Archives for November 2013

Buckeyes in the NFL: Week 12

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Baltimore Ravens
John Simon (LB) (2009-12)- Inactive in Baltimore’s week 12 victory over the New York Jets. The Jet’s offense struggled mightily throughout the game and never got anything going.

Cincinnati Bengals
Mike Nugent (K) (2001-04)- The Bengals were on a bye in week 12 and will continue play next week.

Dane Sanzenbacher (WR) (2007-10)- The Bengals were on a bye in week 12 and will continue play next week.

Houston Texans
Devier Posey (WR) (2008-11)- Recorded 1 reception for 5 yards in the Texan’s week 12 loss to the Jacksonville Jaguars. The Texans have now lost 9 in a row after starting the season 2-0.

Indianapolis Colts
Daniel “Boom” Herron (RB) (2008-09, 2011)- Recorded 4 rushes for 33 yards for the Colts in their loss to the Cardinals in week 12. Herron’s role continues to grow for the Colts as Trent Richardson continues to struggle to make a big impact.

Jacksonville Jaguars
Mike Brewster (C) (2008-11)- Started along the offensive line for the Jaguars in their week 12 victory over the Texans. Brewster even went out for a pass. You know things are going well when a guy like Brewster runs a flag route.

Denver Broncos
Justin Boren (G) (2009-10)- Didn’t record any statistics and is on injured reserve for the Broncos.

Miami Dolphins
Brian Hartline (WR) (2006-08)- Recorded 5 receptions for 78 yards in the Dolphins week 12 loss to the Carolina Panthers. Hartline was only targeted 5 times which makes his stat line that much more impressive.

Austin Spitler (LB) (2006-09)- Didn’t record any statistics but played in nearly half of all special teams plays. Spitler didn’t see the field on defense in week 12.

New England Patriots
Nate Ebner (DB) (2008-11)- Recovered a fumble deep in Broncos territory in overtime to set up the game winning score. The Patriots beat the Broncos in week 12 to pull off the miraculous 24 point comeback.

New York Jets
Santonio Holmes (WR) (2003-05)- Recorded 1 reception for 12 yards in the Jet’s week 12 loss to the Baltimore Ravens. No one on the New York offense had a good statistical day. They couldn’t get anything going.

Nick Mangold (C) (2002-05)- Started at center for the New York Jets in their week 12 loss to the Ravens. The offensive line continues to struggle for New York. As an offense, they only gained 220 yards, scored no touchdowns and turned the ball over 3 times.

Oakland Raiders
Terrelle Pryor (QB) (2008-10)- Pryor didn’t record any statistics in the Raider’s week 12 loss to the Titans. Pryor didn’t start, not because of injury, but because the Raiders elected to go with Matt McGloin instead. It is unknown what this may mean for Pryor moving forward, but it is safe to say the Raiders are wavering on their commitment to Pryor.

Chimdi Chekwa (CB) (2007-10)- Recorded 2 total tackles for the Raiders in their week 12 loss to the Titans. Chekwa saw a bigger role due to injuries in the secondary. He had a solid showing and certainly didn’t hurt his claim to see more playing time.

Pittsburgh Steelers
Cameron Heyward (DE) (2007-10)- Recorded 2 total tackles, including 1 sack, and recovered a Brandon Weekend fumble in Pittsburgh’s week 12 victory over the Cleveland Browns. Heyward continues to come on strong and it is safe to say he is a vital cog in the Pittsburgh defense.

Mike Adams (OT) (2008-11)- Didn’t record any statistics but started at TE in two tight sets once again in week 12. He reported eligible as a receiver on 2 plays as well. I am predicting Adams will have a reception before the season is over.

Will Allen (SS) (2000-03)- Recorded 4 total tackles and recovered a fumble in Pittsburgh’s week 12 victory over the Cleveland Browns. Allen continues to play a big role in the Steeler’s resurgence of late. It’s definitely the Buckeye connection between him and defensive coordinator Dick LaBeau.

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Carolina Panthers
Ted Ginn Jr. (WR) (2004-2006)- Recorded 3 receptions for only 11 yards on 10 targets in the Panther’s week 12 victory over the Miami Dolphins. Ginn also had a 47 yard punt return and 17 yard kick return.

Ben Hartsock (TE) (1999-03)- Inactive for the Panthers in week 12.

Detroit Lions
Rob Sims (OL) (2002-05)- Started along the offensive line for the Lions in their week 12 loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Sims helped the Lions rush for 104 yards on 24 carries.

Green Bay Packers
A.J. Hawk (LB) (2002-05)- Recorded 11 tackles, 1 sack and forced a fumble in Green Bay’s overtime tie to the Minnesota Vikings. The Vikings had an early lead but the Packer defense buckled down as the game went on.

Ryan Pickett (DT) (1998-00)- Recorded 3 total tackles and played in nearly 75% of the defensive plays for the Packers in week 12. That is more than Pickett normally plays but they needed him because of the presence of Adrian Peterson.

Jake Stoneburner (TE/WR) (2009-12)- Didn’t record any statistics but played in nearly half of the special teams plays in week 12. While Stoneburner isn’t playing much, it is a good thing he is dressing and contributing on special teams as an undrafted rookie free agent.

New Orleans Saints
Malcolm Jenkins (CB) (2005-08)- Recorded 5 total tackles and broke up a pass in the Saint’s week 12 victory over the Atlanta Falcons. Jenkins appears to be healthy after missing a few games earlier in November.

Will Smith (DE) (2000-03)- Placed on injured reserve (IR) for the remainder of the year. Smith injured his ACL back in August.

New York Giants
Jim Cordle (C) (2007-09)- Left the week 12 game a third of the way in with a partially torn patellar tendon for the Giants. It remains to be seen whether or not Cordle will need surgery. The Giants offensive line had been coming together in recent weeks.

Johnathan Hankins (DT) (2010-12)- Didn’t record any statistics but played in a handful of snaps for the Giants in their week 12 loss to the Cowboys.

Philadelphia Eagles
Kurt Coleman (DB) (2006-09)- Coleman enjoyed a bye week before the Eagles return to play next week.

Washington Redskins
Doug Worthington (DE) (2007-09)- Has been placed on the IR (bicep) for the remainder of the year.

St. Louis Rams
James Laurinaitis (LB) (2005-09)- Recorded 7 total tackles and recovered a fumble recovery against the Bears in the Ram’s week 12 victory. The recovery eventually led to a St. Louis touchdown.

Jake McQuaide (LS) (2008-10)- The long snapper played in nearly a third of all special teams snaps in week 12.

San Francisco 49ers
Donte Whitner (DB) (2003-05)- Recorded 5 total tackles and intercepted a Robert Griffin III pass attempt. The 49ers dominated the game and beat the Redskins 27-6.

Alex Boone (G) (2005-08)- Played in every offensive snap for the 49ers in their week 12 victory over the Redskins. Boone also recorded a tackle on a Redskin fumble recovery.

Ann Arbor = Assistant’s Agony For Coach Meyer

For those who may have forgotten, Coach Urban Meyer will be making his first trip as Ohio State’s head coach to Ann Arbor, the city and location for That Team Up North. (I realize that everyone on Ohio State’s campus is forgoing the letter “M”, but I am not that creative. Please bear with me.) Coach Meyer also repeated in his press conference on 11/25/2013 how he recalled the infamous 1987 game, which served as former Ohio State head coach Earle Bruce’s last game with the Buckeyes. Ohio State defeated That Team Up North, 23-20.

Coach Meyer was a graduate assistant from 1986-1987 for Coach Bruce and Ohio State and suddenly without work, in the wake of Coach Bruce’s firing. Coach Meyer landed an assistant job at Illinois State from 1988-1989, reuniting with Coach Bruce at Colorado State in 1990. Coach Meyer served on the Colorado State staff from 1990-1995.

An opportunity to serve as Lou Holtz’s wide receivers coach at Notre Dame led Coach Meyer to South Bend in 1996. Fortunately for Coach Meyer, Bob Davie retained Coach Meyer on his Notre Dame staff when Davie was named Holtz’s successor at Notre Dame in 1997.

Unfortunately for Coach Meyer, return trips to Ann Arbor as a Notre Dame assistant coach were not pleasant experiences again. In 1987, Coach Meyer coached against That Team Up North, knowing he was soon to be out of a job. In 1997, as an assistant at Notre Dame, That Team Up North defeated Notre Dame 21-14. In 1999, again That Team Up North defeated Notre Dame, 26-22.

Before anyone becomes too antsy or nervous about Coach Meyer and his lack of success in Ann Arbor, something important to keep in mind regarding Coach Meyer and rivalry games – Coach Meyer is very successful. Check out his record in rivalry games below…

Perhaps it was just because Coach Meyer was an assistant coach, and not the head coach, for his challenges with Ann Arbor. It would certainly be understandable if Coach Meyer referred to that city as Assistant’s Agony instead, as he makes every effort to not refer to That Team Up North by name.

Michigan: By The Numbers

As always, presented without comment. (Now with 4th Down Conversions!)

Statistically Speaking
Ohio State
Value (Rank)
Value (Rank)
Michigan
Advantage
Rushing Offense (ypg) 314.7 (6) 116.4 (14) Rushing Defense (ypg) Push
Passing Offense (ypg) 216.2 (77) 236.6 (80) Passing Defense (ypg) Push
Pass Efficiency 164.9 (8) 118.2 (32) Pass Efficiency Defense Push
Total Offense (ypg) 530.9 (7) 353.0 (26) Total Defense (ypg) Push
Scoring Offense (ppg) 48.7 (3) 25.1 (32) Scoring Defense (ppg) Ohio State
Rushing Defense (ypg) 95.3 (6) 128.8 (101) Rushing Offense (ypg) Ohio State++
Passing Defense (ypg) 238.1 (81) 234.0 (63) Passing Offense (ypg) Push
Pass Efficiency Defense 122.8 (50) 138.5 (46) Pass Efficiency Offense Push
Total Defense (ypg) 333.4 (12) 362.8 (96) Total Offense (ypg) Ohio State++
Scoring Defense (ppg) 18.4 (8) 33.1 (47) Scoring Offense (ppg) Ohio State
Turnover margin +0.64 (25) +0.36 (38) Turnover margin Push
Penalty Yards/game 44.6 (51) 34.0 (10) Penalty Yards/game Michigan
Sacks (/game) 3.27 (2) 2.91 (113) Sacks Allowed (/game) Ohio State++
Sacks Allowed (/game) 1.18 (20) 1.91 (69) Sacks (/game) Ohio State
3rd Down Conv. (%) 52.9 (7) 38.4 (50) 3rd Down Conv. Def (%) Ohio State
3rd Down Conv. Def (%) 32.5 (16) 37.8 (84) 3rd Down Conv. (%) Ohio State+
4th Down Conv. (%) 66.7 (13) 40.0 (32) 4th Down Conv. Def (%) Push
4th Down Conv. Def (%) 52.6 (72) 54.6 (48) 4th Down Conv. (%) Michigan
Redzone Offense (%) 94.4 (4) 82.5 (58) Redzone Defense (%) Ohio State+
Redzone Defense (%) 77.4 (31) 84.8 (52) Redzone Offense (%) Push
 Legend
  Difference <25 in National Rank = Push
  Difference >25 in National Rank = Ohio State
  Difference >50 in National Rank = Ohio State+
  Difference >75 in National Rank = Ohio State++
  Differences >100 in National Rank = Ohio State+++

Stats are grabbed from cfbstats.com

The Spread, Hate Week: The Hate is Off?

I want to hate Brady Hoke, but I can’t.

Now don’t take that the wrong way. The capital-H Hate I harbor for That School Up North still burns as strong as ever. But lately the joy of Hating has taken a bit of a hit. Our rival’s recent ineptitude under current “head” “coach” Brady Hoke has sapped the ability to fully revel in what is supposed to be a border-war between two equal-but-opposite foes. They are supposed to be our Joker, our Lex Luthor, but instead they’ve taken to acting like this guy.

While the bulk of the Wolverine fan base is content to assign fault to quarterback Devin Gardner or, absurdly, ex-coach Rich Rodriguez, the true responsible party is the one who stalks the sideline each Saturday, footloose and headset-free (so the path of pies to his pie-hole is unobstructed, one guesses). Since arriving in Ann Arbor, Hoke has been trending downward in a vast array of statistics (including offensive yardage, first downs, sacks, sacks allowed, touchdowns and of course: wins) leading to whispers of giving a certain turf-grazing grad yet another call.

While there’s no guarantee it will happen this year, the Hoke era is nearing its end. Despite his supposed recruiting prowess, it has not yet translated to success on the field, and that is the entire point after all, isn’t it? If he can’t even do the thing he’s good at, how is he supposed to do things he’s never done before, like win a conference title?

Let’s put Hoke’s terribleness in perspective: Lloyd Carr spent 13 years as Top Wolverine and posted six bowl wins, five Big Ten titles, and 1 national title. Rich Rodriguez was no hit in Ann Arbor, but in his 19 seasons as a head coach at various stops, he produced 8 conference titles and won three bowls. He has 15 wins (so far) in his first two seasons at Arizona. Coincidentally, he also had 15 wins in his three seasons with the Wolverines. Carr’s career winning percentage was 75%. Rodriguez is currently at 59%. Brady Hoke? 54%.

In the Thanksgiving dinner of TSUN coaches, Lloyd Carr is the racist grandpa, ranting in his La-Z-Boy about the Good Ol’ Days. Rich Rodriguez is the dopey uncle, sinking his savings into one get-rich-quick con after another. And Brady Hoke is the oldest cousin, begging to sit at the grown up table, even as he dribbles Kool-Aid down the front of his untucked dress shirt.

I want to Hate Brady Hoke, but he hasn’t earned it.

This post brought to you without the assistance of the overrated 13th letter of the alphabet.

B1G Week 14 Preview: Rivalry Week

One of the best weeks in the entire season has arrived: Rivalry Week. All around college football many teams play their most hated rival and play for bragging rights, conference titles and even national title implications. Many coaches jobs are dictated by how they play against their main rival. Just ask former Ohio State coach John Cooper. Cooper’s 2-10-1 record against the team up north ultimately cost him his job. Losing to your rival can ruin seasons and careers. So expect teams to kick it up a notch when they face their enemy this weekend. Of course I only talk about the non-Ohio State games in this column, but if you’re interested in hearing my thoughts on “The Game” be sure to tune into my B1G Rivalry Week Google+ Hangout this Friday at 3 pm ET. More info about the hangout can be found here and information regarding all of the Rivalry Week festivities on Google+ can be found on USA Today’s Landing Page. Now onto the games…

Iowa @ Nebraska

The winner of this game will receive the Heroes Trophy. It’s a pretty nice looking trophy if I do say so myself. When Nebraska joined the conference in 2011 Iowa was established as the chief rival of the Huskers. And I think its slowly turning into a good rivalry. Both are relatively close to each other in proximity and this season both are pretty evenly matched. Iowa is seeking it’s eighth win, while Nebraska is trying win nine games for the sixth straight season under Bo Pelini. I’ll be interested to see who is starting at quarterback for Nebraska after Tommy Armstrong suffered an ankle injury against Penn State. Personally I would start Ron Kellogg III because he’s a senior and seems to have good chemistry with the offense. One thing for certain is the Huskers will be handing the ball off to running back Ameer Abdullah a lot this weekend and will try to get the ball in the hands of play-making receiver Kenny Bell too. Iowa’s offense is similar to the Huskers in that they haven’t relied a lot on the arm of quarterback Jake Rudock and tend to pound it out on the ground, while only passing when necessary. And who could blame them when they have Mark Weisman (the definition of “manball”) and Damon Bullock. Iowa has lost both games since this was established as a rivalry game and their success in this game on offense will be dictated by which Nebraska defense shows up to play. I’ll be surprised if this game doesn’t go to overtime and it should be an entertainingly close game.

Minnesota @ #11 Michigan State

This is the one non-rivalry game in the B1G this weekend. But that doesn’t mean this isn’t a good game. Minnesota just fell out of the top 25 after losing a hard-fought game to Wisconsin and Michigan State is trying to finish the season with an 11-1 record. Both teams aren’t very flashy and like to rely on their running game to set up short passes for their quarterbacks. Minnesota’s offense is led by running back David Cobb, who is coming off his worst game of the season, which doesn’t bode well when facing the #1 defense in the country. Only Nebraska running back Ameer Abdullah has been able to find success running the ball against a tough Spartans’ defense. Michigan State is developing a pretty good running back of their own in Jeremy Langford, who has rushed for over 1,000 yards and 15 touchdowns. Quarterback Connor Cook has been steadily improving too. I expect this game to play out just like the Wisconsin-Minnesota game last weekend. Minnesota will be hard pressed to score a touchdown and Michigan State will pound the Gophers with Langford.

Purdue @ Indiana

Old Oaken Bucket

Even though both teams aren’t exactly super powers in college football, this is one of the most storied and fierce rivalries in college sports. The winner of this game will receive the Old Oaken Bucket (pictured above), which they’ve played for since 1925. These two schools hate each other and this game is pretty important to each fan base. Since neither will play in a bowl game, this will be the final game of the season for each of them. Their seasons will be dictated by this game. Purdue only has one win on the season, but have been showing some signs of improvement late in the season. Running back Akeem Hunt ran for over 100 yards last week against Illinois, which is encouraging. Quarterback Danny Etling also seems to be coming around. Indiana has had a great offense all season (except against Ohio State and Wisconsin), but a horrendous defense. The Hoosiers are 24th in the country in scoring offense, but 118th in total defense. Indiana quarterback Nate Sudfeld has thrown for over 2,500 yards and 21 touchdowns, while running back Tevin Coleman is just shy of 1,000 yards rushing. Purdue is going to play their best football all season, but Indiana’s offense will be just too much for the Boilermakers’ defense to handle.

Northwestern @ Illinois

The Land of Lincoln Trophy

Many casual fans will associate these two teams with their game they played a couple of season ago in Wrigley Field. While it was an entertaining game, many don’t realize that these two always have an interesting game. The all-time series is pretty evenly matched, with Illinois leading with a record of 54-47-5. The winner of this game will receive the Land of Lincoln Trophy, which replaced the Sweet Sioux Tomahawk after the 2008 game. Northwestern is coming into the game with a seven game losing streak and has some of the worst luck in college football. The Wildcats came into the season with a lot of promise and now aren’t even going to a bowl game. Head coach Pat Fitzgerald should get his team motivated to play and senior quarterbacks Kain Colter and Trevor Siemian are going to play great games. Senior Illinois quarterback Nathan Scheelhaase wants to go out on a good note of his own too. Despite his team’s mediocre play, Scheelhaase has had a pretty good season. He’s thrown for 2,965 yards and 19 touchdowns, which should prompt some NFL teams to give him a good look. I think this game will be high scoring with both teams getting a lot of passing yards from their quarterback. I know I called it a few weeks ago and was wrong, but I think Northwestern will finally get a win and end their season on a good note.

Penn State @ #15 Wisconsin

There was talk of this game having a rivalry trophy on the line, but it never came to fruition. It’s understandable for Penn State wanting a trophy for this game because of NCAA sanctions banning them from a bowl game and a trophy would give them something to play for at the end of the season. Between sanctions starting to set in and breaking in a new freshman quarterback, Penn State has had a pretty rocky season. One bright spot for the Nittany Lions as of late has been running back Zach Zwinak, putting up big numbers over the last couple of weeks. He had a fumbling problem earlier in the season, but has rebounded nicely here at the end of his senior season. Wisconsin is looking to notch their 10th win of the season and are only one spot away from the coveted 14th place spot in the BCS, which would make them eligible for a BCS at-large bid. Give Badgers’ head coach Gary Andersen a lot of credit for keeping his team motivated and playing well after the debacle in the desert with Arizona State. Wisconsin is without a doubt a top 10 team and I believe they’re one of the most balanced teams in the country. Penn State will put up a valiant fight, but the Badgers are just too good to let this game slip through their fingers. Wisconsin should win this game and will patiently wait to see if they receive a BCS bowl bid.

The Game: Players to Watch Week 14

The Game

The biggest rivalry in college sports is finally here. The Buckeyes travel up to Ann Arbor this weekend to face The Team Up North as the Wolverines look to destroy the Buckeyes dreams of an undefeated season, and bring a halt to their school record 23 game win streak. The Buckeyes and Wolverines below will shape and mold the outcome of “The Game”.

The Team Up North

Jeremy Gallon, #21 Wide Receiver- It seems like every week there has been one wide receiver that could pose one big time threat to the Buckeyes secondary. This week, Gallon and tight end Devin Funchess, who I will discuss later in the post, present legitimate threats to the Buckeye secondary. Gallon is a small receiver that plays bigger than what he stands at 5’8, 190 pounds. Gallon serves multiple purposes for the Wolverine offense. He presents a serious deep threat with his speed , as well as running quick and sharp underneath routes.

Defenses have game planned well for Gallon’s deep threat by providing safety help over the top, however he still does an excellent job of getting separation on the underneath routes. That has resulted in Gallon’s ridiculous amount of receiving yardage (1109) and receptions (71), and his underwhelming touchdown total of eight for the year. Ohio State’s Philly Brown has more touchdowns (9) than Gallon does, with Brown recording 500 yards less receiving and 22 less receptions. This is a testimony to the Wolverine’s inability to finish off drives. Gallon will get his receptions against the Buckeyes on Saturday, but if he cannot find the end zone as a result of Wolverine drives stalling out, then Gallon’s impact will only be on his stat line and not the final score.

Devin Gardner, #98 Quarterback- If you have not watched Wolverine football this year then do not worry, that #98 is not a misprint, that is the actual number of Gardner who is the starting quarterback. Gardner possesses the physical ability to be a great quarterback, his decision making and lack of competent play calling, and poor offensive line has held him back significantly, as it would any quarterback. The Wolverines will use Gardner similarly to how Ohio State used Braxton early on in his career, run first pass second. The majority of Gardner’s throws will be safe throws either down the field, on crossing routes, or on quick screens. If the throw is not there expect Gardner to take off running where he can pose a major threat with his elusiveness in the open field.

The Buckeye secondary and linebackers will need to stay disciplined and focused when Gardner drops back. The Wolverines will use designed QB runs and play action off of those QB runs to make Gardner’s job easy and possibly force a mental error by the Buckeyes. Gardner is not a good decision maker so as long as the Buckeyes do not lose contain or have a coverage meltdown then he should be limited on Saturday.

Devin Funchess, #87 Tight End- Funchess is a young, athletic freak of nature at the tight end spot. His athletic nature could cause serious match up problems on Saturday for the Buckeye back seven. He stands at 6’5, weighs around 230 pounds, and can move like a wide receiver. He’s got good leaping ability and good hands so the Buckeyes may have their hands full with this kid on Saturday. The important thing will be for Ohio State to ensure they have a good match up with Funchess more often than not, and that he gets touched off the line of scrimmage.

Funchess has only recorded two games of a hundred yards plus for the Wolverines this season, and only has five touchdown catches. However, if Al Borges has any intelligence as a play caller (debatable) he will recognize the large mismatch Funchess will present to the Buckeyes, and give his young tight end a chance to showcase his skills.

Ohio State

The Buckeyes Defensive Line- Remember when I said Gardner makes bad mistakes? Well as Buckeye fans saw last week, when a quarterback gets hit multiple times he gets rattled and will miss throws he normally makes. Even when Sudfeld completed passes last week he took a shot or two. If Gardner gets the same treatment Sudfeld received last week then expect a couple turnover from him. Gardner is much more a risk taker and possesses a gun-slinger mentality that can get him in to trouble. If the Buckeyes can generate pressure this Saturday like they have been doing, fans will bear witness to Gardner’s questionable decision making.

Since the Penn State game, the line of Bennett, Spence, Washington, and Bosa has been playing possessed. Credit to the defensive coaches for figuring out a way to get these four on the field at the same time as they all can play inside or out, and cause havoc anywhere. Gardner has been a better quarterback this season at home than on the road so his discomfort will be vital for the Buckeyes success on defense.

Braxton Miller- In big time road games your quarterback has to play well. Last week Braxton played decently in bad weather. His interception was a mixture of poor ball placement, and his receiver not coming to the ball, but his fumble was inexcusable. Turnovers, especially fumbles, have hurt Braxton at times this year. They can not happen in a game of this magnitude where momentum swings occur so quickly. Last week we did see how good Braxton can be both running and throwing. On a 3rd and long completion to Heuerman at the end of the first half, Miller kept his composure as he eluded two rushers, stepped up, set his feet and delivered a strike down field. Miller’s touchdown throw to Devin Smith was a dime as well. The corner had decent coverage on Smith’s post route, but Miller dropped it in the only place where the corner could not get the ball and his receiver could.

The weather in Ann Arbor this Saturday is predicted to be cloudy with a 10% chance of rain, 11 mph winds, and around 35 degrees. Those conditions should not hinder Miller’s ability to throw the ball like they did last Saturday. Braxton should feel comfortable with the conditions Saturday, as well as the atmosphere. Braxton in the Big House as a freshman threw for 235 yards, 2 touchdowns, 1 interception, along with 16 rushes for 100 yards and 1 touchdown. He tends to play his best games on the biggest stages and I would expect nothing less from Miller this Saturday.

Carlos Hyde- Also in road games it is important for an opposing team to pack their offensive line and run game to take with them. Good news for the Buckeyes, they have the hottest running back in the country right now in Carlos Hyde. Hyde’s physical running style has been a staple for the Buckeye offense, and a key to its success all season. Hyde has been averaging a ridiculous 6.5 yards per carry, and an even more ridiculous 9.5 yards per carry in the month of November. He and the offensive line have been on a tear of late and I do not expect that to stop on Saturday. Hyde’s success also provides other players, such as speedster Dontre Wilson, with more success as they take advantage of the damage and carnage Hyde has done with his physical running.

The Wolverines run defense is decent allowing only 9 touchdowns all year and only 116 yards per game, however they have not faced a high quality offensive line and pro ready running back, both of which the Buckeyes will pack and travel with them on their trip to Ann Arbor. If Hyde gets loose, Wolverine fans may want to look away.

B1G Week 13 Review: We’re Almost Done

#13 Michigan State 30 Northwestern 6

Michigan State put the final nail in the coffin for Northwestern’s bowl chances. And the Wildcats probably can’t wait for this nightmare season to finally end. Michigan State was in firm control for most of this game and Northwestern really wasn’t in it once the Spartans gained a two-score advantage. Michigan State’s defense played their usual great game, forcing three interceptions and holding the Wildcats’ running game to only 80 yards rushing. The Spartans offense had a good game also, racking up 464 total yards. Quarterback Connor Cook threw for 293 yards and two touchdowns and running back Jeremy Langford rushed for 150 yards and two touchdowns. With the win, Michigan State officially clinched the Legend’s Division title and a spot in the B1G Championship game. The Spartans are firing on all cylinders right now and have a lot of momentum heading into their next two weeks against Minnesota and Ohio State.

Illinois 20 Purdue 16

Congratulations to Illinois for finally snapping their B1G losing streak, which was up to 20 games. Illinois probably should have won this game by two touchdowns at least, but they turned the ball over four times. When you turn it over that much any team can hang in the game, even a team like Purdue. I expected Illinois quarterback Nathan Scheelhaase to be the difference in this game and that turned out to be the case. Despite throwing two picks, he still threw for 257 yards and two touchdowns. Running back Josh Ferguson had a good game running for 115 yards. Purdue ultimately didn’t have enough on defense to slow down the Illini. One player that stood out for the Boilermakers was running back Akeem Hunt. Hunt has been surprisingly quiet this season, but on Saturday rushed for over 100 yards and a touchdown. Neither Illinois or Purdue have a shot at making a bowl game, but look to cap off their seasons with wins over their respective rivals this upcoming weekend.

Nebraska 23 Penn State 20

It just wouldn’t be a 2013 Nebraska football game without drama and the game going down to the wire. That’s been the common theme for the Huskers and they continued it against Penn State. Nebraska tied the game with a field goal with over four minutes remaining and kicked another field goal in overtime to win it. After starter Tommy Armstrong sustained an ankle injury early, fifth year senior Ron Kellogg III came in and saved the day again for Nebraska. He threw for 191 yards and touchdown, with no turnovers. And you can’t forget their star running back Ameer Abdullah, who had another great game. Abdullah rushed for 147 yards, but once again no touchdowns (let this man score for crying out loud). Another running back that deserves a shout out is Penn State’s Zach Zwinak, who rushed for 149 yards. Nebraska has a chance to get their ninth win against rival Iowa this upcoming weekend, which would give head coach Bo Pelini and the Huskers their sixth straight nine-win season.

#19 Wisconsin 20 #25 Minnesota 7

Wisconsin wins every game in the exact same manner. Go back through this year’s schedule and look at the box scores. They look identical. The Badgers’ winning formula: Bludgeon the opposing defense into submission with the running game, have quarterback Joel Stave only throw the ball when necessary and have the defense make the other offense look pedestrian. I find myself saying the same thing about Wisconsin every single week because they’re so consistent. Badgers running back James White rushed for 125 yards and a touchdown, which is just a typical game for White. Instead of talking about the always dominant running game, let’s talk about the Badgers’ domination on defense. For the third time in four weeks, Wisconsin held it’s opponent to zero offensive touchdowns. The Golden Gophers only score came when Aaron Hill picked off Stave and returned it for a touchdown. The heart and soul of the Wisconsin defense is Chris Borland, who racked up 12 tackles and continues to feast on opposing offenses. If I’m an NFL team, I draft this guy in a heartbeat. It was a tough loss for Minnesota, who had been on a four game winning streak. The Gophers just couldn’t get anything going and were out of sync the entire game. They’ll need to figure out their problems because Michigan State awaits them in the season finale.

Iowa 24 Michigan 21

And the season continues to get worse for Michigan. The Wolverines’ defense forced four turnovers and yet Michigan still found a way to lose the game. It’s probably because their offense only managed a paltry 158 total yards. Credit both the Iowa defense and Michigan’s paper offensive line. Quarterback Devin Gardner only threw for 98 yards and the Michigan running backs combined for 60 yards. On the flip side, Iowa’s running game rushed for 168 yards, including 88 yards from Mark Weisman. Weisman seemed to have no problem running all over the Wolverines’ defense and seemed to get big runs at the most opportune times for the Hawkeyes. Iowa quarterback Jake Rudock was erratic, but did enough to get the win and that’s all you can really ask for. Iowa has a shot to reach eight wins and possibly get a New Year’s Day bowl bid. It’s a nice bounce back season for head coach Kirk Ferentz and the Iowa football program. As for Michigan, the best way to describe their situation? Chaos. There is so much confusion and anger up in Michigan right now that it’s hard to tell what direction the program is going. Not exactly the best place to be heading into “The Game.”

Memories….

GAHHHHH

OSU Basketball: The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly

Today we are going to recap The Ohio State University men’s basketball teams first 4 games of the year. I have appropriately titled this breakdown, The Good, The Bad and the Ugly. I have chosen this for many reasons, Most namely, the inconsistency of the team thus far. Here is the breakdown.

The Good

– 4-0. The best result that can happen in any game is a win. So having a perfect season thus far, even though we are only 4 games in, has to be a positive.

– Big Road win. Beating a team many considered the favorite to win the Big East at their home court is also a plus. Regardless of the Big East’s prominence taking a bit of a hit with expansions, this win will be looked at come seeding time at the NCAA tourney.

– Shannon Scott. After being put into the starting lineup in order to create a formidable backcourt, Scott has provided a huge spark on both ends of the court. He is the leading scorer on the team at 12.5 points a game as well as being second on the team in both assists and steals.

– Marc Loving. College Basketball has always proved a tough transition for a true freshman, regardless of the talent level. Loving has proved that he belongs at a big time program and has provided some much needed energy off the bench. When watching Loving, you get the sense you are watching a future All Big Ten team blossom.

– Defense. Holding your opponents to 51.5 points a game and 34.4% from the field will win you almost any contest. Sure the schedule isn’t the toughest but this is still tough to do at any level.

The Bad

– LaQuinton Ross. 4 Games into the season is hardly a barometer for the entire season but it would be hard to call Ross’ start to the year anything less than a disappointment. He is averaging 7 points per game, good for 6th on the team and 22.5 minutes per game, good for 5th best. While much was expected a Ross, he is under performing so much so that Matta has made him sit on the bench for 15+ minutes on two separate occasions. It appears he just needs to find his shot and gain a little confidence. Matta appears to be doing everything he can to “wake up” Ross and I have confidence he will find his game again.

– Slow starts. It seems that the Buckeyes have had trouble getting the scoring going in the first half. Against Marquette, it took a last second 3 from Loving to get their first half score to 19. Against American, getting to the free throw was the only thing buoying them to a first half lead as they only made 5 field goals. I believe that most of this has to do with the new foul rules making it hard for the Buckeyes to get in a flow. Once they get properly adjusted, they’ll be fine.

The Ugly

– There is no other way to say this, but shooting 28.6% from 3-point range is downright ugly. As mentioned before, it could have something to do with the new foul rules, but most of the looks Ohio State is getting from long distance, are good looks. 4 games in, no one should be worried. Matta knows how to get his team to score.

As you can see, there are way more positives than negatives so far this season. There is still a long way to go as well as lots of time to improve.

MotSaG Top 25 – Week 13

MotSaG Top 25
1a. Florida State
1b. Ohio State
1c. Alabama
4. Michigan State
5. Auburn
6. Oklahoma State
7. Missouri
8. Clemson
9. Baylor
10. Stanford
11. South Carolina
12. Wisconsin
13. Oregon
14. Northern Illinois
15. Arizona State
16. Fresno State
17. Lousiville
18. LSU
19. UCF
20. Duke
21. USC
22. Texas A&M
23. UCLA
24. Minnesota
25. Notre Dame

I initially wanted to make this MotSaG’s Top 3 as another falls from the ranks of the unbeaten, but I owe you, the gracious reader, more than that.

And then there were three. How to rank them? I opted to chicken out and go with co-Number Ones.

I also decided that Michigan State deserved a little more credit than they were getting. They lost to a stingy Notre Dame at a point in their season where their offense was really struggling to find an identity. The defense, however, has put strangleholds on ten different opponents, squeezing any joy that offense brings to those teams. They will match-up against Ohio State in two weeks and that game is not going to be a gimme for Ohio State. Michigan State fields one of the best defenses in the country, and its a testament to Dantonio and Narduzzi who have coached a bunch of 3-stars into a world-class death machine that gives offenses no quarter. It’s impressive and I’m anxious to see what Hyde and Miller can do going against that collection of man-beasts.

I rank Auburn next and considered dropping them even lower. Their season has been revelatory, I don’t disagree with that. But they are one miracle heave from being 9-2 and would have given up a horrible come-from-behind victory to Georgia. They do have a puncher’s chance against Alabama next week, but I’m not holding my breath.

On behalf of the real OSU, I’d like to thank fake OSU #1 for keeping that home streak against Baylor alive and well. It was impressive the way Oklahoma State played on both sides of the ball and it’s a shame they crapped the bed so early against weaker competition, because that dismantling would have thrust them firmly in “The Conversation” and we’d probably be wailing and gnashing our teeth as Fake OSU #1 hurdled us in the BCS standings.