Rush to Judgment

We as fans cringe when we hear players from our favorite teams make it into the news for allegedly doing something bad. We Buckeye fans have lived through a dark time with Tattoo Gate and in recent years since the Urban Meyer hire, some players gain national attention for possible indiscretions. Since Meyer has joined the Buckeyes as their head coach there was a ton of criticism from national pundits, like the all to infamous Clay Travis, blasting Meyer always claiming his players were out of control. Let’s not even talk about the hack jobs who blame Urban for the Hernandez situation. Remember the whole Carlos Hyde situation and the national media outrage that Urban is helping cover up the “crime”.

Last night Action19 News out of Cleveland, Ohio ran a story that Carl Monday investigated. First off as a Clevelander seeing that man in a trench coat with a microphone walking around is never good because he seems to uncover some stuff. Carl Monday found the dash cam of the Jackson Township car that was involved with the Devin Smith car accident investigation. I won’t go into all the details, that’s why you should watch their video they ran last night on it, but to sum it up basically it seems like sometimes maybe an officer has an agenda of his own or even (this is what I’m going with) they make mistakes cause you know they are like you and me human.

Just remember all the haters who want to say that Urban is always covering up his players indiscretions, there is more than meets the eye and on several occasions now the video doesn’t lie. Stop rushing to judgment to get some web hits haters and Buckeye fans stop giving them the satisfaction by clicking on the bait.

Funny thing about this story was and ironically not very well known and after seeing the video for good reason it wasn’t.

What I Learned From the College Football Playoff

As a longtime playoff proponent/BCS hater, it’s tempting to do a victory lap right now. It would be easy to go through each year of the BCS era and question how often a different team would have won the title in a four-team playoff system. It would be easy to point to the various experts who have confirmed that this year’s BCS match up would have been Alabama vs. Florida State, the two teams who lost in the playoff semi-finals. It would be easy to beat the dead horse of the BCS for every time the system got it wrong, calling every championship won in the era out as questionable.

And if I had written this last week, that’s what I would have done.

But while I still think the BCS was the wrong way to determine a champion and that the current playoff is infinitely better, I hesitate to call the results of the BCS “wrong,” because that would have to mean that there was another, alternate result that was “right.” That mindset–that we can objectively assess which team of any pair is better, without actually seeing them play–is exactly what was wrong with the BCS to begin with.

Half of the BCS title games were won by the #1-ranked team and half by the #2-ranked team. Even though it’s a little surprising that it worked out so perfectly, we should have expected it to be fairly even. After all, the rankings weren’t (nor could they have been) based on anything concrete; they were simply an amalgamation of various opinions (yes, computer rankings are opinions just like human polls are) and opinions are a crap shoot of reliability.

This isn’t intended as a shot against the BCS rankings; they did as well as they probably could have. I expect the playoff to achieve a similar type of balance, with the 3- and 4-seeds winning about as often as the 1’s and 2’s do. I like the committee system’s ability to introduce discussion and divergent thinking into the mix, but at the end of the day, we’re still talking about a bunch of opinions.

And that’s all we’ll ever be talking about, no matter what form the playoff eventually takes. Besides the possibility of automatic bids for conference champions, there will always be some element of subjectivity involved. In fact, the assertion that every conference champion deserves an automatic bid (something I believe) is subjective in itself. The truth is no team deserves a national championship, because that’s not the point.

There is no “best” team. Ever. There is no right answer that the post-season must conclude on so as to be considered legitimate. If Oregon had beaten Ohio State last Monday night, that would have been acceptable; their championship would have been legit. The same is true if Alabama or Florida State had won. Or if Baylor or TCU would have made the playoff in our place and won.

So what I learned from the college football playoff is that the BCS-era titles are no less legitimate or more questionable than titles won going forward. They are nothing more (or less) than the result of the system in place at the time, just like every title has always been and always will be.

The Transformation of Cardale Jones

On October 5, 2012 at 8:43 AM, Cardale Jones tweeted out one of the most infamous tweets of all time. We all know what it says, so I will just leave it at that. I’ll admit that I had never heard of Mr. Jones when the ESPN and media reports broke that an “Ohio State QB tweeted something stupid.” The nation bashed the Buckeyes and Cardale for it and as we all remember they were coming off a 6-7 season after Tatgate while looking at the Michigan game as the season finale due to sanctions. It was gasoline on a dumpster fire.

Fast forward 2 years and 3 months, and Cardale Jones had just beaten Wisconsin, top ranked Alabama and second ranked Oregon to win the National Championship. Who saw this coming? Not me. Not anyone. Maybe not even Cardale.

To add to that, Cardale announced today that he would be returning for another season with Ohio State because he wanted to graduate. From his press conference this afternoon at the Ginn Academy (Via ESPN):

“It’s everybody’s dream and goal when they play football or any collegiate sport to make it to the next level, but at my point in my career, I feel like it’s best for me to go back to school… [Meyer] always preaches to us that education is what is most important, and he knows and we know that with all three of us back next year, it’s going to bring out the best in us.”

Jones also mentioned that he knows his football days will come to an end someday and that he needs to be prepared for that. He would like to be a Financial Planner once that day comes.

That is an incredible and unprecedented transformation for a young man in just two short years. It is also a refreshing story in college football that a star player values his education and will pass up millions of potential dollars in the NFL to take classes and graduate. No matter how Cardale’s professional career pans out, I believe 100 percent that he will be a productive person in society and serve as a role model for thousands of kids who were in similar situations to him (especially those who hail from East Cleveland).

As a student at The Ohio State University, I worked at an on-campus pizza shop to help pay for various expenses any college student has (beer, mostly). Most of my shifts were in the morning from 8-12pm where we would serve breakfast then switch to lunch half way through that time period. Jones would come in nearly every day I worked while usually ordering the same thing. Breakfast Sandwich with Bacon, Egg, and Cheese or some variation of that order was his go-to.

Plenty of other players would come in at times too, and being the fan that I am, I would always try to talk to them and make conversation. Without naming names, many of the players wouldn’t pay too much attention to me (which is fine- I’m sure they get that all the time). But Cardale would always talk to me which I thought was just the coolest thing in the world. I would usually have SportsCenter on so we would usually discuss the current day’s sports news, giving predictions, etc.

I never saw him as the troubled freshman who had academic issues. He was always very courteous to everyone and was never without a smile. So now that he has come full circle, I have to say that I couldn’t be more proud of him. I cannot say enough about how great it is that he values his education that much- Woody Hayes would be very proud.

12 Gauge will go down as a legend at Ohio State for many reasons but none more than being the 3rd string Quarterback who led the Buckeyes to a National Championship after everything he went through.

And the best part is, Cardale Jones will one day have a degree from The Ohio State University which is a huge accomplishment in its own. Looks like in the end, he came here to play school.

2015 NFL Draft Part 2

Many Browns and Bengals fans will be reading this section seeing that both teams draft picks will be in this section. The third part of the series will unfortunately not appear until after the Super Bowl. I will post revised columns of Part 1 and 2 throughout that time.Please keep in mind that not all players have declared for the draft so things could get shaken up when certain players declare. Again I am putting who Todd McShay posted in his first Mock Draft below my choices.

 

11. Minnesota Vikings: Kevin White, WR, West Virginia

While an OT is the true need for the Vikings, I do not think that where they are and what OT are available are worth the reach here. If Winston declares then the door is opened for them because that will change a lot of things in the early part of the draft. I give the nod to White over DeVante Parker. I like White’s big play ability more than Parker and I think White has better hands. White would go much higher if his route running skills were a little bit better and a team had a bigger need at WR. I feel the Vikings need to upgrade their WR core. As I mentioned before in Part 1 you cannot evaluate a quarterback’s future or skill set unless you give him talent to work with.

McShay: Cedric Ogbuehi

12. Cleveland Browns: Danny Shelton, DT, Washington

Shelton is a force in the middle and with Phil Taylor having injury problems and the Browns ability to not stop the run. Shelton is a great fit for a future replacement for Phil Taylor and a great piece to stopping the run.

McShay: Danny Shelton

13. New Orleans Saints: Dante Fowler Jr, DE/OLB, Florida

Fowler could see himself rise into the Top 10, but it all has to do with if Winston declares. The Saints continue to ignore the defensive side of the ball and that has plagued them. They also need help on the offensive line and I could see them moving down to meet that need. However, at some point you cannot ignore the defensive side of the ball. Fowler played the DE/OLB role for the Gators this season. I expect him to transition into the NFL nicely at the same position. With the amount of playing time I think he should get with the Saints he could be a dark horse for defensive rookie of the year.

McShay (When the Mock Draft was posted Saints were picking 21): TJ Clemmings

14. Miami Dolphins: Shaq Thompson, OLB, Washington

I personally think that the Dolphins need to take a WR here like Parker or Jaelen Strong. However they only take a WR in the first round if they part ways with Mike Wallace. Currently Wallace is still on the roster so the Dolphins go OLB. Thompson is very good in coverage and is a terrific athlete, also played and started at running back for the Huskies. I think that speed will transition very well in the NFL and he could end up being a stud at this position.

McShay: Shaq Thompson

15. San Francisco 49ers: DeVante Parker, WR, Louisville

San Francisco needs to add help for Kaepernick. I could see them upgrading their D-Line because that unit seemed desperate for depth. I am not a fan of Crabtree and never really was in the NFL. I think Parker could actually be comparable to Anquan Boldin. I think both would compliment each other very well.

McShay: Devin Funchess

16. Houston Texans: Michael Bennett, DT, Ohio State

Houston could take a WR so Parker or White could be in play here if they drop this far. I think Bennett would be a great fit for Houston. He can play the DE in a 3-4 or could play as a smaller DT in a 4-3. His play down the stretch against Wisconsin and Alabama makes him the top DT prospect. I gave the Browns the nod to Shelton because of his size and what Cleveland needs. Bennett is the better player between the two and Houston’s front line on defense could get scary. If Houston makes a move or two in the secondary and Mallet stays healthy they could be dangerous in 2015-2016.

McShay (Houston was picking 13 when Mock Draft came out): Devante Parker

17.  San Diego Chargers: Eddie Goldman, DT, Florida State

I went back and watched some of the Oregon vs Florida State game to review this pick when I saw Goldman was still highly thought of. When I watched Goldman specifically he seemed to play pretty well in that game. He did seem very winded in that game, but when your over 300 pounds how do you not get winded by Oregon’s offense? I like Goldman a lot for the Chargers he plays the run well and can get after the quarterback a little bit from his position.

McShay: Eddie Goldman

18. Kansas City Chiefs: Jaelen Strong, WR, Arizona State

The Chiefs are so desperate for a WR you just know they will not pick one in the first round, but they should. The WR’s the Chiefs have are mediocre at best. Strong has size and some good speed and I think he could be a great stepping stone for the Chiefs to upgrade their WR position.

McShay: Kevin White

19. Cleveland Browns: La’el Collins, OT/G, LSU

When Collins was thinking about going pro last year many labeled him as a potential stud guard in the NFL. I am still going to label him there because I would not be surprised at all if he lands there. The Browns would love to land one of the four very talented WR’s in this draft. However, Schwartz is not the answer at RT and I think Collins could add much needed depth and talent to the OL. The Browns need to do something because once Mack went down so did the season and the OL.

McShay Jaelen Strong

20. Philadelphia Eagles: Trae Waynes, CB, Michigan State

His length to speed ratio is going to be something NFL teams love because that seems to be the trend, bigger corners. The Eagles were pretty bad at the corner back position and Waynes is a talented corner who has some pretty good hands.

McShay: Trae Waynes

21. Cincinnati Bengals: Shilique Calhoun, DE, Michigan State

Back to Back Spartans on the board. This pick is probably the hardest to project because the Bengals are talented and their true need, in my opinion, is a QB who could actually push Dalton. The Bengals could draft an OT if they cannot resign Whitworth. They could draft a WR to complement Green. While Sanu had a good year, he struggled when it was his time to shine and I think his ability would best be suited in the slot. With that said at the end of the day the Bengals had 1 sack in the playoff game against the Colts. If you want to help your struggling QB you need to be able to pressure the opposing Quarterback and get better field position. That is why the Bengals choose Calhoun.

McShay (Bengals picked 24th in the Mock Draft)L Andrus Peat

National Championship: Game Balls

Well I know it has been a few days since the game ended but I wanted time to digest the game and watch it several times before I made this post. I wish I could give Game balls to everyone but I will try to not do that lol. This truly felt like a total team win even though a few guys stood out it was a matter of everyone doing their job. So lets get started.

OFFENSE

Ezekiel Elliott- It would be impossible to do this post and not mention Zeke. 36 carries for 246 yards and 4 TDs. He beat Oregon all by himself and instantly made himself a Heisman candidate and top NFL draft pick when he leaves.

The blockers- Sure it would be easy to say the Oline here they were dominant but this offense is based on EVERYONE blocking from the OL, TEs, WRs, RBs, and even QB. They all did an amazing job and deserve credit.

DEFENSE

Tyvis Powell- Here is a guy that is a fan favorite because he truly is an OSU fan just like all of us. He makes big plays in big games and did that in the NCG as well. Led the team in tackles with 9.

Eli Apple- What he did on that TE td play to make it a non-td is one of the greatest play in the history of Ohio State. He had the awareness to push him out of bounds and save OSU several points. He also had 7 tackles, 1 INT, and 1 Pass Break up.

Run Defense- Much like blocking this is an entire unit process. Everyone is required to help stop the run and hit guys and fill gaps. OSU held Oregon to more than 100 yards less than their game average. This is why Oregon could not get their offense going and why OSU won easily.

INTANGIBLES

The Fans- What can you say I dont care what ESPN tried to say with their 70% OSU fans at Jerry’s World. If it was less than 90% OSU fans I would be shocked. It was a home game and you could feel the energy. The team felt it for sure.

The Parents- It is time to recognize how important it is to have an involved Parents Group for OSU. They do so much for the team and are very much involved in making OSU successful. Plus they are a powerful group getting the NCAA to change rules to allow parents to watch their kids win titles.

Luke Fickell- I have been a loud voice in support of Fickell for years now in a sea of angry Fire Fickell voices. It is time for those people to apologize. Coach Fickell did what he has the last 3 years call the Front 7 defense and help OSU win a lot of game. Chris Ash was brought in to fix the DBs and he did a masterful job. It is time for OSU fans to realize Fickell wasnt the problem Everett Withers was. Silver Bullets are back big time.

Ohio State Postseason Awards

National Champions!! What started off as what could have been a disaster of a season after Braxton Miller went down days before the Navy game and a 2 touchdown loss to Virginia Tech at home on September 6 has now ended with the Buckeyes being the Undisputed Number One team in the land. Wow. So now that this season is in the books (football is over- this sucks) it is time to take a look at which players and coaches were the best for at Ohio State this season.

Newcomer of the Year- Defense: Darron Lee

Darron Lee came out of nowhere this season and transformed into one of the leaders on that Silver Bullets defense. He was highly praised by his teammates during camp and lived up to that hype starting off with a fumble return for a touchdown in the opening game against Navy. He had the tall task of replacing Ryan Shazier (who is good enough to be a starter on the Steelers in his rookie season) and yet that defense didn’t skip a beat. An MVP performance in the Sugar Bowl shows the incredible potential the young man has in Columbus.

Newcomer of the Year- Offense: Ezekiel Elliott

ZEEEEEEEEEEEKE!! I cannot say enough for how well Ezekiel Elliott played this season. He rushed for the second most yards in a season in Ohio State history, trailing only the 1995 Heisman winner Eddie George. Number 15 ran for over 200 yards in his last 3 games while also going for 4 touchdowns in the title game against Oregon. He also turned Saban’s vaunted defense into rubble. I almost gave this to J.T. Barrett but he may or may not be getting a different award.

Play of the Year

Cardale takes the snap, flips it to Jalin Marshall who tosses it to Evan Spencer. Spencer sets up and throws it into the endzone to Michael Thomas for 6! This closed the gap to one in the Sugar Bowl against Alabama and changed the momentum of the game completely headed into the second half. My runner up would be Joey Bosa throwing Penn State’s running back into Christian Hackenberg to seal an overtime win in Happy Valley.

Buckeye in the NFL Rookie of the Year: Corey Linsley, Packers

A lot of the rookie Buckeyes in the NFL had a great year (seven started) but none meant more to their team than Corey Linsley did for the Packers. Being a center in the National Football League is tough enough but doing it as a rookie on a playoff team is unprecedented. Their first game of the season was against the defending champion Seahawks and he held his own (despite being taunted most of the game). Linsley has anchored that Packer line and has created a great relationship with Aaron Rodgers. He is now on his way to the NFC Championship game for a rematch with Seattle.

Coach of the Year: Ed Warinner, Offensive Line

This award could have gone to anyone (Tom Herman and Chris Ash were just as deserving) but Ed Warinner’s development of a young O-line takes the cake. All we heard at the start of the season was how the Buckeyes had to replace 4 out of 5 starters on the offensive line. Then after the Virginia Tech debacle we heard it even more that they were a work in progress. By season’s end (especially in the National Championship) the offense rode them to a dominating rushing attack by Zeke Elliott. What started as a weakness, ended in a strength and all the credit in the world goes to Ed Warinner.

Team MVP: Joe Thomas Barrett IV

After Braxton Miller went down, most of the country wrote off Ohio State as national and even Big Ten contenders. In stepped J.T. Barrett, a redshirt freshman from Rider High School in Wichita Falls, Texas. He became a Heisman Trophy contender after racking up 45 total touchdowns while breaking Ohio State and Big Ten records on the way (records held by Miller, Heisman Trophy Winner Troy Smith and Super Bowl Champion Drew Brees fell this season to Barrett). If it wasn’t for an ankle injury during the Michigan game, Barrett would have found himself in New York City for the Heisman presentation. But as the confetti fell to the turf of AT&T Stadium after the Buckeyes brought home Number Eight, make no mistake about it, it wouldn’t have been possible without the man wearing number 16 for the Scarlet and Gray. Scary thing is, he’s just getting started.

Head Coach match-up: Urban Meyer & Mark Helfrich

As we inch closer and closer to the inaugural College Football Playoff National Championship in Arlington, Texas on Monday, January 12th, all the talk is about the players and their match-ups on the field. Rightfully so, the players are the ones that will decide the outcome on Monday night at AT&T Stadium. With that being said, Urban Meyer and Mark Helfrich are the architects of both of these great football teams. Both have reached this point in different ways, but they’ve both done it with one thing in common – it’s been on their terms.

Both Meyer and Helfrich are coaching at their home state’s premier institutions. Meyer was born in Toledo, Ohio and Helfrich was born in Coos Bay, Oregon. They both played college football in their home state as well. Meyer played at Cincinnati and Helfrich at Southern Oregon. Both guys understand what it means to their home states when their programs are at the pinnacle of college football. Ohio State is one of the true blue bloods of college football with a rich tradition and 7 national championships to its credit. Oregon is a newcomer to the elite scene of college football. They’ve been building to this moment for the past few decades and appeared in their only national championship a few years ago when they were defeated by Heisman Trophy winner Cam Newton and the Auburn Tigers.

While Oregon is the favorite to win the game according to Vegas (-6 as of Saturday morning), the coaching match-up advantage has to go to Urban Meyer and the Buckeyes. That’s not to diminish Helfrich’s ability, but Meyer has won 2 National Championships (Florida – 2006, 2008), and has a career record of 141 – 26 (.844) including a 37 – 3 (.925) mark at Ohio State and an 8 – 2 (.800) record in bowl games including Ohio State’s 42-35 victory over Alabama in this year’s Sugar Bowl. Helfrich is less experienced, as he’s only in his second season as a head coach at any level. He’s proving he belongs at this level though with a record of 24 – 3 with a 2 – 0 bowl record including his dominating victory over defending champion Florida State Seminoles in the Rose Bowl.

Both guys are also known as offensive head coaches. Both run spread attacks and love getting their athletes out in space in one-on-one opportunities. Don’t be fooled though, both understand the importance of running the ball and what it means for their offenses long term success. Royce Freeman leads Oregon in rushing with 1,343 yards and 18 TD’s while Ezekiel Elliott leads Ohio State in rushing with 1,632 yards and 14 TD’s. Both offenses average over 500 yards per game and 7 yards per play. So it’ll be interesting to see if either defense can slow down the opposing offense at all. Whether it be with turnovers or excellent execution.

Another interesting side note is the familiarity between Urban Meyer and the Oregon program. During Meyer’s year off working for ESPN, he went out to Eugene 2 or 3 times to study the program and hang out with then Head Coach Chip Kelly. Over his tenure at Ohio State, Meyer has mentioned Oregon and how they go about their business. It’s not just about scheme and X’s and O’s, but he mentions how Oregon’s whole program is “aligned” from players to coaches to administration staff and even the student body. Without a doubt, both programs and head coaches’ respect one another. Both are class acts and represent their programs and home states with dignity and class. The first ever College Football Playoff National Championship should be one to remember. Helfrich hopes to bring home Oregon’s first ever national championship in this new era of college football while Meyer hopes to bring home his third and Ohio State’s 8th. Guess we’ll have to wait until Monday night – which by the way can’t get here soon enough.

College Football Playoff National Championship – Ohio State vs. Oregon

Monday, January 12th, 8:30pm EST

AT&T Stadium, Arlington, TX

Bucks and Ducks the Position Comparison

I guess we can make this position comparison breakdown really simple. Listening to the national media Oregon rocks and Ohio State is just lucky they got there. I have stopped listening to all their garbage especially when I hear many say Oregon has a better defense than Ohio State. When you sit down and break down all the statistics and the opponents each play you come out with one common denominator, Oregon and Ohio State match up very evenly and even the Buckeyes have an edge in many areas. As Tony has shown in his By the Numbers post you can see where the Buckeyes hold an edge. Without further ado lets break this down as best as we can shall we.

Quarterbacks

Ohio State has Cardale Jones who has played in 9 games this season but only 2 of them as the starter. The Big Ten Championship and the Sugar Bowl where he helped propel his team to wins in both and the biggest games of the season to date. Going 30 of 52 (58 percent) on his passing attempts and throwing for 500 yards and 4 TD’s with only 1 INT isn’t to shabby for a back-up on such a huge stage. Yes I said back-up because I refuse to call Jones a third string quarterback since he came into fall camp second on depth chart. When Braxton Miller went down J.T. Barrett jumped him to be the starter leaving him as the second string (see what I did there).

Oregon has some guy named Marcus Mariota. He has collected some massive hardware for his play this season and deservedly so. Winner of the Davey O’Brien, Maxwell, and Walter Camp Awards along with some minor trophy called the Heisman. No need to break down this guys stats right.

Advantage: Oregon

Rushing

I could break this down to just running backs but lets face it both the Bucks and Ducks have rushing quarterbacks so they have to figure into the equation right.

Ohio State is lead by the workhorse of Ezekiel Elliott who only has rushed for 1632 yards this season and became the very first back to gash Nick Saban’s Tide for over 200 yards in the Sugar Bowl. Cardale Jones averages 5 yards a carry which seriously is it fair all he has to do is fall forward to gain that because the kid is so tall and strong? The Buckeyes have a stable of other backs like Curtis Samuel who is averaging 6.6 yards a carry, Jalin Marshall (6.2 ypg), and a fresh leg kid named Dontre Wilson (5.6 ypg)

Oregon also has a sable of running backs and they primarily use a two headed monster of Royce Freeman (5.5 ypg) and Thomas Tyler (5.1 ypg). Both have rushed for 1343 and 511 yards respectfully. That award winning quarterback guy I mentioned earlier he only averages a measly 5.8 ypg. The Ducks will be without one of their running backs due to suspension Ayele Ford which isn’t a huge lose since he only has 3 carries for the year.

Advantage: Ohio State (Zeke’s shoes are on fire)

Offensive Line

I’m not going to break this down with all the names of the lineman or stats of sacks given up, penalties and all that.

Ohio State has had a remarkable turnaround from the beginning of the season with only one returning starter on that line. Credit co-offensive coordinator Ed Warinner and the players for buying in and working extremely and become a very good unit.

Oregon has probably one of the best if not the best offensive lines in the country. Having had to deal with injuries all season and it might have actually cost them a game with key lineman out against their first match up against Arizona.

Advantage: Oregon (Buckeyes pulling very close though)

Receivers

This has to be the best receiver corp in recent memory for the Buckeyes. Lead by Devon “Big Play” Smith (27.7 ypg) and Michael Thomas (14.9 ypg). Then you have the “H” back players in Marshall (13.5 ypg) and Wilson (14.3 ypg) and lets not discount the tight ends that in my opinion aren’t used enough Nick Vannett (12.4 ypg) and Jeff Heuerman (12.2 ypg). You can’t count out Corey Smith (9.9 ypg) who is actually a stud on special teams and Evan “I can do everything” Spencer (9.9 ypg). The other intangible that the Buckeyes have with their wide receiver corp is their ability to block on the outside and hold their blocks without holding.

Oregon has some great weapons for wide receivers unfortunately they will be without 3 of their top 6 pass catches. Darren Carrington, Devon Allen, and Pharaoh Brown will all miss the championship game. They still have Bryon Marshall (12.6 ypg), Dwayne Stanford (14.8 yp), and Keanon Lowe (14.4 ypg). Now the Ducks will find out who the next man up is for their receiver corp and since Mariota likes to spread the ball around the field it will have to be the next men up.

Advantage: Ohio State (only because of recent developments)

Total Offense

Oregon has scored 47.2 points per game against defenses averaging around a 80 rank nationally.

Ohio State has scored 45 points per game against defenses averaging around a 52 rank nationally.

Advantage: Ohio State

Defense

Ohio State rushing defense is better than Oregon. They have faced 3 top 10 offensive rushing teams this season.

Oregon passing defense is better than Ohio State. They have faced 2 top 10 offensive passing teams this season.

Even though currently the Buckeyes are ranked 16th nationally against the pass the best passing team they faced was Cincinnati, Michigan State, Alabama, and Illinois. All the other teams the Buckeyes faced offensively passing wise were ranked 61 (Kent State) and worse.

Oregon faced some serious competition from offensively passing teams. Washington, Wyoming, Stanford and Utah are all below 66 rank. Their 103 national ranking was against really good teams all season.

Oregon has given up 22.5 points per game to offenses averaging around a 42 rank nationally.

Ohio State has given up 21.43 points per game to offenses averaging around a 70 rank nationally.

See you can spin stats anyway you would like but bottom line Ohio State is ranked 17th nationally defensively and Oregon is ranked 83

Advantage: Push (you can sway the argument either way plus Oregon lost CB Ifo Ekpre-Olomu)

Random Stuff

OSU has the 2nd best offense Oregon will face
OSU has the 3rd best defense Oregon will face
OSU has the best rushing attack Ducks will face

Oregon will be the best offense Buckeyes will face
Oregon has the best passing attack Buckeyes will face
Oregon has the 4th best rushing attack Buckeyes will face

OSU is 289-1-1 when scoring 35+ points (lost in Orange bowl last season)
20-0 when having a 200+ yard rusher
22-0 when Devin Smith catches a TD

Don’t forget to read Ronnie’s preview on the game.

From Rejection to Redemption: How The Big Ten National Narrative Flipped In Four Months

Bucks Win Sugar Bowl

Four long months ago I wrote this about the Big Ten:

The Big Ten sucks. It’s weak and simply can’t compete with the SEC and other top teams around the country. They always choke in the biggest of games. As a fan of the Buckeyes or any other Big Ten team, this is what you’ve been hearing from the national media ever since the Buckeyes got shellacked by the Florida Gators in the 2006 National Championship game. Things have progressively gotten worse since then for the entire conference. ESPN and all of the other major outlets continue to hype conference pride year in and year out.

It’s amazing how quickly things change. And it was one huge day on January 1, 2015 that punctuated the Big Ten’s rise from the dead. Before we get to that though let’s backtrack to what I said back in September 2014. I talked about the national narrative concerning the Big Ten, SEC dominance and how it was a bunch of baloney. I could sit there and cry foul all I wanted, but as I said in the article all that mattered in college football was winning. It’s what earns everyone’s respect. You can talk all you want, but you have to walk the walk on the field if you want respect. Regarding my point about conference pride, here’s what I said it came down to:

You know what conference pride is based on? The best teams in the conference. You’re only as good as your best teams. That’s why the SEC is anointed the king of college football every single season. When people look at the SEC, they don’t look at Tennessee, Kentucky and Vanderbilt. They’re looking at Alabama, LSU, Florida, Texas A&M, Auburn and Georgia. If the majority of these teams have a good season, then the SEC is having a good season. So why are national writers and experts pointing out Purdue, Illinois and Indiana being bad programs when looking at the Big Ten? Those programs have never been world beaters. They’re happy with 7-9 wins. They aren’t expected to compete for national titles.

When it comes to the Big Ten, there are six teams I view as the faces of the conference right now. Those teams are Ohio State, Michigan State, Michigan, Penn State, Nebraska and Wisconsin. These six teams have to get it done or the Big Ten is looked down upon.

Four months later let’s take a look at the faces of these conferences. Three of the six teams I declared the faces of the SEC lost their bowl games. Florida fired their coach. Georgia lost to Florida. Both Mississippi schools lost in spectacular fashion in their marquee matchups. For the first time since 2005 an SEC team will not play for the national championship. The last marquee win in the postseason for the SEC was 2013 against Notre Dame in the national title game. Two years in a row the conference has lost their biggest games. I think it’s safe to say that the SEC is no longer head and shoulders above everyone else.

Of course it’s just not about what the SEC has done lately. Let’s look at the Big Ten’s top six teams. I specifically called out Wisconsin, Michigan and Nebraska in September for not having good enough head coaching. Where are those head coaches now? Gary Andersen fled Wisconsin after suffering a humiliating loss in the Big Ten Championship game to Ohio State. Nebraska fired Bo Pelini after delivering another just solid season. I said they wouldn’t have the guts to do this and they proved me wrong. We’ll see if Mike Riley can take them to the next level. And then there’s Michigan who fired Brady Hoke after another disappointing season. This is where the Big Ten’s redemption story begins.

Last week after many weeks of speculation, the Wolverines went out and got themselves a national championship caliber coach in Jim Harbaugh. As a Buckeye fans my reaction to this: It’s about damn time. What took so long to get a great coach? Now that Michigan has a great coach their rebuilding process can begin. The Big Ten now how has four coaches I truly believe are capable of winning a national championship, along with Meyer, Dantonio and Franklin (Chryst and Riley could become capable). The Big Ten East could become one of the best divisions in college football with the amount of star power at the coaching positions. Speaking of that Penn State silently defeated Boston College in the Pinstripe Bowl, leading to head coach James Franklin delivering a fiery speech in the post game proclaiming how great a victory it was for the program in their return to the postseason.

This leads us to the huge day for the Big Ten. It started when Wisconsin, led by Badger legend Barry Alvarez, shocked Auburn in overtime to win the Outback Bowl. The Badgers, coming off a 59-0 loss in the Big Ten Championship game, beat a Tiger team that many believed to be one of the best teams in the country for a majority of the season. After losing so much in the postseason the last five years and after having to hire yet another new head coach, it was a sweet victory for the program. Next year they start the Paul Chryst era in Madison and I think he’s a perfect fit for them. Chryst understands Wisconsin football perfectly and don’t be surprised if they return to Indianapolis next season.

Michigan State followed the Badgers by pulling out a thrilling come-from-behind victory against Baylor in the Cotton Bowl. The Spartans were down three touchdowns late in the game and stormed back on a thrilling blocked field goal and a touchdown with mere seconds left in the game. Dantonio and the Spartans finish the season with 11 wins once again. Their only two losses were to the two teams that are going to play for the national championship on January 12. Needless to say there’s a pretty fantastic football program residing in East Lansing.

The biggest win for the Big Ten then came in the Sugar Bowl National Semifinals when the Ohio State Buckeyes beat the Alabama Crimson Tide 42-35 to advance to national championship game for the first time in seven years. As everyone saw New Year’s night, it wasn’t a fluke or miracle. The Buckeyes were simply a better team in all phases of the game. There was no question that the Buckeyes had “SEC speed.” Ezekiel Elliott rushed for over 200 yards, something no running back had ever done to a Nick Saban-coached Alabama team. Cardale Jones, who was a third-string quarterback in August, threw long third down passes against the Tide defense with ease. The Buckeye’s defensive line harassed Blake Sims all night long. It was the victory Buckeye fans have been salivating to get for years.

In the span of four months the Big Ten went from rock bottom to the top, something none of us expected. As I said months ago I was just hoping the conference could do something to salvage its reputation. Now it has done more than that. It’s changed the national narrative completely. Yesterday the SEC was king. Today the Big Ten is the re-born hero. It’s amazing how a story can go from a nightmare to a dream come true.

The Big Ten’s teams went out and did what they had to do. Hollywood itself couldn’t have scripted a better comeback for the Buckeyes and the Big Ten. In the words of Drake: “Started from the bottom, now we’re here.”

2015 NFL Mock Draft Part 1

With the regular season of college football over it is time to dig into the next step for these players, the NFL Draft. This mock draft will not include trades because each team values their pick individually. This will be a 3 part series, this post will include the top 10 picks. I have not decided how many picks will be in the next two posts. This will be an updated series all the way up to the Draft starts. While all the picks will be based off my own thoughts, opinions, and what I have seen on tape. I will also be taking some information from Todd McShay and Mel Kiper because they are able to gather more information and have more resources than I. When reading you will see that I will include my pick, as well as Kiper and McShay’s pick. All picks are based off of the standings going into week 15. Also, Jameis Winston will not be included in this draft because said he would not declare until at least the 2016 draft. If he changes his mind picks will be updated.

 

1. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Marcus Mariota, QB, Oregon

Mariota is a tremendous athlete. I really like the style of Oregon’s offense translating to the NFL. The NFL is so much faster than college football as we all know. The speed at which Oregon runs their offense will help Mariota translate well, also with Oregon’s offense being so fast Mariota has to process information quicker than most QB prospects. With a future stud in Mike Evans and a veteran WR in Vincent Jackson this could help him go along way in development.

McShay: Mariota

2. Tennessee Titans: Leonard Williams, DE/DT, USC

To me the Titans need to upgrade talent in general. I feel Williams is the most NFL ready on the defensive side of the ball. I feel Tennessee will upgrade on defense because teams seemed to run all over the Titans this season. If your defense is not able to get stops then your offense is not able to get into a rhythm. I feel Leonard has the physical tools and the motor to be a good NFL player.

McShay: Jameis Winston

3. Jacksonville Jaguars: Randy Gregory, OLB/DE, Nebraska

I really like Gregory’s physical tools. He had a good season for Nebraska. I feel that Jacksonville is trying to mimic what Seattle has done, and that is build the defense and let the offense come along. Jacksonville’s defense was a lot better than their record shows and I look for them to keep adding to the defensive side of the ball.

McShay: Leonard Williams

4. Oakland Raiders: Amari Cooper. WR, Alabama

Cooper is a pure play maker and if he were a few inches taller I would not be surprised him going first overall and the Bucs try and move Jackson. The Raiders need someone for Carr to throw the ball too. The best way to evaluate a QB is to surround him with talented guys. If there was an elite LT prospect I think that is where the Raiders would go, but you cannot afford to let Cooper go.

McShay: Randy Gregory

5. Washington Redskins: Shane Ray, DE, Missouri

Before the season I did not even know who Shane Ray was. As I did research and read what McShay and Kiper had to say about Ray. I immediately went to the tapes and realized how good this guy was in the SEC. He was the most impressive player last season, after watching the film, that included Ealy and Michael Sam. The only concern I have is that Ray is only 6’2″ 240 pounds. That is not to say undersized guys cannot be successful in the NFL. It just gets me worried with the Redskins because they have had a lack of successful DE’s staying healthy.

McShay: Shane Ray

6. New York Jets: Devin Funchess, WR/TE, Michigan

I think this pick varies on so many things. Whether Ryan stays as the HC, does the GM stay? If the GM stays then I believe the Jets could be in place to move up to grab Cooper. If the Jets fail to do that then Funchess to me seems like the best choice. if the Jets would not have drafted Pryor in the first round then they would take Collins. The Jets need to add as much talent on offense as they can. With Funchess having so much versatility this is the best chance foe the Jets to upgrade and help Smith or Vick at QB.

McShay: Amari Cooper

7.  Atlanta Falcons: Brandon Scherff, OT, Iowa

This pick varies on so many things it is hard to decide what to do with this pick. I feel the best thing for the Falcons is to reach on Scherff and help keep Matt Ryan up right. The beauty about this pick is it is low risk high reward. While Scherff needs to work on his pass blocking, McShay and Kiper both feel like if he is moved to OG he could be a dominate player. I feel like if I am the Falcons I am willing to take this high of a pick in hopes Scherff becomes a good RT or move him to LG and let Matthews and Scherff dominate on the left side.

McShay: Dante Fowler Jr.

8. New York Giants: Vic Beasley, DE/OLB, Clemson

The Giants are put into a tough spot here. If they are able to sign JPP before the draft, then they consider taking Cedric Ogbuehi. Based off what I feel JPP will want and what the Giants will be willing to pay will not even be close and the Giants draft Beasley who would probably play SLB, as McShay feels, and then be a pass rusher when need be. I agree with that statement.

McShay: Vic Beasley

9. Chicago Bears: Landon Collins, S, Alabama

As a Bears fan I wish they would of taken Clinton-Dix last season because the defense is just in so much trouble. Collins is the answer to prayer for the Bears defense and will help out tremendously. Collins has a good build and can cover well, also is a good tackler. When you play in a division that has explosive offenses, like Detroit and Green Bay, the Bears need to upgrade the secondary.

McShay: Landon Collins

10. Carolina Panthers: Cedric Ogbuehi, OT, Texas A&M

The Panthers are really hoping that the Giants and Falcons take an OT. The Panthers really need to upgrade the OL. Ogbuehi is a really good athlete for his size. I think that the lack of success that Texas A&M had at the QB position effected his performance this year and he could be the first OT off the board.  Ogbuehi would be a good answer at RT for the Panthers and really give them an answer at that position.

McShay: Brandon Scherff