10 and forcing them to go 90 yards in less than 90 seconds to tie the game. The ending was kind of anticlimactic, as they made it only six of those yards. Doran Grant broke up the fourth down pass and Ohio St extended its win streak to 17.
Guess who’s back. Back again. Brax is back. Another win. No one supported Kenny G more than I did, but Braxton Miller was brought to Columbus to win a National Championship, and we cannot do it without him. He looked 100% last Saturday, not being the least bit tentative to run the ball. He wasn’t quite as effective as we’ve come accustomed to (3.8 ypc), but I can live with that far more than him only rushing two or three times for bigger yardage. This showed me that he’s still comfortable back there and will continue being Braxton Miller. Plus, you gotta love the 4/0 TD/INT ratio.
Game balls to date: Guiton (3), Miller
Most of the conference was off last week, as Iowa’s pounding of Minnesota was the only other intra-conference game. Illinois put up a Grant in a victory over Miami (OH), and Purdue was embarrassed at home by Northern Illinois. (Yes, I had to look up who was on the $50 bill. Does anyone actually use those? GO UNION!)
It’s time to be concerned about Bradley Roby. Jared Abbrederis is an All-Conference performer, so I can understand him beating Roby a few times. But 207 yards?! That is not the Bradley Roby we’ve seen the two years. Fix yourself, Bradley.
I didn’t talk much about the OSU running backs in this piece, because frankly there wasn’t much to talk about. Hyde got nearly all of the work, rushing 17 of the 20 RB carries. He was fine but didn’t do anything spectacular, gaining 85 yards (5.0 ypc). The obvious question here - where was Jordan Hall? Hall got one touch all game long, rushing for five yards. Where was the one-two punch we’ve been hearing about? In Monday’s press conference, Meyer vowed to get his playmaker more involved this weekend. Dontre Wilson also saw a reduction in playing time, receiving two carries and catching one pass. With Braxton doing so much work on his own, there are only so many balls to go around and unfortunately Tre and explosiveness may have to wait his turn until the future.
Bryant out for season
The Buckeyes were dealt a big blow in their victory over Wisconsin, as starting strong safety Christian Bryant suffered an injury that could cost him the rest of his senior season. Bryant is a three-year starter and leader of the defense, and his presence will be greatly missed. The other Corey Brown (I refuse to call him “pitt” or “pittsburgh.” Eff that.) will most likely start in his place this weekend, but expect freshmen Tyvis Powell and Vonn Bell to eventually outplay him and take over.
Up Next: @Northwestern (4-0), 8:00, ABC
After finally being challenged with a formidable opponent, the Buckeyes will come right back to see another. Northwestern has been one of the surprises in the NCAA this season, winning its first four games and jumping to a #16 ranking. They didn’t have a much tougher non-conference slate than OSU did, but they are putting up points at an alarming 41 points a game. That already high-powered offense will get a boost this week, as last season’s leading rusher and All-Big Ten performer Venric Mark returns from an injury that cost him the last three weeks. The Cats will use a two quarterback system, with dual-threat starter Kain Colter often being relieved for pocket-passer Trevor Siemian.
Especially with Bryant out, the Buckeye D may have a hard time slowing this offense down, but Brax and company shouldn’t have any trouble putting up points of their own. N’western’s pass defense ranks 117th in the nation, so expect the ball to be in the air early and often. These teams haven’t met since 2008, but Ohio St has taken 28 of the past 29 meetings overall, and have outscored the Wildcats to a staggering tune of 157-27 in the three games in the tenure of current coach Pat Fitzgerald.
The scoreboard should be lighting up in Evanston tomorrow night, but I expect most of it to be coming from the away side.
Prediction: Ohio St 53 Northwestern 31