Men of the Scarlet and Gray Podcast The Game Edition

Chip and I recap (autopsied) That Michigan State game along with fan behavior, which seems more and more Buckeye fans are getting out of hand acting like Penn State fans. We also did our weekly #AskMotSag and MotSaG Pick’Em segments.

We went over to the Darkside to talk about TUN and The Game. Anthony Broome from along with David Mormino from got to hang out with the cool kids that enjoy the Scarlet and Gray. We fist pay tribute to Chad Carr, the grandson of former Wolverine head coach who just recently passed away from cancer. This rivalry means so much that this young child became a part of Buckeye Nation and we are right there weeping with the Carr family.

Anthony and David we gracious enough to try and help us understand how to recover from a loss. Been so long for the Buckeye’s you forget how to cope with it, who better to turn to right. We actually did discuss the maize and Blue football team and gave our predictions on who would win. Let’s just say it was unanimous.

You should follow Anthony Broome on twitter @anthonytbroome and David Mormino @davidmomino. Even for being fans/bloggers/writers for TUN they really are great guys and always a blast having them on the show.

A Look Around The Country

Welcome back to my weekly column, A Look Around the Country. I’m highlighting notable games from the previous week, the week ahead and of course, the Heisman and Playoff race. Special features include an in-depth look at the Ohio State and a Michigan update, mainly for folks to bask in their misfortunes. Feel free to comment with your opinions, I hope you enjoy!

Notable Games Last Week

Michigan State 17, Ohio State 14

Welp, the Buckeyes were not able to overcome questionable play calling and terrible weather and dropped their first game since September 2014. The loss all but destroys Ohio State’s playoff hopes unless mayhem ensues the next 2 weeks. Michigan State finds themselves in the driver’s seat in the Big Ten East and with a win over Penn State, they will face Iowa in the Big Ten Championship with a trip to the Playoff on the line.

Baylor 45, Oklahoma State 35

Down goes another Big 12 playoff favorite as the Bears knocked off the Cowboys Saturday in Stillwater. Now the only hope for that conference remains with Oklahoma as a win over Oklahoma State would give them a great chance to make the Playoff.

Oklahoma 30, TCU 29

Oklahoma barely escaped TCU and will face the Oklahoma State Cowboys this week for the potential right to go to the Playoff.

Ole Miss 38, LSU 17

After the 3rd straight loss for the Tigers, it appears that the Les Miles era at LSU will be coming to an end at the conclusion of this season. Miles has one National Title in Baton Rouge and his firing will add just another name to the list for head coaching vacancies across the country.

Big Games This Week

Ohio State at Michigan

The greatest rivalry in sports will kick off for the 112th time this Saturday in Ann Arbor with the long awaited match up of Meyer vs Harbaugh, Part I. Ohio State’s playoff hopes are on life support with a New Year’s Six Bowl their likely destination unless they drop this one. Michigan has been playing inspired all season and let’s be honest, this Saturday’s game is all their fans, players, and coaches have been thinking about since Jim Harbaugh was hired. This will be an all out war like it always has been and I cannot wait to watch. There is just nothing like watching Scarlet and Gray clash with Maize and Blue. There is nothing else like it in the world. Woody and Bo will be smiling down onto Michigan Stadium come noon on Saturday.

Saturday, November 28 at Noon on ABC

Florida at Florida State

One of the best in-state rivalries in the country will take place in Tallahassee with Florida’s playoff hopes on the line. If the Gators are able to win this one, then beat Alabama in the SEC Title Game, it will be difficult to keep them out of the playoff. But the Noles have been waiting for this one all year and with it being at Doak, I give them the edge.

Saturday, November 28 at 7:30pm on ESPN

Notre Dame at Stanford

The Irish can likely clinch a playoff berth this Saturday with a win over Stanford, who has been no slouch this season. The only way the Irish are left out of the playoff after a win would be if everyone in front of them were to win, as well as Oklahoma. It would then come down to the playoff committee to decide. I think the Irish win and set up a rematch with Clemson down in the Orange Bowl. We shall see.

Saturday, November 28 at 7:30pm on FOX

Oklahoma at Oklahoma State

Bedlam! Playoff hopes will be on the line at Boone Pickens Stadium with the Sooners needing a win and some help from other teams across the country to make it into the playoff. The Cowboys controlled their own destiny but could not escape last weekend’s game with Baylor. I think Oklahoma State wins and the Big 12 will yet again be left on the outside looking in.

Saturday, November 28 at 8pm on ABC

That Team Up North Update

If you don’t know what this week is or what it means, get the hell out of here.

Heisman Watch

1. Derrick Henry, Alabama

Unless Henry has the worst game imaginable and Baker Mayfield goes off for 1000 yards, the Heisman Trophy will be headed to Tuscaloosa for the second time.

My Playoff if the Season Ended Today

*Editor’s Note: This will be a volatile poll every week based on performance in the past week and resume to date, very similar to the Playoff Committee.

1. Clemson

2. Alabama

3. Iowa

4. Notre Dame

Just Missed the Cut

5. Michigan State

6. Oklahoma

7. Baylor

8. Ohio State

9. Florida

10. Stanford

B1G Weekly Recap: Iowa Wins the West, Michigan State Takes Control of East

Iowa jumped out to a 20-0 lead just 16 minutes into their matchup with Purdue and never looked back as they clinched their spot in Indianapolis. That Team Up North beat Penn State to keep their hopes of an East Division title alive, but it will take a collapse from Michigan State for that to be a possibility after Sparty took down the Buckeyes on Senior Day.

Iowa 40, Purdue 20

It was one of the coldest games in Kinnick Stadium history, but that couldn’t stop the party as the Hawkeyes moved to 11-0 with their sights set on making the College Football Playoff. C.J. Beathard led the way for Iowa, throwing for 213 yards and three touchdowns. LeShun Daniels found the end zone twice in the 1st quarter to set the tone and the Hawkeyes never looked back.

Austin Appleby came in to backup duty for Purdue after David Blough went down with an injury to his head. Appleby was serviceable, throwing for 259 yards and a touchdown as the Boilermakers fell to 2-9 on the season. Purdue head back home for a date with Indiana while Iowa will take its Playoff hopes on the road to Nebraska.

TTUN 28, Penn State 16

Despite another mediocre game from Christian Hackenberg, the Wolverines got everything they could handle from Penn State before De’Veon Smith sealed things with a 1-yard touchdown run with five minutes to play. That drive succeeded a Penn State drive that made it to the 1-yard line before James Franklin elected to kick a field goal instead of try for a tying touchdown.

It was another solid outing for the Wolverines and QB Jake Rudock. Rudock threw for 256 yards and a pair of touchdowns while being intercepted once. The Wolverines look to win The Game for the first time since 2011 while Penn State has a chance to send the winner of the Ohio State-TTUN game to the B1G Championship with an upset of Michigan State.

Rutgers 31, Army 21

Rutgers did its best SEC East impression by scheduling a cupcake for the second-to-last weekend of the season and struggling to win when it took down Army. Paul James was the workhorse for the Scarlet Knights, rushing for 116 yards and three touchdowns as Rutgers snapped a four-game losing streak.

Rutgers will play host to Maryland on Saturday in what might be Kyle Flood’s final game in charge.

Minnesota 32, Illinois 23

Both Minnesota and Illinois will head into the final weekend of the regular season with their bowl hopes still alive after Minnesota held on to take down the Illini. Shannon Brooks was the star of the show for the Gophers, rushing for 174 yards and three touchdowns, including the game-clincher from 75 yards out with 85 seconds to play.

Malik Turner had himself quite a day receiving for the Illini, hauling in 11 passes for 126 yards and a touchdown. Both teams now sit at 5-6 with Illinois heading up to Chicago to take on Northwestern at Soldier Field while Minnesota will play their final home game against Wisconsin.

Indiana 47, Maryland 28

10 minutes into the game, it looked like Indiana was going to be blown out and their bowl chances out the door. Maryland jumped out to a 21-3 lead thanks mostly to the legs of Brandon Ross before the Hoosiers turned things around and dominated the final 50 minutes. Ross finished with 250 yards on the ground and three touchdowns for the Terrapins.

Nate Sudfeld was the driving force behind the Hoosiers’ comeback victory, tossing four touchdowns to go with 385 yards in the air. Indiana’s bowl hopes rely on Sudfeld leading the Hoosiers to a victory over rival Purdue in West Lafayette while Maryland heads to Rutgers to just get their season over with.

Michigan State 17, Ohio State 14

Ugly weather brought about an ugly game in Columbus on Saturday. The Buckeyes’ play-calling has been brought into question over the past couple days after Ezekiel Elliott ran the ball just two times in the 2nd half. Elliott finished with just 33 yards and a touchdown that gave the Buckeyes the first lead of the game.

Tyler O’Connor and Damion Terry split time at quarterback for the injured Connor Cook, but it was the Spartan ground attack that did most of the damage. As a team, Michigan State ran the ball 51 times for 203, hitting the Buckeyes with body blow after body blow on the final drive that ended with a Michael Geiger 41-yard field goal. Sparty will wrap up the B1G East with a win over Penn State on Saturday and you should probably already know who Ohio State has this week.

Northwestern 13, Wisconsin 7

It was not a pretty game for the Wisconsin Badger offense. The Badgers turned the ball over five times in the defeat and managed just 203 yards of offense to go with it. Corey Clement scored Wisconsin’s lone touchdown in the 3rd quarter but the Badgers were never able to officially find the end zone again.

Northwestern’s defense held strong, preventing the Badgers from scoring after obtaining a 1st & Goal at the 1-yard line late in the game. Justin Jackson was the workhorse for the Wildcats, toting the rock 35 times for 139 yards and a touchdown. Northwestern heads to Chicago to take on Illinois while Wisconsin heads to Minnesota for their final regular season game.

Are you impressed by Iowa yet? Will Michigan State take care of business against Penn State or will they leave the door open for the Buckeyes or Wolverines to sneak in?

Lack of ‘Miller Time’ Has Cheated Buckeyes of Unbeatable Potential

Ohio State is unbeatable.

That was the thought that immediately entered my mind when news broke on the evening of July 23 that Braxton Miller had changed positions to become a full-time wide receiver. And then I texted the same statement to several of my friends, whether they were OSU fans or not.

It was something I truly believed to be correct. The Buckeyes already had the greatest quarterback dilemma in the history of sports – having two Heisman-caliber talents capable of leading the offense to big wins. They already were returning the vast majority of its lineup that was the hottest team in the country at the end of the 2014 season, and with one of the more talented collection of players in recent college football memory. I pictured opposing teams struggling to defend the myriad of offensive weapons that Ohio State could attack them with. In addition to the several blazing fast wide receivers and H-backs on the Buckeyes’ roster – in addition to another Heisman candidate at running back – the placement of arguably the most electric athlete in all of college football on the field to make plays in open space took this offense to an unspeakably high level. So I thought; so we all thought.

Aside from the opener against Virginia Tech, when Miller seemingly put the country on notice – and gave a glimmer of hope for those bold enough to take his initial 50-to-1 Heisman odds – a lot has been left to be desired regarding his game-breaking abilities. And it’s been extremely frustrating. On numerous occasions throughout the season, I found myself contemplating how Miller likely would’ve been used in other offensive systems. I can easily picture him being an absolute monster in some kind of Pac 12 offense – those super-late Saturday night games where he’d have like 300 all-purpose yards and three touchdowns every single week. A highlight machine. But then I snap back into reality, where the most electric athlete in college football has been limited to three receptions or less in nine of 11 games thus far – and often has to run predictably unsuccessful plays from the wildcat quarterback position just to justify another touch. What a shame.

Why can a bunch of other teams around the country take full advantage of their electric athletes, but for some reason, Ohio State coaches are limited to saying things like, “we love Braxton and we want to get him the ball, but the defense just won’t allow it”? Of course, they won’t allow it, he might be the best football player in the country – they’re going to try to remove him from the equation. So your job as an offensive coaching staff is to make Miller part of the question. Force the ball into his hands in a variety of creative ways and make the defense make plays. Run plays like jet sweeps, reverses, screen passes, shovel passes. Why is that so hard? Believe that I am serious when I say this: Jim Harbaugh and the Michigan Wolverines utilize Jabrill Peppers on offense – in a limited manner – better than Ohio State uses Miller. Peppers’ offensive numbers might not match Miller’s, but at least Michigan uses him in a way that instills fear into a defense, which can’t be said for OSU’s attempts. And what a waste of potential that is.

Here we are in late November, just days away from the big rivalry game every Buckeye fan has been waiting for since the season kicked off, and I can’t help but feel so unaccomplished. It feels like just yesterday I gleefully chatted with friends about how unbeatable Ohio State had become with Miller playing wide receiver. And finally, after 11 games of woefully neglecting his playmaking abilities, we’ve found out the hard truth – without creative playcalling, Ohio State was indeed incredibly beatable this whole time.

MotSaG B1G Power Poll Week 13

The Votes are in!!

Teams Points Record Last Week
iowa 11 11-0 (7-0) 2
msu 11 10-1 (6-1) 3
Ohio State 22 10-1 (6-1) 1
michigan 26 9-2 (6-1) 4
northwestern 35 9-2 (5-2) 6
wisconsin 43 8-3 (5-2) 6
penn state 48 7-4 (4-3) 7
nebraska 62 5-6 (3-4) 9
minnesota 62 5-6 (2-5) 8
indiana 2 67 5-6 (1-6) 10
illinois 75 5-6 (2-5) 11
rutgers 86 4-7 (1-6) 12
purdue 93 2-9 (1-6) 14
maryland 94 2-9 (0-7) 13

In The Back Of Our Minds, we Saw This Coming

Yes ladies and gentleman it is Monday morning after the first Ohio State loss in over a year. As if Monday’s aren’t hard enough, we now have to go a whole week thinking about the disaster that was this past Saturday, and pray to God that we are able to turn it around for this coming Saturday when we play TTUN at the Big House.

Lets be honest though, all year long the buckeye coaching staff has tried to convince us that everything is fine, the offense is running smoothly and that they were in control of about every game they were in even though our eyes were telling us that was not the case. Well unfortunately for everyone involved the theory that everything was fine came crashing down Saturday against Michigan State when the Buckeyes lost 17-14 in a game where the offense literally looked completely helpless. Only achieving 5 first downs the whole game, being held to under 200 yards of total offense and ,worst of all, only giving our Heisman Trophy candidate running back 2 carries in the second half, 11 total in the game.

The question at the end of all of those disgusting numbers is, how on God’s green earth can a team with the likes of JT Barrett, Braxton Miller, Zeke Elliot and Michael Thomas be completely shut down? Bottom line is the coaching. All year long fans have clambered about the vanilla play calling and lack of explosive plays from a team that could be considered the most talented and explosive team in Ohio State history, but week after week, game after game, all we were seeing was the same thing over and over. I ,as I’m sure most fans, kept telling myself “we are just playing down to our competition and the coaching staff will have us ready to play when it matters” but unfortunately that was not the case. Before I go any further though I want to be clear, Urban Meyer is the best coach in College football, hands down no questions asked in my opinion. This loss is obviously on his shoulders because he is their head coach, but the blame lies squarely on Tim Beck and Ed Warinner the co -offensive coordinators. Once Tom Herman left to take the head coaching job at the University of Huston Ed was promoted and Tim was brought in from Nebraska to fill the void. Well that void was too big and too full apparently because things have looked awful since.

The real question  is this, where do we go from here? Well like I said earlier, we have to find a way to go to Ann Arbor and win a game just to see where we stand when the dust settles. If MSU beats Penn State next week then they are in the Big Ten Championship Game. If they get beat then we still have a glimmer of hope. Bottom line is if we lose another game this year and the offense looked anything like it did this Saturday then there is a good chance that Tim Beck will be looking for a new job and Ed will simply be worried about his offensive linemen and not the play calling. Let’s all just make sure we say our Hail Mary’s to the Football Gods and pray that we beat TTUN next week or it’s going to be a LONG 12 months till we see them again! Buckeye Pride!

The Rivals, Part XIII: The End Run

The next two weeks are essentially a playoff for the Big Ten East division crown. All of the top four teams are still technically in the running, although it’s going to take a lot of good fortune for Penn State to make the trip to Indy. It is possible for Ohio State to lock up the title today, with a win over Michigan State and a Penn State win over Michigan. If the Buckeyes lose, they’ll need a win over the Wolverines and a Penn State win over Sparty next week to secure the top spot. If both Ohio State and Michigan win today, next week’s game will be for the East title, and the Meyer-Harbaugh era of The Game will have truly begun.

Making things interesting will be the conference’s top two running backs in terms of yards per carry (Ohio State’s Ezekiel Elliott and Penn State’s Saquon Barkley) facing off against two of the conference’s top three rushing defenses in that statistic (Michigan and Michigan State).

Today, Ohio State takes its shot at the Spartans, and even though Michigan State has been solid against the run all year, the cracks have been showing lately. Two of the last three primary running backs the Spartans have faced bested their average yards per carry by about a full yard, and the third (Maryland’s Wes Brown) only missed his by less than five inches per attempt. This is not a good trend for a team that needs to stop a legit Heisman candidate possibly playing in his final home game this afternoon.

Michigan has been having some issues with running backs themselves, with defensive line injuries disrupting the lineup at the worst possible time. Last week, Indiana’s Jordan Howard carved the Wolverines up with 238 yards on 35 carries, over half a yard better than his season average. In the previous two weeks, Rutgers’ Robert Martin and Minnesota’s Rodney Smith each topped their average by over two yards a carry. Much like their in-state rivals, this is a bad sign with two of the Big Ten’s best backs on the horizon.

On the other side of the ball, Michigan State’s rushing offense has been dismal all year. They rank 97th in the nation (tied with 6-loss Rice) in yards per carry and have only topped 200 yards on the ground once this year (against Purdue). As a team, the Spartans have only rushed for 99 more yards and 3 more touchdowns than Ezekiel Elliott has alone. And it took them 171 more carries to do it.

Michigan State will instead hope to lean on quarterback Connor Cook for their offensive production, although it remains to be seen how effective Cook will be after injuring his throwing shoulder against Maryland last week. I’ll give Cook a pass for that terrible game since he was hurt for most of it, but the last time the Spartans faced a passing defense comparable to Ohio State’s was their miracle win at Michigan. Cook completed less than half of his passes in that game with just one touchdown. He has a tough task ahead of him even if his shoulder is fine. If it’s not as “good to go” as he says it is, Michigan State could be in trouble.

The Wolverines have spent the last two weeks carving up the Big Ten’s two worst defenses for their most productive performances of the season. Penn State has a much better defense than Rutgers or Indiana, and Michigan needed double overtime to beat the Hoosiers. The most interesting thing to watch in today’s game—and probably the determining factor in the outcome—will be whether or not Jake Rudock’s recent explosion is actual improvement or just a result of playing some pretty horrible defenses.

Michigan State Spartan Preview

When and Where:

Saturday Novemeber 21,2015 3:30 PM EST
Ohio Stadium Columbus, Ohio msu

ESPN College GameDay
Chris Fowler, Kirk Herbstreit
and Heather Cox
Sirius/XM Channel 84

Series History
Overall………………………….Ohio State leads, 29-14
In Columbus………………………Ohio State leads, 14-8
In East Lansing…………………..Ohio State leads, 15-5
Neutral …………………………MSU leads, 1-0
Last Ohio State Win……………… 49-37, 2014 in East Lansing
Last MSU Win……………………. 34-24, 2013 in Indianapolis
Biggest Margin of Victory for OSU ….42-0, 1979
Biggest Margin of Victory for MSU ….32-7, 1965
Longest Winning Steak for OSU ……..8, (1975-84)
Longest Winning Steak for MSU ……..3, (1912-53)
Current Win Streak ……………….Ohio State, 1

Urban Meyer 1,000 yard rushers-3
Hyde, Elliott (2)
Ezekiel Elliott 15 straight games with 100+ yards rushing per game
Most consecutive conference victories – Ohio State 30
Most consecutive victories – 23 Ohio State
Consecutive games with a reception – 26 Michael Thomas
24 points a game – 25 Michigan State
Consecutive FBS Bowl appearances – 8

Michigan State Spartans Offense

Sparty is lead by Ohio (Hinkley Township) native Connor Cook. Cook will be coming into Columbus with a possible right shoulder strain, won’t know how or if any effect until Saturday (hopefully he is at full strength). Connor has 2,482 yards with 21 touchdowns and only 4 interceptions. He obviously is having a pretty good season averaging 248.2 yards a game passing, 2.1 touchdowns and .4 interceptions. He has a completion rate of 56.3 percent and a passing efficiency of 143.02 percent.

Looking at MSU pass catchers and Aaron Burbridge jumps out at you. Burbridge has 65 receptions for 1021 yards, with 6 touchdowns. His longest reception is 56 yards and averages 15.7 yards a catch for 102.1 yards per game. Following Aaron is RJ Shelton who currently has 34 catches, 376 yards and 3 touchdowns this season. RJ’s longest reception is 29 yards and averages 11.1 yards a reception for 37.6 yards per game. The only other receiver the Spartans have for over 200 yards is Marggarrett Kings with 32 catches, 450 yards and 5 touchdowns. King’s longest reception 42 yards and averages 14.1 yards per catch for 50 yards per game.

The Spartans rushing attack currently has 1524 yards on the ground, 3.9 yards per rush for an average 152.4 yards per game. They have crossed the goal line 19 times with their rushing game. The running back trio of LJ Scott, Madre Landon, and Gerald Holmes have at least 400 yards so far this season, Scott has the most at 531 so far.

Michigan State is averaging 32.9 points a game this season.

Michigan State Spartan Defense

This isn’t the same Sparty defense Buckeye fans have become accustomed to witnessing the past few years. The Spartan defense was probably at their peak in 2013 in my opinion with the best caliber of players. Last year it was a little easier to pass again them than the year before but the rushing defense was still stellar. This season they have some great players, but statically they are surrendering 121 rushing yards per game which is 18th in the nation currently. Their total defense is ranked 46 and to my memory seems a little off from years past. Some of it has to do with injuries and have to admit Pat Narduzzi leaving has hurt some too. The front line of Shilique Calhoun, Malik McDowell, Demetrius Cooper, Lawrence Thomas and Joel Heath will be creating problems for Ohio State’s offensive line. Michigan State has 29 sacks and 12 interceptions. They might not be on paper the scary shutdown defense we might be used to in recent memory but make no mistake about it, they will be creating many issues for the Buckeyes.

NFL Future

There will be quite a few NFL scouts in attendance for the game. There is a good possibility of being 20 draft picks for the 2016 NFL Draft, 8 being First Rounders.

Hard to Say Goodbye

This is going to be a real emotional game for many Buckeyes who are seniors and possible underclassmen declaring early for the draft. Really going to be hard to see Braxton Miller in his final game in Columbus. For everything he has done, been through you just know the fans will be still packed in the Stadium singing Carmen Ohio for the final time in the most majestic place in America.

Ohio State Policy Change

In case you haven’t heard or read yet, Ohio State announced this week after the situation that happened across the pond in Paris they will no longer be allowing you to bring in your backpack or any bag that isn’t see through. Remember the world we live in is forever changing and get to your seats earlier so when you go through and get checked out before entering your not frustrated or being rude to the wonderful folks responsible for helping keep over 100k fans safe.

Ohio State Must Vanquish The Spartans On The Path To ‘Contenders In November’

Remember when I wrote this, back in the summer? The anticipation has been building for months, and now it is practically upon us.

Remember how former Ohio State Head Coach Jim Tressel used to say, “October is for pretenders, and November is for contenders.”? Doesn’t it seem that Ohio State is truly facing the moment of truth as it relates to that statement? And directly standing in Ohio State’s path, the team that has been led for nearly the past decade by Coach Tressel’s top protege, Mark Dantonio.

Here’s something interesting that I discovered in my preparations for this week’s Men of the Scarlet and Gray podcast. Ohio State and Michigan State have played four times since Coach Tressel departed the sidelines for Ohio State. Michigan State has won twice (2011 in Ohio Stadium, 2013 in Indianapolis in The B1G Championship Game), Ohio State has won twice (2012 and 2014, both in Spartan Stadium). When I added up the final scores of the four games, the average score for both Ohio State and Michigan State was 24 points. This truly is a rivalry that defines well-coached and well-played. By the way ~ I know I repeatedly and shamelessly promote the podcast, but you will want to listen to this week’s edition. Major, major props to Shannon Sommers for getting Hondo Carpenter on the show as a guest to discuss Michigan State. It is well worth your time and listen, especially for Hondo’s perspectives on Michigan State. Please click on the link here to do so.

Senior Day in Ohio Stadium is always a special, emotional time. A big thank you to Adolphus Washington, Tommy Schutt, Joshua Perry, Taylor Decker, Nick Vannett, Jacoby Boren, Chase Farris, Bryce Haynes, Cam Williams, Jack Willoughby, Joel Hale, Jeff Greene, Braxton Miller, and all of the seniors for all of the tremendous contributions and memories all of those players helped to create in Ohio Stadium.

Here are three critical areas I will be watching throughout the contest ~

1. Ohio State’s Offensive Line vs Michigan State’s Defensive Line: Ohio State has struggled in pass protection this season. With Michigan State’s stellar defensive line, led by Shilique Calhoun, Malik McDowell, and Lawrence Thomas, will Ohio State be able to adequately protect J.T. Barrett? Will Ohio State roll Barrett out, in order to give Barrett more time?

If Ohio State tries to simply run the ball with Ezekiel Elliott on Michigan State, as the Buckeyes have done throughout the 2015 season, Michigan State will stack the box with nine men. Will Ohio State come out throwing on Michigan State, forcing them to adjust their defensive strategy? Can Michael Thomas, possibly playing his last game in Ohio Stadium, duplicate his performance of a year ago versus the Spartans?

2. The Health Of Michigan State’s Connor Cook: Cook suffered an arm injury in last week’s win over Maryland, leading to Cook leaving the game in favor of Tyler O’Connor. Like Cook, O’Connor is an Ohio player, and also like Cook, was not offered a scholarship by Ohio State – I am a firm believer that particular scholarship slight, fair or unfair, always seems to give an extra motivational boost for those players when they are facing the Buckeyes. Back to Cook – while everyone expects Cook to play, will the Michigan State offensive line, which has been wracked by injuries this season, be able to protect Cook against a strong Ohio State defensive line?

3. Mark Dantonio’s Reputation For Special Teams Trickery: Has anyone forgotten the infamous “Little Giants” play Michigan State ran on Notre Dame years ago? How about this epic moment from this season, against That Team Up North?

The point I am making? Expect the unexpected, especially when it comes to special teams in this game.

Prediction: Both teams know what is on the line, and both teams are going to leave everything on the field. I think it will be rough sledding for Ezekiel Elliott running the ball, especially in the first half, but I believe Elliott will get his 100 yards, although it will certainly not come easy, in what may be Elliott’s final game in Ohio Stadium. I look for Joey Bosa to have a signature play or two, in what may be Bosa’s final game in Ohio Stadium. Ohio State toughs it out, and wins it in the second half. I have it Ohio State 28, Michigan State 20.

Braxton Miller’s Buckeye Legacy

The time has come for Braxton Miller. After 5 years of breaking records and winning games, Braxton will play his last game in Ohio Stadium this Saturday against Michigan State.

For true, long-time Ohio State fans you will never forget what Braxton Miller has done for this team. Younger fans, on the other hand, may have forgotten. After leading this team to a 24-2 record under Urban Meyer, Braxton tore his labrum and was sidelined for a full season. Braxton’s replacement, J.T. Barrett, came in breaking B1G records and finishing 5th in the Heisman race. Then, J.T. was sidelined for the rest of the season with a broken ankle, so Cardale Jones came in leading this team to a national championship. It was the J.T. and Cardale show.

Because of that, many forget just how spectacular Braxton was in the scarlet and gray. “(There’s) immense feelings we all have for him because how average we were, especially on offense, that first year,” Urban Meyer said. “If you don’t have that kid, you start you’re coaching career here at Ohio State .500, 8-5, or (8-4), whatever it is.” That should say a lot to his ability, because Urban admits the plays were like “Braxton right, Braxton right, and to change it up Braxton left.”


Like I wrote about this summer, Braxton has had a long road to get to this point. It started in 2011 when Braxton was prematurely thrown into the fire of being the starting QB. You can’t really blame the then Interim Head Coach, Luke Fickell, because he really had no other option. Terrelle Pryor was there throughout spring camp, but went into the Supplemental Draft due to the punishments he was facing. People within the program will tell you that Braxton was not ready to be starter. He didn’t have that “monster” in front of him to teach him how to study, play, or even act. He ended that season with 20 total TDs, and mostly led that bad team to a 6-7 record, but ultimately it hurt his progression as a true QB.

Next year Urban and his staff, including new QB coach, Tom Herman came to town. It was tough for Braxton to build that trust with Tom Herman initially. He hardly knew him. Braxton was used to Jim Tressel, Luke Fickell, Jim Bollman, and Nick Siciliano, not Tom Herman. As time and familiarity went on, Braxton proved the high-expectations to be correct. Still, he was young, and he didn’t do the “extra stuff” to put him over the top. He cared, but he used his ability to make up for many lackings. Still, he finished the season 12-0 and had 27 total TDs.

2013, his second year in the system, expectations were sky high. Expectations were Heisman and a Championship. Coming out of the gates, he looked like more of a pure QB, especially since he had visited QB “guru,” George Whitfield. He missed several games with a sprained MCL, but when he came back, he looked like the athletic freak we knew. Crazy, long running plays, and now the element of accuracy along with his cannon of an arm. Everybody remembers the electric runs, but he was an ace with deep balls. He threw some of the hardest throws I’ve ever seen. In games against Penn State, Wisconsin, and TTUN to name a few, he had throws that were certainly NFL caliber. He ended that year with 36 total TDs, over 3,000 total yards again, but the end of the season is what people remember. Two straight losses to Michigan State and Clemson, respectively, and the devastation of the torn labrum against Clemson.


Now, in 2015, Braxton is a totally different player. He might not put up the same numbers as he did in previous years at QB, but that’s impossible to do once you move to WR. He’s gone from a guy that cares, but didn’t go the whole distance, and now he’s a “film junky,” and has worked ridiculously hard to try to perfect the WR craft in an incredibly short period of time. According to a person within the program, on Monday’s the QBs (more specifically Cardale and J.T.) are in watching film by their own. He said that yesterday, he walked by and saw Braxton, Cardale, and J.T. in the film room eating wings and watching tape on Michigan State.

Braxton has fully embraced his new position at WR. For many, they simply wouldn’t be able to make the move from QB to WR for many reasons. In 3 months (plus some more unofficial), Braxton is a starting WR for the Ohio State Buckeyes, and is a trusted player to do whatever is needed. This start wasn’t just given to him. It was earned. Although Urban Meyer does love Braxton Miller, he will not just give away a position for someone who doesn’t deserve it.

With an Ohio State record 88 TDs, and many other stats that would have been broken had he been able to stay at QB, Braxton obviously, and rightfully, earned national attention. With that, you have to wonder where this team would be without him. Would they really have gone 8-4 that first season? Would the 2013 and 2014 recruiting classes have been that great without the success he partially caused, and the fame that people wanted to play with? Would Ohio State have gotten it’s 8th national championship last year? It’s hard to say for sure on any of them, but I do know he’s been a difference maker. If the first question proved to be true, then Ohio State certainly would not be where it is now. If the second question’s answer was no, then Ohio State would not have had the skill to win the National Championship. Braxton has truly been a, if not the, main factor in all this success.

48-3 is no joke. Even though Braxton wasn’t directly involved in 14 (actually 16 if you count injuries) of the wins, he was an indirect influence in those, and started in the others. Then, moving to WR was as selfless of a move as you could make. He could have transferred and tried to live his dream of continuing to play QB, or stay and help his team in whatever way possible. Obviously he chose to stay.

We haven’t exactly seen the Braxton Miller we’ve been used to, but as is the life of a WR instead of a QB. You don’t touch the ball every play, and you don’t decide when you will get a touch. The QB controls that. When he does get his chances, though, he makes a play; like the famous spin move against VA Tech, or the jumping mid-field catch against Maryland, or the incredible juggling catch against Rutgers. “It just felt good to be involved in the offense,” Miller said, “and making plays for the guys and being electrifying for the fans and getting back to my old self.”


As Braxton wraps up his Ohio State career, you can only be thankful for everything he’s done. He’s made plays upon plays for the team since 2011. He made it through the rough times under Fickell, and help lead the team back to the top of the nation. Enjoy these last couple of games, because Braxton will be gone soon. People like him don’t come around very often. He’s a very special player that will do anything for the team. It’s going to be a tough one to see Braxton suit up one last time in the Shoe, but knowing Braxton, he’ll have something special for us.