Tuesday, September 13


Ohio St certainly did not play their best this past Saturday against Toledo. The Rockets hung right with the Buckeyes for 60 minutes, and if not for some avoidable mistakes at crucial times, could have pulled one of the biggest upsets in either team’s history. Instead, OSU was able to stop Toledo on 4th down while deep in Buckeye territory at the end of the game to prevail, 27-22.

Joe Bauserman was very mediocre at best (16/30, 189 yards, 1 TD, 0 INT), but Luke Fickell stuck by his senior as Braxton Miller didn’t leave the sideline. The running game was also fairly ineffective, as the team combined for a mere 3.3 yards per carry. The defense was torched by Toledo RB Adonis Thomas and WR Eric Page, mostly on screen plays, but was able to come up with some big plays when they needed to. The kicking game was once again really bad. So what do you get you when you combine below average performances from your offense, defense, and special teams? Apparently a five-point win. It was anything but pretty, but at least they came away with a W. Before we look ahead to this week’s big prime-time game against Miami, let’s take a little closer look at this narrow victory.

Game Recap
Ohio St received the ball first and wasted no time, marching right down the field and going up 7-0 on a great one-handed touchdown catch by Jake Stoneburner. Three minutes into the game, it appeared we were headed for another blowout. QB Austin Dantin threw screen pass after screen pass to his playmakers, Thomas and Page, and led Toledo down the field to set up his kicker for a 45-yard field goal. The kick was missed, and at this point I’m thinking, “That was their chance to score, we should be on our way to a shutout now.” I could not have been more wrong. Ohio St went three-and-out, and Ben Buchannan had his punt blocked, setting the Rockets up at the one-yard line. After a false start penalty, Dantin hit Page for a score to put Toledo on the board. They kept the offense on the field and hurried to the line, with Page taking the snap from the wildcat. He completed a pass for the two and the Buckeyes suddenly found themselves trailing 8-7.

A couple of Verlon Reed catches and 15-yard Toledo penalties put OSU in scoring position on their next series, but Drew Basil returned the favor by missing a FG of his own. We need to find a new kicker, immediately. Two plays later, backup QB Terrance Owens was in for Toledo and threw a little swing pass to Eric Page, who took it 66 yards to paydirt. This play haunted the Buckeyes all day long, and I don’t know why. You could see Toledo didn’t have any faith in their downfield passing attack - couldn’t they start to jump these screens and starting getting picks? It was awfully frustrating to watch.

Each team traded a few punts, with Buchannan getting the better of his counterpart and swinging the field position in OSU’s favor. Other than having the one kick blocked, this was the second good game in a row for the Cannon, as he landed three of his six punts inside the 20, including two inside the 10. With a short field to work with, Carlos Hyde rumbled 36 yards for his first career TD, putting the Bucks back within one. Both offenses continued to stall as each team punted twice more, until the biggest play of the game came with under a minute to play in the first half. Toledo had a solid punt that they downed in Ohio St territory, but as was the story of the game with the Rockets, were called for a penalty and were forced to punt again. This time the ball was received by Chris Fields who returned it 69 (hehe) yards for the score. The Buckeyes went to the tunnel leading 21-15, and again, I thought the game was in hand. This play would be the turning point, OSU will roll in the second half. Once again, I was horribly wrong.

Toledo got the ball to start the half and on the first play picked up 44 yards on a screen play to Thomas. An OSU personal foul penalty tacked on another 15 and before you knew it Thomas was in the end zone and Toledo was back on top. I blame this TD on the decision to squib kick to begin the half. Well, that and the fact that no one could tackle anyone who caught a screen pass all game. This made absolutely no sense to me. Yes, Eric Page is clearly very dangerous, so keeping the ball out of his hands is reasonable. You know the best way to keep the ball out of his hands? KICK IT OUT OF THE FUCKING END ZONE! I have made my opinion on Basil clear, but there is one thing the man can do well, kick the ball deep. Why would you not have him kick it as hard as he can and force Page to take a knee, if he’s even able to field it in play at all? Instead, they kicked it to the 35, where Page received it and brought near midfield. Yes, that Eric Page. Apparently Ohio St didn’t think that he was allowed to run up and get the ball that far up.

Anywho, this was the time where I think most people thought Fickell would pull the trigger and give Braxton a shot. At least that’s what I was thinking. Bauserman was not playing great, Toledo had just got the momentum back, it seemed like the right move. Fickell stuck with Bowser, and while I didn’t agree, I wouldn’t crucify him for it either. He went with what he thought was his best option to win that game, and I can’t fault him for that. He didn’t have him throw a pass on the possession anyway, as Hyde ran the ball three times and Ohio St punted. When the Buckeyes got the ball back, Bauserman did put the ball in the air and completed a 36-yard pass to Devin Smith, setting the Buckeyes up near the goal line. They missed on third-and-goal, but were thankfully bailed out by another Toledo penalty. Hyde ran for his second TD of the day on the following play. Leading by five, OSU went for the two point conversion but failed.

Ohio St’s defense tightened up, forcing three straight Toledo punts. The Buckeyes were moving the ball with only a few minutes left, when freshman running back Rod Smith fumbled at the Toledo 33. I didn’t understand this at all. Carlos Hyde is getting nearly every carry all game, and they give it to the freshman with the game on the line? The Rockets took over with just over three minutes left to play, and Terrance Owens led them into the red zone. The Buckeyes held on 4th and 6 from the 17 when John Simon, who left the game earlier with leg cramps, hit Owens’ blindside to force an incompletion. Two kneeldowns preserved the Buckeyes win, 27-22.

Game Ball
Normally, the GB recipient will have been in the game for more than the 8-12 or so plays that John Simon was in for, but this wasn’t a normal game. As I have mentioned, the Ohio St offensive players’ stats can be described as average at best. In my opinion, no Buckeye had a bigger impact on this victory then Simon. With the defense already missing Simon’s fellow senior captain Nathan Williams, Ohio St was very thin up front when Simon left in the first quarter with an injury. As a result, OSU couldn’t get any pressure on the Toledo quarterbacks. This all changed when Simon returned from the locker room half way into the 4th quarter. With 5:30 to play in the game, Simon sacked Dantin on third down to give Ohio St the ball back with a chance to run out the clock. After Rod Smith tried to give the game back to Toledo, Simon came up with the big play on 4th down.
Game balls to date: Simon, Bauserman

Big Ten
This was not a good week for the conference that Ohio St calls home. Wisconsin (35-0 winners over Oregon St) looks like a title contender, Nebraska (42-29 winners over Fresno St) is a top tier team, and the jury is still out on Ohio St and Michigan St (44-0 winners over Florida Atlantic). After that, the Big Ten looks awful. Northwestern and Illinois both beat up on FCS opponents and could be decent this year, but don’t expect them to be playing on New Year's Day. Penn St was embarrassed by Alabama for the second straight year. I know it’s ’Bama, but the Lions didn’t even put up a fight, again. Iowa lost in triple overtime to Iowa St and Indiana was edged by Virginia, two teams that I can’t imagine are very good. It still gets worse. Purdue was beat by Rice and Minnesota lost to New Mexico St. That’s right, the powerful Aggies of UNMS. Not good.

Which brings us to the “We Used to be Relevant So We Demand That People Still Pay Attention to Us Even Though We’re No Longer Any Good” Bowl, where michigan’s furious comeback late was enough to topple Notre Dame, 35-31. Everyone in the media talked about how great of a game this was, calling it the “game of the year” already. Let’s not confuse “great” with “entertaining.” Absolutely, this game was entertaining. There were five fourth quarter touchdowns, including three in the final 70 seconds. It was no doubt fun to watch (except the part where michigan won). That doesn’t mean that the football being played was good. In fact, it was downright atrocious. If you watched this game, you know why those touchdowns were scored in that final minute. Not because of great passes or catches or runs, but because nobody from either team covered anybody on the opposing team. While I was mad that michigan won, this just reaffirms my position that they are not a good football team. People will look at cant-tie’s 450 total yards and 5 TDs and start screaming Heisman again, but those people are idiots. On his four touchdown passes, three of them were jump balls that would not have been complete if the Irish secondary wasn’t so pathetic, and the fourth was a screen pass where he threw it two yards and his running back ran 50 more. The rushing TD was even worse, where a michigan player fumbled at the goal line and the ball bounced right to cant-tie with no one around him and he walked into the end zone. Man, I hate that guy. On a related note, it took doctors several hours after the game to surgically remove Brent Musburger’s lips from cant-tie’s penis.

Not a whole lot more to discuss about this game, just a few brief notes that crossed my mind during the game.

Quick Hits
- Verlon Reed had two catches and a nice reverse in the first quarter, but couldn’t do much the rest of the game, although he was still targeted a few times. With Philly Brown’s status up in the air, we’re going to need him to step up big time.

- DE Garrett Goebel, LB Andrew Sweat and S C.J. Barnett all looked really good, for the most part. Goebel and Sweat were always around the ball and Barnett made some big time plays in the secondary. He was burned on a deep touchdown, however.

- Why didn’t Jaamal Berry play at running back? He was healthy enough to return kicks, but only got one carry. With Herron and Hall still suspended and a day where the ground attack wasn’t turning any heads, it seems like it would have been a good idea to give this guy some chances.

- Speaking of Hall still being suspended, boy was that kick in the crotch. It was announced last Monday that Hall, Travis Howard and Corey Brown were all reinstated, only to be un-reinstated the day before the game. How does that happen? Still no word yet on if they’ll be on the field in Miami, or at any point this season.

- Mike Doss and Orlando Pace went into the Buckeyes' Ring of Honor during halftime. Two of my all-time favorites.

Up Next: @Miami (0-1), 7:30, ESPN
Ohio St heads to the Sunshine State as underdogs. It was extremely strange to see a “+” next to the Buckeyes’ name in the point spread. I don’t know the facts on this, but I would guess that this is the first regular season game that the Bucks are dogs since USC at the beginning of the ‘09 campaign. Personally, I would start Braxton Miller and only make the switch to Bauserman if he struggles. This being only Fickell’s third game, it’s tough to tell what he will do, although he looked awfully comfortable with Bowser against Toledo. Jacory Harris will return from his one game suspension to start for The U, which is fine by me. Frankly I think Toledo is just as good of a team, if not better, than Miami is. Bookies be damned, I do not see Ohio St losing this game.
Prediction: Ohio St 29 Miami 14



Andy said...

Toledo got three illegal formation penalties on punts. Isn't that on the coaching staff? Don't you at some point have to say, hey, maybe our punt formation isn't entirely legal? That amazed me.

I didn't expect to see Miller once the game was so close in the 2nd half, even if we went on top. He would have played only if we had a significant lead early on.

How about those ridiculous college sweaters michigan wore Saturday night? Awful. You forgot to mention can't-tie's brilliant three interceptions. I can't believe how much the broadcasters, even Kirk, credited him for that one horribly underthrown ball they scored a TD on. There is no way, no way, he meant to do that.

Figgs said...

See, there was so much to criticize about cant-ties game that I didn't even mention 3 picks.

Good news - Hall, Howard and Brown were all reinstated today, again. They will be allowed to play Saturday if they pay $200 to the charity. Let's hope the NCAA doesn't change their mind this time.

I may be too overconfident, but I don't see us losing this week - no way. I can't beleive we're getting points. I might break the bank on this one.