Archives for November 2012

Looking Back: The 2012 Senior Class

The 2012 football team will be most remembered by their perfect record, Urban Meyer’s first season and the postseason ban. The perfect season shows how much this team bought into Meyer and his system from day one and it shows the leadership from the 21 seniors who have had three different head coaches in three seasons. These group of seniors went from a 12-1 2010 season that included a Sugar Bowl victory to losing their father figure head coach Jim Tressel and their starting quarterback Terrell Pryor who was supposed to lead them to another BCS berth in 2011. They had the look of a preseason top 3 team before the sanctions, suspensions and dismissals hit Columbus but instead, they were left in shambles.

The man that guided the Buckeyes to a National Championship in 2002, an 8-1 record versus Michigan, six Big Ten titles, 7 BCS bowl games and most importantly the father-type relationship that he had with his players, was gone in the blink of an eye. Terrell Pryor, probably the most heralded recruit to ever land in Columbus, who led his team to back to back BCS bowl wins and was one of the Heisman front-runners for 2011 was also gone. The other two stars on an offense that was just starting to really live up to its full potential, Dan Herron and DeVier Posey were suspended and before the 2011 season even started, it was essentially over.

When the sanctions hit, any of these seniors could easily packed their bags to go to a program that had a chance at a BCS National Championship and no one would have blamed them. Instead, they bought into the new coaching staff right away and wanted to leave their mark as seniors. Most probably dreamed of putting on the scarlet and gray from a young age and playing for a National Championship, especially after capturing a Rose Bowl victory as freshmen and a Sugar Bowl victory as sophomores. But their quest for a BCS National Championship was taken away from them in 2011 and they wanted to make their mark as a senior class in 2012.

No, this 2012 class will not be remembered nationally like the 2002 class that went to Tempe, Arizona and upset the University of Miami but in Columbus they will always be remembered for what they gave to this program. With a new coaching staff, new offense and coming off of a disappointing 6-7 season, no one really knew what to expect coming into this year. They answered by going 12-0 and achieving a perfect season for only the sixth time in program history.

We all know Meyer’s love for John Simon, the B1G Defensive Player of the Year, saying that he would go as far as to name a future son after him if he were to have another. Then there is a player like Zach Boren who was known as a bruising fullback in the past until his playing time diminished under Meyer’s spread offense. When the injury bug hit the linebacking corps, Boren stepped over to the other side of the ball and excelled, he led the team in tackles with 9 in his final game versus Michigan. This graduating class is not full of NFL stars like the past but it was full of players who committed to the program and that is what really matters.

When B1G Championships, BCS Bowl Appearances and  BCS National Championships start to pile up over the next couple of years, look back on the 2012 seniors as the stepping stone to future greatness. With next year’s schedule set up for another chance at perfection, look for the 2013 Buckeyes to extend this 12 game winning streak all the way to Pasadena, California for the 2014 Vizio BCS National Championship Game.

Thank you 2012 seniors.

 

#2 Duke Outlasts #4 Ohio State, Wins 73-68

Going into this, one of the marque match-ups of the B1G/ACC Challenge, I’m not sure we had any kind of idea what kind of team Head Coach Thad Matta is fielding this year at Ohio State.

But in true Matta fashion, they came out strong against Duke, taking the fight and physicality to them in the first half and played a solid game overall.

It was definitely a tale of two halves. The first half saw some solid defense all around from the Buckeyes, with Craft obviously leading the way but with both Shannon Scott and Lenzelle Smith, Jr. playing great defense. The Buckeyes dominated the boards in the first half, pulling down as many rebounds (20) as Duke had shot attempts. Half of Ohio State’s rebounds were of the offensive variety. Ohio State looked the better team and looked to be in control. Things looked promising for Ohio State, maintaining the lead without leading scorer Deshaun Thomas sitting on the bench for an extended period of time.

But, of course, it was all because Duke was playing their fourth game of the week, and they were le tired.

Duke came out in the second half and made numerous mini-runs, getting inspired played from Mason Plumlee and Rashard Salami-man. Ohio State weathered them all and maintained a lead deep into the second half.

Deshaun Thomas came out demanding the ball and made some MAN-sized jumpshots. But ultimately, it wasn’t enough. Duke’s defense picked up and Ryan Kelly’s barrage of threes really distanced Duke in second-half.

Even with the loss, there are a lot of things to be happy about this game. Cameron Indoor Stadium is not an easy place to play in. (The advantages for Duke extend beyond the raucous crowd, getting more than their fair share of calls from referees). They played extended minutes without their best scorer, Thomas and Ohio State proved it can hang with a top five team. This could be a potential future match-up in March and we Buckeye fans should have an exciting season to look forward too.

The Spread, Week Fourteen: Squeeze Play

EXPANSION IS BACK!

Remember when there was football season and then the off-season? And then there was football season and conference expansion season? Now there’s just constant expansion all the time, regardless of whether or not there are incredibly important games being played.

Maryland and Rutgers joined the Big Ten last week, but I had some crucial HATING to do at the time. Before I could even welcome them, the ACC added Louisville, the Big East added Tulane and East Carolina and Conference USA added some teams dear GOD MAKE IT STOP!!!!!

Expansion used to fun, that’s what I’m saying. Although, maybe “expansion” is the wrong word for it. Sure, the conferences we care about are expanding, but what’s really going in is consolidation. Take a look at the Big East lineup back in 1998, the first season of the BCS era:

Syracuse
Miami
Virginia Tech
West Virginia
Boston College
Rutgers
Temple
Pittsburgh

With the exception of Temple, who was booted from the conference in 2004 before returning this season, all of those teams will be in one of the other five so-called BCS conferences in the next few years. What’s really happening is consolidation, and maybe it stops with five conferences. The Big Ten, Pac-12 and SEC are as solid as a conference can be right now. The Big 12 has a 13-year Grant of Rights shackling its teams together, and the ACC is prepping to aggressively defend its $50M exit fee as Maryland bolts.

But if the ACC loses, Florida State (the other school that voted against the exit fee) may get out before the conference becomes the New Big East (In 1998 terms, the 2014 lineup will be 57% ACC, 36% Big East and 7% Conference USA). And who knows what happens from there? The Big Ten may be interested in AAU buddies like Georgia Tech, Virginia and Jim Delany’s alma mater UNC. The SEC might like Virginia Tech and NC State to expand its footprint. And if geography goes completely out the window (and why wouldn’t it?), then four 16-team conferences are just the right size to hold the 1998 “BCS” teams (with a little room left for newbies like TCU and Boise State, or if Notre Dame is done with that independence nonsense).

CHAMPIONSHIP GAMES!

Big East of Burden: The ACC’s Louisville and the Big Ten’s Rutgers play in the kind-of Big East championship game, although I don’t really understand or care to understand the logistics of who will win the Big East under various scenarios. Thursday, 7:30pm.

The Last MACtion Hero: Kent State takes on Northern Illinois in a game between two of the MAC’s best offenses and best defenses. GIVE US OUR POINTS!!! Friday, 7:00pm.

Isn’t This Where We Came In?: UCLA at Stanford will play for the second time in six days because I guess this is baseball or something. Friday, 8:00pm.

Why You Gotta Go and Make Things So Complicated?: There is no Big 12 title game, but Texas at Kansas State and Oklahoma at TCU will serve as the deciding contests for the conference’s BCS bid. Saturday, Noon (OU/TCU) and 8:00pm (UT/KSU).

Automatic for the People: For a while, it looked like the SEC champion might actually not make the BCS title game. “Suckers” – Fate. Alabama and Georgia will face off for a shot at Notre Dame, guaranteeing that 85% of Americans will hate everyone involved in the championship game. Saturday, 4:00pm.

You Wreck Me: Georgia Tech is 6-6 and playing Florida State for a BCS spot and it has nothing to do with sanctions. This conference is so stupid. Saturday, 8:00pm.

I Don’t Belong Here… ‘Cuz I’m A Creep: Brett Bielema’s Wisconsin Badgers beat only the worst teams in a not-that-good Big Ten and lost to both of the ineligible Leaders teams. Nevertheless, Nebraska only beat them by 3 the first time, so it might be a good game. And by “good” I mean “televised.” Saturday, 8:00pm.

B1G Power Rankings: Final Edition

In what was a relatively down year for the B1G Conference, I see the conference breaking down into a few interchangeable parts. Without a doubt, Ohio State and Nebraska were the two best teams in the conference. Spots 3-7 could beat each other any given week and their rankings were dictated by only a few marquee plays. Neither of those teams (ranked 3-7) had a win over Ohio State or Nebraska and that hurt them. Spots 8-11 were the bottom feeders, they played up to their opponents a few times (Purdue, Indiana) but for the most part, they did not upset any teams above them. This left Illinois, the clear cut worst team in the conference at the bottom of the pack.

1. Ohio State– Urban Meyer put the rest of the B1G on notice after running the table and capturing the Leaders Division title in a year that was seen as a warm up for the future.

2. Nebraska– The ‘Huskers squeaked past Iowa but will represent the Legends Division in the B1G Championship Game.

3. Michigan– The Denard Robinson era is finally over and Michigan showed why two quarterbacks equals no quarterbacks in the second half of The Game.

4. Northwestern– The Wildcats destroyed Illinois in their final game of the season and hope that their 9-3 record gives them an invitation to  a respectable bowl game.

5. Penn State– Bill O’Brien led the Nittany Lions to a respectable 8-4 season but who knows what the future will hold for the Penn State football team.

6. Wisconsin– Congratulations to the Wisconsin Badgers for a third place finish in the Leaders Division and a berth in the B1G Championship Game!

7. Michigan State– Disappointing season for the Spartans as they finish the year at .500. The offense has to improve next year for any chance of contending for a B1G Title.

8. Purdue– The Boilermakers outscored their in-state rival to become bowl eligible for the second straight year.

9. Minnesota– The Gophers will also be bowling, not sure if this is a good or bad thing for the conference.

10. Indiana– Indiana can build on a relatively competitive season as they showed that they could score with the best of them. A defensive improvement will be key to their success next year.

11. Iowa– Will be interesting to see how Kirk Ferentz bounces back after a real tough year.

12. Illinois– The Illini finish the season on a 9 game losing streak and can only hope for any type of improvement next season.

Agree or disagree with my assessment of the conference?

Greatest preseason ever

Before the 2012 season started I had several discussions with the man who runs this website. As is the case with our discussions no matter what we are discussing one of us always takes the “Devils Advocate” side of view. It may sound strange but it truly does help both of us both to understand our own points of view even better. Though sometimes one of us will take things to far and upset the other it is all good because we are always better off after the conversation then we were before we had it. Here is the jist of our conversation….

I came to the conclusion as soon as the bowl ban was placed that the news wasn’t horrible and in many ways was justified and would be helpful for OSU. I mean it wasn’t as if OSU was innocent or the NCAA didn’t have loads of proof for the crimes committed. But most importantly we have all heard the old wives tale that a coaches 2nd year in a program is always their best. I mean Tressel won a NC in his 2nd year as did Urban. I took the position that this 2012 year would be a growing year in a new offense and with a new staff. I also though said OSU would go 12-0 to the scoffs of many. I could see the schedule ahead of us and knew the kind of talent we had and that the B1G would be down this year with top teams replacing top QBs. In my opinion I felt like OSU should treat every game as if it was a preseason scrimmage and try and get as much playing time as possible for the guys who would return in 2013. Mix that in with the SRs who returned under such tough circumstances I thought we could have something special. Its not like I KNEW all these things could happen and was certain of my position but I felt good about it.

All year long we have heard the haters and naysayers. They would say things like OSU is ineligible and shouldn’t be allowed to be ranked or that the B1G is weak and therefore OSU is weak. Every week they would predict OSU would lose and then when they didn’t would find fault and things to complain about OSU as if every year the top 5 teams are perfect in every way and that’s why they are ranked so high every year.

This team is just that a team. I have very rarely seen offensive and defensive players supporting each other when outsiders are attacking their comrades in arms. This team wasn’t built by pre-madonna stars. They were a bunch of guys put together under tough circumstances and they played hard for their coaches and their teammates and their fans. They should be glorified and not vilified. But in todays day and age in CFB if you don’t fit societies picture of a great team then you aren’t great. So the haters are still hating. The Naysayers are still naysaying.

To the AP voters who I had one time hoped would treat this years OSU team as it should be champions who have instead proven to be hacks and writers with an agenda. SCREW YOU

To the talking heads who continue to talk smack about this 12-0 OSU team. SCREW YOU

To the award voters who wont honor the players who had amazing seasons because they are on probation. SCREW YOU

To the writers who write negative stories still about a team that went 12-0. SCREW YOU

To those B1G writers and coaches who most likely wont honor the team that dominated the entire league. SCREW YOU

Finally to those who don’t vote OSU top 3 teams next year pre-season. SCREW YOU

I wish I could say I could care less about what people think about OSU and its coaches and its players but I cant. I wish it didn’t bother me that some AP voters are still ranking OSU outside the top 10 teams in the country but it does. I wish that it didn’t bother me that Heisman voters never really gave Braxton the credit he deserves. I am bitter and angry but not at OSU for not banning themselves from a bowl game last year it was a calculated decision that I don’t fully understand. I am angry because the AP says being ineligible doesn’t matter to them but their voters sure aren’t acting that way.

This year is over for OSU and it is clear they won’t get an AP title and that Braxton will be lucky just to be invited to NYC for the Heisman trophy ceremony. The team had an amazing year going 12-0 and beat TTUN and that is wonderful. They took full advantage of what I considered a 12 game pre-season. The build up for what this team can do next year is within its grasp. The coaches are on the road recruiting for 2013 and 2014 while other coaches are preparing for an unimportant Bowl Game. The players will be able to relax for a bit and enjoy the season they had before getting right back to work on what is sure to be a special year for them and OSU. So while this was the greatest pre-season ever in CFB history it is the stepping stone to a possible 14-0 season where OSU wins a B1G CCG title and a NCG title. That sounds pretty awesome to me.

Blogpoll – Week 12

Homerism finally reached OSU is no. 1. 12-0 and beating TTUN is pretty dang awesome and regardless of what the “experts” believe this team did what no one else other then Notre Dame has done so far won every game they played.

Notre Dame will have their chance to win the title in January against either Bama or Georgia most likely but until then OSU is my no. 1 team in the land.

Ohio State Dominates Michigan in the Second Half, Goes 12-0

We’ll obviously have a lot more to say about this game, but after suffering a handful of mental breakdowns in the first half, the Buckeyes come out in the second half and completely dominate Michigan, shutting them out for the final 30 minutes.

The Buckeyes finish the season, undefeated, 12-0.

Michigan Open Thread

We’re doing something we haven’t done in a while here at Men of the Scarlet and Gray — an open thread during an Ohio State sporting event. But we thought that the magnitude of this game required that we have a place to post thoughts during the game. If you’re still interested in joining others in the live in-game chats, the Buckeye Battle Cry should have one posted shortly.

Before the game, here are a few links to get your lathered up for a great game. You can read a variety of game previews, including ours, 11W’s, and OHD’s. There has been rumors swirling since last night that John Simon may not be available for today’s game against Michigan (he’ll be a game-time decision). That’s pretty much the worst news ever but the depth at defensive line will just have to step up their games.

Update: Possible reason for Simon’s absence?:

Pretty much anything goes in the open thread but we ask that you keep it civil, clean (no excessive vulgarity) and no links to inappropriate/illegal stuffs. You know the drill. Let’s all be cool, we’re all Buckeyes around here. (Please note that management reserves the right to delete and ban any comments/commenters that can’t behave with extreme prejudice.)

Update: End of the first quarter: OSU 10 UM 7

Update: After serious mental breakdowns and poor tackling, Ohio State trails Michigan by one point at the half: OSU 20 UM 21

Memories…

Preview: Michigan

I have really struggled writing this preview. This season has been strange for me (and possibly other Ohio State fans. I don’t want to speak for anyone other than myself, but it’s been weird). The lack of any post season goals to play for has made this whole season feel like a giant preseason scrimmage except there is no “season” to get ready for. A twelve game Spring Game and no games scheduled for the fall.

We’ve been doing this “thing” (blog) for seven seasons. We have only witnessed Ohio State lose once. There has only really been one other “competitive” game (2006). The Buckeyes have more or less dominated the series during that time. But this year, even if Ohio State is favored and is playing for its first perfect season in ten years, it feels weird.

I imagine this has also been a surreal, if not equally weird, season for Michigan fans. They had high hopes for a Denard Robinson Heisman run, a successful Big Ten season and a great send-off for their seniors. Instead, they got beat soundly by Alabama, lost to a Notre Dame team that had previously enjoyed a lot of success against and then watched their favorite son, Denard, go down with an injury against Nebraska that effectively cut his senior season as the Wolverine quarterback short.

At the same time, both teams are looking forward to a long stretch of success. Hoke, as much as he is hated around these parts, has been putting together solid recruiting classes and putting a decent product on the field. And we know around these parts that the sky’s the limit for Urban Meyer, Braxton Miller and the teams Urban is going to put together.

It still feels weird.

So maybe this is Ohio State’s “Bowl Game”. Maybe this is the legacy Urban’s first team will establish for an extended period of time. And maybe, and most likely, this is just going to be another entry in the most storied college football rivalry, “The Game.”

When Ohio State has the ball.

When I put together the By The Numbers post, I was surprised to see that Michigan is fielding the #1 pass defense in the country. It’s an impressive stat, I’ll give them that. But, if we dig a little deeper, we see that the best passing attack Michigan has faced is Purdue, which is, of course, still Purdue. Purdue’s passing attack is averaging 228 yards per game, for a national ranking of 68th.

But let’s not take that accomplishment away from them. Greg Mattison has put together a defense that was laughable just three years earlier. Throw in the fact that Mattison and Meyer coached together at Florida and you can assume that Mr. Mattison is going to know what his old boss has up his sleeves.

This will be the first game for some of these up and coming “stars” like Jake Ryan in the Horseshoe. It has the potential to overwhelm them and should play to Ohio State’s favor, especially if they come out swinging and score on Michigan first.

Wisconsin gave the blueprint to stop Ohio State. Ross Fulton did a great (and frustrating) breakdown of the Ohio State offensive gameplan and how Wisconsin schemed to stop it, including bringing a safety in for run support and playing a loose cover-4 zone, daring Ohio State to throw the ball. Wisconsin was able to maintain containment and limit Braxton’s ability to get to the corner. If Michigan attempts a similar game plan, Braxton is going to need to improve his reads on option running plays and trust his teammates to carry the load.

Carrying the majority of that load will be Carlos Hyde, who is just 176 yards away from a thousand yards on the ground (which is impressive, considering he missed the better part of two games). Michigan’s front seven has struggled against teams with multiple running threats and Ohio State has all they can handle and more in Hyde, Rod Smith and of course Braxton Miller.

The passing game left a lot of opportunities on the field last week against Wisconsin and those kinds mental lapses need to be eliminated in order for Ohio State to be balanced and move the ball down the field.

The critical match-up here will be Michigan’s front seven keying on Braxton and controlling his ability to get free of their contain.

When Michigan has the ball.

With the injury to Denard, Al Borges’ schedule to institute his more “Pro Style” offense in the Michigan system was accelerated with the ascendance of Devin Gardner. Devin gives Michigan more of a drop-back pocket passer than they’ve had in the recent past. That’s not to say that Gardner is not athletic enough to tuck the ball and run, but he definitely appears more at ease in the pocket, throwing the ball downfield than anything else.

Michigan’s running backs have been less than stellar this year, and with the loss of Fitzgerald Toussaint, they are as thin as they have ever been. Thomas Rawls, Michigan’s untested running back will get touches, but with the uncertainity of Denard’s ability to line up under center will probably necessitate Robinson to play behind Gardner as the featured running back. Unfortunately for Ohio State, that creates all kinds of match-up and misdirection problems.

Michigan’s wide receivers are undersized but fast. Jeremy Gallon and Roy Roundtree are not the big, tall, lanky receivers that Michigan normally lines up against but they are shifty and able to get open and do well after the catch. The passing game has opened up considerably since the start of the Northwestern game when Gardner started after Robinson’s injury. Since then, these two have played well and will require Roby and Howard to play better than they did last week against Wisconsin. Gallon and Roundtree are no Jared Abrederis, which gave Howard all he could handle, but they will be key cogs of the Michigan offense.

The key match-up here is going to be the two-headed attack of Devin and Denard versus the front seven of Ohio State. Can they get pressure on Devin to fluster the new quarterback into making mistakes and containing Denard, rendering him useless between the tackles? Also, is there anyone on the Michigan offensive line that wants to go up against a hungry John Simon (the ORIGINAL Johnny-football) playing his final game as a Buckeye? I know I wouldn’t.

These games have been defensive struggles in the past but the near future looks like they could be more like shoot-outs. Can Ohio State put up points if that’s what this game becomes? I think they can:

Final Score:
OSU 35
UM 27

What say you?