Tag Archives: Ohio State Football

The Big 10 Will get two Teams in Playoff

The last college football playoff rankings  before championship weekend were released Tuesday night, and the results were pretty much as expected.

After falling to #2 Ohio State in Columbus, Michigan fell from #3 last week to #5. This opened the door for Washington to move into the fourth and final spot in the college football playoff. Alabama obviously remained at #1 after remaining undefeated with a win in the Iron Bowl. Ohio State, after a victory over yet another top-ten opponent remained firmly positioned in its #2 spot, and Clemson moved up from #4 to #3. Michigan, Wisconsin, Penn State, Colorado, Oklahoma, and Oklahoma State round out the top-10.

For the Big Ten, the latest CFP rankings give the conference at least a shot to get two teams from one conference in the playoff for the first time since it being instituted a few years ago. With the top two spots nearly locks to remain the same, championship weekend will be huge for teams fighting for the final two spots in the college football playoff. Let’s take a look a couple different scenario’s in which the Big Ten could claim at least one of those final two spots.

With Ohio State almost a lock for the playoff after remaining at #2 in the rankings with no more games to play, the Big Ten will have at least one team in the playoff at this point. The conference then has three more teams, in Michigan, Wisconsin, and Penn State, (with the latter two playing for a Big Ten championship) just outside the top four at numbers five, six, and seven respectively.

This is good news for those in Big Ten country, who hope it becomes the first conference to have multiple teams in the playoff. The first scenario that is rather easy to picture is to say the winner of the Big Ten championship game between Wisconsin and Penn State will be the team that will crack the top four first.

Both teams currently sit at 10-2, and would finish as a two-loss conference champion with a win in the Big Ten title game. In a scenario where both Clemson and Washington were to both become conference champions, it would then be an argument between the winner of the Pac-12 in one-loss Washington, against the winner of the Big Ten championship with two losses. In this scenario, it would benefit the Big Ten to have Penn State beat Wisconsin, who would then have wins over two top-ten teams to rival the soft conference schedule of Washington.

Could a two-loss Big Ten champ beat out a one-loss Pac-12 champ for the final playoff spot? For me, it could. The Big Ten has been far an away the best conference in the country all season, with four teams that could match up with most teams in the country. This could aid a two loss Big Ten championship team in trying to beat out a one-loss Pac-12 champion in Washington. Washington will look to throw in some style points while beating the #8 ranked Colorado to avoid any chance at this happening.

The second scenario where the Big Ten could get two teams in the playoff is Washington dropping the Pac-12 title game to Colorado, which is honestly the most likely scenario of them all. If Washington were to fall and Clemson wins the ACC, the final playoff spot would be up for grabs to teams like Michigan, and the winner of the Big Ten championship game between Wisconsin and Penn State.

In this case, the committee would be deciding between a Michigan team with two losses, (that on the field clearly looks like a top-four team in the country) and a two loss Big Ten champ that lost to the Wolverines head to head. If Washington loses, and Penn State wins the Big Ten, you would have Penn State as a Big Ten champion fighting for the final playoff spot with a Michigan team that it lost to 49-10 earlier this season.

How could you then put that Penn State team in the playoff over Michigan regardless of a Big Ten Championship? In my eyes you couldn’t, but to many, the question would then be what’s the significance of even winning your conference? With a Washington loss and a Wisconsin win over Penn State, the argument would also be interesting with Wisconsin losing on the road by seven to Michigan. Who’s to say on a neutral field the Badgers couldn’t have beaten the Wolverines? It’s an argument that could go a number of different ways. Regardless, with a Washington loss, the Big Ten will get two teams in the playoff.

The last scenario to discuss as far the Big Ten crashing the college football playoff, is one in which both Clemson and Washington slip in their respective championship games, which would open the door for possibly three Big Ten teams to enter the playoff. In this case, you could conceivably have Michigan, and the winner of the Big Ten join Ohio State and Alabama in the third edition of the college football playoff. As crazy as it sounds, losses by both Clemson as Washington could see this happen. Michigan, who would have beaten its competition for one of those spots in Pac-12 champ Colorado would surely get in. The Big Ten champion would then most likely go head to head with Colorado for that fourth and final spot.

In the end, we could go on and on with these scenario’s of who will and won’t get in the playoff. But my bold prediction is that the Big Ten will get two teams in the playoff, becoming the first conference to do so in the playoff era.  A Washington loss to Colorado will open the door for #5 Michigan to sneak in the playoff over the Big Ten champ, as the debate will be a head to head win versus a conference champion, and for me you cannot ignore the fact that Michigan beat both Penn State and Wisconsin. Michigan has showed in the field it is a playoff caliber team, this will bode well for the Wolverines as they stake claim to the fourth and final spot in the college football playoff.

 

E-mail Derek at derek [dot] woods [at] campuspressbox [dot] com and follow him on Twitter @D_Woods21.

Photo Credit :https://flic.kr/p/zSYGZ2

Each Big Ten Contender’s Case to Make the CFB Playoff

It came a little later than expected, but college football fans finally received a chaos-filled Saturday in Week 11, the type of chaos that makes college football so great.

With just two weeks remaining in the regular season, a shake-up within the college football universe was bound to come. Five teams ranked within the top ten fell on Saturday, including three teams who had a grasp on the college football playoff top four in Clemson, Michigan, and Washington.

It was the first time numbers 2, 3, and 4 all fell in the same week in 30 years, and that goes to show just how crazy of a week it was for college football.  The losses within the top four obviously affected the playoff picture nationally, but the Michigan loss was especially important for the Big Ten championship race going forward.

With Ohio State, Michigan, Wisconsin, and Penn State (who are all ranked within the Top 10 of the CFP Rankings) all vying for the opportunity to play in the Big Ten championship, let’s take a look at each Big Ten contender’s case to make the CFP.

 

# 7. Wisconsin

Remaining schedule- 11/19: At Purdue, 11/26: Vs. Minnesota 

Wisconsin, which currently sports an 8-2 record heading into Week 12 (ranked #7 in the CFP rankings) is the team that currently has the best chance to make the Big Ten championship game at this point. The Badgers are 4-0 in the West division of the Big Ten, and since they already beat Nebraska, Wisconsin has the inside track on the West division title with just two games to play.

That’s good news for Wisconsin, as the Badgers have wins against LSU, at Iowa, Nebraska, and at Northwestern already on their resume.  With a chance to add two more regular season wins as well as a win over Michigan, Penn State, or Ohio State in the Big Ten title game, the Badgers would at least put themselves in the conversation to be included in the college football playoff as a two-loss conference champion.

In a best case scenario, Wisconsin would get either Ohio State or Michigan in the Big Ten championship game, with a chance to avenge one of its two losses on its way to winning the Big Ten. This would give Wisconsin its best possible chance of making the playoff. The Badger defense has carried the team all season long and is ranked in the top ten nationally. To win the Big Ten, the defense will have to carry them to another three victories.

# 8. Penn State

Remaining schedule- 11/19: At Rutgers, 11/26: Vs. Michigan State 

Who would have thought at this point in the season we would be talking about a Top Ten Penn State team having a chance to win a Big Ten championship? Not many.

But with two regular season games to play, that’s exactly the position this Nittany Lions team is in. James Franklin and company are currently ranked number 8 in the CFP rankings. Penn State finishes the season with two very winnable games, with their toughest remaining game at home against a 3-7 Michigan State team.

Penn State’s best wins include home wins over Minnesota, Ohio State, and Iowa, while handling Indiana on the road last Saturday. James Franklin’s team seems to be getting better as the season progresses, with the win over Ohio State breeding even more confidence into a bunch that not many believed in coming into this season.

The problem is, Penn State’s lone loss came at the hands of Michigan. Not only did the Nittany Lions lose, they were manhandled in Ann Arbor in a 49-10 shellacking in late September. But we all know how football is, it’s all about match-ups.

However, if Ohio State were to win out (beating Michigan along the way), Penn State would control its own destiny as far as making the Big Ten title game.

This could very well happen and could lead to Penn State playing Wisconsin in the Big Ten championship game. With a win over Wisconsin, the dilemma would then be considering a one-loss Ohio State team with better quality wins but a loss in the head-to-head match up. Penn State has a chance to make the playoff but will need help to get there.

#2. Ohio State

Remaining schedule: 11/19- At Michigan State, 11/26- Vs. Michigan 

Ohio State is in the most difficult position when it comes to winning a Big Ten championship, with the Michigan loss to Iowa putting the Buckeyes in a position where they no longer control their own destiny. The Buckeyes are ranked number 2 in the CFB rankings, but still have to win and play wait-and-see. Even with wins in its final two games, Ohio State still needs a Penn State loss to get into the conference championship game.

The Buckeyes’ résumé includes wins at Oklahoma and Wisconsin and home wins against Northwestern, Nebraska, and Michigan (if they win out). The Buckeyes only loss would be on the road to Penn State by three points in a game that Ohio State controlled for much of the night. That résumé would stack up well against almost any in the country.

The Buckeyes are in a tough spot as far as winning their conference, but will still have a very good chance of making the playoff if they win their remaining two games, one being against #3 Michigan. This may be the season we find out if a non-conference champ can crack the college football playoff.

The worst case scenario for the Buckeyes would be Penn State winning out and winning the conference championship. This would put Ohio State in a position to compete for their spot in the playoff with a team they lost to head to head, although Penn State would have two losses.

The Buckeyes seem to be playing very good football, winning 62-3 in both of their last two games. The Buckyes need to win out and hope for some help.

#3. Michigan

Remaining schedule: 11/19- Vs. Indiana, 11/26- At Ohio State

The Wolverines are the one team from the Big Ten East that controls its own destiny to get to the Big Ten title. But coming off their first loss of the season (as well as the loss of their starting quarterback Wilton Speight to a reported broken collarbone), Harbaugh and company need to pick up the pieces quickly as Indiana comes to town this Saturday before finishing with “The Game” against Ohio State.

Although numerous reports have put Speight on the shelf for the season, head coach Jim Harbaugh is still showing a little gamesmanship by not tipping his hand in a situation that is extremely unfortunate for a team with playoff aspirations.

I’m sure in the end Harbaugh very well knows the status of his quarterback going forward, but that doesn’t mean he has to let everyone else know, particularly Indiana this week. The Wolverines are still in a prime position being ranked third in the latest CFP rankings. But without their starting quarterback, they must hope backup John O’Korn (a transfer from Houston) can handle the job.

The Wolverines must rely on one of the nation’s best defenses to carry the load, and the running game must be able to control the clock while taking pressure off O’Korn.

The Wolverines should handle Indiana at home, but the defining moment of their season will be their trip to Columbus to end the season. Win that game, and the Wolverines have a good chance of winning the Big Ten championship and a spot in the CFP.

E-mail Derek at derek [dot] woods [at] campuspressbox [dot] com and follow him on Twitter @D_Woods21.

Photo: Penn State, Flickr

Time to Panic? Or Will the Penn State Loss Fuel an Ohio State Playoff run?

With Ohio State nearly a week removed from a shocking three-point loss at the hands of Penn State, the question is simple: Are the Buckeyes not as good as once thought? Or will the loss at the hands of the Nittany Lions fuel a push towards the playoff and a Big Ten title as we head into the home stretch of the Big Ten regular season?

Even after the loss to Penn State, Ohio State still has the ability to say that all of the goals they had before the season are still in front of them. The Buckeyes currently sit at 6-1 (3-1). Harbaugh and the Wolverines now sit atop the Big Ten East with an unblemished record of 7-0 (4-0).

Despite that, the Buckeyes still have a chance to run the table the rest of the way, which would most likely earn Urban Meyer and company a spot in the Big Ten championship game.

That is unless the James Franklin led Nittany Lions were to use the upset over Ohio State to springboard them for the rest of the season, which in a scenario in which both teams were to win out, Penn State would have the tie breaker over the Buckeyes.

Although it is a possibility, Penn State running the table the rest of the way in the Big Ten seems more of a long shot than the Buckeyes winning out, beating Michigan on their way to the Big Ten title game.

In the game against Penn State this past weekend, the Buckeyes gave the game away more than the Nittany Lions took it from them. Ohio State entered the fourth quarter with a two touchdown lead, and if it wasn’t for blunders on special teams (a blocked punt and FG leading to a total of ten points) the Buckeyes would still be amongst the ranks of the undefeated.

Although the Buckeyes clearly were the better team against Penn State, they came away with a loss and plenty of other things to work on as the Buckeyes host Northwestern this Saturday.

When looking for things to work on in order to reach their ultimate goal of winning a Big Ten Championship and reaching the playoff, look no further than the Ohio State passing game.

It was said all offseason how the Buckeyes were working to improve upon the passing attack, which probably cost the Buckeyes a shot at the college football playoff a season ago.

After a week three win at Oklahoma, it seemed as if the Buckeyes had figured out the perfect balance of run and pass. Barrett finished the game with just 152 passing yards but threw for four touchdowns. It looked to be just what the Buckeyes needed from the passing game as Barrett made the throws when he needed to in key moments.

That was, however, against an Oklahoma team that plays in the Big 12 where defense is optional. When you get into the Big Ten, the level of defense improves drastically. That sentiment has been proven as the Buckeyes have struggled mightily in the passing game in their last three outings against Indiana, Wisconsin, and Penn State respectively.

Yes, J.T. Barrett must improve as a passer if Ohio State looks to improve in the passing game. But it’s not all on Barrett to get the passing game out of the gutter.

It starts up front with the offensive line. In the last three games alone, Barrett has been sacked a total of nine times. In the four games prior, he was sacked just two times.

A lot of those sack numbers were accumulated from the game against Penn State, where the Ohio State offensive line was completely outmatched. Ohio State gave up six sacks to the Nittany Lions and allowed pressure on 26 of J.T. Barrett’s 51 drop backs, which in turn means that Barrett was under fire 50% of the time.

For a team with playoff aspirations, this is simply unacceptable. The offensive line must play better if Ohio State wants to stay afloat in the race for a Big Ten championship.

As bad as the offensive line has played, however; the receiving core for Ohio State hasn’t played much better. One thing you notice while watching the Buckeyes receivers so far this season is that they don’t get much separation on their routes.

Over the past three games, it seems as if most times Barrett passes the ball it is to a receiver who is well covered. In those instances, Barrett is basically hoping his receiver can make a play on the ball over the defender, something that is difficult to do on a consistent basis.

The Buckeyes currently have no deep threat at receiver, with Noah Brown, (who is probably the best of the bunch) being more of a possession receiver and none of the other new Buckeye receivers doing anything to show they should be a starter at Ohio State.

One good thing for the Ohio State passing game is that tight end Marcus Baugh seems to be coming along and should give Barrett a much needed reliable target going forward.

The Buckeyes coaching staff must also step up their game as well, with the play calling from week to week being very inconsistent. It is well known that Curtis Samuel is the most dynamic playmaker on the Ohio State offense, with the running of Mike Weber and J.T. Barrett being huge keys as well.

The coaching staff needs to find a balance of getting each of their playmakers, (mainly Samuel and Weber) the touches they need each week. A prime example of this is the fact that Samuel had just two carries against Penn State, one going for a 74-yard touchdown. The week before against Wisconsin, Weber got just eleven carries as the Buckeyes barely escaped Madison with a victory.

If Ohio State wants to improve on offense, it needs to get the ball in the hands of Samuel and Weber as much as possible, and each should receive their fair share of touches each week. Finding a way to make these two players the focal point of the Ohio State offense should be the main concern for the coaching staff going forward.

Like I stated from the beginning, the Buckeyes still have all of their goals in front of them. Ohio State has a good shot to run the table up until the Michigan game the last week of the season, although games against Nebraska, Minnesota, and Michigan State won’t be easy.

It remains to be seen if Ohio State can right the ship on offense. But as of today, it’s time to hit the panic button in Columbus as the Buckeyes look like the inferior team when stacked up against their hated rival Michigan.

 

 

E-mail Derek at derek [dot] woods [at] campuspressbox [dot] com and follow him on Twitter @D_Woods21.

Photo: https://flic.kr/p/NigqGN

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Michigan at Ohio State for the Big Ten?

Heading into the seventh week of college football season, the Big Ten conference is very well represented in the most recent AP Top 25 Poll. Four teams are ranked in this week’s poll with all four also being ranked inside the top ten.

The two big names from the conference are represented in Ohio State and Michigan, while a gritty Wisconsin team as well as upstart Nebraska round out the Big Ten teams currently ranked.

With that being said, only one team can win the Big Ten championship. The Buckeyes and Wolverines are the cream of the crop in the Big Ten, and I expect one of these powers to take home the conference crown.

The schools possess the two best coaches and rosters in the conference by a wide margin. That doesn’t guarantee that one of the two won’t slip up, but let’s make a case for each team to represent the Big Ten as conference champions.

Ohio State

For Ohio State, it’s not a question of the talent on the roster, but whether Meyer could mold this number of inexperienced talent into a Big Ten contender on the fly. With a week three throttling at Oklahoma, the Buckeyes eased most concerns about their inexperience and made a case to be the top team in the country.

Led by veteran quarterback J.T. Barrett, Big Ten rushing leader Mike Weber, and versatile playmaker Curtis Samuel the Ohio State offense has the potential to be great. The rushing game has been just about everything you could ask for so far as Weber has enjoyed a solid first season as a starter to this point. The passing game however may be the weakest aspect of this Ohio State team, one that could haunt them if not corrected.

On defense, ball hawking safety Malik Hooker is tied for the nation’s lead in interceptions with four, and rising cornerback Marshon Lattimore isn’t far off himself with three in his own right.

The Buckeyes truly have a chance to finish as one of the country’s best defenses when it’s all said and done. The combination of pass rushers  at their disposal cobimined with lockdown man defense makes this defense truly scary as their young players will continue to improve as the season progresses.

The schedule that the Buckeyes face the rest of the way however won’t be a cake walk to the Big Ten championship game. The Buckeyes travel to Madison this Saturday to take on Wisconsin in a showdown between top 10 teams.

If they can escape that game unscathed, they still play at home against #10 Nebraska, and finish with games at Michigan State and home against rival Michigan.

On Paper, Ohio State is the most talented team in the Big Ten. But games aren’t won on paper, ask the 2015 Buckeyes.  Urban Meyer’s offense relied heavily on the run against Indiana as J.T. Barrett passed for just 93 yards on 9/21 passing. That’s fine when your team can rush for nearly 300 yards.

When Ohio State plays a team like Wisconsin and Michigan that can make them do something else besides simply hand it off they may have issues if the passing game doesn’t get fixed. If it does, their may be no team that can stop the Buckeyes this season.

Michigan 

The Wolverines entered this season with expectations through the roof, as many pundits picked them to win the Big Ten. Ohio State returned just six starters, Michigan State lost key cogs in Connor Cook and Shilique Calhoun, and the rest of the Big Ten was mediocre last season.

The things to like about this Michigan team is its tenacious defense. The Wolverines boast what could be the best cover corner in college football in Jourdan Lewis. Harbaugh and company also have one of the deepest defensive fronts in the nation led by Chris Wormley and Taco Charlton. If Rashan Gary comes into his own even more late in the season, watch out for this Michigan defense.

The offense is led by a three-headed rushing attack which includes true freshman running back Chris Evans, senior De’Veon Smith, and fellow senior Ty Issac. Typical of a Harbaugh coached team, the Wolverines are very physical up front and like to impose their will on teams week in, week out.

The Wolverines also possess one of the most dynamic athletes in the country in Jabrill Peppers. Whether it’s at linebacker, nickel corner, running back, receiver, even special teams, Peppers is all over the field for the Wolverines and makes the team a lot better with him on the field.

https://twitter.com/snmichigan/status/785632315741507584

The weakness in the Wolverines so far is the mediocre play at quarterback from Wilton Speight. As was the case with last season’s Michigan squad, the team lacks an elite quarterback, and counts on him to not lose the game rather than win it.  Later on this season, (most likely against Ohio State) the Wolveines will need plays from their quarterback to get the win, but is Speight a capable option?

Both teams are very good on defense, currently the two top teams in the nation in points per game allowed. The offenses are both run driven, albeit in different ways. What will make the difference when these teams actually play later this season?

The tie-breaker in a very close game come late November will be J.T. Barrett making more plays than Wilton Speight. The Buckeyes take out the Wolverines in a nail biter to send them to the Big Ten championship game.

E-mail Derek at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter @D_Woods21.

Photo: flickr/Slippy Slappy

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The Sunday Morning Notebook – Tennessee Has Run Out of Magic

Another great week of college football is in the books, with the exception of Georgia-South Carolina and Florida-LSU.

Enjoy a recap of some of the big games and great moments. 

Comeback Number Five, Loss Number One

Tennessee has played five games this season. In four of them, it has trailed at some point by double-digits. Yesterday, Texas A&M became the first team to beat the Volunteers this season. However, the Aggies didn’t hold the lead, which reached 21 points in the third quarter. It even took two overtimes to put an end to Tennessee’s unbelievable streak of luck.

Just like last week, it took some late magic to help Tennessee push the game into overtime.  Perhaps it was less magic and more luck.  Either way, it was a wild evening in College Station, TX.

Texas A&M quarterback Trevor Knight, arguably one of the most electric players in the nation, put the Aggies ahead, 35-21, with 3:22 left in the game on a 62- yard touchdown run. The term generally used to describe a score like that, in that particular situation, is “nail in the coffin”.

Not so fast, my friend

On the ensuing possession, Vols’ quarterback Josh Dobbs led Tennessee down the field and into the end zone in just a minute and 15 seconds to get within a touchdown.

15 seconds had run off the clock before Aggies’ RB Trayveon Williams delivered a play that should have warranted another cliché.  This time “that’s a dagger” comes to mind. Williams sped through the defense and down the field for 72-and-a-half yards, but UT’s Malik Foreman caught him from behind and knocked the ball loose and into the end zone for a touchback.  Vols’ ball, 1:49 left to play.

With that kind of momentum on its side, there was no way Tennessee wasn’t going to tie the game, and it did just that on Alvin Kamara’s third touchdown of the game.

What’s more, the A&M kicker missed a 38-yard game-winning field goal attempt with eight seconds left in the game.

It took two overtimes before Dobbs threw an interception (Tennessee’s seventh turnover of the game) that ended Tennessee’s magical journey through the first six weeks of the season.

Notes:

  • Tennessee’s Alvin Kamara rushed for 127 yards and caught eight passes for 161 more. That was huge for Tennessee as it was missing top rusher Jalen Hurd.
  • Dobbs threw two interceptions this week. He leads the SEC in interceptions this season.
  • Knight rushed for over 100 yards for the second time this season.  He’s currently one of the top-10 rushers in the SEC. The last SEC quarterback to finish as a top-10 rusher was Dak Prescott in 2014.

A Shootout, Indeed

Rivalry games are fun. Especially the Red River Shootout, which takes place every year in the midst of the Texas State Fair.

This particular Shootout had massive implications.  Whispers regarding the future of both head coaches, Charlie Strong for Texas and Bob Stoops at Oklahoma, could be heard throughout many circles during the last few weeks.

The result all but guarantees Strong’s departure at the end of the season, as Oklahoma held on for a 45-40 victory at the Cotton Bowl.  However, we can save the coaching discussion for another time.

The story of the game was Oklahoma wide receiver Dede Westbrook. Before yesterday, Texas hadn’t given up 100 yards to a single receiver all season, despite giving up the third-most passing yards per game in the Big 12. Westbrook ended the night with 10 catches for 232 yards and three touchdowns in one of the best receiving performances in college football this season.

Notes:

  • Oklahoma’s Samaje Perine had quite a day, racking up 214 yards and two touchdowns on the ground for the Sooners. 232 yards is the third-highest total of Perine’s career and the most since the famous Kansas game in 2014.
  • It’s not likely that Oklahoma makes the College Football Playoff, but the Sooners should still be the favorite to win the Big 12 championship.  All eyes will be on the Baylor game on November 12.

Hurricane Jimbo

Jimbo Fisher has never lost to Miami as the head coach of the Florida State Seminoles. Last night may have been the closest and lowest scoring game they’ve played against each other in ten years, but thanks to DeMarcus Walker’s blocked extra point with 1:38 left, the Seminoles notched their seventh win in a row over their in-state rival, 20-19.

Notes:

  • Deondre Francois looked terrific. The true freshman passed for 234 yards and two touchdowns. Francois has been solid all season, passing for nine touchdowns and only two interceptions so far.
  • Heisman hopeful Dalvin Cook moved his consecutive 100-yard game streak to three. Cook rushed for 150 yards but no touchdowns.
  • There are only three weeks until Florida State hosts Clemson.  Florida State is really the only tough matchup left on Clemson’s schedule before the ACC Championship game.

 

Quick Notes:

-Houston will not make the Playoff after losing to Navy 46-40. I’d also be surprised if it beats Louisville.

-Stanford is not a top-25 team.

-As a former offensive lineman, this play makes me happy. Watch how fast that guy is.

-Ohio State is the best team in the country.

-Washington is really, really good.

-In case you missed it, Rutgers only amassed 39 total yards of offense against Michigan.

E-mail Evan at evan [dot] skilliter [at] campuspressbox [dot] com or follow him on Twitter @skilliter.

Photo: StuSeeger, Flickr

Win Over Sooners a Small Piece of the Bigger Picture for Ohio State

As great as the dismantling of Oklahoma in Norman was for the Buckeyes’ psyche, the win was just a small step towards a bigger goal for Ohio State.

Urban Meyer has had  an amazing run so far in his four-plus years as head coach in Columbus. Yet, the three-time national champion has just one Big Ten Championship.

The Buckeyes were banned from postseason play in Meyer’s first year, but still, Ohio State has allowed gritty Michigan State teams to win the Big Ten two out of the last three seasons, while having arguably a much better roster.

Yes, it was great to see Ohio State flex its muscles against a top-15 opponent on the road, but let’s not get ahead of ourselves here. The college football season is a marathon, not a sprint.

At the end of the day, it was a good win against a non-conference opponent. Win or loss, it may not have had much effect on the Buckeyes’ playoff chances. That is, if they handle their business during conference play.

Against the Sooners, Ohio State wreaked of a team that had all the pieces to win the College Football Playoff this season.

The offense was clicking. J.T. Barrett did what J.T. Barrett does, getting the ball in the hands of his playmakers with a chance to make a play. On Saturday, plenty of plays were made.

Barrett finished the game 14-20 with 152 yards and four touchdowns through the air, adding 74 yards on the ground.

The real story of the game for the Ohio State offense was Noah Brown, who hauled in each of the four Barrett touchdown passes, one being the catch of the season so far, which I couldn’t go on without showing.

Brown has established himself in the Ohio State offense as a true possession receiver and red zone threat, a much needed aspect of a potent Buckeye attack. Brown currently leads the FBS with five receiving touchdowns through three contests.

Letting the world know he’s no one trick pony, Brown displayed his route-running ability against the Sooners top cover corner, Jordan Thomas, for another Ohio State touchdown.

With the emergence of Brown, to go along with the game-breaking playmaking ability of Curtis Samuel, the Buckeye offense seems to be in good hands at the skill positions.

Samuel continued to show he is one of the most explosive players in the country, flashing his speed on a crucial fourth and one early on in Saturday’s matchup.

Samuel finished with 98 rushing yards and the touchdown shown above, on just 11 carries against the Sooners.

Redshirt freshman running back Mike Weber has also played well, rushing for 123 yards on 18 carries. Weber has tallied 351 yards in his first three games, good for first in the Big Ten.

Weber has yet to receive 20 carries in a game so far this season, and with a heavier workload will come even better production. Weber, (who is averaging 6.5 yards per carry) will surely become a more focal part of the offense as the season wears on and the weather gets cold.

Defense

As for the Ohio State defense, the “Silver Bullets” looked like one of the better defenses the country has to offer. The biggest thing that jumped out on Saturday was the speed of the Ohio State defense.

Safety Malik Hooker and cornerback Marshon Lattimore, (who are tied for the nation-lead in interceptions, with three) both played great games, and the coverage against the Sooners was spectacular.

Along the defensive line, the Buckeyes have four defensive ends that could start for most other schools in the country. When Baker Mayfield made mistakes, he did it under pressure from the Ohio State defensive line.

The combination of  Tyquan Lewis, Sam Hubbard, Jayln Holmes, and Nick Bosa provides a rotation at defensive end that keeps players fresh to rush the passer, while the secondary does their part in the back end.

Raekwon McMillan is one the nation’s best middle linebackers, and it showed as he helped stop the Oklahoma rushing attack led by two great backs in Samaje Perine and Joe Mixson.

The insertion of Jerome Baker at the outside linebacker position, in place of the injured Dante Booker, in my opinion, takes the Buckeye defense to the next level.

Baker is extremely fast and athletic, as seen from 68-yard interception returned for a touchdown in the first half. Baker got his opportunity due to the Booker injury, and flashed as one of the best players on the field finishing with seven tackles, 1.5 sacks and the one interception.

Look for Baker to earn the starting spot for good and to be out there making plays for the Ohio State defense for weeks to come.

The Ohio State defense seems to have all the pieces in place to be dominant. That will help them reach the College Football Playoff.

As good as the Buckeyes looked, I’m still not sold they are going to run roughshod through a Big Ten conference that boasts four teams in the top 12 of the AP poll. The Buckeyes face three of those teams in Wisconsin, Michigan State, and Michigan, with two of those contests on the road.

Yes, the win against Oklahoma should make you feel good about this young Buckeye team, but the Buckeyes very well could have lost at Oklahoma and still made the playoff.

The win gave us confidence about what we can expect down the line from this team as they continue to grow and gain experience. So far, the Buckeyes look like one of the four best teams in the country. The Ohio State season will come down to crucial games during conference play.

 

E-mail Derek at [email protected], and follow him on Twitter @D_Woods21.

Photo: Flickr

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Less Star Power Means More for Ohio State Offense

The 2015 version of the Ohio State Buckeyes could very well have been one of the most talented rosters ever assembled in Columbus. Fitting all those talented pieces together on one field is the hard part.

With NFL draft picks Ezekiel Elliott, Mike Thomas, and Braxton Miller on one offense, you could see there could be a problem with just one football to go around.

What worked so well for the Ohio State offense in the team’s first game of the season against Bowling Green is exactly what derailed last year’s squad. The Buckeyes would force feed touches to its stars at all cost, specifically Elliott. As good an idea as it seemed at the time, this may have been what caused the Buckeye offense to become so stagnant and predictable.

Albeit against an overmatched Bowling Green squad, the Ohio State offense amassed video game numbers in its first contest of the season.

Ohio State had one of its best offensive performances of the Urban Meyer era, putting up 77 points and a school record 776 yards of total offense. No matter who the opponent is, those numbers are ridiculous and is an indicator this Ohio State team can replace some of its losses.

On the Ground

One of the biggest questions coming into this season is how the Buckeyes would replace the 1,800 rushing yards Ezekiel Elliott took with him to the NFL.

Redshirt freshman running back Mike Weber got the first crack at replacing Elliott in the Ohio State backfield, and the first-time starter impressed. Weber ran for 136 yards on 19 carries in his first career start in Ohio Stadium.

Junior H-back, (and probably  the Buckeyes most talented offensive player) Curtis Samuel also chipped in with the running game adding 84 yards on the ground as well.

The best thing about how Weber looked on Saturday, the young back definitely wasn’t afraid of the moment, running with authority on each and every carry.

With the looks of Weber in his first career start, to go along with the dynamic big play ability of Samuel, the Buckeye running game should be just fine this season.

Through the Air

For the Ohio State offense, or any offense to succeed however, there must be consistent effective play from the quarterback. The problem last season was that Ohio state never got that consistency.

The combination of J.T. Barrett and Cardale Jones never gained the traction everyone thought would undoubtedly come with the talent on last year’s Ohio State roster.

Part of those struggles in the passing game may have come from trying to force feed the ball to its playmakers. The Ohio State quarterbacks looked to be trying to get certain players the ball in certain spots instead of taking what the defense gave them.

In J.T. Barrett’s first season as a starter, spreading the ball around to different receivers is what made him the Big Ten quarterback of the year. Against the Falcons, Barrett went back to spreading the wealth.

Barrett completed touchdown passes to four different receivers in just the first half and threw for 6 touchdown passes overall.

With new starters at every position within the receiving core, Barrett can focus on reading the defense and not trying to make sure one of his stars is getting the ball.

Barrett had a historic day on Saturday, and a lot of that can be attributed to the way he led the offense, distributing the ball to near perfection.

As crazy as it may sound, less star power will lead to a better offense for the 2016 Ohio State Buckeyes.

Email Derek at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter @D_Woods21.

Photo: Flickr

What the Loss of Bri’onte Dunn means for Ohio State

With less than two months until the start of a new college football season, the Ohio State Buckeyes will enter yet another season with a loss before they even play a snap.

Two summers ago, it was the Braxton Miller shoulder injury during preseason camp. It was Urban Meyer’s worse nightmare, the injury would end Miller’s season and thrust an inexperienced J.T. Barrett into a prominent role as quarterback at Ohio State.

Last offseason, the Buckeyes also entered the season shorthanded, this time however due to self inflicted wounds.

The Buckeyes entered the season without Joey Bosa, Jalin Marshall, Corey Smith, and Dontre Wilson for what the team called “violating athletic department policy.”

Reasons on why the players were actually suspended began to surface soon thereafter.

As the Buckeyes close in on preseason camp for the 2016-17 season, more bad news came on Monday as it was announced that redshirt senior running back Bri’onte Dunn had been dismissed from the team for a violation of team rules.

Dunn, who was about to play his last season as a Buckeye was a four-star recruit (according to 247sports.com) out of Glen Oak high school in Canton, Ohio.

After sitting behind Carlos Hyde and Ezekiel Elliott for his entire career at Ohio State, Dunn finally had an opportunity to fight for the starting job.

But with this latest development, Dunn’s chances of riding out in the sunset in his last year in Columbus came to an end.

A 911 call from an alleged girlfriend of Dunn stated that the former Ohio State football player had choked and hit her.

With Dunn essentially ending his career early, that leaves just a few options for Urban Meyer’s squad.

Without Dunn in the fold, the Buckeyes are down to just two scholarship running backs in redshirt sophomore Michael Weber, and true freshman Antonio Williams who enrolled early in January.

Weber, is a Detroit native who Urban Meyer fought tooth and nail with Jim Harbaugh and Michigan to earn his commitment.

Weber has the talent to the take the starting job and run with it in his second season in Columbus, but after sitting out last season due to injury it remains to be seen just how good Weber can truly be.

What Weber does have as far as talent, he lacks in experience. This is where the loss of Dunn really hurts the Buckeyes. Although he didn’t have much actual game experience, having a player who’s been through it all with the program could certainly help.

Ohio State went through a similar transition at running back two years ago after losing Carlos Hyde to the NFL.

Little did we know back then just how good his successor, Ezekiel Elliott would end up being.

However, Elliott didn’t start strong out of the gates during his first season as the starter as a true sophomore.

During the first three games of that 2014 season, Elliott posted rushing totals of just 44, 32, and 65 yards rushing against Navy, Virginia Tech, and Kent State respectively.

As well as Zeke would go on to play the rest of that national championship season, it didn’t necessarily start that way.

Here lies the dilemma for this season’s Ohio State squad, will Weber be ready to be that feature back from the start, or will he need time to get his feet wet?

Weber won’t be afforded much time to adjust to the college game as the Buckeyes travel to Oklahoma to face Bob Stoops and a very good Sooners squad the third game of the season.

True Freshman Antonio Williams has a bright future at Ohio State, and will battle Weber for carries. But they can’t expect him to grab the starting job and run with it as a first year player.

Junior h-back Curtis Samuel just may be the most intriguing option for Ohio State at running back this season.

Samuel played his first season primarily at running back, rushing for 383 yards and six touchdowns. He spent much of last season splitting time at the h-back position with the aforementioned Braxton Miller.

Samuals made plays when they were there for him, but there weren’t many opportunities to go around with the number of playmakers on last year’s offense.

Samuel has blazing speed, one of the fastest players on the Ohio State roster. Urban Meyer has stressed getting the ball in the hands of his playmaking junior and the loss of Dunn gives him even more opportunity to do so.

Although Samuel stresses that he will do what’s best for the team when it comes playing either receiver or running back, he seems much more comfortable in the backfield and given the opportunity is a candidate for a breakout season.

Losing members of your team is never ideal, whether it be to injury or other. However, it’s next man up for Urban Meyer and company, and the past few seasons have prepared them for this exact moment.

E-Mail Derek at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter @D_Woods21.

For Meyer and Harbaugh, Every Move on Recruiting Trial is Highly Scrutinized


When talking about Urban Meyer and Jim Harbaugh, much is said about the blood, sweat, and tears shed on the recruiting trail in order to bring home some of the best talent in the country.

Most times, recruiting usually comes with good results and positive vibes for the two college football giants.

Other times, it can be a complete headache explaining why they chose to make the decisions they made while recruiting. Honestly the answer should be pretty simple, they believe that everything they do as far as recruiting is in the best interest of their football program.

What’s in the best interest of the program however isn’t always accepted with open arms from people looking from the outside in.

For example, earlier this year Jim Harbaugh was criticized for a player decommitting after Harbaugh informed him he no longer had a spot in the class.

For the average fan, this may seem like a huge deal. For fans who follow recruiting, this has become common place to see from high level coaches engaged in high level recruiting.

If a coach has the opportunity to get a better player than the one who has been committed, they will most times take it. Just as the recruit has the ability to change their mind and go with another school, coaches have the right as well to go change their mind and go after a different player. Recruiting is a tough business for coaches and players, but those are the facts in this scenario.

Harbaugh isn’t the only Big Ten coach dealing with some media heat do to happenings on the recruiting trail.

Also earlier this year, Meyer was accused by four-star recruit Landon Young of treating him badly during a personal meeting. The kid basically accused Meyer of telling him he wasn’t good enough.

To me, it seems as if the player just had his feelings hurt after being told the truth about how Meyer felt about him. He was quoted as saying he was “treated like a piece of meat.”

With all the players a coach comes in contact with, there will obviously be those players who don’t care for certain coaches. It comes with the territory while recruiting.

It is better for a coach to be brutally honest about why he has yet to offer a player, than to offer them and later have to tell them there is no longer room.

The point here is it isn’t all peaches and cream when it comes to recruiting. As good as these two coaches have been at it, these are still kids they are dealing with and things like this can happen.

Although Meyer and Harbaugh are heated rivals on the field, they could both agree that when it comes to recruiting, anything can happen. Both positive things as well as negative.

Last season according to the ESPN.com recruiting rankings, Ohio State and Michigan both finished with top ten classes in the nation.

They are also both ranked in the top ten in 2017’s early class rankings with Ohio State currently hanging on to the number one class in the nation.

There are occasional bad things that come along with recruiting but 99 percent of the time things are going well for two of the best coaches in all of college football when it comes to recruiting premiere talent.

That won’t change, no matter what happens in the wild world of  college recruiting.

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Ohio State Football: Takeaways from 2016 Spring Game

Over 100,000 fans packed the Horseshoe last Saturday, (April 16) for the 2016 Ohio State spring football game and I happened to be on hand to take it all in.

Besides the fact that Urban Meyer got what he asked for getting 100k people to attend a spring game, there were a few interesting things to take away from Saturday’s  game.

This year’s Ohio State team will enter the season with a number of question marks. So many new faces with little to no experience playing in meaningful action.

Well, the good thing about attracting 100,000 fans to a spring game is you can actually see who will perform when the lights come on.

The spring game gave us a glimpse of what we can expect from the number of unknown talent of the Buckeye roster.

With the number of starters from last year’s team set to be taken in next week’s NFL Draft, you would think there would be not much talent left for Ohio State to even think of competing in the Big Ten next season.

But that’s why the Urban Meyer’s and Jim Harbaugh’s of the world recruit with the relentlessness that they do. When you recruit well year after year those recruits, if coached up well enough, will become stars in their own right given their newfound opportunity.

A few players stood out to me on Saturday, some that I expected, and others that were a bit of surprise. Regardless, it was good to see some of the projected new playmakers for Ohio State performing on a bigger stage.

Torrance Gibson, a redshirt freshman who was one of the most highly recruited players in the country out of high school had a tremendous game, scoring two touchdowns for the gray team, including this one.

I was really impressed with the body control Gibson showed when going up to get the ball. I’ve been saying this for a while now, but look out for Torrance Gibson to be one of the next stars at Ohio State.

There is much talk about the running back position as well, with one of the schools all-time greats in Ezekiel Elliott headed to the NFL.

For the limited carries he received, redshirt freshman running back Mike Weber also impressed. He rushed for two short touchdowns showing good vision and a tough running style.

Weber is battling with Senior Bri’onte Dunn for the starting spot. But with Dunn not participating in the spring game due to injury, Weber and true freshman Antonio Williams received a bulk of the work.

Although J.T. Barrett is the clear-cut starter, redshirt freshman quarterback Joe Burrow had a very good game hitting on a few deep throws and tossing three touchdown passes.

Burrow showed enough promise to believe he  the future starting quarterback for the Buckeyes.

On defense, Malik Hooker was a name that really stood out. Hooker tallied two interceptions returning one all the way back for a touchdown.

All in all, some of the new faces expected to step up next season showed they had some ability.

Whether the team can put it all together by the September 3 opening against Bowling Green State remains to be seen.

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