Thursday, November 8

Buckeyes dominate line of scrimmage, Illinois

Ohio St put together their most complete game of the season last Saturday in a 52-22 pounding of Illinois. When you break it down, this game was won in the trenches. The offensive line did a tremendous job opening up holes for Braxton Miller and Carlos Hyde to run through all day, while John Simon and company spent the entire game harassing Illini quarterback Nathan Scheelhaase. The Buckeyes out-rushed Illinois 330-74 and held the Fighting Illini to only 2/14 on 3rd down conversions. Ohio St will head into the bye week at a perfect 10-0.

Game Recap
If you had to nitpick at this game and find a negative, OSU did come out of the gate a bit sluggish, which has happened nearly every game this season. After the Bucks went three-and-out on their first possession, a Christian Bryant pass interference penalty on third down kept Illinois' subsequent drive alive. The drive ultimately ended in a Nick Immekus field goal, after which Ohio St was able to respond with an 80-yard drive that was capped off by a Carlos Hyde touchdown. Bryant then had another costly penalty, this one a 15-yard personal foul, on the Illinois ensuing possession to set up another FG and the teams finished the 1st quarter with the Bucks holding a slim 7-6 advantage.

The second quarter, however, was completely owned by Ohio St. Braxton hit backup tight end Nick Vannett for 31 yards to begin the quarter, helping to set up a Drew Basil field goal. Illinois punted on each of their next three possessions, each of which was followed by a Buckeye touchdown. The first came on another short Hyde run that was set up with a long pass play to Philly Brown. Next was a quick strike when Miller connected with Rod Smith on a beautifully executed wheel route. Smith snuck out of the backfield and into the open field and Brax tossed a perfect ball to hit him in stride and allowed Smith to walk into the endzone for the 51-yard score. The last of the three scoring drives began at midfield, and four consecutive double-digit yard plays allowed Hyde to get the hat trick by halftime. Travis Howard picked off Scheelhaase late in the half to keep Ohio St's lead at 31-6.

After each team punted to begin the second half, Miller and Hyde reversed roles as Carlos had two 20+-yard runs to move Ohio St down the field and Braxton punched it in near the goal line. With the score at 38-6 and Ohio St back with the ball, Illinois finally got a break. Rod Smith, who has had issues with this all season long, fumbled and set up the Illini in OSU territory. They made quick work of the short field and Jon Davis ran it in for the score which was followed by a successful two-point conversion.

To possibly send a message to Smith, Hyde, who most likely thought his day was over, was back in on the next series to begin the 4th quarter. Either that or Urban Meyer just doesn't give shit about running up the score, because he was still throwing. Braxton hooked up with Brown again, this time the 37-yarder ending in six to make it 45-14. I love it.

The Buckeye D forced another punt, and myself and tens of thousands of others were treated to what we were sticking around The Shoe for - an appearance by Kenny Guiton. To show our appreciation for his heroics against Purdue, Kenny G was welcomed onto the field with a standing ovation. He lead a good drive into the Illini redzone, most of the yardage coming on runs by Bri'onte Dunn, but missed an option pitch to Dunn and the ball was scooped up and returned for a TD by Ashante Williams.

Illinois converted another two-pointer, but was unsuccessful on the onside kick. Dunn rushed the ball on seven straight plays, the last one resulting in another Buckeye touchdown. Freshman Adolphus Washington finished the game in fitting fashion, considering the havoc the OSU line wrecked all day, by sacking Scheelhaase to complete the 30-point victory.

Game Ball
This has been a long time coming, as the GB finally goes to Carlos Hyde. Hyde ran 18 times for 137 yards and three TDs. The staggering thing about Hyde's 7.6 yards per carry is that his longest run was only 24 yards, so it's not like he busted a few huge ones to inflate his ypc. He was just consistently getting 6-10 yards every time he got the rock. A lot of credit has to go to his offensive line as well, who did a phenomenal job in this game and have quietly been a very productive unit all year.
Game balls to date: Miller (3), Hyde, Boren, Guiton, Meyer, Hankins, Roby, Howard

Big Ten
Taylor Martinez's last-second touchdown pass to Jamal Turner completed Nebraska's dramatic comeback to beat Michigan St, 28-24. Minutes earlier, Martinez ran for a touchdown to cut the Spartan lead to three. This keeps Nebraska in the driver's seat in the Legends Division, but they stay tied with michigan after devin gardner's three touchdowns in replace of the injured can't-tie led the wolverines to a rout of Minnesota. Northwestern had a bye and remains one-game back, but will get their chance to make a move this weekend by playing in the gay house while Nebraska hosts a feisty Penn St team.

Speaking of the Lions, they slaughtered Purdue last weekend to keep within one-game of the Leaders-leading Buckeyes. Of course, with those two teams being ineligible to play for the BT Title, the idle Wisconsin Badgers are still the front-runner to head to Indy. However, Indiana's win over Iowa last Saturday suddenly gives the Hoosiers control of their own destiny. They will welcome Wisconsin to Bloomington this week (12:00, ESPN2) and will hold the tie-breaker if they can pull the upset. If Wisconsin wins, they will officially punch their ticket to Indianapolis.

Heisman Watch
The Heisman race took an unexpected turn last weekend, when front-runner Collin Klein was injured and forced to miss the final 25 minutes of Kansas St's win over Oklahoma St. His status for this Saturday's game against TCU is still uncertain. With Klein possibly missing some action, the others in the race made strong cases for themselves to get back in it.

'Bama QB A.J. McCarron had that "signature Heisman moment" when he led the Tide on a game-winning TD drive in the closing minutes to complete their comeback of LSU. In Oregon's biggest game of the season, RB Kenjon Barner rushed for 321 yards and 5 TDs to help the Ducks out-shoot USC. Meanwhile, Manti Te'o's Irish held off Pitt in triple overtime to remain unbeaten.

So what does this all mean for Braxton Miller? Well, it's not good. Even though Brax accounted for 300 yards of total offense and scored 3 touchdowns against 0 turnovers, he fell behind the pack last week. Klein is still at the top of list, and should he miss some significant time, I think McCarron's drive against the Tigers puts him as the best shot to dethrone the Wildcat QB. If it's stats you want - then Barner is your guy, while Te'o will get some votes from defensive guys as well as the sympathy vote.

My Rankings
1. Collin Klein, QB Kansas St
2. Kenjon Barner, RB Oregon
3. A.J. McCarron, QB Alabama
4. Manti Te'o, LB Notre Dame
5. Braxton Miller, QB Ohio St

The Future
Talking about Miller's Heisman hopes and the Buckeyes' remarkable 10-0 renegade season, it made me think to the future. Whether Ohio St finishes undefeated or 10-2, you have to think they will be ranked in the Preseason Top 5 next year for sure, possibly Top 3. Alabama will most likely be the obvious choice for #1, but other than maybe Oregon, who do you put ahead of the Buckeyes? With Meyer and Miller together for Year 2, I can't think of anyone. And while Braxton's quest for the Heisman looks like it'll fall a little short this season, he HAS to go into 2013 as the clear-cut favorite. It's only November and I'm already super excited for next season.

The Shoe
A few random thoughts from my trip to Columbus...

- This win over Illinois bumps my Horseshoe attendance record up to 9-1, and was the biggest blowout I've seen since back-to-back 41-point victories over Northwestern and Indiana in '04 and '05.

- I knew Ryan Shazier was a stud, but after having a PA announcer telling precisely what happened on every play, I put him on an even higher pedestal. I heard "Ryan Shazier in on the tackle" on essentially every play - it was ridiculous. Dude's only a sophomore.

- I was relatively blitzed by game time, so I was understandably pretty rambunctious during this beatdown, giving high-fives to everyone in sight after big plays. While everyone else gladly participated, there was this one guy behind me that continued to piss me off by nonchalantly holding his hand upside down by his waist like he was too good for high-fives. Beat it nerd, no one's above The Five.

- Canes is the greatest place on Earth. I look forward to getting that when I'm down in C-bus almost as much as I do the Ohio St game, and it never disappoints.

Up Next: 11/17 @Wisconsin (6-3, 3-2), 3:30, ABC
The Buckeyes will take their 10-0 record into the bye week before heading to Camp Randall in two weeks. While Wisconsin's 6-3 record and lack of respect from the pollsters make it look like they have underachieved this year, their three losses have each come by only three points to good teams. The Badgers will have that place rockin' as always, and I expect this to be Ohio St's toughest test of the season.

The obvious focus of the Buckeye defense will be RB Montee Ball. QB Joel Stave wasn't exactly lighting things up to begin with, and now his injury leaves Wisconsin in even worse position. Fifth-year senior Curt Phillips beat out Danny O'Brien and will get his first career start this week against Indiana.

We'll have to wait and see how Phillips does and what Stave's status will be in two weeks to figure out who to gameplan for, but really it doesn't matter. Meyer will need to utilize the same plan that he successfully did against Le'Veon Bell and Michigan St. If they can hold Ball under 100 like they did Bell, or even under 150, I think Ohio St wins pretty easily. But if he goes off for one of those 250/4 TD games like we know he's capable of, it's a whole other ball game.
Prediction: Ohio St 33 Wisconsin 23



Andy said...

I missed this one in preparation for FrancisFest, but it looks like the fellows did OK without me. Career OSU birthday record 6-0.

I fully support your high five policy. When I went to OSU-um in 2006 (OSU 42, um 39), this 80-year-old guy gave me the hands-crossed two-hand "X" high 10 every touchdown. If that elderly gentleman can do it in the spirit of the game, so can that turkey behind you.

That Big 10 "Championship" game is going to be such a farce.

I'm surprised at how easily you dismissed Te'o. Admittedly, I haven't watched a ton of college football this year, but when I saw Notre Dame play, even before I'd heard of him, I was struck by how he dominated the game on defense.

I of course want OSU to finish undefeated, but given the postseason situation, I'm not too worried about it if they were to lose to Wisconsin.

But I want michigan. I want them crushed, destroyed in Ohio Stadium, the events of last year avenged and a trip to Indy for the Weasels denied at the hands of the Buckeyes. From what I hear, FCF will be fully represented at the PIgskin Classic in the CLE this year, and mark my words: this year will not end in Figgs yelling at some random guy in Pacer's.

Figgs said...

Looking back, it does look like I took a shot at Te'o. It was unintentional. He is an unbelievable player and I rightfully have him ahead of Brax in my rankings. I guess I worded that wrong.

I may be out for michgan weekend now, but fully support everything you said about those boners.