Playstation Fiesta Bowl Recap: Ohio State (11-1, 8-1 BIG) vs Clemson (12-1, 7-1 ACC)

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Game Day is here, and so are the nerves and the paranoia.  The angst and the dread are there too.  I have this knot in my stomach as we are minutes away from the opening kickoff.  Clemson is ready.  Ohio State is ready, and as both teams take the field, the anticipation kicks in and I am ready.  This is what Ohio State and Clemson is here for a spot in the College Football Championship Game.  All of the players are ready to unleash a whooping on each other.  As a College Football fan, no matter what the end result is, we had a hell of a season.  A rollercoaster ride of ups and downs.  And Clemson has gone through the same ride. This is a successful season for both of their standards, but a win would be ideal.  We will see how it goes.

On the opening possession, J.T. Barrett begins the game with a pop pass to Samuel to ensure he gets his quota for touches per game.  The drive then stalled as on 3rd and 8, Barrett finds an open Mike Weber out of the backfield for an easy first down catch.  Unfortunately for the Buckeyes, Weber dropped the pass and the Buckeyes punt the ball back to Clemson.  Clemson began past the 15-yard line, but their first drive only lasted two plays.  A receiver slipped on the turf and Gareon Conley undercut the route for the games first turnover.  With decent field position, the Buckeyes drive ended on a sack after Michael Jordan went down after with a key injury.   Demetrius Knox was inserted into the game and gave up the first sack of the game after failing to get off the line to block and Tyler Durbin pushed the field goal a smidge to the right. Clemson took over and drove into Ohio State territory for a field goal and currently lead the Buckeyes 3-0. The Buckeyes got the ensuing kickoff and Parris Campbell returned it to the Clemson 46-yard line. After another missed field goal, the Buckeyes leave more points on the field.  Clemson takes over at their own 30-yard line.  The Tigers take the ball 67 yards on 9 plays and Deshaun Watson takes it in to extend their lead 10-0.  Ohio State get the ball back on their 23-yard line and reach Clemson territory and end the 1st Quarter on a 1-yard gain.  The predictability of the play calling and the inability to block and get open in space, coupled with the nerves that has shaken Tyler Durbin to the core have cost the Buckeyes as it should be a 10-6 game, but things happen.  Here is to another quarter.

After receiving the Buckeye punt, Clemson begins their next drive at their 11-yard line.  The Silver Bullets makes the stop as Jalyn Holmes and Raekwon McMillan stop Watson short of the line to gain.  The Tigers punt and the ball takes a Clemson roll to the Buckeyes 11, pinning them deep in their territory.  Ohio State was once again plagued by drops and untimely penalties and it results in another Buckeye punt.  The Clemson Tigers began their next drive with the lead at their 26-yard line.  The Clemson Offense looked to tack on another score to pad their lead, but Malik Hooker added to his interception statistics as the most of the Buckeye crowd burst into excitement.  Hopefully, this will bring energy to the offense because they are struggling to make plays and the play calling is predictable at best.  Mike Weber needs to be fed like Zeke was because he still has no carries for the game.  Long behold, Weber on the first play of this drive received his first carry of the game for a gain of 5 yards.  The interception was all for nothing as the Buckeyes punt once again bringing up his total to 189 yards for the game compared to the entire offenses 76 yards.  This is not looking too good, but I will keep the faith.  The Clemson offense received and took the ball in the end zone on another wheel route to a leaking Running Back.  Baker was left in coverage and Holmes had a roughing the passer penalty to guarantee a touchback.  The Buckeyes end the half with a 17-0 deficit.  They all look defeated as their punter doubles the offensive output with 240 yards to the offenses 88.  Things need to change or they will get blown out.  See you after halftime.

On Clemson’s first drive of the second half, the Buckeyes look to stop the bleeding.  Three plays later, the Buckeyes come up big on defense to force a Clemson punt.  The possession did not last long as Weber fumbled the ball, putting the Buckeyes in a bad spot.  This is probably what happens when you don’t feed him enough.  Anyway, the Clemson Tigers raced into Ohio State territory once again and that is when the Buckeyes made three huge defensive plays in a row.  Three big tackles for loss and one, a sack from McMillan is a welcome sign for the way the game has been for us fans.  A near offsides penalty by Dre’mont Jones cost the Buckeyes the stop, but Huegel missed the field goal wide left to keep the score at 17-0.  It is within reach to creep back into this game, but it’ll take some imagination with the playcalling.  The Tigers force another punt as they continue to shut down the Ohio State Offense.  On their drive, they reach the Ohio State territory, but the defense comes up with their second sack of the game forcing a rare Clemson punt.  Ohio State comes back with another punt on their own after another sack of Barrett.  Well, the end is here.  Watson scored once again to push the lead to 24-0.  It is now over with Beck and Warriner’s inability to call anything but swing passes.  After back to back deep shots and two penalties on Clemson, Weber runs the ball, then runs over the defender and fumbles.  Next play, Barrett throws a pick.  I am ready for this game to be over because I am sick to my stomach at what I am seeing.  The players are getting a bit chippy as Weber pushes Tankersley after the interception and Watkins comes to his rescue.  The end of the 4th Quarter as the Tigers look to salt away the game.  They get into Ohio State territory once again, but they end up punting the ball.  Samuel earned some yardage as he gained 64-yards on a counter play.  The Buckeyes line immediately gathers more negative yardage on a false start and it set them back 5 yards and a sack on the next play.  On 3rd and 17 the Buckeyes turn it over with a pick that nearly went for six points. Gallman punches it in for another score.  Clemson up 31-0.  At this point, I just want some points to cap a terrible showing.  On 4th and short Weber gets stuffed and the shut-out is still there.  The Clemson Tigers win 31-0 and blank the Buckeyes for their first shutout since 1993 to TTUN.  This has been one hell of a ride and you can only grow from this, no matter how bad it tastes at this moment.  Life will go on and this will certainly be a long cold offseason for all of us.  Good job team and it has been a great season and good work Clemson, you deserve it.  Goodnight folks.

Playstation Fiesta Bowl Preview: Ohio State (11-1, 8-1 BIG) vs Clemson (12-1, 7-1 ACC)


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Who:      The #2 Clemson Tigers versus The #3 Ohio State Buckeyes

What:     College Football Playoff Semi Final, Playstation Fiesta Bowl

Where:  University of Phoenix Stadium, Glendale, Arizona

When:    7 p.m. ET on December 31, 2016


Game Day is here and with hours in between kickoff, I will ease my anxiety with doing one last article before the recap.  In roughly 9 hours, the game will begin and I will take the time to talk about the matchups within the game because there are many juicy matchups between each unit for both teams.  The magnifying glass will be placed on each of those units, regardless of which team wins out, in the end, this game will be used to analyze talent on both teams that are potential NFL Draft prospects if they declare either after or before the game.  This game is viewed as the game to watch because the last team both of these teams met in the Orange Bowl two years ago, it was a shootout.  This year looks to follow suit with a potent offense versus a stellar defense.  Clemson’s Offense is lethal and Ohio State’s Defense is suffocating and this is guaranteed to impress no matter who wins and who loses.

Friends Turned Foes:

imgres-7Urban Meyer and Dabo Swinney share a bond as they both grew as coaches.  Coach Meyer has the edge with multiple championships and one of them came at the expense of his current team when he coached up at Florida.  Coach Swinney on the other hand built Clemson into the monster that they are currently, and he is looking for another shot to prove his worth as a coach and as a team.  Coach Swinney was playful during media day as he playfully mentioned Meyer’s book, constantly mentioning excerpts when given the chance.  Coach Meyer on the other hand was dialed in and seemed distant and focused on the task at hand.  Clemson dished Meyer one of the 5 losses during his tenure at Ohio State.  He gave Meyer his first consecutive loss streak, after Meyer and the Buckeyes fell short in the Big Ten Championship Game.  Is Meyer plotting his revenge?  Will he have something in store for them?  The doubters, who are assuming that Clemson will move on with little to no challenge from the Buckeyes?  The mental chess match between Meyer and Swinney began when the Playoff field was announced.  This is one of the friends turned foes battles.

images-8J.T. Barrett versus Deshaun Watson will be the other friend versus foe matchup to focus your attention on.  Barrett and Watson were good friends when they both served as counselors for an elite passing Camp.  Their relationship has blossomed since as they shared the “see you in Arizona” pleasantries when discovering that their teams will go up against one another.  This will be Watson’s pass-happy attack versus Barrett’s run heavy offense.  Both Quarterbacks aren’t talking and both don’t have to with the body of work that they have created with their respective teams. Both teams will play fast and hard, both teams will be prepared for the kitchen sink at each other, both teams will ride the wave with their Quarterback.  Both players are proven winners and they will look to display their value on the field.

Trench Wars:

51859_hThe battle in the trenches will be another factor in the game. Ohio State has three new starters on the Offensive Line with Junior Jamarco Jones, True Freshman Michael Jordan and Sophomore Isaiah Prince, who has been the chink in the Slobs’ armor at Right Tackle.  Prince will be the crux of if Ohio State is productive on offense and Jordan will also be tested early and often.  Prince will face star Defensive Lineman and former Ohio State target, Christian Wilkins and Jordan faces another beast lineman and another former target, Dexter Lawrence.  Wilkins is a quick twitch lineman, who flashes the speed and burst to blow past linemen and Lawrence has the bulk and outweighs all the Slobs at 340 lbs.  He will be used to take double-teams to free up his companions.  He is also a bully in the interior and the leaders for the Slobs will be tested and busy the entire game.  Pat Elflein and Billy Price will look to stop the bleeding attempting to keep Barrett upright and untouched.  It is easier said than done with the talent on Clemson’s D-Line.

imgresClemson’s has a stout Offensive Line and they are beyond beefed up as they average 310 lbs on every position with their Right Guard being the heaviest at 340 lbs.  The Rushmen will face their toughest challenge of the year trying to reach Deshaun Watson in the backfield.  Clemson boasts a Left Tackle and former Ohio State targer, Mitch Hyatt who has allowed one sack in his tenure at Clemson.  This matchup will be another factor as the battle in the trenches looks to become another tough, but exciting matchup for both teams.  The trench wars will be one of the highlights and the main attraction of the game due to Ohio State’s inability to protect the line line of scrimmage.  With Prince struggling mightily, will he finally earn his star in College Football circles?  Or will he fail once again?  You will never know until the first couple of drives but it very intriguing and my heart hurts just thinking about what could go wrong and what could potentially happen.

Explosive Offense VS Stingy Defense:

imgres-4Ohio State has one of the best secondaries in College Football and they will be needed to stop Clemson’s explosive offense.  Ohio State has playmakers at every level on the defense and Clemson does too, but players like Malik Hooker is a scoring threat with Conley and Lattimore locking down their receivers.  The explosive offense will be a problem as well because Clemson, like Ohio State has playmakers on offense, who can break the game wide open for Watson.  This matchup focuses on WR’s Mike Williams, Artavis Scott, Hunter Renfrow, TE Jordan Leggett and RB Wayne Gallman matching up against Gareon Conley, Marshon Lattimore, Damon Arenette, Denzel Ward, Damon Webb and Malik Hooker.  This will be another exciting matchup between a suffocating defense versus and crazy good offense.  If this doesn’t get you as excited and paranoid as I currently am, you might be dead.  Get a pulse because this could be the matchup that could decide who advances to the big dance.  Ohio State collects athlete’s and playmakers, who add a different element to the defense.  Their secondary is one of the best in taking the ball away and turning it into points.  The Buckeyes have 7 TD’s for points and Hooker has 3 of them.  Turnover’s will be key in this contest that could go either way.

mike-williams-clemsonClemson initially opened up as a three point underdog, even as the higher seed.  They feel slighted and they should because their playmakers will look to do some damage on the vaunted Ohio State Secondary who is known to shift the momentum during close games.  Mike Williams is a dog and a playmaker who can also shift games in their favor.  The rest of the playmakers who start and a few of their key reserves would also do the same.  It is just a matter of protecting the ball and their Quarterback.  It is a strength versus strength battle with both teams as they both look to advance forward.  This will not be a cakewalk for either team.  Ohio State’s Secondary will be one of the best that they have seen so far this season and likewise with Clemson’s Offense.  Clemson will be the best offense that they have faced this season because the depth and talent at every position.  This will be crazy to see both squads fighting to advance into the Championship Game.  Talent versus talent for the glory.

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The Ohio State Offense will lean on Curtis Samuel and the rest of Zone 6 to produce.  Zone 6 has struggled mightily to get separation during games and that is one reason why J.T. Barrett’s production has been lacking a reliable and consistent receiving threat outside of Samuel.  This will be an interesting factor and the pundits are expecting Clemson to put this one out of reach early, with no one giving the Buckeyes a shot with their lack of a passing threat.  It is true that he hasn’t been required to throw it downfield, but when the running is so effective, why change what works.  The Clemson Defense will key in on this fact as they look to shut down Ohio State’s run game early.  The production for Mike Weber and friends, and Samuel will be needed to pull this one out.  One of the Zone 6 members or a couple of them need to show their talent in order to win out.  Binjimen Victor, K.J. Hill, Dontre Wilson, Parris Campbell and Marcus Baugh will be needed, badly.

imgres-4On the other end, the Clemson Secondary will be leaned on to keep the Buckeyes contained.  If Gallman struggles, then it’ll be a defensive battle and both teams are pretty good on offense and defense, it is just a matter of opportunity to make plays.  That is all you could ask for.  Both teams will look to cancel each other out and this will be the epic battle of the century.  The strengths and weaknesses are obvious and well documented and it is up to every unit to produce or make play when needed to.  This will be a crazy game filled with many momentum swings and it will be a good one.  Everyone will be glued to their seats as we watch how the game unfolds.  Are we in store for a blowout or another overtime dance with another well-coached contender.  Who knows, but we will find out in a couple of hours.

Conclusion:

So to conclude, this will be a fight from beginning to end.  Both teams will swing for the fences for a chance at the title.  Everything will be left out on the field after this one.  One team will advance and the other will face their end to a magical season.  For my prediction, I have Ohio State advancing after a hard fought victory.  It will come down to the wire, whether in overtime or at the ending seconds of the game.  This will be a defensive struggle with both teams struggling to get things going.  Barrett does it again, 31-34 Buckeyes.  The a member of the Ohio State Defense will turn the tide on a turnover.  I don’t know who it’ll be and Clemson will be paying attention to where Hooker is lurking, essentially avoiding him.  My guess is McMillan or Baker wreak havoc and Nick Bosa has a game in the Rushmen Package.  A shootout will happen.  Go Bucks!!!

 

 

 

Preview: Ohio State (11-1, 8-1 BIG) vs Clemson (12-1, 7-1 ACC) Part 5

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The huge day is almost upon us and I am nearly complete with my preview series of the Ohio State versus Clemson matchup in the Playstation Fiesta Bowl.  It was a blast getting back into the swing of things, but sadly, the College Football Season is drawing to a close.  The thought of life without College Football makes me cringe, and the anticipation when awaiting the beginning of a new season will seem to drag on.  Now I am certainly not chalking this contest up as a sure loss, just like the Penn State defeat, anything can happen, so I will stick to that until this next game is completed.  The beauty of College Football is anyone can take down the big bad giant, at any given moment.  The passion is unmatched and you could see it in each individual players eyes and in the way that they carry themselves on the field.  Ohio State is already being counted out by everyone who is paid to talk about it, and I wouldn’t have it any other way than that. The Buckeyes thrive when playing the underdog role.  Ohio State is favored by a mere field goal, but they are already being counted out before the game even begins.  We will see what they do when the opening kickoff commences.

Defensive Backs:

Each team has strengths and advantages in certain areas.  Clemson has a dominant and stout Defensive Line that loves to get to the opposing Quarterbacks.  Both teams, in my opinion, are equal when comparing the Line Backing Core’s, as they are both rangy, athletic, sure-tacklers, who can play from sideline to sideline.  Ohio State has an advantage at Defensive Back and their defenders have shown a knack for making clutch plays during crunch time.  The Silver Bullets have 19 total interceptions for the season, 3 of which were takeaways from Line Backers,  so the Scarlet Curtain accounted for 16 of the 19 interceptions for the season, and 6 of the 7 interceptions for scores for the defense.  They have the ability to flip the field and score on that end as well because they have 7 pick six’s for the season.  Clemson’s Defensive Backs aren’t terrible either, as a defense they have 18 total interceptions, with 2 being taken back for scores.  14 of them were due to the Defensive Backs on their roster, 4 of their interceptions were from their Line Backers and their backs took both picks to the house.  I will give the Buckeyes the slight edge, due to the production of their unit and their ability to turn the tide in the ball game, but for now, I will go over each key player.

Ryan Carter, CB:

imgres-1Ryan Carter is a Redshirt Junior who will be most likely be matched up against Noah Brown during this contest.  Clemson tends to blitz, a lot, and that leaves their Cornerbacks on islands with opposing pass catchers.  Carter is listed as being 5-9, 180 lbs and he comes from Grayson, Georgia.  Carter has 28 tackles for the season, with 18 of those tackles being solo tackles.  He also has one interception, one sack and he has 5.5 tackles for loss for the season so far.  Carter will be charged with locking down the outside receivers.  Size is always a concern, but he plays up to his competition as he has tallied 7 total pass break-ups to date.  He will contend with unproven and young receivers this game, who routinely struggle to get separation from defenders.  The blitzing and the constant pressure will be leaned upon to prevent big splash plays from occurring as Carter will be tasked to shut his man down.

Cordrea Tankersley, CB:

imgres-2Cordrea Tankersley is one of the Senior leader’s of the Defensive Backs as he looks to finish out his career at Clemson with another shot at the Championship, and hopefully against Alabama.  They have to go through the Buckeyes prior to that, and with the media counting them in the Championship Game already, why not share the same mindset.  Right?  Tankersley is second on the team in interceptions with 3.  He has made 43 tackles and 32 of them were solo tackles.  He leads his team with 10 pass break ups and he has 6 tackles for losses.  He will be shadowing Curtis Samuel for the majority of the game.  His leadership will be needed as that, by no means is an easy assignment.  He will need to be ready for whatever the Buckeyes throw at him because in the Pitt loss, he was not playing up to his ability and the team suffered their first and only defeat of the year.

Van Smith, FS:

imgres-3Van Smith is the starting Free Safety for this Clemson squad replacing T.J. Green, who now plays in the NFL for the Indianapolis Colts.  He has big shoes to fill, but he has filled the void.  Smith is listed as being 5-11, 195 lbs and he has grown up this past season.  He leads the Defensive Backs in tackles with 87 and 59 of them were of the solo variety.  He has 5 tackles for loss and 2 forced fumbles and pass break ups.  He will be roaming the backfield with reckless abandon, to attempt to make plays on the inexperienced receivers that Ohio State has on their roster.  Smith plays aggressively and tends to over pursue, but more often than not, he makes the play.  He is rangy as he looks toward this matchup against the Buckeyes.

Jadar Johnson, SS:

imgres-4Jadar Johnson is the starter at Strong Safety and he replaced Jayron Kearse after he left for the pros.  Johnson is listed as 6-0, 210 lbs and he is the hammer on the defense and the other Senior on the roster.  Johnson leads his team with 5 interceptions for the season and is second in tackles with 49 and 34 solo tackles.  He has 1.5 tackles for loss with 7 pass break ups.  He is the leader on the back end and he has a ton of confidence prior to this game as he has been talking about J.T. Barrett during media days. Although he is correct about Barrett’s lack of statistics in the throwing department, he cannot discount the fact that he is just as capable as the “better” Quarterbacks that he has faced this season.  Lamar Jackson is a beast and I know this, and that is why I am not completely disagreeing with him, but to throw a Buckeye under the bus prior to the game?  Think Oklahoma.  But this should be a fun matchup to see how Barrett responds to the chatter.  If he is able to find the time to make the correct throw, watch out.

Gareon Conley, CB:

imgresGareon Conley, from Massillon, Ohio was on the cusp of becoming a hated rival for the Buckeyes, but a last minute offer turned him toward the Scarlet and Gray, and the rest is history. Conley turned out to be a suitable replacement for Eli Apple after he left for the New York Giants.  Conley is 6-0, 195 lbs and he is the one of the older members of this secondary being in his Junior season.  Conley has 3 interceptions this season, 20 total tackles, 16 solo tackles and 8 pass break ups.  He takes on the opposing offenses best receiver, which will be Mike Williams, who is a projected First Round lock in the upcoming draft.  This will be one of the most anticipated matchups in this game as Williams is projected to go in the first round and Conley is floating around in the Late First Round to Second Round.  With a good showing, I could see him shoot up draft boards prior to the combine, but that is assuming that he shuts down Williams during the game.  Conley will looks to advance against a loaded receiving corps that can score at will.

Marshon Lattimore, CB:

imgres-2Marshon Lattimore has finally beat the injuries to live up to the expectations from when he first set foot onto the campus.  After lingering injuries prevented him from playing, he broke into the College Football scene after 2 years of waiting.  It has been a sight to see as he is second on the team in total interceptions with 4 for the season.  He brought one to the house against Tulsa to break the game wide-open for the Buckeyes.  He could have had two, but a penalty erased one from existence, but he shows the playmaking ability with his speed and man to man skills, which will be needed against a loaded offense that Clemson possesses.  Lattimore is also a sure tackler with 38 and 27 solo tackles.  He has 9 pass break ups as he and Conley are usually placed on islands during games and they will look to shut down whoever they both face.

Damon Webb, FS:

imgres-3Damon Webb, a player plucked from Michigan is the starting Free Safety at Ohio State who is replacing Vonn Bell.  Webb is the smallest member of the secondary, but he plays with a lot of heart and fire.  At 5-10, 195 lbs the Junior will look to shut down this talented Clemson Offense.  Webb has 53 tackles for the season with 29 solo tackles and he has 2 tackles for a loss with an interception for a score and 3 pass break ups.  He will be tasked with stopping the Tight End and the Slot Receivers during the game.  Ward has the ability to tackle, but he often relies on big hits to dislodge the ball away from the receivers and he will need to wrap up this game.  Coverage will be key as the Clemson Offense can put up points in a variety of ways.  Discipline will be key in this matchup as he will face the most potent offense this season.

Malik Hooker, SS:

imgres-4Malik Hooker is the star of this Ohio State Defense as he leads the team in interceptions with 6 and 3 of those went for touchdowns.  Hooker, a Redshirt Sophomore will look to make plays against a dangerous offense that Clemson will attempt to unleash.  Hooker will be one of the obstacles in their way, because he has shown his ability to make key, timely plays in the clutch.  Hooker nearly left the Buckeyes after being unable to obtain a starting position, but family and the coaching staff made it happen and look what they have unleashed.  Hooker was a three star recruit out of New Castle, Pennsylvania coming out of high school and he is one player where stars did not matter.  Hooker is 6-2, 205 lbs and he is a threat on the field.  He is the ball hawk of the secondary and he can do it all from sideline to sideline.  Hooker has 67 tackles, 38 solo, 5 for loss, he has half a sack and 5 pass break ups.  His stats aren’t gaudy in those categories, but he can hurt you in a variety of ways.  He will hover around the field to make plays.  Hopefully he could add to his stats at the end of the game.

Specialists:

Special Teams is important when fighting for field position.  Both teams will look to unleash their respective Special Teams members when needed to flip the field and kick field goals and extra points. They, like everyone else, needs to bring their A Game and as we inch closer, their kicks and punts will play a role during this contest.

Greg Huegel, K:

imgres-5Greg Huegel will be the primary kicker for the contest.  Huegel is a Redshirt Sophomore who stands at 5-11, 195 lbs.  He will be the primary kickoff man as well.  He has 86 kickoffs for the season and 36 of them were touchbacks.  He has kicked 17 field goals this season, making 13 of them for a 76.5% field goal success rate.  For extra points, Huegel is 62 of 64 for a 96.9% success rate.  This will be key in this game as every point matters and is of great importance.

Andy Teasdall, P:

images-2Andy Teasdall is a Redshirt Senior who is looking to cap off his Clemson career on top of the College Football mountain, but he will need two wins to do it.  The first battle to the top will be against Ohio State and he will be asked to pin the Ohio State Offense deep within their territory to unleash the hounds.  Teasdall has 48 total punts for 1808 yards and he is averaging 37.67 yards per punt and 150.7 yards per game.  Teasdall will try to pin J.T. Barrett deep the entire game to give his defense a chance to make plays.

Tyler Durbin, K:

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Tyler Durbin, a former walk-on, earned his starting gig after Sean Nuernberger was injured.  He has been quite the asset, but his most recent performance against Michigan before coming up clutch to force overtime was a much needed confidence booster for him.  For the season Durbin is 17 for 19 with his two misses and last make coming in the overtime thriller in Columbus.  Durbin hit 89.5% of his field goals and 63 out of 65 of his extra point attempts, which sits at 96.9%.  Durbin is also in charge of kickoffs and out of 92 kickoffs this season, 35 of them were touchbacks for a total of 38.04%.  He like the Clemson kicker, will be used to score whenever called upon to extend the lead or earn points to pull a little closer.  Coach Meyer has been alongside him whenever he practices kicking field goals and he will need ice in his veins to keep up with this Clemson Offense.

Cameron Johnston, P:

imgres-6Camerson Johnston is a Senior Punter from Australia who is also looking to cap off his Buckeye career on top of the College Football mountain, but Clemson will be a tough task with the Athletes that they have at every position.  Ohio State has the same quality and quantity of athletes, but it makes it very hard to choose who would win.  Johnston will be looked at to flip the field on Special Teams with his patented rugby style kick.  He has been effective when utilized for punts.  He has punted the ball 49 times for 2266 yards and he is averaging 46.24 per punt and 188.8 yards per game which is absurd.  He has one rushing attempt, that if properly blocked, would’ve been enough for a fourth down conversion, but it was not meant to be.  He will be needed to give the Buckeyes a chance on defense.

 

Preview: Ohio State (11-1, 8-1 BIG) vs Clemson (12-1, 7-1 ACC) Part 4

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With only four short days away, the inevitable clash between the Ohio State Buckeyes and the Clemson Tigers in Glendale, Arizona is coming.  The thought of the Semi-Final Playoff bout between two top-tier programs that are vying for a spot in the Playoff Championship Game fills my heart with a good mix of nervousness and excitement, and I am somewhere in the middle.  I occasionally am paranoid when the Buckeyes play and this game is no exception.  Hopefully, Ohio State can advance, but this should be another instant classic that the Buckeyes are participating in.

Defensive Front Seven:

Both teams possess stellar and stout defenses capable of holding opposing offenses down until their respective offenses get things rolling.  After the completion of last season, both Ohio State and Clemson suffered a mass exodus when a group of starter left to begin their careers in the NFL.  Clemson had 12 players drafted with Shaq Lawson being the only player who was drafted in the first round.  Clemson had four players taken in the first three rounds.  Ohio State also had 12 players drafted, but they saw Joey Bosa, Ezekiel Elliott, Eli Apple, Taylor Decker and Darron Lee being taken in the first round and a total of 10 players taken in the first three rounds.  Both teams took a hit on talent on the defensive side of the ball and when comparing both teams losses, Clemson lost 8 total defenders and Ohio State lost 7 on their end.  Both teams showed their ability to recruit and reload, and they both have players on their respective rosters that they battled each other for.  Can their new-look defenses shut down the opposing teams’ offense?

Christian Wilkins, DE:

imgresChristian Wilkins, who stands at 6-4, 310 lbs is one of the playmakers on this Clemson Defense who can disrupt the rhythm of opposing offenses and he will be the one to set the tone for this defense.  Wilkins was a one of the few five star recruits that Coach Meyer wanted badly, but things tend to happen for a reason.  Wilkins is a beast who can affect offenses because of his motor and his willpower.  Wilkins has 44 total tackles this season with 21 solo tackles.  He has 12 tackles for loss and 3.5 sacks to go along with that.  The Slobs will face their toughest defensive front to date.  Wilkins will look to make an impact in the trenches.

Carlos Watkins, DT:

imgres-1Carlos Watkins is Clemson’s 6-3, 300 lbs Redshirt Senior who is the oldest player on the Defensive Line.  Watkins has tallied 41 tackles with 22 solo tackles.  He has 8.5 sacks for the season and 10.5 tackles for loss with a blocked kick to add to his stat sheet. Watkins is a penetrator and one of the most influential players on the young Defensive Line.  He will work with the other linemen to disrupt the Ohio State Offensive Lineman.  Watkins is the third heaviest lineman on the line, but he is ruthless.  He will look to take advantage of True Freshman Michael Jordan in this matchup inside the trenches.

Dexter Lawrence, DT:

imgres-2True Freshman Dexter Lawrence was the other prized five star recruit that Coach Meyer missed out on.  His recruitment went down to the wire and Ohio State nearly had it, but distance was the key determining factor in this recruiting battle between Clemson and Ohio State.  Lawrence is from North Carolina and he is the heaviest lineman on the defense.  He is 6-5 and he weighs 340 lbs.  Lawrence is literally the anchor and he will be matched up against Elflein and Price along the interior.  He has logged 58 total tackles with 19 solo tackles, he has 9 tackles for loss, 6.5 sacks and he has 2 blocks on Special teams.  He has an engine and he will be a problem for the Slobs the entire game.

Clelin Ferrell, DE:

imgres-3Clelin Ferrell is the lightest Defensive Lineman on Clemson’s roster.  Ferrell is 6-5, 265 lbs and he is the quickest member on the squad as well.  Ferrell has 39 tackles with 16 solo tackles, he has 8.5 tackles for loss and 5 sacks for the season.  He earns his keep by pressuring the opposing Quarterback.  He will line up against Isaiah Prince, who is Ohio State’s biggest question mark.  He has given up an excess of 45+ Qb pressures and Clemson will take that matchup.  They will look to pressure J.T. Barrett early and often to disrupt his rhythm and put him on his back.  This will be one of the matchup’s to watch as Prince will look to redeem himself against a stout Clemson front who loves to blitz, a lot.

Dorian O’Daniel, WLB:

imgres-4Dorian O’Daniel is 6-1, 215 lbs and is a fourth year Junior.  He has 48 tackles for the season with 31 solo tackles.  He is a sure tackler with the grit and determination to bring down the ball carrier.  He has 9 tackles for loss, 2.5 sacks and a forced fumble. O’Daniel will be used on the edges and he is one of the many speed rushers that Clemson seems to stockpile on their roster. He plays like Vic Beasley as he looks to terrorize the Ohio State Offensive Tackles.

Kendall Joseph, MLB:

imgres-5Kendall Joseph is 6-0, 230 lbs and he is from South Carolina playing for his home state team.  Although he is the smallest member of their Linebacking core, he plays with the grit and the determination of a bigger player.  Joseph is a playmaker and he sits at second on the team in tackles with 94 tackles and 49 of those are solo tackles.  He has 10 tackles for loss, 3.5 sacks, 5 Qb hurries and a forced fumble.  He will attempt to wreak havoc on the Buckeyes O-Line to expose their youth at both Offensive Tackle spots and at Left Guard.  Joseph is only Redshirt Sophomore, but he has played in big games, as he gained valuable experience during last season’s College Football Playoff run.

Ben Boulware, WLB:

images-2Ben Boulware is the heart and the soul of this Clemson Defense.  He play with fire and you could see it when he steps onto the field and after he makes plays.  Boulware, a Senior out of Anderson, South Carolina who is 6-0, 235 lbs leads all tacklers in the front seven with 105 tackles and he has 50 solo tackles.  He has been disruptive with 9 tackles for loss, 4 sacks and 3 forced fumbles. Boulware plays with the raw emotion that gets his team up for games, but that could also be his downfall.  He is known to have a short fuse and he is prone to penalties, but he is a valuable playmaker that needs to get going early.  He will be used on blitzes and in coverage as he looks for the win and a Championship berth.

Sam Hubbard, DE:

images-3Sam Hubbard stands at 6-5, 266 lbs and he was tabbed as an Athlete coming out of high school.  He was supposed to become a Safety for the Buckeyes, but a growth spurt shifted him toward the D-Line.  Hubbard has 41 tackles and 18 of those were solo tackles.  He has 7 tackles for loss with 3 sacks.  He sees a lot of double teams while on the field and not in the vaunted Rushmen Package.  He does his job well and frees up the Line Backers from the trenches.  Hubbard is an effective pass rusher and he will be looked at to hold containment when Watson attempts to rush the ball and rush the passer as well.

Dre’mont Jones, DT:

images-5Dre’mont Jones benefited from the injury to Tracy Sprinkle during the offseason.  He is 6-3, 280 lbs and he fits the Ohio State mold of the athletic and disruptive space eater in the interior.  Jones, a Redshirt Freshman, started off slow, but he has gained more consistency and confidence as the season draws to a close.  Jones has registered 46 total tackles as an interior Defensive Lineman with 18 solo tackles.  He will be used to disrupt the linemen in the trenches.  He will most likely be used in a rotation as the Buckeyes have depth at just about every spot on the defensive front seven.  Although Jones has no sacks to show, he shows up on film constantly taking on double-teams and catching the attention of O-Lineman to free up a blitzing member of his defense.  He will look to doing battle in the trenches.

Michael Hill, DT:

imgres-6Michael Hill also benefited from the Sprinkle injury, but unlike Jones, he was slated to start alongside him.  Hill is 6-3, 305 lbs and he is the heaviest member of the team.  Like Jones, his stats aren’t mind blowing, but he serves a purpose on the defensive gameplan. He is another space eater that will take on double teams to free up teammates.  He has 19 tackles this season with 7 solo tackles.  He has 3 tackles for loss.  He has the ability to penetrate if given the opportunity and he will line up against a mammoth Right Guard Tyrone Crowder who weighs an astounding 340 lbs.  He will certainly be tough to move and maneuver against, but the war in the trenches will be another aspect of this game to pay attention to.  Hill played high school ball in Pendleton, South Carolina and was also recruited by Clemson.  Hopefully, he plays with the intensity and a chip on his shoulder as he dons the Scarlet and Gray during his third season at Ohio State.

Tyquan Lewis, DE:

imgres-7Tyquan Lewis was another recruit that fought over by both teams.  He played in nearby North Carolina, but chose to branch away and play further away from home.  Lewis is in his third year at Ohio State.  He is 6-4, 266 lbs and he is another pass rusher that fits the mold at Ohio State.  He will be utilized to rush the passer and disrupt the Clemson tempo.  Like Hubbard, he lacks in the statistical aspect of things, but he does his job and plays his role on defense.  He has 10 tackles for loss and 7.5 sacks.  He has 5 Qb hurries and 3 forced fumbles.  He is a disruptive force and in obvious passing situations, he will be utilized in the Rushmen Package to get to the Quarterback.  He will be looked at to set the tone and ensure his brothers follow suit.  The opposing Tackles opposite of them will be tough tests for Lewis and his teammates, but they will bring the heat as often as they are allowed to.

Chris Worley, SLB:

imgres-8Chris Worley, a Junior out of Cleveland will be one of the playmakers on this defense that will look to cause fits for Clemson’s Offense. Worley is 6-2, 228 lbs and he plays to Ohio State’s standard for Line Backers.  There is a legacy at the position that he has to uphold and he has done a good job as he finally gets his chance after sitting behind players like Darron Lee.  Worley has 59 tackles for the season and 35 of those were done by himself.  Worley has no sacks this season, but he filled that void by gathering an interception, a forced fumble, 2 Qb hurries and he has batted down 4 passes.  He has 4.5 tackles for loss and he will looks to shut down the strong side of the Clemson Offense with his speed and his ability to tackle.  He will have a tough time getting past the Offensive Tackles, but we will have to see what will happen during gameday.

Raekwon McMillan, MLB:

imgres-9Raekwon McMillan will lead the defense after taking the reins after sharing snaps with Curtis Grant.  McMillan is a Junior and a projected early round pick in the upcoming draft, but like all draft eligible players, they are locked-into this matchup with Clemson. McMillan is 6-2, 243 and he is one Coach Meyer’s most prized recruits that he pulled from the heart of the south.  McMillan is from Georgia and he picked Ohio State over Clemson.  He is as motivated as anybody on this defense due to the proximity to home.  McMillan leads all tacklers with 87 total tackles and 37 solo tackles.  He has 5 tackles for loss with a sack, 2 Qb hurries and 2 forced fumbles.  He will need to play the game of his life on defense against a potent Clemson Offense.  He will need to make the right checks and audibles.  He will need to get his teammates motivated and he will need to play motivated like the “basic defense” that shut down the potent Oklahoma Offense.

Jerome Baker, WLB:

imgres-10Jerome Baker also benefited from an injury to a Dante Booker.  Although Booker began as the starter, injuries derailed his chances and it gave way to Baker’s talent. Baker, a Cleveland native, is 6-1, 225 lbs and he plays with a reckless abandon that Darron Lee played with during his Buckeye career.  Baker, Sophomore had the chance to grow under Lee and he certainly plays with the same intensity.  Baker is second on the team in tackles with 79 and 42 of those were solo tackles.  Baker has 8.5 tackles for loss and he is the swiss army knife of the defense.  He has 2 interceptions, 1 of which was a pick-six that he had against Oklahoma and 3.5 sacks. He will be used to rush the passer and play in coverage.  He is as rangy as they come and he has the speed to do both.  The only question mark is his tackling ability.  Sure, he is second on the team, but he rarely wraps up and goes for the huge hit.  He will need to bring his A Game if he wants to advance.

The Reserves:

Both teams have depth in their front seven.  Clemson has Richard Yeargin and Austin Bryant on the Defensive Line to spell the starters.  Ohio State has the likes of Nick Bosa, Jaylin Holmes and Robert Landers who are all disruptive in their own right.  This will be a test of wills for both teams as they looks to advance and both teams are just about even talent-wise.  This will be a game within a game and the team who dominates in the trenches will advance.  This will be a battle until the end and as it draws near, the excitement becomes more overwhelming.  This is a game that could go either way, and it is probably the matchup to watch in the Playoffs.

Preview: Ohio State (11-1, 8-1 BIG) vs Clemson (12-1, 7-1 ACC) Part 3

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The play of the Offensive Line will be the determining factor during this Playoff Semifinal Game as both teams have very disruptive personnel on their respective Defensive Lines and Linebacker corps.  The game within the trenches will determine who advances or who survives to reach the big dance, the Playoff Championship Game.  Both teams will look to maintain the line of scrimmage and dominate the other unit as they both collide.  The talent is evident and during this part of the series, I will be previewing the Offensive Lines for the Ohio State Buckeyes and Clemson Tigers.

Offensive Line:

Per ncaa.com, the edge on the Offensive Line goes to the Clemson Tigers and it isn’t even remotely close in relation to sacks allowed.  Clemson ranks #10 in the NCAA in this statistic category with 14 opponent sacks given up by their unit in 13 games.  They surrendered 72 yards to those sacks and are averaging 1.08 per game.  The Ohio State Buckeyes on the other hand have surrendered 25 sacks in 12 games, which doubles what Clemson has allowed.  In the Penn State loss and the Michigan win, the Buckeyes gave up a total of 14 sacks when faced with a disruptive front seven, and guess what Clemson has?  An athletic, disruptive and blitz happy front seven.  The Buckeyes have given up 127 opponent sack yards and they are giving up 2.08 sacks per contest.  Not what Buckeye Nation wants to see or hear, but you have to accept it for what its worth.  There has to be a lot of improvement from the Offensive Line, especially with Right Tackle Isaiah Prince being suc a liability for this offense.  If they want to come out on top, Prince needs to play his best game of the season because he will have a huge target on his back after giving up a ton of pressures to opposing defensive units.

 Mitch Hyatt, LT:

mitch-hyattMitch Hyatt is one of the recruits that Urban Meyer did not get during the 2014 recruiting cycle, and that is one of the biggest misses during his tenure as Head Coach at Ohio State as Hyatt has grown into a monster at the Left Tackle position for Clemson, as he has allowed one sack during his tenure at Clemson.  Hyatt comes from Suwanee, Georgia and after visiting Clemson during the recruiting cycle, he chose the nearby Tigers.  Hyatt is the image of consistency that the Tigers boast on their roster and he will be looked at and leaned upon by his teammates.  Hyatt is 6-5 295 lbs and like a had mentioned he is a beast on the Offensive Line.  He play with an edge and a degree of nastiness, and he always finishes his blocks.  Hyatt is in his second year at Clemson and he has improved a lot during his time there.  It should be a matchup to watch as he will see a few combinations of Defensive Linemen when going up against Ohio State.

Taylor Hearn, LG:

taylor-hearnTaylor Hearn is the starting Left Guard for Clemson.  Hearn is 6-5, 325 lbs and he is the second heaviest Offensive Lineman on the roster.  Hearn looks and plays like a bull as he uses his weight and his size to bully opposing players to help Watson move the ball.  Hearn has spend three years developing his skill within the Clemson program and early-on, he took a redshirt.  Hearn played high school in Williston, South Carolina as he is living his dream in his home state.  Last season, Hearn registered 8 knockdown blocks in 180 snaps in 14 games in 2015, so he shows his ability to seek and destroy defenders on blocks.

 

Jay Guillermo, C:

jay-guillermoJay Guillermo is a Redshirt Senior out of Maryville, Tennessee.  Guillermo is 6-3, 310 lbs and is the starting Center for the Clemson Tigers.  Last season, Guillermo earned Second-Team All-ACC honors.  For this game he will face a Buckeye Defensive front seven that will attempt to give his unit fits on offense.  Guillermo has the experience edge because he has faced a supremely talented defensive front in last seasons Playoff Championship Game in the Alabama Crimson Tide.  He and his quarterback will be looking to take care of business for another berth in the big game, but for now the Buckeyes stand in the way of that.  Guillermo is the glue of the Offensive Line and he is a road grader on offense.  He will look to keep the interior defenders and any linebacker who are willing to blitz in check.

Tyrone Crowder, RG:

tyrone-crowderTyrone Crowder at Right Guard, is the heaviest of the bunch, weighing 340 lbs.  He is 6-2, but his size will be a major concern for Buckeye defenders as he outweighs them all.  The closest defender is Michael Hill at 307 lbs.  Crowder is a Redshirt Junior and last season he earned Third-team All-ACC honors.  He also has big game experience, as he played against Alabama last season in the Championship Game.  Crowder is a run blocker who plays much bigger than he is listed as.  He play with a chip on his shoulder and he is very nasty.  He will be the focal point on offense as he will be utilized primarily as a run blocker.  At least that’s what I would do because he outweighs the entire defense that he is facing.  Watson and Gallman will be looking to run behind their big man as Clemson looks to shred the Buckeye Defense on the ground first, then eventually through the air.

 

Sean Pollard, RT:

sean-pollardSean Pollard is the youngest member on the Offensive Line for Clemson.  He is a true Freshman, who is starting on one of the most prolific offenses this season.  Pollard is 6-5, 315 lbs and he hails from Jackson Springs, North Carolina.  Pollard was the 129 overall player on the Scout site, 173 by ESPN and 177 by Rivals, so he is no slouch.  Although he is young, he has found a role within the Offensive Line and he will look to develop against Ohio State.  Ohio State will likely attempt to test Pollard throughout the contest, for being the youngest and most inexperienced lineman on the Clemson roster.  It will be a stretch to undermine the 14 sacks given up, but whatever edge they can attempt to find is added motivation for Pollard and his teammates.

 

Jamarco Jones, LT:

jamarco-jonesJamarco Jones is the starting Left Tackle for the Ohio State Buckeyes out of Chicago, Illinois.  Jones stands at 6-5 and 310 lbs and he will be facing the most dangerous front seven, rivaling arch rival Michigan’s.  He will be facing a lot of former Buckeye targets as Coach Meyer has lost more than a few prospective defensive players to Clemson.  Christian Wilkins and Dexter Lawrence, who were both major needs/wants for Urban Meyer, but the prospect of playing near family won out in the end as both players chose Clemson over Ohio State.  Jamarco Jones is one of the better Offensive Linemen on the roster behind upperclassmen Pat Elflein and Billy Price.  He will look to keep J.T. Barrett upright against a blitz happy Clemson Defense.  Jones has a knack for being up for the challenge and he will look to continue his pursuit of a National Title berth.  Jones has been one of the most consistent member of the Slobs, he earned Second-team All-Big Ten honors last season and he has gained valuable experience that helped him develop into the player he is now.  He will be looked upon the entire game.

Michael Jordan, LG:

michael-jordanMichael Jordan is the starting Left Guard who hails from Canton, Michigan.  He is one of the four Michigan players that chose the Scarlet and Gray over the Maize and Blue.  Jordan is massive, standing at 6-7, 310 lbs and he, as a true Freshman, has exceeded expectations as he earned a starting spot over Redshirt Freshman Matthew Burrell.  Jordan is the first Buckeye since Orlando Pace in 1994, who had started a season opener and he has started all 12 games so far this season.  He beat out a ton of talented Offensive Lineman and that speaks volume to the depth that Coach Meyer has created within his program.  Jordan has quietly pieced together a great season.  He has grown into the consistent road grader that this staff loves to see and produce.  Being on the interior, Jordan will face an athletic and rangy defensive front that blitzes a lot.  He will face his biggest test during this game, but there isn’t a better way to grow.  He will use this as a test to gage where he stands and how he can improve because they will need his consistency.  The Buckeyes love to pull the guard and the center so look for them to try to isolate the edge defenders when the need arises.

Pat Elflein, C:

pat-elfleinPat Elflein is the Ohio State starting Center and one of the team captains on the roster.  Elflein is one of three offensive starters from a season ago.  A Redshirt Junior, Elflein looks to potentially finish out his career as a Buckeye as a National Champion, but prior to that he and his unit need to do their jobs against a stout Clemson Defense.  Elflein is 6-3, 300 lbs and make no mistake, he is the outright leader of the Slobs.  Elflein was a little known Offensive Line prospect that has grown and flourished with the Buckeyes.  He was selected for and received the Rimington Award for the top Lineman of the year and the Big 10’s version, the Rimington-Pace Award.  He stands out and he will be leaned upon to make the proper shifts and callouts during the game.  Clemson loves to blitz and they will likely do so, but I feel like they will try to catch the Buckeyes off guard with some zone blitzes, but we will see.  The offense moves quicker when Elflein is on top of his game and making the proper reads on the line.  Look for him to motion out to seal the edges because the Buckeyes will look to run the ball a lot with the many questions at Wide Receiver looming.  He has the most experience out of the entire line and he knows what it takes to succeed as he was a starter for the 2014 National Champion Buckeyes at Left Guard.

Billy Price, RG:

billy-price

Billy Price is another under-the-radar recruit out of Ohio who developed into another nice player for the Buckeyes.  Price is one of the three returning starters for the Buckeyes from a season ago and he looks to finish his Redshirt Sophomore season on top of the College Football mountain, but first he has to take care of business against the Clemson Tigers.  Price has been inconsistent lately and this is a concern for the Buckeyes because he has the experience.  Price is 6-4, 315 lbs and he is the heaviest Slob of them all.  With the body and strength of a wrestler and a interior Defensive Lineman out of high school, he will look to punish the Clemson Defenders when they look to break through the line of scrimmage.  He has the ability to become the nastiest Slob of them all this season and he earned First Team All Big Ten honors this season.  He and Elflein will look to pick up the younger player if they are beginning to doubt their abilities, during moments of adversity.  That is what Price and Elflein have been doing the entire season and I don’t see anything changing.  Price helped pick Prince up after the loss to Penn State and for the entirety of the season, he will not leave a fellow Slob behind.

Isaiah Prince, RT:

isaiah-princeThe biggest liability on the Offensive Line, Isaiah Prince will start once again as the Right Tackle for the Buckeyes as he looks to redeem himself against a dangerous Clemson front seven that loves to blitz.  He stands at an imposing 6-7 and he weighs 310 lbs.  He is a true Sophomore with a ton of upside and potential.  Unfortunately, Prince has been the weakness of the Slobs for the entirety of the season and although as a fan it is easier to talk from the outside in, he hasn’t done that bad of a job for his first year starting.  People need to quit going after him, but he will use the criticism to motivate him.  Since the Buckeyes began bowl practice, and since Conference Championship Week, Prince has been getting extra reps and working on his craft.  He shows the want and the determination to get better.  Will his work pay off?  We won’t know until game day, but his confidence has been up and down and his fellow Slobs have been there through it all.  The staff still trusts him so until he stops trying, I would expect to see him out there instead of Malcolm Pridgeon, who recently had his black stripe removed.  The Buckeyes will looks for Prince to improve on pass protections scheme’s and they will look to make an impact in the run and pass game.  There is a reason why Alabama wanted when he was coming out of high school.  He is a balanced Offensive Lineman who is capable of blocking and when he grasps success, he will be a threat.  Growing pains are necessary and I have this odd feeling that he will exceed expectations during this game.  He has been under fire a lot this season and this might be his coming out party.

 

 

 

Playoff Preview: Ohio State (11-1, BIG 8-1) vs Clemson (12-1, ACC 7-1) Part 2

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As the big day inches closer, we all as fans tend to get overly anxious for any material pertaining to our team.  We are a little over 11 days away from the College Football Playoff Semi Final matchup with the Clemson Tigers, and it cannot come any sooner.  Last time around, I wrote about the matchups at the Quarterback and the Running Back positions.  This week, I will examine the Wide Receivers and the Tight Ends.  Without these three positions, the Quarterbacks and the Running Backs will have a difficult time getting things going.  This matchup will be determined by both teams ability to move the ball early and often, but it will lean on the Offensive Line and their ability to protect their signal caller and control the line of scrimmage.

Wide Receivers:

Clemson has four able bodied and proven Wide Receivers that could make the big plays.  That is what makes Clemson’s offense so potent and dangerous, and this will be Ohio State’s biggest and most difficult challenge to contain.  They all contain the perfect blend of size, skill and speed, and with that, they will square off against one of the top defenses in the nation.

Mike Williams:

mike-williams-clemsonMike Williams is the biggest playmaker that the Tigers have in their arsenal.  He stands at 6-3 and 225 lbs and he is a threat whenever he steps on the field.  He leads all receivers on the roster with 84 total catches for 1171 yards.  Williams is averaging 13.9 yards per catch and he has a total of 10 receiving touchdowns.  His longest catch for a score is 50-yards.  Judging by the game logs for this year, he tends to disappear during some stretches of the game, but then he makes an impactful play that turns the tide for his team.  He has the speed to separate from defenders, while being an able and willing lead blocker for his teammates.  He will most likely draw Ohio State’s best Defensive Back Gareon Conley, due to his game breaking ability.  Gareon Conley is no slouch either, and the matchup between the two will be one of many great matchups to watch, as both teams try to advance to the Championship Game against either Alabama or Washington.

Deon Cain:

deon-cane-clemsonDeon Cain is another playmaker. that when given the opportunity, he can hurt you with his speed and his playmaking ability.  Cain is listed as 6-1, 210 lbs, but he plays fast all the time.  For this season, he has racked up 621 yards and 9 total touchdowns.  He has 32 catches and he is averaging 19.4 yards per catch, and he like Williams is a big play waiting to happen.  His longest catch for a score is 65-yards as he had a field day against Syracuse.  He ended that game with 5 catches for 125-yards and 2 touchdowns.  Cain will also get the attention from another talented defender, Marshon Lattimore, who is Ohio State’s other starting Cornerback.  Another enticing matchup between two more talented NFL prospects, and a lot is on the line in this game.  Each team will look for an edge, in was is easily the most exciting matchup because it is unpredictable and NFL caliber players are spread out between both teams.

Artavis Scott:

artavis-scott-clemsonArtavis Scott isn’t too far behind Cain, statistic wise as he has 592-yards receiving and 5 touchdowns catches.  The statistic that separates Cain and Scott is their catch numbers as Scott more than doubled Cain’s output with 71 catches for the season.  Scott is averaging 8.3 yards per catch and has a long of 28-yards.  Scott is listed as 5-10, 190 lbs, but he the ability to make tough catches in between defenders.  His role will vary, but he will look for his opportunities to make a play and an impact.  Scott will draw the Nickel Back in Denzel Ward.  Ward tends to bust plays and this matchup certainly does not favor the Buckeyes, but it certainly favors Clemson.  They will look to take advantage of the inexperience and Ward’s lack of consistency.  We will just have to wait and see how things develop after bowl practice concludes.  This will most likely be the matchup to watch and I have a sneaky suspicion that Scott will be used on jet sweeps and gadget plays because it is apparently Ohio State’s weakness of defense.

Trevion Thompson:

trevion-thompson-clemsonTrevion Thompson is an under-the-radar Wide Receiver that has potential to impact the game for Clemson.  He doesn’t have the eye-popping stats as the other receiver, but he will make his presence felt when given an opportunity.  He is 6-2, 200 lbs and he registered 11 receptions for 108-yards for a single touchdown.  He is averaging 9.8 yards per catch and he has a long of 25-yards.  For some reason, I think that he will be used in the jet sweep role as well.  There isn’t that much film on him, so it is unknown at this point of what Clemson has planned for him or the Ohio State Defense.  I am sure they will have a lot of back-up plans and contingencies, but for now, Thompson cannot be forgotten.  On Defense, he will matchup with Ward, Arnette or depending on how bad things goes, another unknown playmaker can make the best out of his opportunity.

Curtis Samuel:

curtis-samuelCurtis Samuel is the engine oil for the Ohio State Offense.  He is the playmaker that will most likely see double-teams throughout the duration of the game because defenses would be stupid to leave him in single coverage.  Samuel is listed as being 5-11, 197 lbs, but he play much bigger than he really is.  Samuel accounts for a huge percentage of the Ohio State Offense.  He has caught 65 passes for 822 yards and 7 touchdowns.  He is averaging 12.6 yards per catch and has a long of 79-yards.  He has rushed the ball a total of 91 times for 704 yards and 8 touchdowns and he is averaging 7.4 yards per attempt with a season long of 74 yards.  He is the only consistent playmaker that the Buckeyes have on its roster and he is the only player who is able to consistently beat the coverage to find soft spots in the defense.  J.T. Barrett will look early and often to get him involved, but that will be a battle because the playmakers on the front seven will look to blitz a ton to disrupt the rhythm.  The Clemson Defensive Backs are constantly on islands, just like the Ohio State Defensive Backs, but a lot will lean on the ability to beat the blitz and make the correct pass in rhythm and while under duress.  Clemson will look to force the ball away from Samuel.

Noah Brown:

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Noah Brown, the hero from the Oklahoma game will be needed during this game, especially in the red zone.  Brown is 6-2, 218 lbs and he is a monster in the red zone area.  He isn’t as consistent as Samuel, but he plays an integral role within the offense.  He is the strongest receiver on the roster and he has shown what he is capable of.  He always fights for the ball and if he is not in the correct position, he will bat the ball away as a defender to give his Quarterback another shot to make up for it.  Ever since the Oklahoma game, Brown has been an afterthought as he isn’t given as many opportunities as of late.  Brown has 30 catches for 385 yards and 7 touchdowns.  He is averaging 12.8 yards per catch and he has a long of 37 yards.  He will look to regain the Oklahoma role and re-establish himself as a playmaker for the Buckeyes.  The Clemson Defensive Backs aren’t as strong as the Buckeyes, but they are crafty defenders who will take the ball away when get a chance to.  Brown will be look to beat them as J.T. Barrett evades the blitz.

Dontre Wilson:

dontre-wilsonDontre Wilson is just like Brown as he has also been the forgotten man within the offensive game plan.  Wilson is listed as being 5-10, 195 lbs and he can be relied upon to make timely catches during crunch time.  We saw this against top-tier competition and he will make a bid to complete his collegiate career as a champion.  Wilson has 27 catches for 352 yards and 5 touchdowns.  He is averaging 13.0 yards per game and has a long of 43.  He has been hampered by injuries this season, but he is finally healthy enough to be a part of the offensive attack that Urban Meyer and his staff are planning to implement against Clemson.  Wilson used to be the primary punt returner, but his mistakes took those duties away from him.  Wilson will have to find other ways to impact the game and make a big play.  He needs to get open and hope that the blitz doesn’t take Barrett’s eyes off of him.

K.J. Hill:

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K.J. Hill has been coming on as of late as he is nearly tripled his output from last season.  Hill is my sleeper for this game because he has dependable hands and he has shown flashes of becoming the playmaker that Barrett needs outside of Samuel, Brown and Wilson.  He will be out there to move the chains during key 3rd downs.  Hill has 17 catches for 254 yards and a touchdown.  He is averaging 11.2 yards per catch and he has a season long of 47 yards.  He has the ability to sneak past defenders, make tough catches and most importantly block along the perimeter.  His stats may not seem like something right now, but I have a feeling he will have a huge day come game day.  Samuel will try to maintain the numbers that he usually gets, but Hill will be there to move the chains.

 

Tight Ends:

The Tight End matchup is in favor of Clemson.  They have a dynamic receiving threat who is capable of breaking the doors down and making plays.  The Tight End for Clemson also is a huge part of the Tigers’ Offensive attack, but don’t discount the value of Ohio State’s Tight End.  Recently, he has been given opportunities to break the mold to become a part of the Buckeye Offense.  It is just a matter of completing the catches and making key conversions.

Jordan Leggett:

jordan-leggett-clemsonJordan Leggett stands at 6-5, 260 lbs and he is a receiving threat at Tight End.  He is Clemson’s second leading receiver with 38 catches for 637 yards and 7 touchdowns.  He is averaging 16.8 yards per catch and he has a season long of 56 yards.  A receiving Tight End who can break open and run the open field.  He is a one of the many dangerous weapons that the Tigers have in their arsenal.  The Silver Bullets will look to negate his impact, but it will be a tough matchup for them as they look to shut down at least one position of concern.  Leggett is having the best season of his collegiate career as he looks to move up in draft boards.

 

Marcus Baugh:

marcus-baughMarcus Baugh certainly hasn’t lived up to his high school rankings as he was lost in the shuffle behind Nick Vannett and Jeff Heuerman.  He came to Ohio State from Riverside, California and he has recently found a role within the offense.  Although his numbers aren’t eye-popping, he has managed to reel in 24 catches for 269 yards and 2 scores.  He is averaging 11.2 yards per catch and has a season long of 29 yards.  He has been dinged up lately, but he has found a role making key catches for first downs and as a blocker.  He will be shifted a lot and he will be asked to block incoming Line Backers coming on blitzes.  He will be leaned upon on obvious passing plays because Samuel will likely be double or triple teamed constantly throughout the contest.  Baugh will work within the seams and look to gain huge chunks of yardage.  He has been known to make the difficult catches and he could also hurdle over unsuspecting defenders.  He is a dual threat Tight End that needs to show up during game day.  He needs to get the younger teammates ready for what could be a difficult matchup that isn’t in their favor.

 

 

 

 

 

Playoff Preview: Ohio State (11-1, BIG 8-1) vs Clemson (12-1, ACC 7-1) Part 1

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Playstation Fiesta Bowl Playoff Semifinal:

As the season winds down and as bowl games have been dispersed to deserving teams around the nation, the casual college football fan cannot hide their excitement for the upcoming playoff semifinal matchups, along with the New Years Six matchups.  There will be many great and exciting matchups, and I think that the Playstation Fiesta Bowl matchup between the Ohio State Buckeyes and the Clemson Tigers will be the game to watch.  That isn’t to downplay the matchup between Alabama and Washington because that will also be another good matchup and a test for Crimson Tide Defense that will see a crop of talented receivers that the Huskies.  The pundits are predicting a rematch of last season’s Championship Game, with Alabama and Clemson.  Will we see another rematch this year or will we get a surprise matchup?  Only time will tell as we count down.  We all know that you shouldn’t count Urban Meyer out of it, and Clemson would not be smart if they did.  Although the Buckeyes are a slight 3-point favorite, I won’t be surprised if by the time the game rolls around, the Buckeyes end up as the underdogs because everyone seems to like the rematch from last year.

The Quarterbacks:

The Quarterback position is the most important position in football and they are what makes the offense function to move the chains.  For both teams, they have two battle-tested Quarterbacks who have won a lot of games and this is what makes this matchup so exciting for the fans of the game.  On one side you have Deshaun Watson, who has a high octane offense that is capable of scoring in a ton of ways and on the other, you have an offense struggling to find their identity and they are searching for additional playmakers outside of Curtis Samuel, who can consistently separate from opposing corners and get open.

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Deshaun Watson was a highly coveted Quarterback prospect out of Gainsville, Georgia.  He was heavily targeted by Ohio State for the duration of his recruiting venture before he ultimately decided to stay in the south.  This was one of the few misses Urban Meyer has had on the recruiting trail.  The rest is history as now he is set to face-off against Meyer once again.  For those who don’t remember (or choose not to), Clemson handed Urban Meyer one of his 5 losses in the 2014 Orange Bowl in which they won 40-35 in a shootout.  The Quarterback was not Watson, but he eventually committed to Clemson.  Watson is a Dual-Threat Quarterback who can sling the rock and run it, if necessary.  He has a variety of weapons at his disposal and he is dangerous for opposing defenses.  For the season, he is 329 for 487 and he has thrown for 3914 yards and has 37 touchdown passes.  He rushed 129 times this season for 529 yards for 6 scores.  He is capable of turning the game around in Clemson’s favor, but he has a single weakness, ball security.  This season, he has thrown 15 interceptions, which is a career high for him.  He will look to keep turnovers to a minimum against a greedy Ohio State Defense, who excels at taking the ball away from opposing offenses.  You could say that it is strength versus strength, but we will have to see how it all unfolds.

imgresJ.T. Barrett was a moderately pursued Quarterback out of Texas in 2013, who wanted to play at the next level at Texas. Luckily, the offer he wanted the most, never came and Texas’ loss is Ohio State’s gain.  Barrett was another Dual-Threat Quarterback, who is also capable of shredding opposing defenses through the air and on the ground.  This is why this matchup will be exciting and fun to watch.  Barrett isn’t as accomplished as a passer when being compared to Watson’s numbers, but he has provided his team with leadership and the ability to will his team to victory.  We all saw it during the Michigan game, The Game, and I don’t expect anything less this game.  Barrett is 214 for 346 for 2428 yards and 24 total touchdowns through the air and he rushed 194 times for 847 yards and 9 scores.  Unlike Watson, he has been known to take care of the ball, as he has only thrown 5 interceptions all season.  Turnovers and offensive production will be the determining factor for this contest.  You really don’t know what will unfold, and with the Jekyll and Hyde offense that Ohio State has, you never know what you will get until the game is on the line and in the hands of Barrett.  This will be a matchup to watch.

Running Backs:

imgres-3Wayne Gallman was recruited out of Grayson High School out of Loganville, Georgia.  He wasn’t a highly rated recruit, but he was recruited as a four-star Outside Line Backer prospect and ended up signing his letter of intent with the rest of the 2013 recruiting class.  Gallman stands at 6-0 feet tall and a solid 210 lbs.  He doesn’t shy away from contact and that effort has put him over the 1,000-yard rushing mark with 1,002 yards total for the season and he has 15 rushing touchdown’s to go along with it.  He has shown the ability to catch the ball out of the backfield, but he has only managed to reel in 16 catches for 103-yards with no touchdown receptions.  This may surprise you, but his job is to pound the rock and get the first down yardage when faced with short yardage situations. That doesn’t mean that he isn’t fast because he is.  He can get outside if he finds a lane, and that is what makes him dangerous.  He will be used to grind out the clock and to keep the Ohio State Defense honest. He will look to rack up the yardage on the Ohio State front seven, but it could be a contest of wills and determination.

images-1Mike Weber was heavily recruited by the Midwest Powerhouses, such as Michigan and Michigan State before eventually signing with Ohio State after some drama toward the end, close to signing day.  When the dust settled, Coach Harbaugh did not get his man and Weber embraced the Scarlet and Gray.  Weber went to high school at Cass Tech, a well-known recruiting pipeline for Michigan.  Weber is the third player from Cass Tech, who has picked Ohio State as the Buckeyes look to keep their presence there to establish their very own pipeline.  Weber is 5-10, 212 lbs, but he plays like a former Buckeye, Carlos Hyde.  He runs with an aggressive and punishing style that leaves defenders bruised and battered. Like, Gallman, he has the ability to run away from people, but he does not have the breakaway speed like Zeke has, but Hyde 2.0 is not a bad thing to have in the backfield either. Weber has racked up 1072-yards on the ground on 177 attempts for 9 touchdowns and he has reeled in 2o catches for 87-yards.  His touches have been sporadic as of late, as the staff has been concentrating on splitting the touches between J.T. Barrett and Curtis Samuel.  Whenever he has the opportunity to touch the ball, sparks usually fly, as he makes the best of it.  He wears defenses down with his aggressive running style and has shown the power and the ability to block when asked to do so.  This game will depend on their ability to control the clock and get the offense humming.

This game will depend on their ability to control the clock and get the offense humming.  Both teams have the talent and the weapons to do so at the Quarterback and Running Back positions, but it is a matter of consistency and willpower to show up come game day.  That is it for this preview, on the next installment, I will be previewing the Wide Receivers and the Offensive Line.  Until then enjoy the suspense while you can. Go Bucks!

Recruiting Recon:

imgres-4Boom!  The staff has added another blue-chip recruit with a high ceiling in Indiana’s four-star and #2 overall prospect, Pete Werner.  Werner is an Outside Linebacker prospect who was once committed to Notre Dame.  Werner is talented and hard working and he is certainly capable of growing into a Middle Linebacker after working with Coach Marotti and his staff during the offseason.  He needs to improve his strength, but his ability to diagnose a play quickly and his ability to pursue the ball carrier is second to none.  He is very instinctual and very fast for his 6-3, 220-pound frame, he is a sure tackler and he can also lay the boom as well.  The Buckeyes are getting a player that is ready to assume a role on Special Teams as he works his way up the depth chart.

imgres-5Baron Browning, like Werner is an Outside Line Backer prospect, but of the five-star variety out of Kennedale, Texas. He committed before Werner, so this Linebacker group will be a good one.  Brendan White, who is listed as an Athlete, could eventually grow into a Linebacker, but that is still up in the air.  Browning flashes the speed and the tenacity to shed blocks at will and to blow by slower linemen to get into the backfield.  He is another sure tackler, that has a high ceiling. He committed to Ohio State knowing that they might possibly lose some starters from this season and that the staff can help him grow, both on and off the field.  He is also in line to play on Special Teams.

imgres-7Kerry Coombs committed to the Buckeyes after rumors began swirling due to the potential hiring for Cincinnati of Luke Fickell.  Days after the official announcement Coach Coombs took it to social media, officially committing to the Buckeyes. The Buckeyes lucked out because Coombs is the door to Michigan’s recruiting fields.  Not to mention that he is well-liked and respected by the local coaches.  He also recruits everywhere and he is loved in Cincinnati because he used to coach at Colerain High School.  Coach Coombs is like the spark plug for the team, the proverbial energy bunny who can recruit like no other.  He is fifth in the 24/7 recruiting list with a total of 6 recruits that he assisted on or single-handedly brought in.  Those recruits are Amir Riep, Isaiah Pryor, Marcus Williamson, Jerron Cage, Blake Haubeil and recent commit, Pete Werner.  His best recruit to date?  Vonn Bell, Eli Apple, Damon Webb and Justin Hilliard.  Pretty good player and talents, but now he has his eyes set on Donovan People-Jones, during a winter storm.  He, accompanied with Coach Meyer made it to gauge his interest or the Buckeyes chances.  He is another highly ranked recruit and if they steal him (not likely), they will do it after Michigan thought they had the last visit and he will be a part of a Wide Receiver class that already has a five-star and a high four-star in Trevon Grimes and Tyjon Lindsey.  That would be a three-headed monster that would spell trouble for defenses, but once again, it is highly unlikely.  The other Buckeye coach who ranks higher?  Mr. Zone 6, Zach Smith who is ranked #1 with recruiting wins as he sealed the deal with Nick Bosa and Jalin Marshall and currently in the 2017 class, he convinced the aforementioned Lindsey and Grimes, Wyatt Davis, Haskell Garrett and the recruiting machine, Tate Martell.  Each member, especially Coombs is a valuable recruiting asset and from a continuity point of view, he will receive an expanded role with the departure of Coach Fickell.  He will looks to continue his efforts to building recruiting classes in 2017 and beyond.

Thanks for everything Coach Fickell:

imgres-6If you haven’t paid attention, Coach Fickell just received a 6-year deal to become the next Head Coach at Cincinnati.  He will take over a program that is suffering a bit after Tommy Tubberville had decided to step down.  The Bearcats signed a defensive minded coach that has seasoned himself under the tutelage of Coach Tressel and Coach Meyer.  He endured one of the worst seasons prior to Coach Meyer being hired and was retained after the higher ups recommended it.  It certainly has paid off as he got the defense back on track and has developed his players with his passion and knowledge of the game that he loves.  This is what you are getting and you should be happy with it.  It is truly a huge loss for the Buckeyes as they search for a suitable replacement.  Another thing the Buckeyes will miss is his recruiting prowess, on being able to spot diamonds in the rough.  He earns the trust of all those involved in recruiting and as he moves on, he will assume control of the Queen City where he helped find a Notre Dame Lacosse commitment playing dodge ball, who eventually grew into a starter for the Buckeyes.  He is valuable, but he needed to grow outside of Ohio State and what a perfect opportunity it is for him to stay in Ohio and grow.  Also, Jerimiah, I do agree with you that the one’s who said #FireFickell, this is a huge loss and I too, cannot forgive them nor forget about the travesties that occurred that season.  You certainly will be missed, good luck and God bless you and your family in your journey as Head Coach.

Recap: #3 Michigan (10-1, 7-1 Big Ten) vs #2 Ohio State (10-1, 7-1 Big Ten)

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The sheer magnitude, excitement, and dread of this game as it quickly approaches.  The #2 Ohio State Buckeyes and the #3 Michigan Wolverines will have just their second Top-3 matchup in the series between the two teams.  This will be another epic clash between the rivals.  There is a lot riding on for both teams. Both Ohio State and Michigan need a win to stay in the College Football talks.  Ohio State needs a win and a Penn State loss to represent the Big Ten East for the Conference Championship game.  Michigan needs a win to be the East’s representative for that same game.  This game, The Game is pretty much an elimination game.  The winner of this contest will hopefully keep their playoff hopes alive.  The loser, will be eliminated from the equation.  This will be as intense as it can be and the entire fanbase and sports world will keep their eyes on this game.

imagesThis game started with both teams eagerly waiting to see what the other would do.  Ohio State sent the defense out after they deferred and they forced a punt on their first time on the field. Ohio State, on their first possession, moved the ball quickly against the Wolverines defense.  They moved well into field goal range, but the pressure was too much for Durbin as he pulled it wide left.  On Michigan’s third possession, they put up the first points on the scoreboard.  Three punts later, the Buckeyes pinned the Wolverines at the Michigan 6-yard line and Malik Hooker snatched his 6th interception of the season for a 16-yard pick six.  The Wolverines were unfazed as they took the ball into the Buckeye red zone and punched in a touchdown at the 1-yard line, retaking the lead. As the half ended, the Buckeyes trail 10-7.  The Jekyll and Hyde Offense is scaring me, hopefully, the Buckeyes can gather themselves for a battle because so far, the defense looks good, it’s just the questions of the offense that overshadow their achievements.  I will keep calm and keep the faith, and the Buckeye Captains will ensure that they are ready in the second half.

imgres-6What a bit of karma.  Buckeye fans always taunt Jabrill Peppers about not having any interceptions.  Guess what?  He got his first, and against the Buckeyes.  Granted it was on a tipped pass, but he got it.  The Wolverines took it to the Buckeye 1-yard line and the Buckeyes Defense recovered a critical turnover that could’ve put this game out of reach. Davon Hamilton saved the Buckeyes, but unfortunately, Meyer gambled on the fake punt and it backfired.  The block wasn’t there and Johnston was stopped short of the line to gain.  On the ensuing drive, Hill scored his second touchdown of the game extending the lead to 17-7. Another couple of punts later, the Buckeyes get their third turnover of the game, gathering their third turnover to yet again, swing the momentum.  A couple Michigan penalties later, the Buckeyes are deep into enemy territory, they plug it into the endzone.  Mike Weber, a Detroit native, brought the Buckeyes climb back into the game on a 1-yard Running Back dive.  Michigan still leads 17-14.  After forcing another Wolverine punt, the Buckeyes got the ball back on their 16-yard line.  J.T. Barrett will attempt to gain some momentum after the defensive stop.  Let’s hope the playcalling can move the ball.  The momentum was short-lived as the Slobs have allowed 5 total sacks so far with 12:03 left to play.

nick-bosa-sam-hubbard-cde7494434fa9a5fThe Rushmen Package along with this stout Ohio State Defense is keeping it close.  Nick Bosa, the younger brother of Joey Bosa, made his first sack in this rivalry.  Ohio State forces another timely punt and the ball is back in the hands of J.T. Barrett.  After a dropped pass in the numbers to Parris Campbell, Barrett used his legs as he saw an opening in the middle and gained 41-yards to put the Buckeyes in scoring position to either take the lead or at least tie the game.  The drive ended on another missed field goal by Tyler Durbin, who has missed his first two field goals, during this game.  The defense needs to make another stand to preserve some time for J.T. Barrett to orchestrate another offensive drive.  The theme of another forced punt has returned for more face time and Barrett comes out to get another drive going inside of their own 20-yard line. They’ve had many chances to take the lead, and if Durbin made those kicks, the Buckeyes would be enjoying a 3-point lead, but the pressure of the game has obviously gotten to him.  Hopefully, he has the opportunity to redeem himself.  With a couple of seconds left on the clock, Durbin got his chance, his last shot for redemption.  With the Buckeyes trailing by a field goal, Durbin lines up for another attempt, and he kicks it through the uprights to tie the contest.

images-7Overtime, overtime.  As the overtime quarter begins, my heart is racing, my blood pressure is off the charts.  I am sure the rest of Buckeye Nation is in the same boat.  The Wolverines won the toss and chose to play defense to begin the extra period.  To start the overtime, Samuel takes the option play inside the 1-yard line.  Shortly after, J.T. Barrett scores on a QB draw.  The quick strike mentality strikes again.  Now, we will depend on the Silver Bullets and the Scarlet Curtain to seal the deal against our most bitter rivals. The crowd is roaring and the place is rocking.  Let’s see what happens.  The Wolverines respond accordingly as they tacked on a field goal.  The Wolverines were on the verge of securing a win, but J.T. Barrett and Curtis Samuel came up huge for the Buckeyes.  Barrett took a loss during the first two plays, then Samuel pulled off some crazy run that ended a yard short.  J.T. Barrett was nearly stopped on a key 4th and 1, but his momentum brought him over the marker for a key first down.  The next play, Samuel took it for 15-yards on a mini option play for the game-winning touchdown to secure a 30-27 win against their most bitter rivals.  Raekwon McMillan needed to play today and he ended the game with 16 tackles.  The Slobs played poorly as they allowed 8 sacks in the game. Improvements will be made and now it’s just a matter of seeing what happens at Happy Valley.  Enjoy the win and hopefully, the staff gets more good news in the recruiting game.  Go Bucks!!!  And for what it’s worth, I was fairly close as I predicted a 24-21 score.  I was a little off, but a win, especially against this team is worth the stress.

Preview: #3 Michigan (10-1, 7-1 Big Ten) vs #2 Ohio State (10-1, 7-1 Big Ten)

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Hate week is upon us and after narrowly escaping East Lansing with a win against a struggling Spartan team, the Ohio State Buckeyes are on a collision course against TTUN.  This game is the definition of what a rivalry is and what it should be.  High stakes, high reward, high pressure to secure another win in this series.  Rivalry week is the best week in College Football.  Hands down.  This years installment of The Game will feature two Top-3 teams in the nation.  This will be the second time in the series, where both teams are ranked, and in the Top-3.  The last time?  The last time this happened was ten years ago when The Game featured the #1 Ohio State Buckeyes at home against the #2 ranked Team Up North.  This game was played in high stakes fashion as the 42-39 win helped the Buckeyes stay undefeated and into the BCS National Championship Game, coincidentally against an Urban Meyer coached Florida Gators team.  Flash forward ten years later, we have another high stakes game with huge College Football Playoff implications. #2 Ohio State will be wearing the LeBron Soldier cleats against the newly minted, #3, Jordan Branded Team Up North.

imgres-5Last week, we saw a Buckeye team that barely walked out of East Lansing with a win.  A one point win.  I am a strong believer in “a win is a win”, and no matter how ugly it was, it is still added into the win column.  The Buckeyes gave up huge chunk plays, early and often, only to stiffen up in the red zone. The coaching staff leaned on J.T. Barrett to move the sticks and with help from Mike Weber and Curtis Samuel, they won the game.  On TTUN’s side of things, they also won, but not as big as some thought they would win.  They played at home and beat Indiana by 10, with a final score of 20-10.  Yes, it is a double-digit lead and win, but TTUN could have scored more.  I mean for what its worth, Ohio State faced the same team and beat them 38-17 after struggling in the first half.  Indiana is a tougher team, and they tend to improve year after year.  We cannot judge it accurately based on both teams’ performance against a 5-7 team, so we will just have to wait and see.

unnamed-9I cannot emphasize how great this rivalry has been to me as a die hard fan.  I think back at it, I lived in Guam for most of my life and I was introduced to College Football in 2005 when I joined the USAF, and I have been a fan ever since.  Now?  You would think that I was from Ohio.  The passion and the affinity I have for the Buckeyes is very hard and too difficult to explain in simple words. This rivalry has ruined holidays for me and it stresses me out. This week has killed my soul a little bit because I do not want to lose to TTUN.  This year will break the record for Number of Times Major Rivals met ranked in the Top 5 (11), edging the Red River Rivalry between Oklahoma and Texas (10).  This game, The Game, is usually a high-pressure game, with both teams clawing, fighting and scrapping the entire game for bragging rights.  As long as I have been a fan, I have seen great games that add to the tradition for both schools.  Seasons are made or ruined in an instant and during this weeks game, the emotion of the game will be electric because so much is on the line.  I can’t undersell the importance of this game.

unnamed-6The Ohio State Big-3 on offense, J.T. Barrett, Mike Weber and Curtis Samuel will be leaned on heavily.  I cannot emphasize this enough as Coach Meyer often shrinks down his playbook to do enough to win.  During The Game, with the crew from College Gameday and with a laundry list of highly ranked and touted recruits, and a ton of talented blue-chip prospects, I would hope that the offense starts off strong and continues it until the end.  A lot of eyes will be on this game and the stakes are the highest that it has been in a long time.  J.T. Barrett will need to move the stick early and often against a team led by upperclassmen.  Jabrill Pepper and Jourdan Lewis will look to shut Barrett down by pressuring him early and consistently.  The Slobs need to almost play a perfect, penalty free football game, and this is where it gets interesting.  Ohio State has two experienced Slobs in Senior Pat Elflein and Junior Billy Price. After those two, you have a Junior in Jamarco Jones, a Sophomore in Isaiah Prince and True Freshman Michael Jordan, who played High School Football up north in Plymouth.  Jones and Prince are prone to penalties, often holding on to defenders to keep Barrett upright.  Elflein and Price also tend to earn flags, so we will see if they could work as a cohesive unit to control the line of scrimmage and to protect Barrett.  Mike Weber will also be leaned on and he is one of three starters for the Buckeyes, who played up north in high school.  He needs to be fed like Zeke and Hyde to control the clock.  I will say that Curtis Samuel will also need more than the 8 touches he had during the Spartans because things looked bleak for a little while before they went for two.  Noah Brown and Dontre Wilson, and the rest of the Zone 6 will also need to get separation against the opposing Defensive Backs.  The team cannot be one dimensional as TTUN ranks in the Top-5 in just about every defensive statistic in the nation.  Ohio State is in the Top-5 in most rushing statistics this season.  Hopefully, they play with passion because this game is really important.  Maybe Coach Meyer and his staff have some bulletin board material because I saw an excerpt from an interview with Peppers with him saying that “Ohio State does not do anything over the top that they cannot handle” and that “it is nothing that we cannot handle.”. I hope they have some plays  that they have stashed away, that will unleash havoc on those Wolverines.

imagesThe Basic Ohio State Defense needs to show up this week. Last week, the Buckeyes faced a pro-style offensive scheme, that is similar to or close to what TTUN runs.  Two Tight End sets with a steady dose old school, big boy football.  L.J. Scott nearly beat the Buckeyes by himself and the team needs to focus on wrapping up the ball carrier and not overpursuing or overshooting plays.  We saw that a ton against the Spartans and they will need to play a flawless game like the offense to get the win.  Jake Butt, Amara Darboh and Jehu Chesson will be the trio of receivers that the Silver Bullets and the Scarlet Curtain will have to stop.  The Rushmen will have to stop De’veon Smith and the Running Back platoon that TTUN has.  This will be a test as the TTUN’s Offensive Line is pretty good.  There are a lot of variables that could change with injuries, fights, and ejections.  The biggest question would be which Quarterback will they face.  John O’Korn played last week and he did good enough to win.  Wilton Speight, the starter for the majority of the season, was injured during the loss at Iowa, and his status is unclear at this point.  There are reports that he is out for the season with a broken collarbone, but his head coach refutes those stories.  Mind games or not, we cannot take this team lightly, and I doubt that they would, but it wouldn’t hurt to know.  Until we do, we will have to prepare for both.  It will be interesting to see if Malik Hooker matches up against Peppers, since he plays both ways.  I am sure that the jet sweep will be used a lot, stretching the defense to open up holes.  You truly never know and hopefully a Buckeye legend or Senior Captain will inspire each unit to maintain the dominance.

Prediction:  Buckeyes over Wolverines 24-21.

 

Recap: #2 Ohio State (9-1, 6-1 Big Ten) vs Michigan State (3-7, 1-6 Big Ten)

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Ohio State faces a Michigan State team that is having a rare down year, but that won’t mean that the Buckeyes won’t take them lightly.  As I mentioned in the preview, Coach Meyer versus Coach Dantonio duel and they both play for keeps.  They have won two games a piece and they are both sitting tied at 2-2 during their stay at their respective schools.  This game will be another battle in the trenches as both teams look to get a win.  Both the Buckeyes and the Spartans are locked-in and ready, but the weather could prove to be a hurdle for both teams.  For now, during the pregame festivities, the snow did not come, but it could make an appearance later in the day during the game.  Coach Meyer has a tendency to get uber conservative with playcalling if that happens.  Hopefully, he can buck the trend and go for broke because TTUN comes into Columbus, so any momentum would be positive.  The team as a whole needs to gain some confidence and momentum and if they have to run through the Spartans to gain it?  Then so be it.

imagesWell this is certainly not the start that Buckeye fans would like to see.  A two-play drive that the Spartans effortlessly executed to go up 7-0 early in the game.  They caught the defense off guard as they did the Wisconsin end around by R.J. Shelton that gained 11-yards and then they executed a well-timed double screen pass to earn the touchdown that went for 64-yards.  Definitely, not a good start, but I will stay positive.  The Buckeyes first drive ended in a sack and then a punt that pinned the Spartans on their 4-yard line. The Buckeyes stiffened up and forced a punt.  This will be another heavyweight fight, another brawl until the bitter end.  This looks to be a good one.

imgresThe Buckeyes started rolling as they were getting more settled in.  The next drive was in the hands, or should I say the legs of J.T. Barrett.  He noticed that the Spartans were spread too thin, trying to contain Zone 6 members, and he took the run every time they called that defensive play. To finish the drive, Barrett hit Samuel on a post route for 24-yards where he beat the double downfield.  It is starting to heat up.  The Silver Bullets forced another punt and Barrett goes back to work on another Quarterback run for another first down.  Sadly, the Buckeyes ended up punting as well.  When the second quarter started, Michigan State kicked a field goal and the Buckeyes chipped in one as well.  The defenses are playing with the passion and fire that you would expect both teams to play with.  On Michigan State’s next drive, Ohio State secured their 16th interception of this season.  It goes to show that they are athletic at every level and a Linebacker in Chris Worley surely proved in once again. The play was sorely needed, but after the play ended, Jaylin Holmes was on the floor and was injured during the play.  Hopefully, it isn’t a bad one, he is one of the emerging stars on this young Buckeyes Defensive Line and a key piece for Coach Johnson’s Rushmen package.  On Ohio State’s possession, the Spartans forced only the second red zone turnover of the season.  Of course, they do!  I dread playing the Spartan’s because of games like these, but I will continue to stay positive.  The Buckeyes forced a punt, but trouble almost hit as Samuel muffed the punt in the Buckeyes own 3-yard line.  This game is surely filled with suspense and drama, and I am hoping for a score to ease my tensions a bit.  At the half, it is 10-10 and the Buckeyes get the ball to start the second half.

imgres-3The second half began with consecutive punts.  Strong defensive play on both sides was evident as the struggle to hold the line rages on, but eventually, someone had to make a play.  Someone had to break a big one.  Mike Weber broke through for a 52-yard run that put him over 1,000 rushing yards for the season.  Weber is the third Ohio State Freshman, at the Running Back position, who broke the 1,000-yard barrier and he joins Robert Smith and Maurice Clarett as the only ones to accomplish that task. Hopefully, Meyer continues to feed the beast.  You would think that coach would emphasize the potential fake punt play.  Well, he did not think they would go to that so early in the 4th, but it worked as a defender took it 25-yards for the first down.  The moral victory was short lived though, as the Buckeyes forced a punt on 3rd and long by gathering their first sack of the game, courtesy of Sam Hubbard.  Michigan State came right back at Ohio State as L.J. Scott racked up huge chunks of yardage before scoring on a 1-yard touchdown run.  Coach Dantonio then decided to go for two, for their first lead in a while, but it failed and was intercepted by Erick Smith.  The defense has been slacking, but the young Buckeyes make big plays during big moments, and this was needed.  The defense ended the game in a big way, as Tyquan Lewis pressuered O’Connor on their last possession in the game and it forced him to underthrow the ball into the waiting arms of Gareon Conley for Ohio State’s 17th interception.  This is why I love College Football.  Although, we all wanted a blowout, I understand that we can’t win it all.  The Spartans came to play today and they showed it.  We will need to shore up the defense and play better as a team.  There were a lot of overpursued plays and missed tackles.  We are now entering the final week of the regular season, and you know what that means.  I know that it is early and I will not start until we officially begin the week.  So, for now, enjoy the hard earned win and Go Bucks!!!