Archives for December 2020

Olave’s anticipated Tiger rematch: By Mike Scharf

December 28, 2019… State Farm Stadium… 29-23. 29-23. 29-23:

That final score has been entrenched throughout Woody Hayes Athletic Center. On the walls in the locker room, in the weight room. 

Everywhere. 

This score hasn’t left the Buckeyes team’s eyes since a last-minute interception in last year’s Fiesta Bowl ended their national championship hopes. 

This Buckeye team seeks redemption after having a bad taste in their mouth from last season’s clash with the Clemson Tigers, and none other than star wide receiver Chris Olave seeks it more than most.

Last season, Olave spoke up that he broke his route in last year’s Fiesta Bowl as he turned left instead of continuing his route thinking his quarterback took off to scramble which led to a Justin Fields’ interception right in the hands of Clemson’s defensive back Nolan Turner in the endzone securing a Tigers victory and national championship appearance.

As the NFL draft was looming, there was no denying in the mind of Olave what he was going to do—he came back to Ohio State to show everyone what he can do.

Olave met with the media ahead of the 2020 season expressing his love for Ohio State and the chip he has from last season’s disheartening loss:

“I care so much about this team, this university,” Olave said, “I don’t think I’ve gotten over it still (Fiesta Bowl loss), and I still got that chip on my shoulder and I want to show the world”.

Olave explained he found himself working out 2-3 times a day, trying to take his mind off things.

This Buckeye team knows who the underdog is and relishes it. The odds have been stacked against this group all season and they are ready to prove the world wrong.

In the Sugar Bowl trailer, narrated by Chris Olave, he acknowledge the team embraces the underdog narrative.

“We know you don’t want to see us here, and we know you don’t give us a chance. That’s fine,” said Olave. “After all we fought through, we just need one chance. A second chance.”

CO2 is ready.

Sugar Bowl X-Factor: Defense by Mike Scharf

There’s no denying Ohio State’s defense had a slow start to this 2020 season, which was predicted due to seven starters taking their talents to the NFL which included two of the top three picks in Chase Young, and Jeff Okudah.

Along with Okudah and Young, the Buckeyes lost Damon Arnette, Jordan Fuller, Malik Harrison, Jashon Cornell and Davon Hamilton to the 2020 NFL draft.

The loss of stars and slow start to the season didn’t stop the Silver Bullets from picking up rhythm and improving as a team through the abnormal 2020-COVID season.

The following is currently the Buckeyes’ defensive stats:

  • Total Defense: 34
  • Scoring Defense: 24 (Tied)
  • Passing Defense: 104
  • Rush Defense: 7
  • 3rd Down Defense: 19
  • Sacks Per Game: 26 (Tied)

In order for a Sugar Bowl victory and appearance in the 2020 National Championship, the Buckeyes defense needs to step up and execute the game plan for Trevor Lawrence’s high-powered Clemson Tiger offense.

Here are a few X-Factors defensively that could lead the Buckeyes’ to victory come Friday night.

Jonathan Cooper – Tommy Togiai – Haskell Garrett (Defensive Line)

Chase Young is dominating on Sunday’s for the Washington Football team and early on the Buckeyes faced problems replacing his 16.5 sacks from last season. That being said, the front seven has been dominate of late and the strong unit for the Buckeyes. (As noted above, they are 7th in the country in rush defense.) The experience and leadership of fifth-year senior Jonathan Cooper has been enormous all season long and will continue into championship season. Cooper has 20 tackles and 2.5 sacks on the season. The dominate-duo of the interior between Tommy Togiai and Haskell Garrett has been the biggest x-factor for the Buckeyes all season long and will cause disruption in the Tigers backfield. Togiai and Garrett have a combined 36 tackles and 5 sacks.

Pete Werner – Tuf Borland (Linebackers)

The Buckeye linebackers are a veteran group led by seniors Pete Werner and Tuf Borland. Werner leads the team with 37 tackles, 2.5 TFL, and one sack. Borland is second with 26 tackles, and 1.5 sacks. Both Werner and Borland are a big reason why the Buckeyes have played well against the run this season. These two, along with Baron Browning face their biggest test of the season Friday with the read option of Trevor Lawrence and Travis Etienne. Lawrence and Etienne have a combined rushing of 1,103 yards and 20 touchdowns.

The Buckeyes veteran group of linebackers are led by seniors Pete Warner and Tuf Borland. Warner leads the team with 37 tackles along with 2.5 TFL and one sack. Borland is second on the team with 26 tackles along with 1.5 sacks. These two, along with Baron Browning are a substantial reason why the team has played so well against the run this season. The biggest test will be this Friday as they look to contain the read option between Trevor Lawrence and Travis Etienne. Lawrence and Etienne have a combined rushing of 1,103 yards and 20 touchdowns this season for the Tigers.,,

Shaun Wade (Secondary)

This is a redemation game for Shaun Wade. Although, the talk of this year’s Buckeyes has been the secondary and the struggles they faced at times. The starting corners from last year’s defense were Jeff Okudah and Damon Arnette as they were both drafted in the first round last April. Along with those two the Buckeyes lost, Jordan Fuller, who was a dominate force at safety for last year’s secondary. The struggles have been apparent for the secondary, but the Buckeyes have picked it up led behind the fifth-year senior and future first-rounder Shaun Wade. Wade will be coming into this game LASER focused as he is looking for his redemption against the Tigers. Last year, during the Fiesta Bowl, Wade was called for a controversial targeting call on Trevor Lawrence which led to be the turning point of the game in favor for the Tigers. Wade has 20 tackles and 2 interceptions on the season.

Final Analysis

Wade won’t be the only one looking for redemption. This Buckeye defense, along with these X-Factors will come in determined to prove something. Not only have the media questioned the creditability of the Buckeyes due to the fact they only played six games.

Clemson Tigers’ head coach, Dabo Swinney added some fuel to the fire. Swinney ranked the Buckeyes 11th on the coaches’ poll ballot and stood by that decision saying “I didn’t rank anybody who didn’t play nine games or more in the top 10. That’s why they were 11. I have all the respect in the world for Ohio State.” — The Buckeyes will be ready.

Sugar Bowl X-Factors: Offense

Game week is here people! As we inch closer, the anxiety levels begin to rise. With how the Fiesta Bowl ended, there was that feeling of being robbed, feelings of anger, feelings of utter despair—that have bled into this turbulent COVID season.

The grudge and that unsatisfied feeling has come to a head and the time to release is just a few days away. We will have the chance to prove things to ourselves and to the nation. To silence the doubters and the haters.

In order to win, the Buckeyes need to put in the work and put on their hard hats. The preparation needs to be perfect and the game plan must be pristine from the execution to the play calling. Here a few X-Factors offensively that could tip the scales in the Buckeyes’ favor come Friday.

Justin Fields, QB

To be blunt, Justin Fields must show up in order to have a shot to take out Clemson. Ball security is a must and the execution must be perfect. Do not make bonehead throws into traffic and don’t hold the ball too long in the pocket. Sacks and interceptions are two things that he should avoid. Yes, making plays is needed but if it’s not there—throw it away or take the check down. Olave and Wilson will eventually get open, but he must trust do what he needs to do to control the game. If it consists of a steady dose of Sermon and Teague, so be it. It also doesn’t hurt that he will face backup safety since Nolan Turner was charged with targeting and he will be unavailable until the second half.

Trey Sermon, HB

Speaking of a steady dose of running it down their throats—Sermon needs to capitalize on the momentum after winning the Conference Championship Game MVP honors. Not to mention eating up the yardage to finish with a BIG 10 record 331 rushing yards—beating Ezekiel Elliott’s mark. It’s safe to say that balance is key, but running the ball will need to be at the forefront. Clemson will blitz heavily and what better counter is there than running the rock until they can show that they can stop it?

The Slobs and The Tight Ends

Blitzing will be an all game affair and one of the better blitzing teams is Clemson. The objective for these two units would be to block them enough to slow them down and to limit sacks. The slobs are solid but the weak link would be at Left Guard in Harry Miller (not a knock!). Holding penalties and allowing penetration are to be avoided and he has been consistently at fault for either of these. Miller has the potential but he has to has to play with little to no errors for either quarters. The big guys mauled the Wildcats in the second half and they need to do the same for the entire game to win it.

The Tight Ends must be ready for check downs or passes under duress. Blocking is also key but I think this group will get the majority of the work in the passing game. It’s pick your poison with Olave and Wilson but do not count out the tight ends.

If all these X-Factors play well, redemption is attainable. If they play out of sync, they will have a hard time and they may very well lose. Odds are with the amount of chatter about being worthy of a playoff spot—I’d say this is the quiet before the storm. Ohio versus the world. Redemption.

#GoBucks

Earned! Buckeyes Selected For Playoff Matchup Against A Familiar Foe Clemson

We made it Buckeye Nation! We got the matchup against the team that we wanted and in an odd COVID season, we can say we earned this spot after running past and shutting down a surprisingly potent Northwestern offense to zero points in the second half en-route to a 22-10 win.

Flash forward to January 1st and the matchup against Clemson and remembering the loss from a season ago, you know that final score is still around the weight room. The circumstances and the end result was tragic and what better way to slay your demons than this? Another shot at the demon is needed and it could have a cascading effect and it could propel this team toward greater things.

This year has been crazy, but the committee definitely got things right. I’m not just saying that cause of my affinity for the Buckeyes, I am saying it from an objective viewpoint. Why penalize a team for playing less? Why perceive our players having fresher bodies with the mental and sometimes physical toll while dealing with such odd circumstances? Everyone dealt with things different but let’s be real, the season wouldn’t have started without the fight our team showed. Yes, we were late to the party but this year has been incredibly hard for all team in the big dance.

This seeding has an eerie feel to it and think about the 2014 run. Ohio State became the only #4 seed to win it all. They find themselves at the #3 seed and history could repeat itself but they definitely need to take care of business. Winning it all in a COVID-ridden year would be a testament to the coaching staff and the players for Ohio State—the ultimate comeback/success story in the making. It’ll come down to implementing a good plan moving forward against Clemson and executing, being intensely interested in winning at all costs.

To be intensely driven and motivated is key for an Ohio State miracle run at a championship and a win against top-tier teams in Clemson and Alabama. Not saying that they aren’t but they need to be more driven than ever to accomplish what they want to and this team is built to do just that.

Save all the hate and anger for January first Buckeye coaches and players, Buckeye Nation hope and pray a sharp, motivated team shows up from start to finish, and let’s get ready to take care of business in the Sugar Bowl.

#GoBucks

Four and Into The Playoff Door

BUCKEYES ARE IN:

Ohio State have been the most talked about team ranked in the top four of the playoff rankings because of its lack of games. Saturday’s Big Ten championship win was the Buckeyes’ sixth game this season. 

No. 5 Texas A&M beat Tennessee on Saturday 34-14 and will finish the season at 8-1, but it’s hard to imagine the Aggies will jump an undefeated, conference champion with this Buckeye team. 

Two components the playoff committee keys in on are the eye test and a conference championship. The Buckeyes are Big Ten Champions and have two quality wins against No. 11 Indiana and No. 14 Northwestern. When looking at Texas A&M, their best win came against a Florida team who fell to 5-5 LSU last weekend. The Aggies also faced No. 1 Alabama early in the season and ended up losing 52-24. 

The Buckeyes controlled the second half of the Big Ten Championship, making a statement as their defense pitched a shutout and Sermon had one of the performances we’ve seen this college football season, breaking Ohio State’s rushing record with 331 yards.

This Buckeye team making a playoff appearance will be a huge victory for the Big Ten as it was one of the first conferences to cancel the season in August, deciding to overrule that and start a season in late October. Ohio State had three games canceled due to COVID-19 (Maryland, Illinois, Michigan). 

Ohio State quarterback Justin Fields met with the media after winning the Big Ten title, saying it’s a no brainer the Buckeyes deserve a playoff spot. 

“We’re one of the top four teams in the country,” said Fields.

THE REMATCH:

The Clemson Tigers took control against Notre Dame in the ACC championship winning 34-10 setting up a potential back-to-back playoff meeting with the Buckeyes. Last year the Buckeyes faced off with the Tigers in the Fiesta Bowl and left with a bad taste in their mouths as Justin Fields was picked off in the final moments as Chris Olave fell down in the endzone running a route, leading to a 29-23 victory for the Tigers.

The BIG10 4-Peat Is Complete

Photo From: FBSschedules.com

In a roller-coaster type of year, the Buckeyes were nearly held out of visiting Indianapolis due to a rule that required teams to play a minimum of six games to play in the Big Ten Conference Championship game. Flash forward after the decision (a terrible one at that!) the Buckeyes face a familiar opponent in the Northwestern Wildcats, an opponent who stood in the way of their second consecutive shot at the conference crown. Now, two years later these two teams will face each other again for the title of Big Ten Champs and another tough battle against a solid defensive-driven team.

The Buckeyes and Justin Fields took it straight down the field on their opening possession and took it in for a touchdown, but a holding call by Harry Miller quickly negated it and the Buckeyes settled for three. They Buckeyes took a lot of time off the clock and Northwestern responded with six in a drive that took 2:32. The Buckeyes began to look sluggish as time went on with questionable play-calling that resulted in a pair of Buckeye punts before they surrendered a field goal to put the Wildcats up 10-3. The Buckeyes kicked it for three and forced a punt, but Fields was picked off before the half came to a close.

To open the second half, Justin Hilliard picked of Ramsey, and Fields was picked off for the second time in a game that he largely struggled in. The Buckeyes forced a punt and both teams had shots at points, but they both missed their respective shots at additional points to keep the contest at 10-6. The Buckeyes came alive as Trey Sermon channeled his inner Zeke and they fed him in what became a career game for him as a ran past Eddie George’s record that has stood for quite some time until today. Sermon finished with 29 carries and a Big Ten/Conference Championship FBS record 331 yards and 2 TDs.

Sermon and the Buckeye defense stepped it up in the second half. After Sermon went off the defense responded with timely turnovers that turned the tide. For context, the Buckeyes surrendered 167 yards on 5 Northwestern offensive possessions. In the second half, they had 7 total offensive possessions and they surrendered 181 yards. Yes, they gave up a little more yardage, but couldn’t get into position to score. The second half adjustments worked and it showed how resilient this team is when the pressure is right in front of them.

This was not a perfect game for Justin Fields, but maybe it is what he needs to move forward. He seemed to sprain his throwing hand thumb and that might be a story to follow as we move forward. For now, we have to enjoy the gutty win minus the gaudy offensive passing stats. Another off day doesn’t mean its all over for us. Enjoy the win and hope for the best.

MOTSAGRising Heroes of the Game:

Trey Sermon, RB – 29 carries 331 yards and 2 TDs

Justin Hilliard, LB – 9 tackles, 5 solo, 2 TFL, 1 INT

Zach Hoover, P – 3 punts, 118 yards, 2 in 20

#GoBucks

BIG10 Championship Week Preview: Buckeyes-Wildcats Showdown by Mike Scharf

Championship Week 

After a long, abnormal College Football season, championship week is finally here. With the Big Ten Conference changing the six-game qualifying rule, the Buckeyes are seeking a back-to-back College Football Playoff berth as No. 4 Ohio State faces off with No. 14 Northwestern in the 2020 Big Ten Conference championship game.

Ohio State will be heading into their fourth consecutive Big Ten Championship. The Buckeyes have won three straight conference titles and look to continue that trend come Saturday. Last Season Ohio State, led by Heisman finalist Justin Fields defeated Wisconsin, 34-21, earning an appearance in the College Football Playoffs against the Clemson Tigers.

The Wildcats

Northwestern led by head coach Pat Fitzgerald is making its second appearance ever in the Big Ten title game. The Wildcats’ last conference title win came in 2000.

Offense

The offensive spark for the Wildcats is led by quarterback Peyton Ramsey and running back Drake Anderson.

Ramsey has controlled the offense all year for the 6-1 Wildcats throwing for 1,218 yards, and nine touchdowns.

Anderson led the ground game with 256 yards and two touchdowns averaging 4.1 yards per carry.

Defense

The Wildcats seconday has the second-highest rate of interceptions per game this season in the FBS with 12.

Brandon Joseph, a sophomore defensive back has carried the load for the Wildcat secondary with 23 tackles, and 5 interceptions (tied for 1st in the nation). Joseph and the rest of the secondary will have their hands full Saturday with Chris Olave, and Garrett Wilson.

Starting linebackers, Paddy Fisher and Blake Gallagher are experienced and true leaders within this Wildcat defense. Fisher and Gallagher have a combined 65 total tackles this season while Gallagher leads the team with 9.5 tackles for loss.

The Buckeyes

The Buckeyes didn’t get a chance to play in “The Game,” this past weekend but is hungry for a second straight playoff visit. 

Offense

Justin Fields and this high-powered offense have been clicking on all cylinders this season. Fields has been leading the way in the five games played, throwing for 1,407 yards and 15 touchdowns. 

The dynamic duo of Chris Olave and Garrett Wilson has been on full display all year long. Olave and Wilson have a combined 70 receptions, 1,100 yards, and 10 touchdowns in just five games played and look to continue their dominance Saturday.

The running back duo of Trey Sermon and Master Teague is starting to click as Sermon ran for a season-best 112 yards and one touchdown two weeks ago against the Spartans, and Teague having two 100 plus yard games this season against Penn State and Indiana. 

The offensive line will be at full strength as Josh Myers, Nick Petit-Frere, and Thayer Munford are back in the Woody Hayes Athletic Center this week.

Defense

The Silver Bullets looked dominant two weeks ago against Michigan State as they steam rolled to a 52-12 victory.

The secondary, led by Shaun Wade looks to be more in sync and will come prepared for Saturday’s championship showdown with the Wildcats.

The defensive line led by senior Jonathan Cooper has been showing out the past few weeks in the most important time of the year. The Buckeyes have a team total of 14 sacks on the season, with Tommy Togiai leading the way with three. 

The linebacker trio of Tuf Borland, Baron Browning, and Pete Warner has been a force all season. Borland wasn’t able to participate in the game against the Spartans due to COVID but is looking to cap his Buckeye career off with a Big Ten Championship Saturday afternoon.

PERDICTION 

The Buckeyes will be looking for its 39th Big Ten Championship coming out focused showing the committee they are truly deserving of a playoff spot and one of the top four teams in the country even though they only participated in six games this season. 

Buckeyes: 52-20

Buckeyes dominate Spartans on the road: by Mike Scharf

No. 4 Ohio State is back and let everyone know they are the team to beat in the Big Ten and evidently a top four team in the country — even if not eligible to play for the Big Ten championship — after routing Michigan State with a 52-12 victory in East Lansing. 

The Buckeyes played like an angry team, coming out firing, scoring on three of their first four drives to take control of the game early.

Passing Game

Justin Fields didn’t miss a beat even with a diminished offensive line in front of him due to COVID issues (Josh Meyers, Nicholas Petit-Frere, Thayer Munford). Fields was unstoppable through the air and on the ground as he combined for 303 yards, and four touchdowns.

Fields’ main target was wide receiver Chris Olave who recorded a career-high 10 receptions, 139 yards, and a touchdown. Garrett Wilson was second in receiving with 59 yards, and a touchdown.

Running Game 

With Fields having a career day in rushing yards (104), Oklahoma transfer Trey Sermon didn’t bat an eye and had his best game as a Buckeye. Sermon carried the ball 10 times for 112 yards, and a 64-yard touchdown that put the Buckeyes up 35-0 in the third quarter. 

Fellow running back Master Teague had 46 yards on 14 carries, and Freshman quarterback C.J Stroud got into the game late and blasted a 48-yard touchdown run.

Defense

With all the criticism and question marks the Buckeyes defense faced from their play in the second half against Indiana two weeks ago, they dominated the Spartans without captain Tuf Boland. The Buckeyes held Michigan State to 261 total yards and just 81 yards on the ground. Senior Pete Warner led the team with eight tackles. Junior, top NFL prospect Shaun Wade had 3 tackles, and an unbelievable diving interception which came right after a Buckeye turnover.

Buckeye Football Looking Ahead by Mike Scharf

Last Week

After nearly a consistent recording of a 0% positivity rate since August, chaos entered the Buckeye program as their game against Illinois was canceled when additional positive COVID-19 tests were discovered after a round of testing took place Friday afternoon. Head coach Ryan Day was amongst those positive. Ohio State did not disclose the identities of the others who tested positive for privacy reasons. 

The Big Ten requires all programs to suspend organized football activities including practices and games for a minimum of seven days if both their positivity rate exceeds 5% and their population positivity rate surpasses 7.5%. The Buckeyes positivity rate crossed the 7.5% threshold, but had not gone above the 5% test positivity rate.

With the Buckeyes not going above the 5% threshold, Athletic director Gene Smith and head team physician Dr. Jim Borchers believed the best decision for the program going forward was to cancel, slowing down the spread of the virus.

Going Forward

Good news came as the Buckeyes resumed small group workouts on Monday at the Woody Hayes Athletic Center according to a Ohio State spokesman — Team meetings will maintain being held virtually.

The noon ABC kickoff against Michigan State this weekend is up in the air as we still don’t know the exact number of positive cases the program is dealing with, but this is an enormous step in the right direction going forward.