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:

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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 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!!!

 

 

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

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Ever since Coach Meyer began his coaching career at Ohio State, Coach Dantonio was always that thorn in his side.  Year after year, the Spartans find a way to be uber competitive against the Buckeyes, and they have certainly played spoiler in contests against the Meyer and company.  Head to head?  Meyer and Dantonio are tied with two wins each.  An even 2-2 record that has created a rivalry against the entire state that sits up north.  This rivalry has decided the BIG 10 East representative the last couple of seasons and even if the Spartans are 3-7, don’t expect them to lie down and take a beating.  For some reason, they almost always are motivated by their Head Coach, a former Ohio State Assistant Coach.  He will look to once again, ruin the Buckeyes hopes and dreams as the Buckeyes travel to East Lansing to face a struggling Michigan State team on their own home turf.

imgres-5This was Coach Meyer’s first taste of defeat at the hands of Michigan State in the BIG 10 Championship Game and it still hurts. This was the beginning of the rivalry as Michigan State went on to play in the Rose Bowl representing the conference at the end of the year.  The Buckeyes didn’t miss out that much because they went on to face a potent Clemson offense to end the season, but caught a loss as Braxton Miller injured his shoulder during the game.  Coach Meyer’s only two game losing streak.  Think about that for a second.  The losses to Michigan State and then Clemson was his first consecutive game loses in his now five-year tenure at Ohio State.  Since then Meyer has not lost two consecutive games or two games in a season (KNOCK ON WOOD!).  Coach Meyer is 59-5 over his coaching stint at Ohio State.  He has a National Championship and has fielded highly competitive teams.

images-1Here was another loss at the hands of Michigan State.  As the Spartans knocked in a last-minute field goal to upset the Buckeyes who had championship aspirations.  This time they fell to a kicker and a team filled with Ohioan outcasts that resented the fact that they were overlooked by the Scarlet and Gray when they were high school prospects.  This game is fueled by pure emotion as the Buckeyes can’t sign every Ohio prospect.  They are delighted to play spoiler every time these two teams play each other.  This has lead to the Ohio State coaching staff fabricating a code word that aggravates the Buckeyes because they heard it constantly.  “GO GREEN” constantly being said, day in and day out would become a nuisance and it would make me angry too.  This game will be about getting the win.  The Buckeyes are focused on Michigan State.  This will be another classic, but with a variety of new players on both ends.

images-8The Slobs will dictate how the game goes.  They have to establish themselves against a stout, but young Spartan Defensive Line.  Last year, the Slobs were getting manhandled by the Spartans and they pretty much shut down the Buckeyes Offense.  That and the lack of Elliott touches was puzzling as it resulted in a close loss for the Buckeyes.  The whole Offensive Line will be the focus and the key to winning the game.  You have to win in the trenches and as long as I have been watching this series, whoever controls the trenches usually wins the game.  This will be the best time to earn their keep as this line is much younger than the TTUN’s Defensive Line.  So, if they want to continue building the confidence and momentum, they should find a way to dominate or there might be another meme coming for Coach Meyer.  Buckeye target, Josh King anchors the Spartan Defensive Line along with a host of experienced Linebackers like Andrew Dowell, Riley Bullough and Chris Frey.  This will be a tough task to contain them because they are good in both passing defense and they excel at rushing the passer.

imgres-7Mike Weber and Curtis Samuel are a pair of playmakers that Coach Meyer needs for this game.  They need to thrive and make plays to keep the potent offense afloat and dangerous as usual.  Weber needs to win on the ground and on dump-off passes and Samuel needs to find a way to break a big one on the “No Fly Zone” remnants.  Again, this defense is young, but their strength lies in their pass rush.  They have returned more than enough of their Linebackers from last year and they will look to repeat the trend from last year.  Not only do Weber and Samuel have to succeed, Zone 6 members need to find a way to separate from the Defensive Backs to make plays.  They flat out need to get open.  They showed some improvement against Nebraska and Maryland so I hope they show more signs of life to help the Buckeyes’ cause.

imgresThere will be a steady dose of J.T. Barrett during the game.  He will receive a ton of reps to develop himself into a more prolific offensive weapon.  He rarely has to run lately, but if he needs to, I don’t see him hesitating to extend drives and keep the offense humming.  Barrett has been more dependent on his arm and with the season quickly coming to a close, he will look to improve his skills.  Last week, he threw for nearly 253 yards, for 2 touchdowns and ran for 47 for another 2 scores.  Balance, is the name of the game with this young Buckeye team and with youth at just about every position, I feel the need to take a huge step forward or another level, is needed to come close to their or to exceed their true potential.  J.T. Barrett will have to manage the game and play a perfect game.  His Offensive Line would also need to block for their Quarterback for him to succeed.

img_3645Lastly, the Silver Bullets and the Scarlet Curtain need to show up for this contest.  I am hoping the Defensive Line can hold up and dominate the Spartan Offensive Line.  The Linebackers need to clog the run and pass lanes and just flat out wreck havoc and cause chaos.  The Scarlet Curtain need to cover those short drag routes because I have a funny feeling that they will try to use some plays that Wisconsin used against the Buckeyes.  They will need to play a perfect game and Michigan State’s prized recruit and former Buckeye target, Donnie Corley is becoming a rising star in the Spartan passing attack.  Another Buckeye target, LJ Scott is also rising and he has become the workhorse of the running game.  Tyler O’Connor is the starting Quarterback but Damion Terry is still there as well, so expect both Quarterbacks to get some playing time to confuse the defense.  R.J. Shelton also returns as he looks to make plays against the opposing teams’ defense.  We will see if they are up to the task as this will be another good one and another close game.

Prediction:

I want to believe that the Buckeyes come into East Lansing and blow the doors off from the get-go, but I will stick to my conservative roots and predict a close one.

Buckeyes over Spartans 35-24.  

 

 

 

Preview: #5 Ohio State (8-1, 5-1) vs Maryland (5-4, 2-4)

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This weekend will mark just the second time, to where Coach Urban Meyer and Coach D.J. Durkin face off against each other on opposing sidelines.  Last season would be the first official clash between the two, who are quite good friends, both on and off the football field.  Meyer has always showed a shine to Durkin who worked as one of his key assistants, as some form of Defensive Coordinator.  Last season, Durkin was to Defensive Backs Coach for TTUN’s secondary that ended up getting roasted by the Buckeyes.  This year will be completely different.  Durkin is now the Head Coach of the Maryland Terrapins and he is looking for a signature win and what better way to get one by defeating the mighty Buckeyes?  I do not think that would be the case and although plausible, it is highly unlikely as the momentum is in the Buckeyes favor after the 62-3 thrashing of previously #10 overall ranked Nebraska.

imagesJ.T. Barrett comes into the game unscathed.  The Slobs did their part and prevented Barrett from taking unnecessary hits and sacks.  So far, Barrett has shown flashes of his former self and he dominated through the air in last weeks tilt against a good Nebraska Blackshirt Defense.  He finished with 290 passing yards and 4 touchdowns and 8 rushes for 39 yards.  He found his rhythm and hit 8 different receivers throughout the game.  Spreading the ball out to his young crop of receivers and finding them on his second, third or fourth read was effortless.  With the protection of the entire Offensive Line, it made for a highly productive day for everyone.  Mike Weber racked up yardage on the ground and once through the air.  He tallied 87 total yards and a rushing score before aggravating his bum shoulder, and as a precaution, Meyer sat him in favor of true freshman, Demario McCall who showed some speed as he rushed for 73-yards on 16 carries.  Curtis Samuel sparked an offensive onslaught as he touched the ball less than 20 times (13 touches) and he ended the contest with 41 rushing yards and 137 receiving yards and 2 touchdowns.  This week, the offense will look to build momentum for the two teams from up north.  This won’t be super easy, but it will determine a lot and measure their progression.  The date with the Spartans and the Wolverines will be the tougher games, but for now we look toward Maryland.

untitled11The defense looks good.  The Scarlet Curtain and the Silver Bullets have done a wonderful job so far, and that is a testament to the staff and the way they teach their kids.  Last week, the defense pulled out all the stops as they held a Top-10 Nebraska team that is capable of scoring to only a field goal.  They stopped them twice in the red zone on fourth down and asserted themselves throughout.  The Scarlet Curtain also scored twice of interceptions, furthering Nebraska’s demise.  They look to beat up a Maryland team who is searching for a starting Quarterback after their starter suffered an injury last week against TTUN, Durkin’s former boss and team.  We will have to see what they could manage to do once they face this young Terrapins team that in floundering during Durkin’s first year at the helm.  This game will likely feature a ton of young DMV prospects, these elite prospects most likely are considering both Maryland and Ohio State at this point, and I am sure the Buckeyes would want to put on a show for them.  It will be Coach Johnson and his Rushmen against Coach Durkin and his staff.  We will see who wins out on key DMV based recruits.

Prediction:

I don’t want to go too crazy, but barring Hills being available, I will predict a win for Ohio State 42-10.  If Hills isn’t a starter and Pigram gets the nod, Ohio State will try to contain a different Quarterback and it will give Maryland a bigger chance to put up points.  So my final score prediction will be:  Ohio State def. Maryland 45-16

 

Recap: #10 Nebraska (7-1, 4-1) vs #6 Ohio State (7-1, 4-1)

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During the patented Scarlet Out at The Shoe, this game is indeed another game to that the Buckeye Head Coach and his crew would like to improve their deficiencies offensively and their inability to stay consistent on the defensive side of the ball.  This is another battle of two Top-10 teams that are vying for a spot in this season’s College Football Playoff and even though they are at home, the Buckeyes cannot take this Cornhusker team lightly.  Both the Buckeyes and the Cornhuskers come in with identical records at 7-1 and both are currently 4-1 in conference play.  Both teams suffered one loss, Ohio State suffered their first loss to Penn State at Happy Valley and Nebraska fell to in Madison.  How would things go for both teams during this clash of two teams with rich histories and traditions.
imgres-1The Silver Bullets started out with a bang.  They set the tone with another pick-six courtesy of the Scarlet Curtain member, Damon Webb.  The play began when Raekwon McMillan tipped the pass enough to alter the trajectory, then the Nebraska Wideout attempted to secure the catch, but the mistakenly tipped it straight up into the air into the waiting arms of Damon Webb who showed off some of his sweet juke moves as he took it to the house for another pick-six.  Tommy Armstrong attempted to make the tackle but whiffed on it.  This makes it a team record 5th pick-six of the season and it looks like they are primed to have another defensive showing during primetime.  On the next possession for Nebraska, they took it deep into the Red Zone, but their drive stalled and they ended up taking the points and kicked a field goal.  The Buckeyes gave up some splash plays, but they stifled the Nebraska Offense when they were in a good position to score.

imgresThe Buckeyes Offense looked good in the first half imposing their will on the vaunted Blackshirt Defense of Nebraska.  They looked to be in sync and the Offensive Line play showed improvement ensuring J.T. Barrett remained upright.  J.T. Barrett is a magician, making plays while on the run.  He found Terry McLaurin in the back of the end zone after scrambling for his life.  The Buckeyes are showing signs of returning to form as their skill players on for the offense seem to be gaining some confidence in their abilities.  McLaurin is young and he has had an up and down season so far, but the young man finally made a play that put the Buckeyes ahead of the Cornhuskers.  The Buckeyes finished the first quarter with a 14-3 lead and they look to get the ball into the hands of their playmakers at Wide Receiver as J.T. Barrett has hit four different receivers to build the lead over the Cornhuskers.

images-5In the beginning of the Second Quarter, the Buckeyes opened up the playbook a little more, the Buckeyes are noticeably looking to take deep shots to the end zone.  Zach Smith must have gotten into his Zone 6 members by the lack of offensive productivity beyond Curtis Samuel, Noah Brown and Dontre Wilson.  They are getting open due to the overall balance of the playcalling.  I, for one, am pleased by the amount of consistency and effort that I have seen so far and I hope that they can continue this effort into the rest of the season.  Zone 6 aren’t the only members of the team that has been succeeding because the Offensive Line is doing their job and it is amazing to see them play with this type of intensity.  Mike Weber benefited from The Slobs as he scored on a 23-yard dash to the end zone.  Curtis Samuel isn’t doing so bad either with 36 rushing yards midway through the First Quarter.  True Freshman and prized recruit Binjimen Victor almost made a circus catch on a third and long.  He failed to maintain control for his first score of the season and it would’ve been huge for the Buckeyes.  The crowd would have gone wild, but another missed opportunity–for the Buckeyes to dish out the knockout blow, but I am sure that Coach Meyer and Zone 6 Coach Zach Smith will find a way to put him in a position to make an impact.

imgres-4During football games, it is natural to talk trash and have some fun with it.  The gambler Dontre Wilson muffed another punt as he was looking ahead, trying to find a lane for the return.  Nebraska took advantage of the great field position as Tommy Armstrong Jr converted a 3rd and long and he was hit out of bounds by Malik Hooker.  He was knocked out at the Ohio State 24-yard line, but after landing he laid there motionless and most likely unconscious.  There was a long delay, but the medical staff was being cautious and they tended to the fallen Cornhusker.  He left after all precautions were done and he was packed into the ambulance with his father and they set out to the local hospital to see what had occurred and if he suffered any major injuries.  Hopefully, with some prayers, he will be okay and healthy, but for the time being a backup quarterback will have to take the reigns.

imgres-2After play had resumed, Senior Quarterback Ryker Fyfe comes in on a 4th and 1 play.  They attempted to trick the Buckeyes on a QB scramble, but Tyquan Lewis relentlessly pursued him and got the sack to turn the ball over on downs.  The Silver Bullets are playing with a fire that I haven’t seen in a while and as they turned away the Blackshirts, they drove the ball into Nebraska territory and well into the enemy red zone.  Curtis Samuel has been the playmaker for the Buckeyes as he was the guy that converted most of the first downs for the Scarlet and Gray.  J.T. Barrett and Curtis Samuel capped off the first half with Urban Meyer’s patented jump pass to Curtis Samuel to extend the Buckeyes lead to 28.  The Buckeyes finished off the half with a 31-3 lead and they will receive the ball at the start of the second half.  J.T.

imgres-3The Buckeyes began the second half with a bang, just as they did to open up the game.  On their first play of the game, the Buckeyes devised a plan to get Samuel more yardage and they succeeded on a one-play touchdown drive that is the longest pass downfield of the season.  It was well worth it as he beat the man to man coverage and the safety that was assigned to guard him on a well thought out play action pass that literally froze the defense in place and before they realized what was about to happen, it was too late as Samuel blew past the safety for the easy score.  The Silver Bullets picked up where they left off as they shut down the new quarterback after just three plays, forcing another punt.  Mike Weber came out determined to surpass the 100-yard mark as he ripped off another long run, but he seemed to have sustained an injury after being tackled onto his bum shoulder.  J.T. Barrett finished the drive with another touchdown on a comeback route to Noah Brown.  Tommy Armstrong Jr returned from the hospital during the drive and with some great news and no major injuries.  He came in with some urgency as he looks to return to his teammates to hopefully give them a boost and some sorely needed energy.  The crowd gave Armstrong a warm welcome as he returned to his teammates.  A true showing of respect and sportsmanship.  It seems as if Dontre Wilson’s punt returning duties were revoked as both Curtis Samuel and Demario McCall have taken punts for the Buckeyes.  Dontre Wilson is good at returning punts, but he likes to gamble way too much and I feel like it is a smart move for the coaching staff moving forward because, after this game, they play at Maryland and at East Lansing before playing the last game at home against TTUN.  This game has been fun and unexpected, but it’ll build momentum and confidence in the team as a whole.

imgres-4The Scarlet Curtain has struck again on another tipped pass for a score as Malik Hooker brought it back to the house on pure instincts, avoiding the entire Nebraska Offense and practically untouched.  He took it 48-yards for The Silver Bullets’ sixth defensive score of the season.  The pick-six was the last play for Ohio State after three quarters.  With a 55-3 lead, I Coach Meyer will give the younger players a chance to add to what has been an impressive game for the older players.  Hopefully, we get a glimpse of the future of the next generation of Buckeyes.  The defense made another stop well within their red zone as they stopped Westerkamp from converting a fourth down.  He avoided Craig Fada, a reserve Linebacker, but couldn’t break the tackle of the safeties that had converged on him.

imgres-5As predicted, the reserves went out and it didn’t take long for Joe Burrow to cap off another offensive possession with a score.  Burrow deceived the Nebraska Linebacker as he rushed for 12-yards for another Buckeye touchdown as he put seven more points on the scoreboard.  The playcalling prior to the score was focused on two offensive playmakers, K.J. Hill at Wide Receiver and Demario McCall at Running Back.  They are developing into quite the playmakers and after the close call with Weber, Coach Alford wants to see what the true freshman can do during garbage time.  The Buckeyes finished the game 62-3, a resounding win against another Top-10 team.  Here is a telling statistic, today, the Buckeyes scored on 8 of their 9 offensive possessions. The lone stop was when Burrow and the backups bled the clock.  They had two interceptions for scores which extend their school record to six for the year.  This game was something to revel in, but they will travel to Maryland next week, but for now they will enjoy this victory.  The crowd was into it the entire game and they made so much noise it shook the cameras in the stadium.  Homefield advantage was finally what it should be and hope it shows up again during the clash with TTUN.  Another note worth mentioning, this game had a many blue-chippers present in the game and with this showing, I feel like the Buckeyes took full advantage of it.  The atmosphere was lively and loud, they introduced another alternate uniform combination and both the offense and defense lived up to the expectations for this game, putting up 62 points and holding Nebraska to just 3.  A stellar performance that could seep into the minds of the blue-chip recruits that were present, especially Shaun Wade, who is mentioned as the recruit that might get away from Coach Meyer.  We will have to see what recruiting news unfolds after the recruits take it all in.  Great win.  Go Bucks.

Recruiting Reconnaissance: Scarlet Fever at the Shoe

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The game against the Nebraska Cornhuskers will be another Top-10 battle between two potential participants of the College Football Playoffs, but there is another reason why this game is of such importance.  There have been significant battles on the recruiting front between the Buckeyes and the Cornhuskers.  There is that and the rivalry between Wide Receiving Coaches that has been brewing frequently enough to cause a stir on both fronts.  Zone 6’s own Zach Williams and Nebraska’s Keith Williams have been dueling for star wideouts from various recruiting battlegrounds and this is a battle to keep your eyes on.  The recruits that they are vying for are Donovan Peoples-Jones, Trevon Grimes and Keyshawn Johnson Jr.  They both have one of the previous three named in their respective classes, but Peoples-Jones is still deciding on the two, as he took the time to visit these two schools earlier this season. So far Peoples-Jones is hard to read and he has recently released a Top-5 list that did not include Nebraska, but in recruiting that means nothing.  Wide Receiver isn’t the only position Ohio State and Nebraska are dueling for, they are also going head to head for Calabasas California’s own Darnay Holmes, a highly sought after Defensive Back prospect.  Nebraska and Johnson Jr are both trying to continue the pipeline into Nebraska’s future plans, but I don’t know if he will end up in the Scarlet and Gray due to the limited spots in this years class, but you never know.  There is also another possibility to where Bubba Bolden wants to join the Select 17 as well.  The Buckeyes are trying to get at least two more Defensive Back prospects after National Signing Day, but it will depend on if Ohio State misses out on the bigger names on what is left on their recruiting board.

Here are the current Ohio State Commits:

    • Josh Myers
      Josh Myers Miamisburg (Miamisburg, OH)
      OT 6-6 306 0.9928 10 3 1
    • Commit 1/25/2015
    • Wyatt Davis
      Wyatt Davis St. John Bosco (Bellflower, CA)
      OG 6-5 310 0.9902 15 1 6
    • Commit 6/24/2016
    • Trevon Grimes
      Trevon Grimes St. Thomas Aquinas (Fort Lauderdale, FL)
      WR 6-3 202 0.9890 17 4 3
    • Commit 8/22/2016
    • Shaun Wade
      Shaun Wade Trinity Christian Academy (Jacksonville, FL)
      CB 6-1 177 0.9886 20 4 5
    • Commit 1/12/2015
    • Chase Young
      Chase Young DeMatha Catholic (Hyattsville, MD)
      WDE 6-5 225 0.9857 30 2 1
    • Commit 7/22/2016
    • Tyjon Lindsey
      Tyjon Lindsey Bishop Gorman (Las Vegas, NV)
      WR 5-9 161 0.9823 36 6 1
    • Commit 8/22/2016
    • J.K. Dobbins
      J.K. Dobbins La Grange (La Grange, TX)
      APB 5-9.5 199 0.9804 39 1 6
    • Commit 3/6/2016
    • Isaiah Pryor
      Isaiah Pryor IMG Academy (Bradenton, FL)
      6-1.5 195 0.9742 46 5 8
    • Commit 7/27/2015
    • Tate Martell
      Tate Martell Bishop Gorman (Las Vegas, NV)
      DUAL 5-10.5 203 0.9712 56 2 2
    • Commit 6/12/2016
    • Brendon White
      Brendon White Olentangy Liberty (Powell, OH)
      ATH 6-1.5 200 0.9455 112 3 2
    • Commit 10/2/2015
    • Amir Riep
      Amir Riep Colerain (Cincinnati, OH)
      CB 5-11 185 0.9410 125 14 3
    • Commit 7/23/2016
    • Jerron Cage
      Jerron Cage Winton Woods (Cincinnati, OH)
      DT 6-1.5 275 0.9097 227 14 9
    • Commit 7/21/2015

Here are the remaining targets left on their Big Board:

Here is the list of visitors via 24/7’s Buckeye affiliate:  Bucknuts.com:

Saturday, November 5, 2016 (7)

Other notable players visiting today:

Class of 2018:

  • Jaelen Gill, RB
  • Jermaine Eskridge, WR
  • Jackson Carman, OL
  • Rasheed Walker, OL
  • Dallas Gant, LB
  • Christopher Oats, LB
  • Cameron McGrone, LB
  • Derrik Allen, DB
  • Christian Tutt, DB

Class of 2019:

  • Jaylin Simpson, DB
  • Jashawn Sheffield, WR
  • Stephon Herron, DE

Hopefully the atmostphere and the nifty new uniforms, along with the Scarlet clad Shoe secures a commit or two after the game.  Hopefully it motivates the team enough to make them play angry.  I do not predict a commitment, but it would surely help the cause when it gets closer toward signing day because the Buckeyes coaching staff is starting to build relationships with the players from the 2018 and 2019 classes as they look to get a head start and finish the 2016 class strong.  As always I am hoping for a strong showing and an angry team.  Go Bucks!!!

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