MOTSAG Pretend College Football Playoffs: #2 LSU versus #3 Clemson; 2nd Quarter

We pick up this semifinal game in the 2nd quarter with Clemson leading 10-7 thanks to dominating the time of possession in the first quarter (read the recap of how the first quarter went).

After Clemson’s touchdown at the end of the first quarter, LSU started the 2nd with the ball on their own 20. On the first play from scrimmage, Joe Burrow hit Ja’Marr Chase for 44 yards to put LSU in Clemson territory. A 12 yard run by Clyde Edwards-Helaire had the stadium assuming that another touchdown was coming very soon but the drive stalled after Edwards-Helaire got caught in the backfield on the next play and a short pass was followed by an incompletion. LSU was forced to settle for a 41-yard field goal to tie the game at 10.

Clemson got their next drive off to a good start with Trevor Lawrence finding Joe Ngata for a 14 yard gain and Travis Etienne picking up 7 yards on the ground. However Lawrence’s next two passes fell incomplete and Clemson was forced to punt.

After a 5-yard run by Edwards-Helaire, the rest of LSU’s subsequent drive was the Joe Burrow show as he completed 6 passes to 5 different receivers and picked up a few yards on the ground himself as LSU worked their way down the field. The drive was capped off as Burrow hit Justin Jefferson in the back of the endzone to put LSU back on top 17-10.

Travis Etienne must have been inspired by Burrow’s performance as he put on a show of his own on Clemson’s next drive, piling up 45 yards on the ground before catching a 10-yard touchdown pass to tie the game again.

With time running down, LSU had a chance to go into halftime with the lead but Joe Burrow forced a pass across the middle which was intercepted by Isaiah Simmons. Now Clemson had the ball at midfield with a chance to score. Two quick passes by Lawrence gave Clemson the ball on the 25 yard line with 3 seconds remaining. B.T. Potter lined up for his second field goal of the half but it sailed wide left, leaving the game tied at 17 as both teams headed to the locker room.

MOTSAG Pretend College Football Playoffs: #6 Utah vs. #3 Clemson

Great defense vs a great offense always makes for an intriguing matchup.  Do the heralded units cancel each other out, which of the unsung, or at least less-sung, units steps up to make the difference?  This quarterfinal game will provide an answer as the powerful defense of 6th seeded Utah faces off against the high-powered offense of 3rd seeded Clemson.  Clemson enjoyed a first round bye while Utah pulled off a close win against Florida Atlantic in the opening round.

Clemson got the ball to start the game and was promptly shut down by the Utah defense, going three and out.  Clemson got off a good punt but Utah broke a nice 25-yard return to give their offense the ball near midfield.  An efficient mix of run and pass plays followed, capped off with Tyler Hunting find Jaylen Dixon open in the endzone for a touchdown to put Utah up 7-0.  Clemson’s quick strike ability was on display on the next drive as two plays gained them over 50 yards but Utah’s defense stiffened and held the Tigers to a field goal. 

The two teams traded punts for the next several possessions with Clemson slowly winning the field position battle.  Midway through the second quarter, the Tigers capitalized, getting the ball near midfield and going on a quick 5 play drive capped by Trevor Lawrence scampering into the endzone to put Clemson up 10-7.  That would mark all of the scoring in the first half as the defenses held sway.

Utah opened the third quarter with the ball and found a bit of offensive success, moving the ball into Clemson territory before being forced to punt.  A big stop by the Utah defense on 3rd and 3 led to a short Clemson punt, giving the Utes great field position.  They once again capitalized as star running back Zack Moss ran over Clemson’s defense, ultimately finding the endzone to put Utah back on top 14-10.  The Utah defense snuffed the next two Tiger drives and suddenly all the momentum seemed to be with the Ute’s who once again found themselves with good field position to start a drive.  Unfortunately, quarterback Tyler Huntley’s first down pass was intercepted and the Tigers wasted no time, taking advantage of the short field to retake the lead, 17-14 thanks to a Travis Etienne touchdown run.  Huntley, clearly rattled, threw another interception on Utah’s next drive and Clemson looked positioned to take complete control.  However, the Utah defense held, forcing a field goal to keep it a one score game, 20-14.

Clemson had another scoring opportunity early in the fourth quarter but missed a 44-yard field goal.  The Utes took advantage, using a big pass from Huntley to Brant Kuithe to get them deep into Clemson territory.  Three successive runs were stuffed and Utah had to settle for a field goal to pull within three, 20-17.  The momentum swung again as a promising Clemson drive fizzled out, ending in another missed field goal and Utah responded with a run dominated drive that ended in a 36-yard field goal to tie the game at 20.  Another defensive stop gave Utah the ball with a chance to take the lead late in the fourth quarter but they couldn’t capitalize, giving the ball back to Clemson with two minutes to go.  We were set with the ultimate showdown, tied game, clock running down, and a great offense with the ball facing a great defense.  The Utah defense had been stellar for most of the game, coming up with key stops to keep the Utes in the game but the battle had worn them down and the Clemson offense moved quickly and easily as Lawrence completed four straight passes, the last one to Justyn Ross in the back corner of the endzone.  Clemson led 27-20 but there was still 30 seconds left on the clock, giving Utah one more chance.  All season the Utah offense had hung its hat on being well balanced and using the run to set up the pass; something they couldn’t take advantage of with so little time on the clock.  The Utes hit a couple short passes but couldn’t get find anything open downfield as time ran out, giving Clemson the win, 27-20.

MOTSAG Pretend College Football Playoffs: #5 Georgia vs. #4 Oklahoma

In a battle for conference supremacy this round pits #4 Oklahoma up against #5 Georgia. Oklahoma got some much needed rest as Georgia ran managed to stave off Miami (OH) with a clutch field goal and a crucial defensive stop to end their dreams of advancing.

These two teams have explosive offenses and the last time both of these teams met was in the Rose Bowl the 2017-2018 season. That very game was a barn burner and it ended in a 54-48, double overtime thriller. This years hypothetical matchup would future a familiar foe for Georgia in Jalen Hurts, the former Alabama quarterback. Jake Fromm versus Jalen Hurts vie for a shot to advance.

During the coin toss, the calm before the storm was evident. Both teams stand tall, calm and stoic and Georgia calls the toss and defers giving Hurts the balls first. After a touchback in the opening kickoff Hurts approaches the huddle and calls the play out. Georgia, who had struggled against inferior opponents finds themselves with their pants down on the opening snap. Boom! Hurts finds Lamb on a slant and he takes it to the house for six. On the ensuing kickoff, Swift nearly provides an immediate answer as he takes it to the 50 yard line. Georgia takes their times during the drive, but is stopped in the red zone. Blankenship puts the Bulldogs on the board.

Hurts starts at the 30 on this drive and he leans on Sermon and Brooks and they drive to the 30 before adding three to their lead. Fromm begins the drive and he finds George Pickens on a streak to tie the contest at 10-10. Georgia usually struggles with the quick scoring game, but the cheating safety misjudged Pickens’ speed and got burnt for six.

Hurts controls the current drive late into the first quarter with a balance of QB option runs and timing routes and they are knocking at the door before the quarter came to a close. To open the second quarter, Brooks finds the seam and he barges in for a touchdown. Georgia’s defense was just bloodied in the last drive and the Bulldog’s got them some well deserved rest as they use up the majority of the second quarter before Swift plunges it into the end zone with a little over two minutes left in the half.

In a 17 all game, Hurts runs the two minute drill to perfection. Finding his running backs on swing passes before finding Lamb once again for a touchdown, Hurts puts his teams back up 24-17 before Fromm took a knee to send it into the half. To open the second half, Georgia came out firing. Fromm finds Cager in the seams at will, but in the red zone, Fromm forces a errant pass over the middle that ended up becoming a pick-six–Oklahoma extends their lead to 31-17.

On Fromm’s next possession, the timing and the momentum was all in the Sooners’ favor as they end up punting in the next three possessions. Both teams are struggling to find a rhythm on offense but the defenses are playing lights out. Hurts’ team has the ball late into the third quarter and he loses the exchange with Brooks and Georgia recovers. Three players later, Swift breaks through for a 20 yard dash to the end zone to cut the lead to 24-31.

The Sooners respond with a strike to Charleston Rambo to put them back up by double-digits early in the fourth quarter. Georgia tried to respond, but after back-to-back drive ending interceptions by Kenneth Murray and Brendan Radley-Hines, the Bulldogs fall 38-24. The same turnover-prone quarterback play resurfaced and Fromm just couldn’t put it all together. The Sooners get their revenge and advance.

MOSTAG Pretend CFB Playoffs: #6 Utah vs. #11 FAU

In a time where we remain sportless, in a time where COVID-19 rules the skies, we here at the Men of the Scarlet and Gray present the strictly hypothetical “Expanded College Football Playoffs”. We have all dreamed of expansion, but here we have a cool little set-up that was created by my colleague Chris. 12 teams with one goal, to make it to the Championship Game. All the Power Five champions along with the Group of Five Champions and sprinkle in a pair of at large bids and we have our football version of the “Big Dance”.

For the play-in we have an at large team from the PAC 12 going up against the Conference USA Champion FAU. In this matchup, Utah takes a stellar defense and they go up against a decent, quick scoring passing attack.

As the contest begins, Utah demonstrates their defensive prowess and for a quick 3-and-out, forcing Kiffin to an early change of possession and stopping them from getting into a grove. Utah gains possession and they impose their will as they run roughshod and beat the Owls senseless through the ground with Moss and Huntley gaining chunk after chunk before Moss takes it in for the score.

Visibly rattled, but while remaining calm, Chris Robison takes a huge chunk out of the first quarter before plunging it into the endzone to tie the score at seven each. Robison engineered quite the drive as he came up clutch for the better of the 8-minute drive and he gained some valuable momentum as he made the Ute defense pay.

As the Utes grabbed the punt, Simpkins takes one back to the house just as the first quarter had expired to push the lead up the 14-7. On the ensuing drive for FAU, lightning almost struck twice as Cousart nearly responded with a return for a touchdown of his own before being tripped up at the 50 yard line. The balanced effort became the focus of the Owls offense as Davidson does the majority of the work on the ground to grind the Utah defense into a pulp. On a 3rd-and-5, Kiffin opts for a trick play and it payed off! On the double-sweep, Antoine took it in for another Owl touchdown.

Utah, forever the puncher responds quickly. They use Moss and Huntley on the ground with jet sweeps from Simpkins to open up the offense, but a mistimed exchange on the QB option derailed a scoring drive that ended in the redzone. Rashad Smith comes out from the pile with the ball in tow with the game still tied at 14.

The Utah defense comes off the sideline angry and they quickly force a turnover courtesy of an interception by Burgess at the 50 yard line. Huntley is hitting open receiver at will before finding Kuithe in the seams for a quick score. The Ute defense held their own the rest of the game up until Coach Kiffin’s squad started making plays just before the half. Not to be outdone, they went on a drive that took the entirety of the second quarter. First down after first down they took the clock down just before kicking it for three to enter the half 21-17.

To open the second quarter the Utes again shoved it down the Owls’ throats. Run after run, the Utah offense opened up the third quarter with an efficient and quick drive for another touchdown. Utah goes up 27-17 on the heels of a missed extra point. The fighting Kiffin’s responded quickly as well with a bomb to Harrison Bryant, who found himself open as he sprinted 45 yards to the endzone. Kiffin trying to seize momentum opted for two and converted. The aggressive play swung momentum as the Owls were now down by two.

Utah failed to respond as they went three and out. FAU went on another drive and Bryant made an appearance in the endzone once against to take the lead 32-27. With another wasted possession that resulted in a punt, Utah forced a fumble in the redzone on the ensuing drive. Before we knew it, Moss plunged it into the endzone and Huntley ran it in for two to retake the lead 35-32. The Utah defense responded by forcing a punt and took the clock down deep into the third quarter before punting it as the quarter expired.

In the 4th quarter, FAU controlled the ball for the majority of the contest to try and slow down the Utah offense. They run and convert the ball before settling for a game-tying FG. Utah regains control of the ball with less than a minute left in the game. Huntley and his heroics shined in the waning minutes as he drove down the field from their 20 yard line before Moss took it to the house with 20 seconds remaining. FAU received the punt and nearly broke it off as a response. The drive ultimately fell short as Bernard and Anae combined for a strip-sack as they regained possession with no time left. Utah advances to face #4 Oklahoma.

Spring Game 2020: Defensive Depth Chart

With the all of the firepower and potential of the offense, the defensive side of the ball is looking to flex their depth and talent as well. With losses of a few key cogs on the defense, the Buckeyes are re-loading once again as they look to not taking a step back in production. Laden with high four stars and many more five stars, the talent in this room is unmistakable. Most have been biding their time and most finally have their shot. Lets take a deep dive into this pretend depth chart for the Silver Bullets.

Defensive End: Zach Harrison, Tyreke Smith, Javonte Jean-Baptiste, Jonathan Cooper, Tyler Friday, Noah Potter, Darrion Henry-Young, Cormontae Hamilton, Jacolbe Cowan, Ty Hamilton and Aaron Young.

Coach Johnson’s room have lost a few key players over the previous few NFL Drafts, but he always finds a way to keep it stocked full of talented players. With the departure of Chase Young, Jonathan Cooper is the unquestioned leader and he has Zach Harrison and Tyreke Smith to make up a trio of experienced players. The talent of the younger players is also an added benefit as they prepare to wreak havoc on opposing defenses in 2020.

Scarlet Team: Jonathan Cooper, Javonte Jean-Baptiste, Cormontae Hamilton, Jacolbe Cowan and Tyler Friday

Gray Team: Tyreke Smith, Zach Harrison, Darrion Henry-Young, Aaron Young and Noah Potter

Reserves: Ty Hamilton (summer enrollee)

Defensive Tackle: Taron Vincent, Antwuan Jackson, Jerron Cage, Tommy Togiai, Jaden McKenzie and Haskell Garrett.

Like at Defensive End, the Defensive Tackles also suffered a few key losses over the years and with both BB Landers and Davon Hamilton’s eligibility being over, the young bucks will continue the great tradition of interrupting the trenches. Experience is there but not to the level that Landers and Hamilton had, but it is a start. Each player on this list has impacted the game in some form–notably Togiai and Garrett have been players that saw time when the game had been put away. They will be counted on, but do not discount Vincent, Jackson and Cage because they’ve also seen some time with Jackson playing SEC football with Auburn before joining the Buckeyes. Jaden McKenzie is the new guy on the block, but with the strength coaches–he is in good hands just as long as he continues to work.

Scarlet Team: Taron Vincent, Haskell Garrett and Antwuan Jackson

Gray Team: Tommy Togiai, Jerron Cage and Jaden McKenzie

Reserves: N/A

Linebacker: Teradja Mitchell, Baron Browning, Dallas Gant, Pete Werner, Tuf Borland, K’Vaughan Pope, Craig Young, Tommy Eichenberg, Justin Hilliard, Ben Schmiesing, Cade Kacherski, Mitchell Melton and Cody Simon.

Linebacker was one of the few positions where they lost a key cog. Out of all the potential players to depart, only Malik Harrison left after his eligibility ran out. It could’ve been more with Werner, Borland, Browning and Hilliard all coming back into the fold. Like all other position groups, this room is filled with star power and talent that have all been waiting on their chance to shine. This room returns starters and they will attempt to dominate as usual. It is another season of waiting for a few, but you better believe during mop-up duty they’ll get their shot.

Scarlet Team: Tuf Borland, Teradja Mitchell, Dallas Gant and Craig Young

Gray Team: Baron Browning, Pete Werner, K’Vaughan Pope, Tommy Eichenberg and Justin Hilliard

Reserves: Ben Schmiesing, Cade Kacherski, Mitchell Melton (summer enrollee) and Cody Simon (summer enrollee)

Cornerback: Lejond Cavazos, Sevyn Banks, Tyreke Johnson, Ryan Watts, Marcus Williamson, Shaun Wade, Cameron Brown, Lloyd McFarquhar and Darryl Sinclair.

Cornerback saw the biggest loss in talent with Arnette and Okudah leaving for the NFL. At one time, they could’ve had Wade on that list too, but he returned after leaving the Fiesta Bowl on that ejection and wanting a shot at redemption. He comes back and the only two experienced players in Amir Riep and Jahsen Wint are currently facing legal issues. The other players who they will lean on are Banks, Brown, Johnson and Williamson and a pair of highly touted 2020 early enrollees Cavazos and Watts are all vying for playing time to help the Buckeyes for the season.

Scarlet Team: Shaun Wade, Marcus Williamson, Ryan Watts and Lloyd McFarquhar

Gray Team: Sevyn Banks, Cameron Brown, Lejond Cavazos, Tyreke Johnson and Darryl Sinclair

Reserves: N/A

Safety: Josh Proctor, Bryson Shaw, Marcus Hooker, Ronnie Hickman, Kourt Williams, Kevin Dever, Ryan Batsch and Lathan Ransom.

At safety, Jordan Fuller had quite a career but he moved onto the the pros. There isn’t much experience at the position but Proctor got everyones attention after laying the wood on the Jack Coan in the Big Ten Championship Game as the time dwindled down. He is the frontrunner for the robber position, but the talent behind him is unquestioned. He leads a young room that could blossom into something special.

Scarlet Team: Josh Proctor, Bryson Shaw and Kevin Dever

Gray Team: Marcus Hooker, Kourt Williams, Ronnie Hickman and Ryan Batsch

Reserves: Lathan Ransom (summer enrollee)

And there you have it! The defense is the hardest to predict with the amount of losses, but the talent is undeniable. The talent is there to take the Buckeyes back to the big dance, but it is all work from here. The Buckeyes are now two weeks away from the Spring Game as the anticipation steadily builds for the players and the fans.

#GoBucks

Thank You Buckeyes by Ben Van Ooyen

Thank you Buckeyes

Thank you Seniors Damon Arnette, Jordan Fuller, Binjimen Victor, Jashon Cornell, Austin Mack, Rashod Berry, K.J. Hill, Malik Harrison, Davon Hamilton, Joshua Alabi, Robert Landers, Jonah Jackson, Brandon Bowen, and C.J. Saunders.  

Thank you Juniors J.K. Dobbins, Chase Young and Jeffrey Okudah and Shaun Wade

Last night was a hard pill to swallow. I watched like the rest of you as the Buckeyes roared out to a nice 16-0 lead with the intensity that they played with all season.  I watched as after that 16-0 lead the Buckeyes had a 3rd and 5 with a chance to get the ball back when Shaun Wade came on a blitz and lowered his body to sack Trevor Lawrence. The Buckeyes were going to get the ball back with around 5 minutes left while still keeping Clemson scoreless in the first half. That is when it all shifted. The call on the field of a sack and a 4th down punt got sent to the review booth to look at targeting. After a few minutes of deliberation with the review booth it was determined that Wade lowered his head and hit with the crown of his helmet while Lawrence ducked as he knew the sack was impending. Was it targeting? Some will say yes, and others will say no. I know that Wade did not go for that hit with the intent of targeting Trevor Lawrence. He had a clear sack and wanted to wrap up and make sure he took the 6’6” gunslinger to the ground. He accomplished that goal and got thrown out of the game because of it. There are pictures and videos out there of different angles and Chase Young getting a fist in the face during that same play, but nonetheless it was called and the game shifted. Clemson then took advantage of Amir Riep who came in for Wade getting a pass interference call and went down and punched in the touchdown. 

The Buckeyes got the ball back and immediately went three and out, and Clemson got the ball back with all the momentum and broke off a big play. We hadn’t seen the big play go against this defense much this season, but Lawrence juked Josh Proctor and took it 67 yards to the house to make it 16-14 at the half.

Clemson would get the ball to start the half, riding a 14-0 close out to the first half. The Buckeyes were without one of their leaders on defense in Wade, and J.K. Dobbins was favoring his ankle and it looked likely he wouldn’t be able to continue the amazing first half he had. Speaking of people not being able to continue, I am not sure how a guy who is held out of the rest of the first half after he hit his head, is able to all of a sudden come back in the second half as if nothing happened. I’ve never had a concussion, but I am assuming that if the doctors keep you out as a precaution then you probably shouldn’t be on the field again. 

The second half started and the Buckeyes forced the surging Tigers to go three and out giving the Buckeyes the ball with a chance to extend their slim margin. Master Teague was now the feature back as Dobbins worked on his ankle. The Buckeyes drove down to the 45 and were stopped forcing a punt by Drue Chrisman who knocked a pretty punt down to the 1. 

The defense again came out and it looked like they were going to get themselves off the field and the Buckeyes would get the ball back in great field position. On 4th and 6, the punt unit for Clemson came out and Cameron Brown came off the edge on what looked like a punt block attempt. He didn’t make it there in time and ran into the kicker for Clemson who I might say did a pretty good job of grabbing onto Brown and making the hit look way worse than it was. If you watch the play again, you can see Brown slowing down and hitting the kicker, but to call that roughing seemed a bit much. Clemson keeps the ball, and marches down the field and takes their first lead at 21-16. 

The Buckeyes thought they had taken the lead when a Lawrence pass to Justyn Ross was completed and Jeffery Okudah knocked the ball out after Ross took three to four steps with the ball. Jordan Fuller picked up the loose ball and took in the distance giving the Buckeyes an apparent 23-16 lead. The call on the field was a fumble and after another quick review it was determined that Ross never had possession of the football during the catch and it was determined to be an incomplete pass. Someone tweeted that if that catch had been in the endzone it would have been called a touchdown, and I don’t disagree. Another stomach punch to the Buckeyes late in the game. 

After that punt, Justin Fields threw his second interception of the season. The Buckeyes quickly got the ball back with a little over a minute left in the 3rd quarter.  Dobbins was back from his ankle injury, and the Buckeyes marched the ball down the field in a little under five minutes. Fields hit Olave with a beautiful pass on 4th and 1 and the Buckeyes again had the lead. 

The Buckeyes forced Clemson to punt on their next possession and looked to be driving down the field again to make the lead two scores, but after getting stopped on 3rd and 5 for a one yard gain, Ryan Day punted and Chrisman knocked another one down inside the 10.  Four plays later Travis Etienne was again in the endzone and the Buckeyes found themselves down 29-23 with 1:50 left on the clock. 

Fields hit Dobbins for two quick passes to start the drive and then K.J. Hill for another to get the ball to the Clemson 40 with a little over a minute left. After another completion out of the backfield to Dobbins, Fields missed Mack and set up a 3rd down which he converted with his feet. 1:04 on the clock and the Buckeyes had the ball with a first down on the 31 yard line. Another run by Fields for three, and a timeout for the Buckeyes. The play call looked very similar to the 4th down play that was scored on earlier in the 4th, but Chris Olave broke off his route thinking that Fields was scrambling and the throw was intercepted by Clemson sealing the Fiesta Bowl in their favor.  

The Buckeyes were the better team last night and probably deserved to win. I said it last night, and I will say it again, I am not going to say the officiating cost us the game as they had plenty of chances to score, but the amount of very judgemental calls certainly did not help either.

This Buckeye team ranks pretty high for me on a best team I’ve watched play in my lifetime scale. We dominated nearly every game from start to finish all year, and had three of the top six Heisman vote getters. Chase Young set records on defense, and J.K. set records on offense. I assume that next year we will see them suiting up on Sunday along with about 50 other Ohio State Buckeyes in the NFL. While we will be losing a lot of talent to the draft and graduation later this year, we are also bringing in a very highly regarded recruiting class next summer/fall. 

The future is still bright at Ohio State. 

Thank you Buckeyes!

Parallels and Similarities: A Buckeyes Call To Arms

#2 Ohio State vs #3 Clemson, CFB Playoffs 2019 semifinals at Glendale, Arizona on December 28, 2019. Credit: SI.com

When I sit back and try to enjoy sports shows, I can’t help but feel disrespected as a die-hard fan of the Buckeyes. Every show that I have put on, there are analysts spinning the story of the Buckeyes being just another unmatched team in the way of the reigning champs, Clemson Tigers. They are giving the Buckeyes a slim shot to defeat them and their reason? The 31-0 beatdown in Arizona, three years ago.

Clemson’s defensive front swarming JT Barrett in CFB Playoffs semis in 2017. Credit: Buckeyeswire.usatoday.com.

Yes, we all remember the last time these two teams played each other, the 31-0 blowout in the same field where they will meet on the 28th, and that was the last time they Buckeyes got invited to the big dance. It is also coincidentally where the “when was the last time the Big Ten scored” joke was born, with the conference no-showing 2 out of the last 3 years. In 2017 the Buckeyes fell to this years opponent at the same venue 31-0 and in 2016 the Spartans fell 38-0 against Alabama.

Derrick Henry rumbling through the Spartan defense in the 2016 CFB Playoffs semis. Credit: Sbnation.com

As irritating as the joke is, it is true and both Ohio State and Michigan State had lost for a combined score of 69-0 and an 0-2 record. This acts as a black eye to the conference and its fans. And changes need to happen and they have to right the ship against Clemson this year! The Big Ten has been waiting for this moment and the Buckeyes have been licking their chops to avenge their last loss and restore their image as a College Football blue-blood and one of the heavy hitters in the nation to go alongside the Clemson’s, the Alabama’s and the LSU’s of the world. As much as I need this, the Buckeyes need this as well. They have been disrespected so much and with them dropping to #2, it might add that extra edge to their argument.

The edge is already there, but the media has sharpened it just in time for the contest against Clemson. A lot of talk is made and I think this team will do the talking on the field, whether it’ll be in a blowout win or a close one, they will be ready. Think about it for a second. Ryan Day doesn’t show up to the ESPN College Football Playoffs special to recruit for the future. I think it actually is deeper than we think. I might be over-analyzing it, but what if he feels disrespected after saying “if there’s a better team than ours for #1” after that epic comeback win against Wisconsin? He might feel slighted and his team will reciprocate that feeling and are we gonna see a Buckeye buzzsaw as a result?

The Buckeyes felt disrespected after they were selected for the #4 seed in the inaugural CFB Playoffs, and even though they were down at the half, they came back against the Tide and won it all. I sense that kind of vibe from this years team. Dobbins will be Elliott, Olave is Thomas, Young is Bosa and Harrison is Lee. Think about the similarities and parallels of those two teams. Add in a healthy Justin Fields, with his ability to scramble around and the BIA squad with Okudah, Arnette, and Wade? This team has the weapons on both sides of the ball to win and compete and this might be the year.

Remember, the last time the Buckeyes scored in the playoffs was during the inaugural College Football Playoff run where they won it all. They came back and defeated a good Alabama squad 42-35 and they steamrolled a Mariota led Oregon squad 42-20 to win the first ever CFB Playoffs. 84 was the last points scored and they need to break the streak to gain the respect of the nation and these talking heads that spew nothing but hatred for the Buckeyes.

I might be paranoid, but I have high hopes for this team. I might be too positive, but I expect this team to shine when the light looks like it is fading. The Buckeyes will find a way to win and I will die an idiot or a scholar by the waning moments of the 28th, but for now, no predictions or previews. This is just a fun article for me about how I feel about this team. This team and the 2015 squad have similarities across the board, but for now let’s see how many of you think like me and us here at the Men of the Scarlet and Gray.

#GoBucks

#MotsagRising

Ohio State vs Wisconsin II

Two conference heavyweights will square up one against each other one more time and this game will be another good one to watch. This is another high stakes contest that will garner a lot of attention with so much on the line. Wisconsin’s pride after being shut down in Columbus a few weeks ago against Ohio State’s streak and their dream of winning rings. Not to mention, the Big Ten conference crown being up for grabs too. This contest will be a fun one to watch and the nation will be curious to see if Wisconsin can redeem themselves OR they will tune-in to watch Ohio State roll another opponent into obscurity in another Top 10 battle.

Taylor breaking away from the Wolverine defense.

It is sort of a dream scenario for the Badgers who suffered a loss in Columbus and they got trolled with the “jump around” song right as the game was put away by the home team Buckeyes. A few Badgers had expressed their desire for a rematch and they got their wish. For Ohio State, they will try to beat Wisconsin again, but this time at Indianapolis. The Buckeye fans travel well and this might potentially be another home game with the best fans in the land.

Chase Young with one of his three strip-sacks.

Ohio State versus Wisconsin will be exciting. The last contest was 38-7 and the Buckeyes shut it down early and often. Jonathan Taylor was also shut down and he finished with 20 carries for 52 yards and no touchdowns. Jack Coan was also harassed a lot by Young and company as he was sacked five times and he was strip sacked three separate times. He had 17 attempts and only mustered 108 yards and one score. The defense will also be looking to rebound because they had made a few plays and they did get to Fields quite a bit, but they need to show up to make it interesting.

Justin Fields reading the Badger defense.

For Fields, he had a game and he left after the first half was over. He finished with three scores, two through the air and one on the ground. He had 195 total yards before leaving the game. For Dobbins, he had 20 rushes and he finished with 163 yards and two scores. He also added 3 catches for 58 yards as well. Wisconsin’s mission will be to keep the game close and shut down this dynamic duo in the backfield. With Fields a little banged-up, they will look to pressure him and keep him off his game.

Dobbins celebrating another touchdown through the ground.

Many folks are assuming this game will be closer, but I don’t think Coach Day would settle for a loss at this point of the season. He will have them ready to work for what they’ve been vying for and this is the time to show the nation that they are indeed, for real. It’ll be another close game, but with Wade being cleared, he will help the Buckeyes once again shut down and pressure Coan into mistakes. The defense is getting healthier again and what better opportunity to show out in front of the nation, while everyone watches. Another well-rounded performance and potentially another beatdown would keep the Buckeyes at #1 for the big dance, but barring a blowout of Georgia, we will have to see how it shakes out. The committee has been consistent so far, but we will see what ensues on Saturday evening.

Match-Ups To Watch:

  • Jack Coan versus Justin Fields
  • Jonathan Taylor versus J.K. Dobbins
  • A.J. Taylor and Quintez Cephus versus Jeff Okudah and Shaun Wade
  • Garrett Groshek and Jake Ferguson versus Tuf Borland and Pete Werner
  • Slobs versus Baun and Orr
  • Olave versus Jim Leonhard and his defense
  • Rushmen and Young versus Badger O-Line

Prediction: This is high-stakes drama and the Badgers will start ready and fast. This is Fields’ Heisman dash toward the end of the season and he has Young and Dobbins nipping at his heels as well. A trio of Buckeyes will look to put the finishing touches on an astounding season and what better pretense than earning another conference crown before securing a spot in the big dance? They cannot overlook the Badgers, but it may go in their favor again in what is an audition for the top spot in the playoffs. LSU will have theirs against UGA. Let’s see if the magic can return for another run into history.

Buckeyes defeat the Badgers 48-21

#GoBucks

Rumble In C’Bus

A collision course between Ohio State and Penn State will be in Columbus this year.

The Ohio State Buckeyes are on the home-stretch of an amazing season and with two games remaining, an old foe will arrive to stand in the way of a College Football Playoff bid. Penn State will visit The Shoe to attempt to de-rail the Buckeyes’ plans to end a two-year drought where they suffered terrible road losses to Iowa in 2017 and to Purdue in 2018. Will the Nittany Lions continue the trend? Will another conference foe, with this particular one being in the same division as the Buckeyes be able to pull it off?

This game is often decided by splash plays from any phase of the game. Penn State has won on a special teams play with a blocked field goal with little to no time left that resulted in a touchdown three seasons ago. Ohio State has won the last two and four of the last five contests. The last two were won by a single point, 39-38 at Columbus and 27-26 during a White Out, where Haskins brought the team back from a three-score hole. This contest will be in Columbus and although the team has yet to play in the second half, specifically the 4th quarter, Penn State will attempt to score early and often, all while leaning on their defense to keep the Buckeyes at bay.

Justin Fields scanning the field pre-snap.

Fields Impending Heisman Push

With a few precious weeks left of the 2019 season, everything the Buckeyes have accomplished is all part of the grander scheme of playing for another National Championship. Penn State is in the way this weekend and the last three-game stretch will most likely be Top 10 contests between CFB Playoff hopefuls that could add a bit of intrigue to the Buckeyes path back to the big dance. They have to fend off #8 Penn State this week, #13 or better TTUN at Ann Arbor in week 14, and #10 or better Minnesota or #12 or better Wisconsin in the Conference Championship Game before the final playoff rankings are released.

Justin Fields has the skills and the platforms these next three weeks to surge up the Heisman rankings if he continues to light up the scoreboard and against this type of competition. 31 passing scores and 10 rushing scores against one single interception is crazy and he could potentially be unleashed in the second half and in crunch-time during the 4th quarter. He is unproven, but if the moment comes, he will be ready. He has a chance to prove why he is Heisman-worthy and if everything goes well, he can overtake former Buckeye and now LSU QB, Joe Burrow for the lead by the seasons’ end. He has the weapons to make a run, but it all depends on his poise during the final stretch.

Young hunting for another strip-sack against Jack Coan.

The Predator’s Return

Chase Young has been the talk of Buckeye Nation and he has ended his two-game suspension for taking money to fly his girlfriend to the Rose Bowl. He is now back with a massive boulder of a chip on his shoulder and he has returned to haunt every offensive opponent that he has left on his schedule. James Franklin was sarcastic during a press-conference stating that “Chase Young is back for good-old Penn State”, and he might have been the source that got Young in the weeds, but we will never know and it is all in the past now.

Big boy football in the Big Ten will continue and the chase for rings is still on-going. Young’s addition will add more juice to the defense and they will try to punish Penn State. They will have their hands full with Hamler and Friemuth, but I can see their assigned defenders coming out with an edge. Hamler will be matched up with Wade, who he beat for 90+ yards and a score on a slant route. Borland and/or Harrison will be guarding the seams, where Friemuth has hurt defenses. This defense has not given up many splash plays, but this will be a test against Hamler and company. The opposing running backs are good too, so we will see how or if the Buckeyes can negate the playmakers and the young opposing quarterback.

Penn State defense after a key play.

Defensive Firepower

The Penn State defense has been a stellar group up until being upended by Minnesota. They have a top defense highlighted by a former recruiting target, Micah Parsons. I am not 100% on what happened, but he approached the college gameday staff and something happened that affected his status, and I am assuming it was illegal. He quickly fell out of the short-list of defensive targets before heading to Penn State. Now, two years later, he is leading this defense and he will be looking to ruin the Buckeyes’ dream season. He plays in an aggressive defense that matches up in talent with the Buckeyes, but do they have the depth?

The Buckeyes have loads of depth players on offense and on defense. They will look to flex their muscles with it in order to wear down this defensive group. This group of Slobs has a chip on their shoulder and they have been great so far. This will be another great test to see where they are at and I am planning on them being ready. They have already proved it against Wisconsin and Michigan State. They have a rough road ahead, but the focus will be on Penn State.

Dobbins continuing his domination on the ground for the score.

Running Wild With Depth

The Penn State message boards were on something this week, and they called Dobbins a one-trick pony and they called out the Cadillac position for its “lack of depth”. One thing that Dobbins isn’t, is a one-trick pony. He plays and runs hard, and he can catch the ball when necessary. He is a key cog in this offense and he has been amazing when leaned upon. He is certainly aware of the comments and I think he will punish this defense.

He also has a couple of partners that accompany him in the backfield in Master Teague and Steele Chambers. DeMario McCall is there and he is a change-of-pace back that plays in garbage-time. Marcus Crowley got hurt a couple of weeks ago, but the walk-on backs can be valuable cogs as well, but this game will be centered on Dobbins and Teague. This will be a bloodbath and we can only hope that the line opens up a bunch of holes for team Stiff Arm and Harm.

An overhead of The Shoe in Columbus, Ohio.

Buckeye Bonus

This weekend is homecoming week and it marks the last game for the Buckeye upperclassmen. With a big-time opponent on the schedule in Penn State, this is where the Buckeyes use their magic to re-load to take over those who are graduating and those who might leave early for the NFL. They have been on one of the best runs and it can only help their needs to restock the cupboard and what better platform than against one of your rivals in Penn State? This week will have a large group of potential targets and a few current commits will be on-hand to seal the deal. With or without them, the Buckeyes have been successful on the recruiting trail with Ryan Day and his staff, and I do not see that changing. This week is a recruiting milestone and with a big win, they can potentially flip and snag a few before the early signing day period.

Matchups To Watch

  • Fields versus Clifford
  • Zone 6 versus Penn State Back Seven
  • Hamler and Friemuth versus Ohio State Back Seven
  • Chase Young and The Rushmen versus Penn State O-Line
  • The Slobs versus Parsons and Gross-Matos

Prediction:

I want to predict this close, but I feel that the talent and depth would put the game out of reach. The last two games have been close between both teams, but this might be the year where the close games cease to exist. I think with the potential narc on Penn State’s sidelines and with Young returning, I think of TTUN beatdown in 2018.

The Ohio State Buckeyes defeat The Penn State Nittany Lions 48-17.

#GoBucks

The Maryland Terrapins VS The Ohio State Buckeyes

Friday morning could have been better, but we are a day away until game time! What seems like to be a constant thing when considering Ohio State, there is always something that comes up to snuff out the momentum and it is usually is accompanied by something negative and whats are the words I am searching for… a conspiracy-laden narrative that will at least attempt to bring them back down to Earth. It what seems to be another strategically timed “article” where it was reported that Chase Young accepted money and that he is suspended for this contest as a minimum pending investigation from the Ohio State Compliance Office. Yay and boo, but all we have to do is wait for the process to wind down and just hope they get it right this time. Whatever happens, does so and I will not waste my breath with the situation.

This game is all about continuing the momentum into the last half of the season and against a once-promising Maryland squad will be the obstacle for the Buckeyes this week. Their opponent was leading the nation in scoring through the first two weeks of the season, but they have faded into obscurity and have limped forward to a 3-6 record through this point of the season. With the Buckeyes being without their defensive stalwart, Chase Young, the Buckeyes will look toward this contest without him, but they have the depth to survive without him. This defense has been stellar with him and without him–I think they’ll be fine, but we will have to see for now.

Buckeyes swarming defense.

Young Bucks Golden Opportunity

As we stated before, Chase Young is out and it will be up to a few younger players to step up and earn their keep for the foreseeable future until Young gets back from his recent suspension. With the Next man up mantra enter Zach Harrison and Tyreke Smith to fill the void for the time being. As we have seen after the game has been put away, the aforementioned two along with Javonte Jean-Baptiste and Tyler Friday have been key members among the Rushmen and they can get some playing time and be disruptive. Defensive Captain Jonathan Cooper will lead this group and he has Davon Hamilton and BB Landers will also help along with their reserves Tommy Togiai and Garrett Haskel too. These younger players have the benefit of learning behind such a talented group of upperclassmen and a great group of leaders on the defensive side of the ball. It is an opportunity to see what the future will look like, but I have a feeling it’ll be good. The once fast offense will have a hard time blocking so many talented players, but I know they’ll be ready for the challenge.

Malik Harrison breaking through.

Defensive Effort

Malik Harrison will have to provide the same spark that Darron Lee created during his breakout season at Ohio State. The Linebackers have willed recent teams to success and he needs to be more of a dog from here on out. He needs to blitz, cover and be disruptive enough while directing his forces to fill the void against a once lethal and fast Terps offense. Communication will be key with the defensive linemen and the defensive back, and my gut tells me they’ll be ready to silence the critics without their star players. The Wisconsin game proved what the team could be with Young and this game will prove that they’ll be fine without them for however long it’ll be or take for the investigation to be over. Best case scenario, he’s out for a single game. Worst case, it’ll be two with Rutgers on the schedule, but I think the compliance department will mess it up again. I am a pessimist, but I can see it going south, but the defense will continue to shine during his absence. The last contest between the two ended in a double-overtime contest where the Buckeyes nearly took the L with an errant throw on a two-point, game-clinching pass to a wide-open receiver that sailed out of reach. The Buckeyes will look to redeem themselves and further prove that they are legit, even without Young.

Fields dodging a would-be tackler.

Field Of Dreams

Justin Fields has been on a tear lately, but after last week’s destruction of Wisconsin, he gave the team and their fans a scare when he came up hobbled after scoring a rushing touchdown. Luckily it wasn’t serious, but Fields is definitely capable of leading the charge on the offensive side of the ball. With another great group of wide receivers and the recent inclusion of their tight ends, they can put the game out of reach and give the defense some juice in the process. In another great year for a quarterback, Fields brings a lot for this offense and he leads them in a calmly and with his play. He will be ready for this contest to show his value to this offense. This is another noon game, but the Buckeyes will pour it on Maryland and former player Keiondre Jones. Welcome back to the Shoe, but buckle up.

Dobbins rumbling through the Spartan defense.

Boom Boom Room

Ohio State has had quite a few playmakers at running back and the “boom, boom room” is always capable of causing fireworks during the perfect time on gamedays. This week is no different and this porous defense is no exception. This defense is bad and without a consistent defense, they will most likely get tore up against this stable of backs that features a young muscle hamster, J.K. Dobbins, a young beast mode clone, Master Teague and mystery man, Marcus Crowley, who gets carries late but has flashed brilliance in limited action. They also have a speedy back Demario McCall, who is also used sparingly but he could be used as a weapon. There is a lot and there is also Jaelin Gill, who is the backup H-Back, who might be used, but I think is en-route to a redshirt. This room is stacked and with the recent misses in the running back position, the future is still bright despite the lack of a 2020 recruit.

Match-Ups To Watch

  • Fields vs Maryland Secondary
  • Buckeyes Linebackers vs Terrapin Playmakers
  • Buckeyes Backs vs Maryland Defense

Prediction

The Ohio State Buckeyes defeat the Maryland Terrapins 45-6.