Sugar Bowl X-Factors: Offense

Game week is here people! As we inch closer, the anxiety levels begin to rise. With how the Fiesta Bowl ended, there was that feeling of being robbed, feelings of anger, feelings of utter despair—that have bled into this turbulent COVID season.

The grudge and that unsatisfied feeling has come to a head and the time to release is just a few days away. We will have the chance to prove things to ourselves and to the nation. To silence the doubters and the haters.

In order to win, the Buckeyes need to put in the work and put on their hard hats. The preparation needs to be perfect and the game plan must be pristine from the execution to the play calling. Here a few X-Factors offensively that could tip the scales in the Buckeyes’ favor come Friday.

Justin Fields, QB

To be blunt, Justin Fields must show up in order to have a shot to take out Clemson. Ball security is a must and the execution must be perfect. Do not make bonehead throws into traffic and don’t hold the ball too long in the pocket. Sacks and interceptions are two things that he should avoid. Yes, making plays is needed but if it’s not there—throw it away or take the check down. Olave and Wilson will eventually get open, but he must trust do what he needs to do to control the game. If it consists of a steady dose of Sermon and Teague, so be it. It also doesn’t hurt that he will face backup safety since Nolan Turner was charged with targeting and he will be unavailable until the second half.

Trey Sermon, HB

Speaking of a steady dose of running it down their throats—Sermon needs to capitalize on the momentum after winning the Conference Championship Game MVP honors. Not to mention eating up the yardage to finish with a BIG 10 record 331 rushing yards—beating Ezekiel Elliott’s mark. It’s safe to say that balance is key, but running the ball will need to be at the forefront. Clemson will blitz heavily and what better counter is there than running the rock until they can show that they can stop it?

The Slobs and The Tight Ends

Blitzing will be an all game affair and one of the better blitzing teams is Clemson. The objective for these two units would be to block them enough to slow them down and to limit sacks. The slobs are solid but the weak link would be at Left Guard in Harry Miller (not a knock!). Holding penalties and allowing penetration are to be avoided and he has been consistently at fault for either of these. Miller has the potential but he has to has to play with little to no errors for either quarters. The big guys mauled the Wildcats in the second half and they need to do the same for the entire game to win it.

The Tight Ends must be ready for check downs or passes under duress. Blocking is also key but I think this group will get the majority of the work in the passing game. It’s pick your poison with Olave and Wilson but do not count out the tight ends.

If all these X-Factors play well, redemption is attainable. If they play out of sync, they will have a hard time and they may very well lose. Odds are with the amount of chatter about being worthy of a playoff spot—I’d say this is the quiet before the storm. Ohio versus the world. Redemption.


Earned! Buckeyes Selected For Playoff Matchup Against A Familiar Foe Clemson

We made it Buckeye Nation! We got the matchup against the team that we wanted and in an odd COVID season, we can say we earned this spot after running past and shutting down a surprisingly potent Northwestern offense to zero points in the second half en-route to a 22-10 win.

Flash forward to January 1st and the matchup against Clemson and remembering the loss from a season ago, you know that final score is still around the weight room. The circumstances and the end result was tragic and what better way to slay your demons than this? Another shot at the demon is needed and it could have a cascading effect and it could propel this team toward greater things.

This year has been crazy, but the committee definitely got things right. I’m not just saying that cause of my affinity for the Buckeyes, I am saying it from an objective viewpoint. Why penalize a team for playing less? Why perceive our players having fresher bodies with the mental and sometimes physical toll while dealing with such odd circumstances? Everyone dealt with things different but let’s be real, the season wouldn’t have started without the fight our team showed. Yes, we were late to the party but this year has been incredibly hard for all team in the big dance.

This seeding has an eerie feel to it and think about the 2014 run. Ohio State became the only #4 seed to win it all. They find themselves at the #3 seed and history could repeat itself but they definitely need to take care of business. Winning it all in a COVID-ridden year would be a testament to the coaching staff and the players for Ohio State—the ultimate comeback/success story in the making. It’ll come down to implementing a good plan moving forward against Clemson and executing, being intensely interested in winning at all costs.

To be intensely driven and motivated is key for an Ohio State miracle run at a championship and a win against top-tier teams in Clemson and Alabama. Not saying that they aren’t but they need to be more driven than ever to accomplish what they want to and this team is built to do just that.

Save all the hate and anger for January first Buckeye coaches and players, Buckeye Nation hope and pray a sharp, motivated team shows up from start to finish, and let’s get ready to take care of business in the Sugar Bowl.


Four and Into The Playoff Door


Ohio State have been the most talked about team ranked in the top four of the playoff rankings because of its lack of games. Saturday’s Big Ten championship win was the Buckeyes’ sixth game this season. 

No. 5 Texas A&M beat Tennessee on Saturday 34-14 and will finish the season at 8-1, but it’s hard to imagine the Aggies will jump an undefeated, conference champion with this Buckeye team. 

Two components the playoff committee keys in on are the eye test and a conference championship. The Buckeyes are Big Ten Champions and have two quality wins against No. 11 Indiana and No. 14 Northwestern. When looking at Texas A&M, their best win came against a Florida team who fell to 5-5 LSU last weekend. The Aggies also faced No. 1 Alabama early in the season and ended up losing 52-24. 

The Buckeyes controlled the second half of the Big Ten Championship, making a statement as their defense pitched a shutout and Sermon had one of the performances we’ve seen this college football season, breaking Ohio State’s rushing record with 331 yards.

This Buckeye team making a playoff appearance will be a huge victory for the Big Ten as it was one of the first conferences to cancel the season in August, deciding to overrule that and start a season in late October. Ohio State had three games canceled due to COVID-19 (Maryland, Illinois, Michigan). 

Ohio State quarterback Justin Fields met with the media after winning the Big Ten title, saying it’s a no brainer the Buckeyes deserve a playoff spot. 

“We’re one of the top four teams in the country,” said Fields.


The Clemson Tigers took control against Notre Dame in the ACC championship winning 34-10 setting up a potential back-to-back playoff meeting with the Buckeyes. Last year the Buckeyes faced off with the Tigers in the Fiesta Bowl and left with a bad taste in their mouths as Justin Fields was picked off in the final moments as Chris Olave fell down in the endzone running a route, leading to a 29-23 victory for the Tigers.

The BIG10 4-Peat Is Complete

Photo From:

In a roller-coaster type of year, the Buckeyes were nearly held out of visiting Indianapolis due to a rule that required teams to play a minimum of six games to play in the Big Ten Conference Championship game. Flash forward after the decision (a terrible one at that!) the Buckeyes face a familiar opponent in the Northwestern Wildcats, an opponent who stood in the way of their second consecutive shot at the conference crown. Now, two years later these two teams will face each other again for the title of Big Ten Champs and another tough battle against a solid defensive-driven team.

The Buckeyes and Justin Fields took it straight down the field on their opening possession and took it in for a touchdown, but a holding call by Harry Miller quickly negated it and the Buckeyes settled for three. They Buckeyes took a lot of time off the clock and Northwestern responded with six in a drive that took 2:32. The Buckeyes began to look sluggish as time went on with questionable play-calling that resulted in a pair of Buckeye punts before they surrendered a field goal to put the Wildcats up 10-3. The Buckeyes kicked it for three and forced a punt, but Fields was picked off before the half came to a close.

To open the second half, Justin Hilliard picked of Ramsey, and Fields was picked off for the second time in a game that he largely struggled in. The Buckeyes forced a punt and both teams had shots at points, but they both missed their respective shots at additional points to keep the contest at 10-6. The Buckeyes came alive as Trey Sermon channeled his inner Zeke and they fed him in what became a career game for him as a ran past Eddie George’s record that has stood for quite some time until today. Sermon finished with 29 carries and a Big Ten/Conference Championship FBS record 331 yards and 2 TDs.

Sermon and the Buckeye defense stepped it up in the second half. After Sermon went off the defense responded with timely turnovers that turned the tide. For context, the Buckeyes surrendered 167 yards on 5 Northwestern offensive possessions. In the second half, they had 7 total offensive possessions and they surrendered 181 yards. Yes, they gave up a little more yardage, but couldn’t get into position to score. The second half adjustments worked and it showed how resilient this team is when the pressure is right in front of them.

This was not a perfect game for Justin Fields, but maybe it is what he needs to move forward. He seemed to sprain his throwing hand thumb and that might be a story to follow as we move forward. For now, we have to enjoy the gutty win minus the gaudy offensive passing stats. Another off day doesn’t mean its all over for us. Enjoy the win and hope for the best.

MOTSAGRising Heroes of the Game:

Trey Sermon, RB – 29 carries 331 yards and 2 TDs

Justin Hilliard, LB – 9 tackles, 5 solo, 2 TFL, 1 INT

Zach Hoover, P – 3 punts, 118 yards, 2 in 20


BIG10 Championship Week Preview: Buckeyes-Wildcats Showdown by Mike Scharf

Championship Week 

After a long, abnormal College Football season, championship week is finally here. With the Big Ten Conference changing the six-game qualifying rule, the Buckeyes are seeking a back-to-back College Football Playoff berth as No. 4 Ohio State faces off with No. 14 Northwestern in the 2020 Big Ten Conference championship game.

Ohio State will be heading into their fourth consecutive Big Ten Championship. The Buckeyes have won three straight conference titles and look to continue that trend come Saturday. Last Season Ohio State, led by Heisman finalist Justin Fields defeated Wisconsin, 34-21, earning an appearance in the College Football Playoffs against the Clemson Tigers.

The Wildcats

Northwestern led by head coach Pat Fitzgerald is making its second appearance ever in the Big Ten title game. The Wildcats’ last conference title win came in 2000.


The offensive spark for the Wildcats is led by quarterback Peyton Ramsey and running back Drake Anderson.

Ramsey has controlled the offense all year for the 6-1 Wildcats throwing for 1,218 yards, and nine touchdowns.

Anderson led the ground game with 256 yards and two touchdowns averaging 4.1 yards per carry.


The Wildcats seconday has the second-highest rate of interceptions per game this season in the FBS with 12.

Brandon Joseph, a sophomore defensive back has carried the load for the Wildcat secondary with 23 tackles, and 5 interceptions (tied for 1st in the nation). Joseph and the rest of the secondary will have their hands full Saturday with Chris Olave, and Garrett Wilson.

Starting linebackers, Paddy Fisher and Blake Gallagher are experienced and true leaders within this Wildcat defense. Fisher and Gallagher have a combined 65 total tackles this season while Gallagher leads the team with 9.5 tackles for loss.

The Buckeyes

The Buckeyes didn’t get a chance to play in “The Game,” this past weekend but is hungry for a second straight playoff visit. 


Justin Fields and this high-powered offense have been clicking on all cylinders this season. Fields has been leading the way in the five games played, throwing for 1,407 yards and 15 touchdowns. 

The dynamic duo of Chris Olave and Garrett Wilson has been on full display all year long. Olave and Wilson have a combined 70 receptions, 1,100 yards, and 10 touchdowns in just five games played and look to continue their dominance Saturday.

The running back duo of Trey Sermon and Master Teague is starting to click as Sermon ran for a season-best 112 yards and one touchdown two weeks ago against the Spartans, and Teague having two 100 plus yard games this season against Penn State and Indiana. 

The offensive line will be at full strength as Josh Myers, Nick Petit-Frere, and Thayer Munford are back in the Woody Hayes Athletic Center this week.


The Silver Bullets looked dominant two weeks ago against Michigan State as they steam rolled to a 52-12 victory.

The secondary, led by Shaun Wade looks to be more in sync and will come prepared for Saturday’s championship showdown with the Wildcats.

The defensive line led by senior Jonathan Cooper has been showing out the past few weeks in the most important time of the year. The Buckeyes have a team total of 14 sacks on the season, with Tommy Togiai leading the way with three. 

The linebacker trio of Tuf Borland, Baron Browning, and Pete Warner has been a force all season. Borland wasn’t able to participate in the game against the Spartans due to COVID but is looking to cap his Buckeye career off with a Big Ten Championship Saturday afternoon.


The Buckeyes will be looking for its 39th Big Ten Championship coming out focused showing the committee they are truly deserving of a playoff spot and one of the top four teams in the country even though they only participated in six games this season. 

Buckeyes: 52-20

Buckeyes dominate Spartans on the road: by Mike Scharf

No. 4 Ohio State is back and let everyone know they are the team to beat in the Big Ten and evidently a top four team in the country — even if not eligible to play for the Big Ten championship — after routing Michigan State with a 52-12 victory in East Lansing. 

The Buckeyes played like an angry team, coming out firing, scoring on three of their first four drives to take control of the game early.

Passing Game

Justin Fields didn’t miss a beat even with a diminished offensive line in front of him due to COVID issues (Josh Meyers, Nicholas Petit-Frere, Thayer Munford). Fields was unstoppable through the air and on the ground as he combined for 303 yards, and four touchdowns.

Fields’ main target was wide receiver Chris Olave who recorded a career-high 10 receptions, 139 yards, and a touchdown. Garrett Wilson was second in receiving with 59 yards, and a touchdown.

Running Game 

With Fields having a career day in rushing yards (104), Oklahoma transfer Trey Sermon didn’t bat an eye and had his best game as a Buckeye. Sermon carried the ball 10 times for 112 yards, and a 64-yard touchdown that put the Buckeyes up 35-0 in the third quarter. 

Fellow running back Master Teague had 46 yards on 14 carries, and Freshman quarterback C.J Stroud got into the game late and blasted a 48-yard touchdown run.


With all the criticism and question marks the Buckeyes defense faced from their play in the second half against Indiana two weeks ago, they dominated the Spartans without captain Tuf Boland. The Buckeyes held Michigan State to 261 total yards and just 81 yards on the ground. Senior Pete Warner led the team with eight tackles. Junior, top NFL prospect Shaun Wade had 3 tackles, and an unbelievable diving interception which came right after a Buckeye turnover.

Buckeye Football Looking Ahead by Mike Scharf

Last Week

After nearly a consistent recording of a 0% positivity rate since August, chaos entered the Buckeye program as their game against Illinois was canceled when additional positive COVID-19 tests were discovered after a round of testing took place Friday afternoon. Head coach Ryan Day was amongst those positive. Ohio State did not disclose the identities of the others who tested positive for privacy reasons. 

The Big Ten requires all programs to suspend organized football activities including practices and games for a minimum of seven days if both their positivity rate exceeds 5% and their population positivity rate surpasses 7.5%. The Buckeyes positivity rate crossed the 7.5% threshold, but had not gone above the 5% test positivity rate.

With the Buckeyes not going above the 5% threshold, Athletic director Gene Smith and head team physician Dr. Jim Borchers believed the best decision for the program going forward was to cancel, slowing down the spread of the virus.

Going Forward

Good news came as the Buckeyes resumed small group workouts on Monday at the Woody Hayes Athletic Center according to a Ohio State spokesman — Team meetings will maintain being held virtually.

The noon ABC kickoff against Michigan State this weekend is up in the air as we still don’t know the exact number of positive cases the program is dealing with, but this is an enormous step in the right direction going forward.

#MOTSAGRising Buckeyes-Hoosiers Preview by Mike Scharf

The Buckeyes and Hoosiers are set to clash in a top-10 battle this Saturday in the ‘Shoe.

Buckeye football is back in action, after last week’s game being canceled due to a coronavirus outbreak within the Maryland program. As of now, the Hoosiers are first in the Big East Division because of the extra game and the Buckeyes are ready to attack the objective this weekend and keep their championship hopes alive.

When the Big Ten reinstated the season, and the shortened schedule was announced, no one had eyes on the Hoosiers coming into Columbus. Frankly, this noon kickoff on FOX against the 9th ranked Hoosiers is the biggest regular-season game for the Buckeyes.


Tom Allen, and his enthusiastic Hoosiers started their season off with a thrilling 36-35 overtime victory against Penn State and have not looked back since. Winning their next three games against Rutgers, Michigan, and Michigan State convincingly with a combined score of 99-41.

The Hoosiers offense is led by Sophomore quarterback Michael Penix Jr. who has looked like a true leader throwing for 1070 yards to go with 9 touchdowns this season. Penix threw for 25-38, 320 yards, 2 touchdowns, and 2 INTs last weekend vs the Spartans.

The key matchup to watch is how the Buckeye secondary covers star wide receiver Ty Fryfogle. Fryfogle was last week’s Big Ten offensive Player of the Week after having 11 receptions for 200 yards, and 2 touchdowns. Fryfogle also had a monster game against the Wolverines the week before with 7 receptions, 142 yards and 1 touchdown.

Along with the offense, this Hoosiers defense is no joke as they lead the Big Ten in interceptions (10), and sacks (12). The Hoosiers are tied for second nationally in turnover margin at plus-2 per game.


Fryfogle, and the Indiana receivers have been a huge threat for opposing defenses all year long. The Buckeye secondary has received criticism for their play in this early season, but look for Shaun Wade, Sevyn Banks, and the rest of the Buckeye secondary to respond in a major way with a big task ahead.

As we know, Justin Fields is off to an astonishing start to the 2020 season, having the same number of touchdowns as he has incompletions (11), with a near perfect 87 percent completion. Heisman hopeful Fields looks to improve his resume against a talented Hoosier defense.

The Buckeyes are waiting for a running game to emerge at a high level with both running backs still splitting carries. Master Teague III and Trey Sermon are both averaging a little 5 yards per carry (Teague 4.5, Sermon 4.8), but neither has established as the main back for the Buckeyes.

With that being said, left guard Harry Miller, and the offensive-line look to improve this week from the multiple penalties they were called for against the Scarlet-Knights two weeks ago. Miller was called for holding on multiple occasions but is learning and teammates look for him to bounce back. Center Josh Myers met with the media this week saying. “It’s not an easy thing to do, to be a young guy starting,” Myers said. “It took our offensive even last year a couple weeks to get rolling and looking like a solid unit together.”


The Buckeyes have won 24 straight games over Indiana. The Hoosiers last victory against the Buckeyes came in the year of 1988. The Buckeyes have averaged 42.2 points per game in the past 10 meetings with the Hoosiers. Although this is IU’s highest rank (9) ever facing the Buckeyes look for Ryan Day and his team not to take this game lightly and come out hungry.



Buckeyes-Knights Clash

Ohio State will be playing its first game under the lights this 2020 season at Ohio Stadium as the Buckeyes clash with the Rutgers Scarlet Knights Saturday at 7:30 p.m. on the Big Ten Network.

The environment in the Shoe won’t have the fiery, loud atmosphere it usually gets during past prime time games due to the no fan rule. With that being said, the Buckeyes are heavily favored in the matchup.

Since meeting in 2014. Ohio State has won 6 in a row, including all games being won by 35 plus averaging 46.5 points in those matchups.

The Scarlet Knights head coach, Greg Schiano returns to Columbus. Schiano has not faced a Ryan Day coached team, and so far, so good for this Buckeye group to start the 2020 season as it continues their quest for a championship.

This Rutgers team is different than years past. The Scarlet Knights head into Columbus already winning a road game which they haven’t done in years past, beating Michigan State 38-27. The Knights followed that up with a 37-21 loss to No. 17 Indiana but showed flashes of good plays throughout.

The Scarlet Knights are led by Nebraska-transfer dual threat quarterback Noah Vedral, who has 299 yards and 3 touchdowns on the season.

Justin Fields looks to continue his dominance this Saturday. Fields has an incredible QBR of 97.2 (1st in the nation) to go along with 594 yards, and 6 touchdowns. There’s no denying Fields will look to continue his Heisman campaign Saturday night. In company with Fields, wide receivers Chris Olave and Garrett Wilson set an all-time Ohio State record. For the second straight game, each of them accounted for 100+ yards receiving. Olave and Wilson look to keep it rolling come game time.

Since clashing with the Scarlet Knights in 2014, the Buckeyes have only not scored 50 plus points one time. (in 2015, when the score was 49-7). Schiano’s team has improved greatly from years past, look for the Buckeyes to continue their dominance this season.


Ohio State K Blake Haubeil and TE Jake Hausmann will not be active for the game.



#MOTSAGRising: Conquering White Out-less Happy Valley


At The Men of the Scarlet and Gray, we were due to get into the Podcast scene and due to technical issues–we will hold off for about a week until we prepare for it. For now, I am doing it old-school and just bear with me.

As you know, our team has a ton of rising stars and I haven’t been writing that much, but I make it up by upping the tweeting to ensure you are all entertained. Today, it is a post game reaction and I am going to do my best to follow in the Stat Masters step (looking at you Jeremiah!). Here we go.

Saturday night, in the Prime Time TV slot #3 ranked Ohio State faced the #18 team in the land Penn State in a COVID styled White Out minus the mass amount of fans in the stands. Due to the state of the nation and how they are combating the global pandemic–the fans have been narrowed down to family members and cardboard cutouts were in the seats. An odd environment indeed in a collision between two teams with a ton of history.

The past three or four contests have been fire and this one went in the Buckeyes’ favor early and then the Nittany Lions offense showed up to make it interesting despite eventually losing by double-digits. This game always was exciting for both sides and they have been so close over the past couple of seasons. In a game that is not considered a real rivalry game–these games always have a lot on the line.

For perspective, Ohio State and Penn State, although deemed a “Rivalry Game” have played a total of 34 times. The inaugural game was played in 1913 and they began the rivalry by winning the first four meet with the Buckeyes with a margin of 81-13. The early years of this rivalry saw Penn State take win after win, but as of late–the Buckeyes overtook them for the overall lead in the series. Ohio State leads the series 20-14 and the Buckeyes just won their fourth straight. Fun fact: The Buckeyes have also tied Notre Dame’s 10 road game win streak against ranked teams. If Michigan State continues their upward trend–they could break that in East Lansing, but this season has been difficult to get a beat on.

Now back to the game itself, the Buckeyes started fast and with urgency as they quickly shot up to a 14-0. They looked calm and poised, but after a Penn State Field Goal–they kind of took their foot off of the pedal and went into the half with what looked like a 14-3 lead. Not so fast my friend (Lee Corso voice) on a fourth and short, Fields took a knee to drain the clock, but left a second that led to another kick for three. The Buckeyes were already in the locker room before being returned to the field and you could hear and see the frustration by a late start of the play clock.

In the second half, the Nittany Lions turned it up and Jahan Dotson had a game against Shaun Wade. He finished with 8 catches, 144 yards and 3 scores in what was a highlight reel type of performance for him against a likely 1st Round talent in Wade. The Buckeyes definitely attacked the secondary in the second half and they rattled off 24 more points in the second half.

Buckeye Stickers

Justin Fields continues to tear it up as he finished 28 for 34, for 318 yards and 4 scores. Although he took a huge hit from his blindside–he quickly popped up but we all took a collective exhale. In the Big 10, Fields is 3rd in passing yards and is tied for 1st with 6 TD’s. He will face a renewed Rutgers team with a familiar face, which would make things interesting to say the least.

Master Teague and Trey Sermon haven’t been playing well, but they are starting to put things together. Together, they combined for 166 total yards and a score, much improved from 89 from last week. They are finding holes and it is only up from here. Things obviously need to improve, but for now give them their sticker!

The Olave and Wilson connection is still going strong and they went off again in week 2. Both receivers went over 100 yards receiving and now they are 4th and 2nd in the Big 10. This connection between both of these studs and Fields is crazy and it is looking like Wilson is having his breakout season while teams focus on Olave. This duo is so valuable and they take the attention off of the other pass catchers so they could make plays. They deserve the recognition so far!

The Slobs also did well cutting their total sacks surrendered in half to two this game. A brutal blindside sack and a coverage sack is better than the four from two weeks ago. The O-Line showed up and contained the Parsons-less defense that usually gives teams fits. They looked strong and mauled the D-Line and pushed them back. They is more room for improvement, but the increase in yardage is a good sign of things to come.

Lastly, the Buckeye front seven showed you why they are one of the best groups of unheralded players in the nation. A bunch of forgotten players that were buried in the depth chart, the Rushmen were disruptive and played well racking up the sacks and spooking Clifford. 5 sacks with 3 going to Tommy Togiai. Cooper and Harrison combined for a sack and Jean-Baptiste gathered the last sack.

Room For Improvement

The Special Teams unit could improve. With two missed Field Goals inside of the 20, they need to be better. Haubeil and DiMaccio combined for 1 of 3 with Haubeil leaving with a groin injury on his only attempt. Punting was also an issue. Two punts with two touchbacks with one that should have been downed in the 5. Robinson bounced it off of his knee with Olave around and they gave up valuable field position. These things need to be cleaned up if they truly want to control every phase of the game.

The secondary looked bad and they were exposed by Jahan Dotson. He made them look some type of way with the cushion they gave them. Slants and streaks worked for a bit and they need to improve because that will be on film for other teams to try to do the same. They didn’t do terrible, but they didn’t do well either. The upside is Hooker (Malik’s little brother) had a key takeaway that swung the door closed on Penn State’s comeback hopes. That is encouraging to say the least.