Early 2016 Big Ten Predicitons

big ten media

We can finally take a small break from talking about recruiting since most schools had their commits signing their letters of intent yesterday and faxing them in. Michigan held a party for coming in second in Big Ten recruiting while everyone else was just “business as usual.” Ric Flair told everyone how he hates Ohio State and Michigan State. It’s okay, Ric, I would hate the teams my favorite team can’t beat either.

Speaking of beating teams, let’s look into the MotSaG crystal ball and look ahead to this fall with early predictions on how it very will fall out. Buckeyes are the odds-on favorite to win the Big Ten and here are my reasons why:

East Conference

Ohio State Buckeyes

Ohio StateThe Ohio State Buckeyes fell short of their goals for the 2015 campaign. The reasons will be debated for generations but bottom line everyone as a team fell short. The Buckeyes will start this summer without a bunch of key pieces from one of the best senior classes in the history of college football (50-4) and nine underclassmen bolting for the NFL. There are also some coaching changes, like co-defensive coordinator Chris Ash going to Rutgers as their new head coach. Greg Schiano was brought on to replace him, Greg Studrawa taking over the offensive line coaching duties so co-offensive coordinator Ed Warinner can be up in the box. (A place he proved the last two games last season he needs to be.)

Offensively, the Buckeyes will only have two starters on the offensive line but have studs waiting in the wings. The offense lost RB Ezekiel Elliott, WR Michael Thomas, and Jalin Marshall to the riches of the NFL. J.T. Barrett will be under center and the final two games of the season showed that he will probably be back to the 2014 Heisman candidate numbers he had. Wide receivers Noah Brown and Corey Smith bring experience with them for Barrett. The question is will Curtis Samuel be the every down back or Mike Weber.

Defensively, the Scarlet and Gray take huge hits with the losses of DE Joey Bosa, CB Eli Apple, S Tyvis Powel and Vonn Bell, linebacker duo of Darron Lee and Joshua Perry (graduated). Let us not forget the coaching change. The key for Buckeyes besides players like LB Raekwon McMillan and CB Gareon Conley is they don’t reload they rebuild. Head coach Urban Meyer will have this team focused on the biggest of prizes again. Coming in with another Top 5 recruiting class.

Michigan Wolverines

michiganFolks in Ann Arbor are riding a high after failing to unseat the Buckeyes again. They signed 29 players to help bring some talent to the team falling short of even beating Ohio State on National Signing Day. The Michigan Wolverines are lead by a coach more know for his antics and pants than wins in big games. He has two Pioneer conference championships, a NFC Championship ring, along with an Orange and Citrus Bowl. Shows that with the his bowl wins I’m biased and sour on the fact folks think he’s better than a man who has three national championships, three Power 5 conference championships (does not include division titles) and a 9-2 bowl record.

Jim Harbaugh did do something right and a big thing with hiring Don Brown away from Boston College. The Eagles had one of the top defenses in the nation last season. The Wolverines have been know for their defense and this will strike fear in opposing offensive coordinators throughout the league. The main issue for them last season was injuries and running out of gas. With more talent on the way this defense will be the most feared after this next season assuming Harbaugh stays, but they are at least one more season away from being the “it” team like Ohio State or Michigan State.

Offensively the main question will be who is going to be the signal caller. The offensive line still needs an upgrade but the future looks bright. Harbaugh is patterning his style after Bo Schembechler another coach with zero national championships worshiped in Ann Arbor with a strong run game and former Buckeye commit Kareem Walker is hoping to see the field early.

Michigan State Spartans

msuMark Dantonio is going to have his Michigan State Spartans competing for another Big Ten Championship. You don’t have three consecutive years of finishing in the Top 5 to Top 10 of the nation and not continue to. Sparty had a great 2015 its only loss to Nebraska. They enjoyed their first trip to the playoffs, however, with an embarrassing loss to Alabama.

The Spartans will be taking a big loss with quarterback Connor Cook graduating along with the offensive line taking some hits. Who takes over for Cook? Tyler O’Connor and Damion Terry both will be competing and they both played against Ohio State in 2015 coming away with a win.

Their secondary and linebacker corp should be improved barring injuries that seem to have plagued them last year. Their defensive line has to replace three big pieces for the 2016 season. The Spartans are never a slouch on defense (unless they play on New Years Eve apparently) so next season will be interesting. Buckeyes visit East Lansing with the road team seeming to be the victorious one.

Penn State Nittany Lions

penn stateJames Franklin landed himself on the hot seat withPenn State fans and alum. 2016 looks like a rebuilding year from the outside. The offensive line has been offensive, they have to replace their quarterback with Sackenburg running to NFL for protection. Franklin lost his defensive coordinator to the SEC but have promoted from within so they know the system and players. PSU defense has been a top defense also but the problems on offense have been to big to ignore. They will be bringing in a better recruiting class by the current numbers than Sparty but Dantonio is a better coach than Franklin.

Indiana Hoosiers

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The Indiana Hoosiers have signed Kevin Jones to a contract extension. They have some key pieces coming back offensively but that isn’t their biggest issue. Indiana can’t stop anyone on offense and until Jones learns how to it can be another six years of the same thing: wash, rinse and repeat.

Rutgers Scarlet Knights

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Sure the Rutgers Scarlet Knights made a great hire in Chris Ash. There are too many problems to fix for this rabid fan base. Their time isn’t now, but hopefully Ash will build this team into something that Rutgers fans can be in their seats before the kickoff so they can get rid of that got aweful train whistle and stay for the whole game. “Shoot the cannon”

Maryland Terripeans

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The Maryland Terripeans themselves made a great hire convincing D.J. Durkin to run the program. Having some Big Ten experience and having worked with Urban Meyer and Jim Harbaugh should be great for their future. The thing is their future isn’t this upcoming season, there was a reason the previous head coach was let go.

East

Iowa Hawkeyes

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The Iowa Hawkeyes are the Jekyll and Hyde of the Big Ten. Last season picked to win the conference by many fell way short. This season they surprised everyone by playing how they were suppose to. They have a lot of key pieces coming back offensively that is if they are found wandering around the Rose Bowl and returned home. Quarteback C.J. Beathard will be back to lead the Hawkeyes with corner Desmond King who looks like he can be one of the best in the nation.

Nebraska Cornhuskers

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What a crazy season for the Nebraska Cornhuskers. What started the season with wild crazy losses watched them turn around and finish 3-1 in the last month of the season. It appears the players are buying into Mike Riley’s system. Quarterback Tommy Armstrong is a huge piece coming back to Lincoln. They lose their top fullback and two offensive lineman. They will be a formidable foe but they need to figure out how to play defense. The land of the Black Shirts surely has proven they are far from that. Nebraska figures out how to stop opponents from scoring they can become dangerous.

Wisconsin Badgers

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The Wisconsin Badgers have been know for big lineman and running the ball down your throat. Since they were destroyed 59-0 in the 2014 Big Ten championship game they lost a head coach, along with their way, it appears. The irony is they hired Paul Chryst who is extremely experienced with the way the program is suppose to run. Yes, injuries played a role, but years past there have been more than one running back to scare an opponent. Quarterback Joel Stave is finally gone so who replaces him? If Stave was your first and best choice, how good is the next one on the list? The loss of the defensive soul with Michael Caputo graduating is a major one to overcome. Can they recover in Madison having to play possibly the toughest schedule in the conference.

Northwestern Wildcats

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Northwestern Wildcats had a very successful season in 2015. Clayton Thorson returns under center with one of the leagues best running backs Justin Jackson. Thorson needs some targets to throw to becasue in this conference you cannot win being one sided. Defensively the Wildcats were pretty good last season but they have to replace both defensive ends and will have two holes in their secondary.

Minnesota Golden Gophers

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This Minnesota Gopher is officially Tracy Claeys team. He has basically been running the team on and off while working with Jerry Kills but since Kills had to step away it allowed Caeys the opportunity that the school recognized he deserved. Last season the biggest problem for the Gophers was an offensive offense. Quarterback Mitch Lidner returns but needs more weapons around him to flourish. He will have new assistant coaches around to help plus they will have a new coach calling the offensive plays. Claeys know he needs to focus on the defensive side for 2016 season. They will be basically replacing the secondary.

Illinois Fighting Illini

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Lets face it there are way too many issues going on in Champaign. Left from the fallout from last year’s mess, but they are still trying to sort out everything on the campus with new leadership.

Purdue Boilermakers

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Darrell Hazell needs to get this Purdue team turned around. Being on the hot seat and not getting much of a recruiting class is the wrong direction he and the Boilermakers want to go.

Final Prediction

Ohio State over Iowa in Big Ten Championship

Men of the Scarlet and Gray Podcast National Signing Day Recap

The Ohio State Buckeyes came away from National Signing Day with another top recruiting class in the nation. Myself along with Chip discuss it along with our special guest from Script Ohio Joe Dexter. 

The three of us sit down to talk about our initial thoughts on the new class of Buckeyes that will be playing in Columbus. We picked a specific group that stood out to us. We tried to talk about what specific players we will be keeping our eyes on along with our sleeper picks for impact players for this next season.

We ask if we felt if there were any disappointments and well since this isn’t Ann Arbor we play in naturally we had positive things to say. We wrapped up the insanity with talk of the Browns and the State of Ohio trying to pull a fast one on Ohio taxpayers, Detroit Lions all while Joe was in the closet. Have to listen to understand what all went down.

Want to thank Joe Dexter who you can hear on Buckeye Sports Radio Monday through Friday with his awesome co-host Clair Crawford. You can check out Joe’s work over at thebuckeyebattlecry.com/

All Things Buckeyes

I have been a Buckeye fan since I joined the U.S. Air Force and man, I haven’t seen a day like yesterday!  What day am I talking about you ask?  I am talking about yesterday’s amazing recruiting coup.  The Buckeyes had a day to remember and the future is very much as bright as the stars that fill the night sky.  12 stars that is!  TWELVE!  Long time target from Florida, Binjimen Victor finally joined the Dream 16 and it essentially triggered the start of the Buckeyes huge day.  Later in the day, after Victor accepted the offer from Ohio State, a pair of Maryland commits made their decision to flip to the Buckeyes.  There had been a bevy of rumors swirling about the dynamic duo about their commitment status.  Eventually, the two finally acknowledged the rumors and made it official.  Maryland’s own, QB Dwayne Haskins and OLB Keandre Jones made their decision to bring their talent to Columbus.  After weeks of silence, the inevitable was finally taking effect.  Since his arrival, Coach Meyer and company have had at least one quarterback commitment per recruiting cycle.  In his first class, although he was committed to Coach Tressel, Cardale Jones was the first to pledge to Meyer.  Secondly, J.T. Barrett.  Thirdly, Stephen Collier.  Then Joe Burrow and former QB prospect turned Wide Receiver Torrance Gibson.  Now with Haskins’ commitment in the 2016 class and Danny Clark in 2017, the Buckeyes can essentially concentrate on key skill position players and blue-chip prospects.  Once again, I cannot explain how great of a day in recruiting yesterday was and the class of 2016 is far from finished.

Personally, I think this class could improve more.  I am still counting on having at least 3-5 spots left in this years class.  Give or take, I think Coach Meyer and company can drastically improve the future and as it stands now, it is as bright as it can be, but the scary thing about it, it can get better.  There are still targets out there that the Buckeyes still have a good, if not great shot at.  The biggest fish in the proverbial pond is an obvious one.  A huge one at that.  Louisiana’s Rashard Lawrence.  A mammoth and a beast of a Defensive Tackle, he has the Buckeyes in his final two, along with the hometown LSU Tigers.  Lawrence will be announcing this Friday, shortly before noon and it is an even 50/50 shot.  We will see on Friday, but I do not want to get my hopes up.  The Buckeyes have a good shot and now that they are in the final two, they are in great shape.  There is also New Jersey product, Jordan Fuller.  He is another prospect who is another one to watch.  He is visiting TTUN soon and we will just have to see if the Jersey pipeline will reel him and Gary in.  I think the Buckeyes have a good shot with Fuller as well.  Barring any surprise sleepovers or intimate tree climbing “recruiting dates” with Harbaugh, I fully expect Fuller to become a critical piece to the Buckeyes future plans.  Another name that recently came up is Mecole Hardman from Georgia.  With the help or early enrollee Austin Mack, he took an surprise official and came away impressed.  Coming away impressed is one thing, but on twitter, he teased about wrecking defenses together with Dwayne Haskins.  It is something to keep an eye on.  Speaking of Haskins, he also tweeted current Miami commit Sam Bruce.  Haskins either jokingly or seriously asked Bruce “So what’s up”.  Bruce is another offensive weapon that the Buckeyes could unleash on unsuspecting defenses, IF he decides to flip and pledge to the Buckeyes.  Other big names to watch are Pennsylvania’s own Damar Hamlin, Kentucky’s Rodjay Burns, Florida’s Carlos Becker, Ohio’s Malik Harrison and a current Vols commit who will be visiting Columbus, North Carlonina’s Marquill Osborne.  A combination of a big-time recruit in Hamlin and four underrated targets, with big-time potential.

The countdown to National Signing Day will be an interesting storyline to follow until the 2017 cycle begins.  With two weeks left until Signing Day, I am too excited for what may or may not occur.  There is nothing like being ecstatic about a recruit who surprises and/or shocks the world and their parents with their decisions and the disappointment of a big-time recruit spurning the Buckeyes for another school.  I will have my eyes peeled and will be paying close attention.  Here’s to a boom filled National Signing Day.  Go Buckeyes!!!

Buckeyes Have 4 Star Massive Monday

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The Ohio State Buckeyes had a massive Monday in the recruiting world. Urban Meyer and staff picked up three more commitments as we are fast approaching National Signing Day. A quarterback, wide receiver and linebacker made it known they will be playing in Columbus for the Scarlet and Gray starting next season. 12 Star Monday is a day that might have shaken the Big Ten again since two new Buckeye commits were flips from Maryland plus it made everyone remember Buckeyes are the head of the class still. Many have been jumping on that maize and blue bandwagon crowning them the East winners next year over a top recruiter that has three national championship rings (Senor Khakis has zero for the record).

Yesterday’s announcements put Ohio State back in first overall in the recruiting ranking in the nation. They jumped the previously mentioned Wolverines and LSU. The three pickups for the Buckeyes brings the 2016 class to 21 commitments now. We will have something shortly about how many more they can take and targets. Let’s discuss who announced yesterday their intentions to don the Scarlet and Gray for their college career.

Dwayne Haskins
6’3 198 QB Potomac. MD (The Bullis School)

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The pro-style passer announced his commitment to Ohio State flipping from the Maryland Terps. He has dreamed about playing for Ohio State and his dream will now become a reality. Haskins threw for 2,217 yards and 20 touchdowns in 9 games his senior season. He is a drop back passer with a quick release but can run if he has to. Will be interesting to see how he will be used in Urban’s offense. All recruiting services have Dwayne listed as a 4 star.

National Rankings
Scout– 4 star #13 QB
Rivals– 4 star #5 QB
247Sports– 4 star #3 QB
ESPN– 4 star #3 QB

Dwayne Haskins Higlights

Keandre Jones
6’3 198 LB Olney, MD (Good Consel)

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Another flip from Maryland Jones comes in reminding folks of a Ryan Shazier style player. Not as fast as Shazier if memory serves me right but he does possess speed and athleticism. Runs a 4.64 in the 40 yard dash. He plays outside linebacker and can rush the quarterback but has the size and athleticism to play the Will position also. With the departure of Joshua Perry and Darron Lee there is opportunity to possibly see the field but realistically probably needs to red shirt a year get some weight on his frame.

National Rankings
Scout– 4 star #13 OLB
Rivals– 5 star #6 OLB
247Sports– 4 star #12 OLB
ESPN-4 star #9 OLB

Keandre Jones Highlights

Binjimen Victor
6’3 177 WR Pompano Beach, FL (Coconut Creek)

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Buckeyes Zone 6 is in need of some additions and they received one today. The wide receiver corp last year was thinned out due to injuries and it showed. Noah Brown is one of the biggest pieces coming back for Buckeyes but he is going to need some help and the incoming freshman will have just as much a chance to see the field. Victor can fall into the category of maybe seeing the field early, he isn’t a super fast athlete but he has good hands. He caught 42 passes for 846 yards and hauled in 15 touchdowns in his senior season. This is a good get for Ohio State and much needed.

National Rankings
Scout– 4 star #10 WR
Rivals– 4 star #18 WR
247Sports– 4 star #4 WR
ESPN– 4 star #44 WR

Binijimen Victor Highlights

Urban Meyer is proving why he is one of the best recruits. He has Maryland fans upset and crying now declaring this is a rivalry (OK). There is still some more time before national signing day so we will see how he has the Buckeyes positioned for the future which as it has been for some time since he stepped foot on campus: bright and national championship bound.

All Things Buckeyes

Recruiting News

Wide Receiver Recruiting:

On the eve of the U.S. Army All-American Bowl, all Buckeye fans, including myself are anxiously waiting for Michigan Wide Receiver, Donnie Corley to accept the scholarship offer from the Buckeyes.  Now, Corley has committed and the disappointment sets in.  EXHALE.  Sure he would have been an awesome signing, but there is still a few targets on offense left on the board.  This is where targets like Florida standout, Binjimen Victor and his pal and Miami commit, Sam Bruce come to mind.  The Buckeyes also may still have a chance with another Florida star in Nate Craig-Meyers.  They could also kick a few old tires and re-initiate contact with Florida’s Tre Nixon or go for another timely flip.  This isn’t the end of the world and our class has not fizzled.  Not even close.  We have a Top 5 class in most recruiting websites and Top 3 in a select few as well.

Now as of now the Buckeyes only have Austin Mack as the only Wide Receiver on board.  It might be too late in the game but after we lost out on Corley, we can now turn up the heat on the aforementioned “Big Three” in Victor, Bruce and Craig-Meyers.  Nixon is a long shot but Urban Meyer has a knack for closing out recruiting classes strong and with authority.  He can flip recruits if needed as well.  And what people forget, we have had success with top-tier Wide Receivers in the past two recruiting classes and we have depth at that position.  Names like K.J. Hill, Alex Stump, Torrance Gibson, Johnnie Dixon, Terry McLaurin and I can go on and on with this.  The fact that they are just waiting in the wings and waiting for their shot at playing time.  I feel like they are as hungry as ever and with the departure of Mike Thomas, Braxton Miller and Jalin Marshall, they have an opportunity and a viable shot to gain some coveted playing time next season.  The Buckeyes are loaded so don’t panic.  Even if we miss out on the big named targets, we will be okay.

The Countdown Until NSD:

Well if you pay attention to the recruiting wars in College Football, then you know that this is where the great coaches and the ace recruiters put a full court press on potential recruits.  This is my favorite time of the year.  And it very well could be my least favorite time, IF the recruit I want in Scarlet and Gray spurns us for another team (ahem, Amari Cooper/Laquon Treadwell/Chirtian Wilkins/Stephon Diggs/Chritian Kirk/Myles Garrett just to name a few).  I have my heart ripped out of my chest and have jumped up and down when any form of Buckeye gear is picked up and raised.  Ideally, I would like to finish out strong but it might not be in the cards.  With how the class stacks up, it is looking like we have a few more spots left.  Between 5-7 spots after the mass exodus that had just occurred.  Not including the yearly offseason attrition that may or may not occur.  Players may see no shot at any playing time and transfer (Mike Mitchell/Jeremy Cash) or a few might end their young careers due to injury plagued seasons at Ohio State.  It is going to be fluid once spring ball is upon us so we might as well sit back and speculate for the time being.  Here is my Class of 2016 wishlist:

High Interest Targets:

Jordan Fuller, DB, New Jersey

Rashard Lawrence, DT, Louisiana

Binjimen Victor, WR, Florida

Sam Bruce WR, Florida

Brandon Burton, DB, California

Dwayne Haskins, QB, Maryland

Nate Craig-Meyers, WR, Florida

Rashan Gary, DT, New Jersey

Jared Mayden, DB, Texas

Rodjay Burns, DB, Kentucky

Demitris Robertson, ATH, Georgia

Damar Hamlin, DB, Pennsylvania

Karamo Dioubate, DT, Pennsylvania

Aaron Hansford, OLB, D.C.

Malek Young, DB, Florida

Carlos Becker, DB, Florida

Malik Harrison, ATH, Ohio

Keandre Jones, OLB, Maryland

Chris Daniels, DT, Texas

Tylin Oden, QB, Tennesse

Prince Sammons, DE, Ohio

Final Predictions:

Jordan Fuller, DB, New Jersey

Rashard Lawrence, DT, Lousiana **Surprise Pick**

Dwayne Haskins, QB, Maryland

Binjimen Victor, WR, Florida

Sam Bruce, WR, Florida **Last Minute Flip**

Malek Young, DB, Florida

Carlos Becker, DB, Florida

Breakdown:

I had to play it safe with a few of these picks.  Jordan Fuller is someone that we need in the fold and to top it off Becker and Young both flip to the Buckeyes.  Rashard Lawrence shocks everyone and creates his own legend in Ohio.  Victor finally comes on board, Bruce makes his move and Dwayne Haskins reveals his intent to don the Scarlet and Gray.  This is a dream scenario for me and I am not afraid to be wrong because with recruiting, you never know.  Here’s to the countdown until National Signing Day.  Go Bucks!!!

Men of the Scarlet and Gray Podcast Fiesta Champions

I reminisce with Chip Minnich about the Desert showdown that was the Fiesta Bowl on New Years day. We give a little recap about the game versus Notre Dame, offensive and defensive players of the game, we even touched on the targeting call made against Joey Bosa.

Chip and I discuss some of the juniors leaving early for the NFL (at the time of the recording Vonn Bell had not declared but has since). Nine underclassmen are putting the Scarlet and Gray down to join the big boys in the NFL. We also talk about defensive coordinator change with Chris Ash going to Rutgers and Greg Schiano now the Buckeyes new co-defensive coordinator.

We also give our prediction of who might be the winner of the national championship game coming up between Alabama and Clemson.

All Things Buckeyes

The Battle of CFB’s Storied Programs:

Well after defeating the Notre Dame Fighting Irish at the Fiesta Bowl, the Buckeyes season ends on a high note.  Although, it was only a 16 point win, the Buckeye defense showed promise after DE Joey Bosa exited the game mid to late first quarter.  Backup Sam Hubbard took Bosa’s place and did an admiral job during his absence.  Tyquan Lewis was also playing at a high level throughout the game and as the only starter left on the defensive line, he definitely will have momentum in the upcoming season.  It was evident that Bosa was sorely missed after his untimely exit, but the Buckeyes possess talent all over the depth chart and at every position.  But like always the next man up mentality that is instilled into the culture of the Buckeyes thrived and showed out once again.  Bosa being out and Lewis as the only remaining starter left on the defensive line, with Adolphus Washington serving a suspension and Tommy Schutt out with a broken foot, the reserves show that talent is there at every position.  The struggled in the beginning but came up clutch in the end registering back to back sacks and Darron Lee capped it off with a strip sack to seal the game in the end.

The offense was running on all cylinders and J.T. Barrett and Ezekiel Elliot had their way with the injury-riddled Notre Dame defense who also lost a star in the first quarter in Jaylin Smith, who in fact was a huge Buckeye target and the brother of former Buckeye Running Back, Rod Smith.  Michael Thomas also had a good game scoring a touchdown on a hitch route in the redzone.  The game was never in doubt.  The Buckeyes saw Sparty get demolished by Alabama and the questions and thoughts of “what could have been” plagued the Buckeyes.  In the game it showed the angry and motivated team that should use this as a kickstarter to next years season.  As displayed and heard by Ezekiel Elliot, the Irish “did not want to be there anymore”.  The passion and the motivation was there and it could springboard next years team who, if I am not mistaken, travel to Oklahoma for what is a home and home.  The Buckeyes definitely proved that when they are motivated and when they want to, they cannot be stop and they are one of the best teams in the nation, if not the best.  They will most undoubtedly use this as fuel for next year but it is the end and I am looking forward to National Signing Day.

The Exodus Begins:

It is now official, the Buckeyes season is done and now it is just a waiting game to see who will stay and who will go.  As of now, Bosa, Lee, Powell and Elliot have all declared.  Bell and Thomas are also expected to follow suit, but haven’t let their intentions known.  I will continue to update you on this, but for now let us savor that Fiesta Bowl victory.

The Recruiting Wars:

The Buckeyes received a commitment by way of New York in Jahsen Wint.  The Buckeyes get their yearly flip and there could be one or two more coming.  There is definitely a few more precious spots left and with the potential early NFL Draft departures, there could be more scholly’s up for grabs.  The Buckeyes are looking to close out strong with the number one recruiting class and with the recent LSU commitments, we need a huge effort to close out this year.  My wish list would be Victor, Corley, Gary (Longshot), Lawrence (Another one), Fuller, Hamlin and Haskins.  I am definitely dreaming but anything can happen so we shall see if we can get another few surprises on National Signing Day.

The 2016 Fiesta Bowl: A Desert Showdown

Image courtesy of Battlefrog Fiesta Bowl

Image courtesy of Battlefrog Fiesta Bowl


Ten years ago Jim Tressel and the Ohio State Buckeyes traveled to Arizona to play in the Fiesta Bowl against the Charlie Weiss Notre Dame Fighting Irish. During that time Weiss was suppose to be the hottest coach in America bringing the Golden Domers back into national prominance.

Little did we know that the next ten years Notre Dame would play in one national championship game and Weiss wasn’t their coach. The Buckeyes played in three national championships games, they went 1-3 in those games. Ironically losing one to the Urban Meyer Florida Gators, who is now Head Coach for the Buckeyes. You might have heard he won a national title last year.

Before we go and bust out the split Hawk/Quinn jersey reminiscing, just wanted to really say who would have thought how much things have changed for both teams.

The Notre Dame Fighting Irish had a few good seasons under Weiss but faltered which brought in Brian Kelly. Kelly has done what Weiss (who is finally done milking the Golden Domer cow) wasn’t able to do. Kelly had the Irish going undefeated in 2012 and played Alabama in National Championship. It is this contributors contention the Buckeyes should have self-imposed a 2011 bowl ban. Thus allowing two undefeated teams having played each other, my bias has me believing Ohio State would have won another major trophy.

Now here we are after the ball dropped last night, officially making it 2016.

The Ohio State Buckeyes facing off against the Notre Dame Fighting Irish.

Urban Meyer versus Brian Kelly.

Naturally there are some story lines like Notre Dame’s offensive coordinator/quarterbacks coach Mike Sanford having Urban Meyer connections and the alleged story he might have turned down the Buckeyes position allowing Tim Beck to be the man. There is also former running backs coach from Brian Kelly’s Notre Dame team leaving after national signing day to join the Buckeyes.

This game will have repercussions on the recruiting circuit. Both coaches are flipping and flopping each other commits, with them looking for a lot of the same players in order to be at that elite level. The other repercussion would be the fan bases. The winner gets to brag about which team truly elite. Both universities are a couple of the top teams in the nation with gigantic following’s and naturally lots of hate too.

Fun Fact All-time Fiesta Bowl Record

The Ohio State Buckeyes are 4-2 (the Florida title game wasn’t a Fiesta Bowl)

The Notre Dame Fighting Irish are 1-3

Today at 1 PM EST is the kickoff from the desert of Arizona

TELEVISION

ESPN national telecast with Sean McDonough (play-by-play), Chris Spielman (analysis), Todd
McShay (sideline).

Notre Dame has played a pretty tough schedule, being an independent school allows this. Even though they are somehow connected with the ACC but aren’t (that’s a rant for another time). They lost to Clemson (who will be playing Alabama in the championship game) and Stanford (who will face Iowa in the Rose Bowl). Those two losses were by a total of four points combined. The Fighting Irish suffered a lot of major injuries during the beginning of the season but have shown the next man up mantra. They were a team a lot of folks picked to be in the playoffs this season but unfortunately for them it didn’t happen.

Ohio State hasn’t played as difficult schedule because well some of the Big Ten weren’t that strong but hopefully the tide will be turning on that. The had one lone loss in the second to last week against Sparty (who got embarrassed by Alabama last night). The season for Ohio State, which many national media picked to win back to back championships, was a disappointment for many a fan like myself not because of not making the playoffs but as the offensive struggles went. The Buckeyes had to endure major injuries to the wide receiver position losing Noah Brown before the season then Corey Smith. There were lots of suspensions to players on the team then, besides the offensive play calling, there seemed like the offensive players didn’t execute as well as last season.

Let’s get into the meat of this preview and start breaking it all down shall we.

Notre Dame Offense vs Ohio State Defense

The Fighting Irish run a spread type offense like Ohio State does but its more of balanced attack. The Golden Domers can run the ball well averaging 215.17 yards per game. having an offensive line that averages 6 feet 5.5 inches and weighing 313 pounds allows C.J Prosise to average a little ove a hundred yards a game (103.2) and quarterback Deshone Kizer who has some wheels average almost 42 a game (41.6).

Speaking of Kizer he does a good job throwing the pigskin with a completion rate of 62.6 percent and averaging 256.3 yards per game in the air. His main target is 6 ft 1 inch Will Fuller (he announced hes coming back for 2016 season). Fuller who weighs 185 pounds has 50 receptions for over a thousand yards (1009) this season. He has averaged 20.2 yards per reception, he also has 9 drops on the season with 21 first downs and 12 touchdowns.

The keys for Buckeyes on defense will be to obviously stop the run especially keeping Kizer contained which running quarterbacks have shown to be an issue for them. Being down two defensive lineman (Washington and Schutt) this can create some problems. Ohio States secondary has shown they can match up and lock players down. The combo of Eli Apple and Gareon Conley has only allowed 32 receptions on 85 targets on the season (37.65%). The linebacker corp of Raekwon McMillen, Joshua Perry and Darron Lee is one of the best and they will be creating havoc. Safeties Vonn Bell and Tyvis Powell will also be all over the field. Hopefully the Silver Bullet defense shows up for many of these awesome defensive players who will probably be playing their last game wearing Scarlet and Gray.

Ohio State Offense vs Notre Dame Defense

All season the Buckeye offense seemed dazed and confused. Many Ohio State fans were blaming Cardale Jones for the ineffectiveness, it all wasn’t his fault as proven by Barrett struggling also during key points of the season. The Buckeyes have a major weapon with running back Ezekiel Elliott who will be playing in his final game. The Scarlet and Gray have been having issues throwing the ball but they kind of opened up the offense more against the Wolverines in the regular season finale. Barrett and company showed in that final regular season game tempo is the key and a major advantage for them. I am looking to see some special plays for Braxton Miller who will be also playing his final game. I have a feeling we will finally see the alleged double pass in this game and maybe more than once if used early and successfull.

Notre Dame defense is pretty good having a national ranking of 38. They surrender 166.75 yards on the ground, that is one of the major kinks in their armour. Their secondary has allowed just under 200 (195.7) a game in the air but took some hits with starting cornerback Devin Butler suffering a broken foot during Monday’s practice. Starting safety Max Redfield has been sent home for violating team rules. Their secondary had some hits already this season so this isn’t a good thing for the Fighting Irish. The Buckeye offensive line, who had their best game against TUN, will be having their hands full with defensive tackle Sheldon Day and defensive end Romeo Okwara. The Irish also are getting defensive tackle Jarron Jones back from a torn MCL.

Closing Thoughts

The keys for each team is going to be the offensive lines. The team that can control the line the most will come out of this game with the win. Buckeyes will need their offense to move the ball, allowing the defense to get some rest (unlike the MSU game). A lot of these players for Ohio State be playing for the Buckeyes for the final time. Will they give Buckye Nation their all for their final game? There is going to be a lot of talent on both sides of the field with a bunch of NFL scouts keeping their eye on this game.

Prediction

I stated on the Men of the Scarlet and Gray podcast I am going with Ohio State 42-34. The Buckeyes have experienced some good fortune in the desert, hopefully that continues allowing these Buckeyes to be remebered as some of the best ever.

Men of The Scarlet and Gray Podcast Fiesta in the Desert

Ohio State and Notre Dame are about to face off on New Years in the Fiesta Bowl. Who else better to discuss this match-up than with Tony Gerdeman from theozone.net. We discuss the suspensions, Buckeyes offense, play calling, defense and match-ups we are going to be keeping an eye on.

We also discussed with Tony his book Thrillogy which recaps the last three games of the amazing run to the National Championship last season. It is a must have for Buckeye fans and as we discuss the book you will see there is a theme involved that you really didn’t realize until they started putting the book together

As always we answered #AskMotSaG questions and gave our predictions for the Fiesta Bowl.

Will Zeke Crash Hurt Buckeyes

Early this morning word started to spread like wildfire that Ohio State junior running back got himself into a little trouble with the law after losing control of his car and causing an accident.

According to 10tv.com Zeke was alone, traveling to meet up with team for flight to Phoenix and incident happened at 1:30pm on State Route 315 and Lane Ave.

Elliot was cited for not having operators license, faluire to control and driving under suspension.

No court date has been set.

The star running back has already said he isn’t coming back next season to play for the Scarlet and Gray choosing to join the NFL. One has to wonder like Adolphus Washington have we seen the last of Zekemode already? Patrick Murphy of theozone.net has reported this:

I’m really not sure what to make of all of this. First I am concerned, there is a ton of time before the game on Friday. Usually when the SEC fan base protests they tend to get what they want being the best conference in American College Football.
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Second my concern is the rush to judgement over Elliot driving with a suspended license. I can say with certainty if the young man has a State of Ohio license that you do not know the very second that it is revoked. Personally having to deal with the fine institute that is the Ohio Bureau of Motor Vehicles, they mail out said paperwork and usually arrives about a week after. With that being said I don’t know if this could be the case so I am reserving judgement.

Sure its easy for anyone to say the young man shouldn’t have been driving, or point out he did know and there were minor infractions so no harm no foul. I will say based on Ohio laws about driving under suspension, I was under the impression that if you were caught and there wasn’t a licensed driver with you, you would be placed under arrest and your vehicle would be impounded. We all know how much the City of Columbus enjoys impounding ones car.

Urban Meyer is running another dirty program in Columbus they say. Sure just like Florida has suspended how many players now for their bowl game and um coach Meyer hasn’t coached there since when? Exactly every program has to endure issues so stop the hate.