Ohio State Basketball: Contenders

With 11 minutes to go in the first half, the Ohio State Buckeyes went down 20-10 against Minnesota during the Big Ten’s Super Saturday.  The best player in the Big Ten, Keita Bates-Diop, was struggling from the floor, and the OSU defense couldn’t handle Minnesota’s Jordan Murphy and his game down low.  However, through their slump, the Buckeyes stayed committed to playing physical basketball and taking advantage of every opportunity.

The very first points on the board came off a steal that led to an easy transition dunk for Bates-Diop.  This was a preface of things to come, because, even though at times they weren’t getting the ball in the hoop, the Buckeyes continued to force turnovers.  In fact, they ended the game with 10 steals and 22 points off of 15 Minnesota turnovers.

Ohio State’s second made shot was a transition layup that was set up by a Sweet n’ Low bounce pass from CJ Jackson to Kam Williams.  This was another fast scoring opportunity made possible, not because of outstanding offensive playmaking, but because they were playing smart, tough Ohio State basketball. The Buckeyes finished with 11 assists.

The third score for the OSU came after CJ Jackson missed a 3 pointer from the corner.  He followed his miss and came up with an offensive rebound that put him right next to the hoop with a wide open shot.  Jackson’s floater put his team ahead 6-2.  OSU finished with 12 offensive rebounds.

Unfortunately, after a few layups underneath to make the score 11-10, the shots stopped falling.

The Golden Gophers went on a 9-0 run and took their ten point lead.  This left the fans that had made the long trek up to NYC wonder whether it looked like, perhaps, the Buckeyes didn’t have the magic.  Maybe they were having an off day, or this talented Minnesota team was just finally finding their stride again.  Maybe Ohio State had been overachieving for the last few weeks, and they were finally falling back to earth.  Either way, OSU was struggling and their opponent was surging.

Of course, we all watched the game so we know how it ends.  The Buckeyes saved the first half doing the same things that they had been doing through the first 9 minutes of the game.  They kept forcing turnovers, they kept making good passes, they kept getting rebounds, on both the offensive and defensive ends, and eventually, someone’s shot went in.

All of the sudden the floodgates opened to reveal the January Buckeyes once more.

Steal, pass, score;
block, pass, pass, score;
inside, outside, score;
steal, pass, miss, offensive rebound, put back, score;

Ohio State took the lead and then took a commanding lead and then they started dominating.  A 10 point deficit turned into a 12 point lead and the score was 34-22.  A 24 to 2 scoring run in which the Buckeyes dominated every facet of the game– shooting, defending, rebounding, passing– and they did it with Keita on the bench for 5 minutes.

This team believes it’s one of the best teams in the country.  After taking care of business at Rutgers, holding off a late surge from Northwestern, and obliterating Minnesota in Madison Square Garden, they come home with an 8-0 conference record and a top-15 ranking.  Their four-game homestretch, starting tonight with Nebraska, comes at the perfect time, giving the Buckeyes an opportunity to flex their muscles against the middle of the Big Ten in preparation for what could be a Top-10 matchup at Purdue on February 7th.

Chris Holtmann has put this team in a position to do something that they haven’t done since the 2012-2013 season: hold a top 10 ranking in January.  If they win their next four games, they will own a 21-4 record, including a 12-0 start to conference play.  Four games is a tall task, especially with the physicality of the Big Ten, but Ohio State has shown that it has the coaches, players and drive to do it. The next step is Nebraska, and then Penn State and Indiana and Illinois.

Keita Bates-Diop has come back down to earth after his four-game “prove-it” tour, but Ohio State hasn’t.  The Buckeyes are still dominating teams, still proving that they are not just “the surprise of the season” as every major sports publication is dubbing them.  They want everyone to know that they aren’t overachieving.  They are contenders.

Their next step is Nebraska, but this Buckeye team has its sights set higher.

Offseason Blues: The Signal Callers

From the time the clock hit zeroes at the Cotton Bowl, the reality began to set in after JT Barrett’s last game in the scarlet and gray.  The end was inevitable and you could see it on his face.  Coach Meyer will be starting over in his quest for Barrett’s successor at the Quarterback position to run his offense to his liking and to the standard of previous starters.

The age-old argument, of who should and shouldn’t be starting will die down, but for how long will the silence last?  Barrett started due to his ability to flatly win ball games, no matter how pretty or ugly the win was achieved, he won them with his style of play.

Now, we are looking at a changing of the guard that places four new hopefuls that are looking to succeed Barrett and catch Coach Meyer’s eye.  It will surely be a battle and it will be fierce, but may the best man win.

Dwayne Haskins

Haskins has the inside track in this quarterback battle, often spelling JT Barrett and earning the primary backup spot for the entirety of the year.  He did pretty well and opened some eyes during both, mop up duty and during the TTUN game where he rocketed a pass through defenders, for a sorely needed first down conversion while Barrett sat out with an injury.

Haskins has the arm strength, which is why I’d say half Buckeye Nation fans were adamant and just downright negative about Barrett remaining the starter.  He is a decent runner, but he isn’t as fleet-footed as JT, but there will be no need for that many QB runs this season because Haskins can fling it with accuracy and velocity.  Barrett is now out of the picture (God bless his heart) and now hopefully Haskins learned from him during his time there.

The offense under Haskins will be scary if he figures it out early and with a full complement of Zone 6 returning for one more go, along with both Tote Nation stars, the balance will return to Ohio State.  It will only be a matter of time.

Joe Burrow

Burrow is a bit of a wildcard in this equation.  He led early as for backup duties, but an injury to his hand cost him in the end.  There have been rumors about a potential transfer, but nothing has been confirmed, yet.

Like Haskins, he can throw and is just as accurate, but during spot duty, he was up and down during those games.  He isn’t terrible, but this spring game will be fun and it will tell a lot about both competitors.

Personally, I don’t think a transfer is in the cards just yet, and even if he becomes the backup, he will stay until he graduates, then becoming a graduate transfer would be in the cards.  This is just my opinion, so don’t shoot the messenger and I have no inside knowledge, just thinking logically.

Tate Martell

Martell is another wildcard in the quarterback competition.  His skill set is pretty similar to JT, being a dual-threat, but he can throw better.  Tate is shifty and he is deadly accurate when he is set or on the run, which makes him the dark horse this spring.

Martell went out on a limb and pretty much guaranteed a CFB Championship game berth next season.  I think if the teams gels quickly, it is definitely possible, but with CFB, you never truly know what will happen.  They all just need to focus and play hard every single game, and whatever happens, happens.  The goals are set and it is up to the team to put their nose on the grindstone and work for what they want to achieve.

Matthew Baldwin

Baldwin will be the new kid on the block and he will most likely see a redshirt year, to be honest.  He suffered a major injury during the playoffs, and I am positive that the injury would not be completely healed.

After viewing his Hudl footage, this kid is a beastly addition to a talented quarterback room.  He can throw from everywhere on the field and is deadly accurate.  I was in awe and I was pleased that the coaches took him over Emory Jones, who was committed until things happened.  Things happen for a reason, but we got another gem in the rough.


This battle is far from over, but this year’s competition will be one to watch because the future of the program is at stake.  You cannot go wrong with any name in this talented quarterback room, but one will win out in the end.

Each signal-caller brings an arm and accuracy, with decent mobility with the exception of Martell and Baldwin.  The passing game and balance will be the focus this year, with fewer quarterback runs.  It will be an exciting change for the team that is looking for a new leader.


Ohio State Football: The Sinister Six?

Parris Campbell

Terry McLaurin

Johnnie Dixon

KJ Hill

Binjimen Victor

Austin Mack


Six names. Six pass catchers.  Six young men that spent all of last year running around the field decked in Scarlet and Gray, waiting for passes that would never come.  Not one of them was in the Top 80 in receptions last year, or in the Top 100 in receiving yardage or yards per game.  On an Ohio State team that was tied for third in the country in Passing Touchdowns, there was not one receiver that a generic college football fan would recognize, not one receiver that would be worth a look until at least the 4th round of the NFL Draft.  So today, I am going to examine our beloved “Zone 6” from recruitment until now and see if it isn’t more of a Sinister 6 (for those of you who don’t know, the Sinister Six are a group of Spiderman bad guys that teamed up and then got their butts whooped one-by-one).


Parris Campbell
RS Senior – 4 Star, 22nd WR (class of 2014)
H-Back – 6’1″, 208 lbs.
2017 – 40 rec, 584 yds, 3 TDs (10 car, 132 yds, 1 TD; 9 kick ret, 329 yds)
Career – 53 rec, 704 yds, 3 TDs (14 car, 186 yds, 2 TDs; 30 kick ret, 913 yds)


Terry McLaurin
RS Senior – 4 Star, 36th WR (class of 2014)
WR-Z – 6’1″, 204 lbs.
2017 – 29 rec, 436 yds, 6 TDs
Career – 40 rec, 550 yds, 8 TDs


Johnnie Dixon
RS Senior – 4 Star, 9th WR (class of 2014)
WR-Z – 5’11”, 195 lbs.
2017 – 18 rec, 422 yds, 8 TDs
Career – 25 rec , 477 yds, 8 TDs


KJ Hill
RS Junior – 4 Star, 16th WR (class of 2015)
H-Back – 6’0″, 198
2017 – 56 rec, 549 yds, 3 TDs (6 kick ret, 150 yds; 26 punt ret, 144 yds)
Career – 74 rec, 811 yds, 4 TDs (7 kick ret, 156 yds; 26 punt ret, 144 yds)


Binjimen Victor
Junior – 4 Star, 12th WR (class of 2016)
WR-X – 6’4″, 195
2017 – 23 rec, 349 yds, 7 TDs
Career – 27 rec, 413 yds, 8 TDs


Austin Mack
Junior – 4 Star, 9th WR (class of 2016)
WR-X – 6’2″, 215
2017 – 24 rec, 343 yds, 2 TDs
Career – 26 rec, 358 yds, 2 TDs


Ohio State Basketball: Post-Game Overreaction by Jesse M. Brake

It has been mere moments since Andre Wesson put the nail in the coffin against a solid Rutgers defense (not so much with the offense), and it’s occurred to me that there may be a good metaphor for this Buckeyes team.  Early in the broadcast, the commentators were talking about Jae’Sean Tate and how he is a do-everything type of player, a Swiss Army Knife, and, while that is a good description of what Jae’Sean does for Ohio State, it is an even better metaphor for the Basketball Buckeyes as a whole.

This team is a Swiss Army Knife.

Now, I obviously don’t expect you to believe me without any evidence, so to prove it to you, so let me give you some numbers.  (Prepare yourself for Too Much Information.)  The Buckeyes’ offense is the 28th rated team in KenPom Adjusted Efficiency and their defense is rated 30th in Adjusted Efficiency.  There are only 9 teams in the country— including Ohio State— that are rated in the Top 30 nationally in both categories.

According to teamrankings.com, the Buckeyes are 19th in Shooting%, 28th in Effective Field Goal % and 32nd in True Shooting % while remaining in the Top 75 in all defensive Shooting categories.  They are in the Top 30% of all teams in Block Percentage, Top 20% in Rebound Rate, Assists per Game and Assist/Turnover Ratio and they are among the best in the nation at not allowing opposing teams to get easy points in the paint.

What all of those statistics mean is that this is an adaptable team. Against Michigan State, we saw this Buckeyes team not allow Sparty to penetrate the lane or get anything inside, forcing a team that was struggling shooting from the field to take a lot of outside shots.  OSU also took advantage of Michigan State’s tendency to turn the ball over, forcing 12 TOs and making the most of transition scoring opportunities.  They did all this while still playing their basic, high-effort man-to-man defense.

The next game, against a Maryland team missing important playmakers, they held firm on defense through a slow start shooting until they were able to get better, more open looks.  From there, they scored and scored while the undermanned Terrapins had no offensive response.  The Buckeyes tied the school record for most 3 Pointers made in a game with 17, and 8 different players made at least one shot from beyond the arc.

Tonight, against this stingy and plodding Rutgers defense, the Buckeyes slowed everything up and locked down the inside, forcing one of the worst shooting teams in the country to dribble around for 25 seconds and then throw up deep 2s and 3s all night.

With three unique victories against three completely different teams, Ohio State is showing itself to be a matchup nightmare.  This team is showing itself to be a Swiss Army Knife that can find your weakness and take advantage of it, or that can beat you at your own game.  They have CJ Jackson, who is just like the tiny knife on the backside of the tool, swooping in for layups, assists, and rebounds.  They also have Keita Bates-Diop, the big main knife that will cut you to the bone if you’re not paying attention and can be used for many things.  Not to mention they’ve got Micah Potter; he’s that curvy thing that looks like a bottle opener, but it can’t be because there’s already another bottle opener, so you just use it to pry things.

There’s a little something for every situation with these Basketball Buckeyes, and the more I see of this team, the more credit I give to the Coach.  Holtmann has molded this team into something competitive and fun to watch, which brings me to my overreaction:  Ohio State is not just a tournament team, they are a good tournament team, and they are a dark horse to make it to the Final Four THIS SEASON.  If they can get past Purdue, they might even be able to win the Big Ten too.

Scarlet Letter: Saying Goodbye To A Legend

Dec 29, 2017; Arlington, TX, USA; Ohio State Buckeyes quarterback J.T. Barrett (16) celebrates after the game against the USC Trojans in the 2017 Cotton Bowl at AT&T Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

As the clock reaches zeroes and the confetti pours down from above, an Ohio State legend gallops into the sunset after his final game donning the scarlet and gray.  It is surely, a bittersweet moment amid an average performance by JT Barrett, but the emotions of this final moment will vary among the fan base.

Two sides of the same coin, the intensity of the arguments can be felt across the nation, and it suddenly turns Buckeye fans against each other, when we should be celebrating his accomplishments and what he has done for the team–instead of nitpicking at his flaws.

JT Barrett has done so much for the university, and yes, while championships are the goal, sometimes the season just plays out differently, leading to the team underachieving, but that is football for you.  Sometimes it does not go your way.  Do not let the lack of championships obstruct your view of JT and his accomplishments because he has done more in his five-year stint at Ohio State than most players that played the position.

He has more wins than any other Buckeye signal caller, after besting Art Schlicter’s age-old record for wins with his 44th win as a starter against 6 losses, and he was the only Buckeye to go 4-0 against TTUN.  As mind-boggling as it has been through the years with his ups and his downs, his strengths and his weaknesses, he still managed to win.  It wasn’t always pretty, and he always took over when he had to, but he flat out played to win.

Unfortunately, a small portion of the fanbase is unwilling to appreciate his efforts often pointing to the Iowa game, where the offense under Barrett struggled mightily as they were blown out by 31 points.  This 31 point loss was the deciding factor that put eventual Champion Alabama in over Ohio State.  Ever since that loss, the appreciation was not the same for Barrett or the team.

This is what is so frustrating about our fanbase–they are too spoiled and they expect too much to the point to where it is unrealistic and unattainable.  You cannot expect Ohio State to win every game, you cannot expect the home teams to just lay down just because your Ohio State, and you cannot expect them not to give you their best shot when you come around because you are a brand name in CFB–a blueblood program.  Iowa definitely dished out the haymaker or knockout punch in the beginning, and it all just went downhill from there, but the team fought tirelessly until the end.

Yes, the playcalling caters to Barrett’s strengths and they are semi-conservative.  There is no pop or explosiveness to the offense.  He was inaccurate and inconsistent, the playcalling was limited and uninspiring, they forgot about their RB’s, and they often called nothing but short passes and RPO’s that often lead to Barrett rushes for the rest of the season.

I get it, I fell in love with the Buckeyes in 2006 during my first enlistment in the Air Force coming in from Guam, during the Troy Smith era.  They had so much excitement and explosiveness on offense, it was always a treat to watch them shred teams with their unpredictability.  I miss it, but it is a different era, different Quarterback.  Hopefully, the next man up will provide the same spark on offense, but we need to take the time to appreciate his accomplishments and achievements during his time as a Buckeye.

There is no more need for slander because he is gone.  He has done too much for us to go out with negativity like I have seen.  He is a Buckeye, he was a great leader, a competitor, a winner, and a legend.  Let JT Barrett ride off into the sunset in peace.  Send him off on a high note and let his memory bring you joy instead of pure vitriol for what he failed to do and just focus on the positives.

I know that this won’t change the overall perception or view of Barrett, but I have had enough of the negativity.  It was fun while it lasted, but the next man up will take over another deep and talented offense.  Thank you JT for all you have done, God bless you and I hope that you succeed at the next level, whether it is as a player or a coach.  Go Bucks!

Big Ten
45 – Touchdowns responsible for, season
7 – Freshman of the week awards, season                                                                                      9423 – Total Yardage, career

Ohio State
233 – Completions, season (2016)
529 – Completions, career
6 – Touchdown passes, games (2 times)
34 – Touchdown passes, season (2014)
69 – Touchdown passes, career
177.2 – Passing Yards per game, career
18 – 200-yard passing games, career
169.8 – Passing efficiency, season (2014)
3,772 – Total yards, season (2014)
314.3 – Average total offensive yards, season (2014)
245.7 – Average total offensive yards, career
7 – Touchdowns responsible for, game (BGSU, 2016)
45 – Touchdowns responsible for, season (2014)
100 – Touchdowns responsible for, career
11 – Games gaining 200 yards total offense, season (2 times)
26 – Games gaining 200 yards total offense, career
7 – Games gaining 300 yards total offense, season (2014)
14 – Games gaining 300 yards total offense, career
1 – Games gaining 400 or more yards total offense, season
11 – Most wins by first-year starting QB
189 – Rushing yards by a QB, game (Minnesota, 2014)
86 – Longest rush by a QB (Minnesota, 2014)


2014 12-12 938 2834 3772 314.3
2015 11-5 682 992 1674 152.2
2016 12-12 847 2428 3275 272.9
Totals 35-29 2467 6254 8721 249.2

Completions……………………… 28 at Penn State (10/22/16)
Attempts…………………………… 43 at Penn State (10/22/16)
Yards Passing……………………. 349 vs. Bowling Green (9/3/16)
TD passes…………………………. *6 (2x) last vs. Bowling Green (9/3/16)
Longest Completion……………. 80 vs. Navy (8/30/14)
Yards Rushing…………………… *189 at Minnesota (11/25/14)
Rushing Attempts………………. 30 vs. Michigan (11/26/16)
Longest Rush…………………….. *86/TD at Minnesota (11/25/14)
Rushing TDs……………………… 2 (6x) last at Wisconsin (10/15/16)
Total Offense…………………….. 409 vs. Cincinnati (9/27/14)
Total Touchdowns……………… *7 vs. Bowling Green (9/3/16)
*Indicates school records; ^School QB records


The Basketball Buckeyes Are Back by Jesse M. Brake

With three and a half minutes left in the first half and the Ohio State Men’s Basketball Team up on Maryland 34 – 24, Senior Forward Jae’Sean Tate drove into the paint from the right wing.  The defense collapsed, leaving former walk-on and former Wolverine wide open for three in the corner.

With an opportunity to shoot, Andy Dakich, the graduate transfer from Michigan, took it and drained his third triple of the night.  The trio of 3 pointers gave him the same amount against Maryland as he made during his entire 3 year career at Michigan, while also putting Buckeyes up 13 in a game they would go on to dominate in the second half.

The Ohio State possession I just described is indicative of what this team has grown to become over the last few weeks.  There is no argument over who the best player is, nor is there an argument about the amount of talent on the roster.

Forward Keita Bates-Diop, the Big Ten scoring leader, is now in many minds the favorite to win Big Ten Player of the Year honors, but after Keita, there doesn’t seem to be any clear NBA-level talents on the roster.  This general lack of elite talent means Ohio State should have issues matching up against top teams, and in the early part of the season we saw exactly that play out.

The Buckeyes could not keep up with teams like Gonzaga and UNC.  They struggled to string together stops and to make the tough shots.  The other issue that gave many fans doubts about this team was a serious lack of leadership over the past two years.  Throw in a controversial head coach firing and the late hour at which it occurred and you get a team that many were worried could struggle with identity, decision-making, mental toughness or any number of off-court issues.

The early losses to Butler and Clemson, both coming after holding double-digit leads late in the second half, seemed to confirm our suspicions that this would be a rebuilding year.  Everything seemed to be pointing toward another unexciting season for Ohio State basketball, except one thing… They beat everybody else.

There were no losses to Florida Atlantic.  There were no losses to UT Arlington or Louisiana Tech.  Even more impressive were their early season Big Ten wins, handing Wisconsin its worst loss ever in the Kohl Center, 83-58, and then beating a solid Michigan team at home.

After a loss to #5 UNC in the CBS Sports Classic, the Buckeyes beat Miami (OH) and Iowa, and entered a matchup against the #1 team in the country with an undefeated conference record.  The team had done what it needed to do.  They weren’t surprising anyone too much yet, but, if you were really paying attention, you saw a team that was gelling.

They had their ups and downs, but under Head Coach Chris Holtmann, they were improving every single game. And so, the Basketball Buckeyes beat #1 Michigan State.  The reason they won is the same reason why this team is so much fun to watch.

They did it with the little things and one big thing.  This team is a team that plays hard on every play.  They fight for loose balls. They clog up passing lanes. They make the extra pass on offense and they’re all learning to take the open shot.

Of course it helps that they have a Keita they can feed when no one else’s shots are falling, but against Michigan State and again against Maryland the reason Bates-Diop was so extremely effective was because players like Kam Williams, CJ Jackson and even Andrew Dakich were stepping up to make plays when the defense sold out to stop their star player.

Over the last couple years, the complaints piling up against this team were many, but most of them boiled down to a team that didn’t care. This team plays like they care, and when good teams play like they care, they win games.  It also helps that Andy Dakich is draining threes.

Urban’s Two Car Garage

With Mike Weber hinting at a return for one more year with the Scarlet and Gray, we can now officially continue one of the most interesting debates of the 2017 season: can Mike Weber and JK Dobbins co-exist in Ohio State’s offense or will 2018 turn into a Fast and Furious style race to the finish? Conventional wisdom tells us that a team can never have too much talent, however, as we saw with the JT vs. Cardale debacle in 2015, the outcome of games is not based on how much talent is on the roster, but on how that talent is managed.

Over the course of the last 6 months, we have all been witness to the unfolding of a new saga. On one end of this story, we had the grisly veteran with a growling v8 under the hood. Here was a guy who had replaced an all-time great and was fresh off a somehow under-the-radar 1000 yard freshman season, but who was battling a preseason injury. On the other, we had an untested, yet highly rated true freshman powered by an imported prototype hybrid V12 engine, who had fought his own injury troubles to get onto the field. It was under these circumstances that Ohio State’s season began, with JK Dobbins thrust into the limelight, an inexperienced starter with no veteran backup options. Dobbins exploded onto the scene, with 29 carries and 181 yards in his first ever start. This freshman revelation led many to wonder what the coaches were going to do with Weber when he returned from injury. Was he going to lose his starting job or would he be slotted back in and pick up where he left off in 2016?

When Mike Weber returned to the lineup, it was immediately apparent that he was not being used in his former role. He still wasn’t 100%. And so, as the weeks continued along and the games in which he didn’t play (or was severely underused) piled up, a lot of fans forgot about Mike Weber as we were being wowed by this young, prancing colt in JK Dobbins who was galloping up and down the field. What we were seeing in Weber was a young man with a rugged and classic style of running who had been outshone in his first year as a starter by the versatility and game-breaking ability of Curtis Samuel and now in his second was being overshadowed by a true freshman that seemed like he had electronic traction control and lightning in his shoes.

Of course, the season didn’t end after the UNLV game, and Weber returned during the cupcake section of the Buckeye’s schedule.  In these games, it seemed like Urban, Kevin Wilson and Tony Alford were content to use the two backs in the exact same role, just trading them out every quarter to make sure they both had fresh legs in the 4th.  However, they were still growing into their own roles in the offense. Dobbins was able to create plays in the run game, and opening up holes for quarterback JT Barrett while in scoring position. Weber found his yards in between the tackles and in short yardage situations, including on the goal line. These new roles showed in the statistics, as Dobbins averaged 85 yards per game and had 4 touchdowns over the first 3 games of the Big Ten Schedule. In the same time frame, Weber averaged 61.7 YPG and added 4 touchdowns of his own. Bam! Ohio State had found its offense on the backs of two horses at tailback, one that could weave and one that could roar, and a quarterback that would take anything the defense would give him. What we thought we were seeing was a clearer definition of roles, however, both the Penn State and the Iowa game proved that no one really had any idea what this Ohio State team was. What these games did seem to show, each in their own way, was that Dobbins was becoming the clear number one tailback and Weber was once again fading into the background. This all lasted about a week until we were all once again proven wrong.

In the Michigan State game, the entire country saw what this Ohio State offense was supposed to look like under Urban Meyer and Kevin Wilson: a three-headed rushing attack with JT Barrett, JK Dobbins and Mike Weber pounding the front seven of opposing defenses along with weapons on the outside to keep the defensive front honest. It was an offense in which you could try to reign in the horses, but one would always break free. The Spartans could attempt to stop Dobbins, and so they were gashed by JT. Then they tried to stop JT, and Weber was able to run free like a stallion down the middle of the field, breaking touchdown runs of 47- and 82-yards. Both Dobbins and Weber had a great game, Dobbins as an every down type of back and Weber as a change of pace battering ram with surprising, yet elite top end speed. All Ohio State got out of it was a 48-3 victory over a Top-15 team. This was the team everyone was expecting when Kevin Wilson was hired in the offseason.

The Illinois game saw Mike Weber take another step forward in production, once again outgaining Dobbins in a blowout, however, after playing reasonably well against Michigan, something seemed to change for the coaches. After averaging 10+ carries and 100+ yards as well as more than 1.5 TDs per game over the last 3 games of the regular season, Weber had 4 carries for 6 yards in the Big Ten Championship and 5 carries for 18 yards in the Cotton Bowl. Granted, Wisconsin had one of the best defenses in the country in 2017 and USC sold out to stop the run game, but even so, JK Dobbins had 17 carries for 174 yards against Wisconsin and 13 carries for 39 yards against USC. The coaches had apparently made up their mind about what Mike Weber was and is.

Basically what we’re talking about are two completely different runners, like two different sports cars. JK Dobbins is an Italian import– a Ferrari– agile with some freakish off the line get-up-and-go. Like the Ferrari, he takes the corners extremely well and can excite you every time he fires that engine up. Mike Weber is a classic American muscle car– a Mustang– powerful and gritty, but when you open it up, fast as the wind. He was built for the quarter mile and he’ll fly if he’s got room to go, but he’s not as fancy as the Ferrari in the corners. And now, with Demario McCall and the newest model, Jaelen Gill, looking like they’ll be pushing for touches, along with Antonio Williams and the highly touted freshman tailback class that the coaches brought in for 2018, Urban’s garage is getting smaller and smaller. The problem is, Ferraris are made by a racecar manufacturer with racing technology, while Mustangs are made by a truck manufacturer. Unfortunately for Mike Webber, it looks like Urban is going to try to ride his Scarlet Ferrari to a National Championship in 2018.

Goodyear Cotton Bowl Classic: Position Battles (Part III)

With this matchup being approximately a week away the focus will be on the defensive position battles between Ohio State and USC.  This matchup will feature Ohio State and their Top 10 defensive unit against a reinvigorated defense that has won 5 straight.

Defensive Line:

The Rushmen package that Coach Johnson has installed has worked tremendously well for the Silver Bullets.  The combination of Bosa, Lewis, Holmes, and Hubbard will be used to solely to disrupt Sam Darnold and cause chaos.  It has worked for most of the season, and why not go back to the well.

The depth and talent of the players on Ohio State’s bench are ridiculous, and most, if not all of them are starters at any other school in the nation.  That is the best part about having such a coach like Coach Johnson on to mentor them.

In the interior, Sprinkle and Jones will start the game with Hill and Landers relieving them when they get tired, and they are a pretty talented group of individuals who could all wreak havoc on the trenches.

They are 20th in the nation in total sacks and 13th in team tackles for loss.  They are averaging 2.85 sacks per game and 7.7 in total yards lost.  USC needs to control the trenches to succeed in this matchup because if the floodgates open, it’ll be a long day for Darnold.

Rasheem Green was once an Ohio State target when he was coming out of high school, but things did not work out.  Unlike Ohio State, who runs a 4-3, USC runs the opposite, a 3-4.  Rasheem Green, Josh Fatu, and Christian Rector all start for the Trojans, and they all are space eaters in the trenches.

USC is 6th in the nation in team sacks edging out the Ohio State’s unit with 3.31 sacks per game.  Running a different scheme has its advantages, but the Ohio State Offensive Linemen are one of the most talented groups that USC has faced, so it will have to be determined come gameday.


Both teams have an embarrassment of riches at the LB positions.  Ohio State has Baker, Borland, and Worley as starters, with Jones, Harrison, and Booker in the wings.  Together, they make a formidable trio for defenses and they are the second level behind the Rushmen.

Baker is a potential first rounder that can do it all.  In coverage, as a spy, even as a blitzer, he will do everything he can to make an impact.  Worley and Borland play well at their new positions.  Worley moved back outside while Borland took Worley’s spot in the middle, and it has worked out pretty good.

USC has quite a formidable combination at LB, and I think they are the reason why their defense has so many sacks.  The USC linemen occupy blockers while the LB’s knife through to seek out the Quarterback.

Led by Iosefa and Smith, this unit is scary good and they could give the right side of the line fits.  They are ranked as the 56th best team in the nation in tackles for loss, but I have a feeling that they will get to Barrett a lot this game due to the inconsistency of the right side, but I do not think it will be as bad as two years ago.

They will do enough to disrupt Barrett and his decision-making process, and they will most likely take the Buckeyes backs down a couple of times in the backfield.  This matchup will be between NFL Linebackers prospects, who are trying to make it to the next level.

Defensive Backs:

Denzel Ward leads another talented group of DB’s at Ohio State, along with Damon Arnette and Kendall Sheffield at Cornerback.  The definition of a shutdown corner in a long line produced by Coach Coombs, he will look to stop USC’s best playmaker on offense like he has done all season.

At Safety Damon Webb, a hard-hitting safety will patrol the top quarters along with Jordan Fuller to prevent the big plays downfield.

Collectively, BIA will be looking to prove once again that they are the Best In America by locking up USC, but Arnette and Sheffield must avoid the costly penalties that have been a problem for them this season to be successful.

Jack Jones, Iman Marshall, and Chris Hawkins lead the DB’s, and they will look to stop the Buckeye speed.  A lot of teams outside of Oklahoma and Iowa were unsuccessful in preventing the speedy WR’s from getting behind them, but they have the talent in the secondary to do so.

Like Ohio State’s starters, they will be tasked to stop a talented offense and they have the skills and the talent to certainly do so, but it is easier said then done.  Ohio State loves those crossing routes, but I feel like in order for this unit to succeed, they must stop Dobbins and Weber, and Barrett too from establishing a balance and establishing the run.

If they successfully make Ohio State one-dimensional, they will most likely have success.  If not, I think it’ll be a long day.

Position Battles:

DL:  Due to the different defensive schemes, this matchup is close.  From a talent standpoint, I will give the edge to the Buckeyes, but the production edge goes to USC.  The biggest factor will depend on which offensive line shows up.  If 2016 Ohio State shows up, USC wins easily.  If this seasons team does, Ohio State wins.  I am counting on the 2017 team to show up so I will give the slight edge to Ohio State.

LB:  Both units have a lot of talent that is starting and on the bench.  With Ohio State, they have been good, but inconsistent.  Baker tends to gamble and run himself out of position and Borland is good, but young.  USC will blitz like crazy and they have a lot of former Buckeye targets on their roster that will show up in the game.  With that, I declare this draw because there are too many variables that could swing either way.

DB:  This matchup features NFL prospects on both sides.  Ward is a lock in the 1st Round and everyone else is looking to get drafted.  Ohio State suffers from inconsistency outside of Ward, and when Arnette and Sheffield struggle, the game is almost unwatchable.  On USC’s side, Marshall and Marvell are looking to improve their draft position with a great performance against a Top 5 team and fellow conference champion.  I will give the Buckeyes the slight edge.

Special Teams:  I did not forget about this unit, but it will be an important part of the game in regards to the field position battle.  Ohio State has improved a lot over the course of the season, but USC’s unit is better in my opinion.  If USC can dominate this phase, they will be in line for an 8th straight win over the Buckeyes, but I think they finally break the streak.

Prediction:  Ohio State defeats USC 31-20

All things considered, I think the Buckeyes earn a victory in this contest.  The 7 wins in a row comment on Twitter, kind of gave the “Basic Defense” vibe and the last thing the Buckeyes need is more bulletin board material after being left out of the playoffs in favor of Bama.  I would love to see a decisive victory over USC, but I think both teams come out swinging with NFL draft positions being up for grabs.

Goodyear Cotton Bowl Classic: Position Battles (Part II)

The positions battles that I will be focusing on this week are WR, TE and the OL.  Each side has their fair share of talent and weapons.  In order to be effective, the skill positions must make plays to move the chains and keep drives alive.  In the trenches, each team needs to be flawless and they must execute to establish the run.  Quarterback play will also be a key to victory for either team.

Playmakers Galore

Deontay Burnett, Tyler Vaughns, Steven Mitchell Jr, and Michael Pittman Jr are all ballers at WR, and they will be tasked to battle Ohio State’s BIA, with Denzel Ward leading the secondary.

On the next level at TE, Tyler Petite leads the charge with former Buckeye targets Josh Falo and Daniel Imatorbhebhe are athletic enough to utilize the invisibility codes against the Buckeyes since they seem to have trouble keeping tabs on both the RB’s and the TE’s this season (a la Iowa).

Together, all the players mentioned above account for 3,133 yards and 25 TD’s, which is crazy considering who they have at the Quarterback position.  If they get lose or open, it will be a long day for the Silver Bullets for sure.

K.J. Hill will be the key Zone 6 member as he goes up against this USC team that features another set of former targets, Iman Marshall and Porter Gustin.  Hill will be the go-to receiver on third downs and Johnnie Dixon, Terry McLaurin, Binjimen Victor, Austin Mack, and Parris Campbell will be looking to make an impact as well.

At TE, Marcus Baugh will be a multipurpose threat in the passing game and the blocking game along with Rashod Berry.  Baugh was a good player coming out of high school, but injuries and being underutilized during his time here has hurt his numbers, but the last two drafts we saw Jeff Heuerman and Nick Vannett drafted by NFL teams, so the dream is alive and well.

Collectively, they account for 2989 yards and 36 TD’s, which is surprising.  Barrett won’t take that many chances, but if the play is there, they are gone!  Speed kills and with most of Zone 6 being speedy and dynamic, it will be interesting.  Victor, Berry, and Baugh are the big, strong threats, but sometimes being big and strong is all for naught because dropped balls have been a problem as of late.

Road Graders

Billy Price leads this year’s Offensive Line at Center in his last season at Ohio State.  He moved on from Guard, but the move was seamless.  Coming out of high school, Price was actually a DT for all of you who don’t follow recruiting, and with a background in wrestling, it was natural for him to thrive in the trenches.

This line is big, strong and nasty at every position, with the smallest members being Price at 6’4″, 312 lbs and next man up, Demetrious Knox, who replaced Bowen, being 6’4″, 308 lbs.  The others are 6’5″ and over, which should help in the trenches.  A season ago, the right side of the line was a major issue, but this season, they improved drastically.  Prince and Knox will be targeted more often on blitzes than Jones and Jordan, but we will have to wait to see how they respond to the pressure.

Nico Falah leads the Trojan trench warfare effort against the Rushmen.  Freshman RG Andrew Vorhees will go up against a combination of linemen that will target him because of his youth.

The average height for this line is 6’5″ with Toa Lobendahn being the shortest at 6’3″ and the tallest being Vorhees at 6’6″.  The average weight is around 300 lbs, which might be enough to at least slow down the defense.

I could not find a statistic for USC in sacks allowed, but I don’t know whether that is good or bad news for the defense.  I guess we will have to find out.

Position Battles

WR:  This battle is production versus talent.  Both teams are dead even in both categories, with slight differences in their approaches.  Ohio State has less overall yardage, but more TD’s and USC has more yards, but fewer TDs.  Both groups are going against good DB’s, but I will declare this a draw.

TE:  Baugh and Berry versus Petite, Falo, and Imatorbhebhe.  Like the WR matchup, it is a dead heat.  Both teams have athleticism in the back 7 which will be another toss-up when both teams show up.  Draw.

OL:  This matchup, in particular, will tell you a lot.  The battle in the trenches will be one to watch with all the NFL prospects participating.  Price, Jones, and Prince are eligible to improve their draft stock and the same goes for all but Vorhees on USC’s side.  The Buckeyes have seasoned members but will be going up against their first 3-4 defense of the season.  USC will go up against a 4-3 defense that has NFL prospects at all levels.  This will be the most depth and talent to date this season, and I will give the edge to Ohio State.


Goodyear Cotton Bowl Classic: Position Battles (Part I)

Bowl Season is inching closer, the 2017 College Football season regrettably is coming to an end.  The last game of the season will feature two conference champions who were not voted into this seasons College Football Playoffs in favor of non-conference champion Alabama.  Even though neither team isn’t a part of the big dance, it does not mean that this game will lack the drama, the intensity, and the sizzle of the teams that made it.

The BIG 10 Champions, the Ohio State Buckeyes finished their regular season at 11-2, with losses against Oklahoma at home by 15 and at Iowa, by a whopping 31 points to an above average team.  The Iowa loss was the Buckeyes worst conference losses to date, that I could recall, but that was the factor that eliminated them from the conversation.

The 11-2 USC Trojans were never really in the conversation even though they were crowned as the PAC 12 Champions.  They suffered both of their losses on the road, to Washington State and Notre Dame.  Their losses were not as bad as Ohio State’s, losing to Washington State late, by a FG and a 35-point throttling at the hands of the Irish.

Both teams have a lot to prove, and with an abundance of NFL talent on each team, this is a must watch.  Both teams were pre-season favorites to make the playoffs, but things happen as both are aiming to finish this season on a high note with a victory in Dallas.

Head-to-head, USC has won 13 out of 23 contests against Ohio State’s 9 and a single tie.  USC has won 7 straight and is looking to add an 8th consecutive win at the Rose Bowl.  Ohio State’s last win against the Trojans was back in 1974 under Woody Hayes.

Dynamic Duo’s

Both Ohio State and USC have a playmaker at every single level, but both teams have studs at the QB and RB positions, which will most likely attract scouts to the game.

On one side you have a surefire first round pick in Sam Darnold, a RS Sophomore and Junior Ronald Jones II competing against Fifth Year Senior, J.T. Barrett and RS Sophomore Mike Weber, with J.K. Dobbins, a talented True Freshman in the rotation.

In Darnold, you have a talented QB capable of making plays on the fly with his arm.  For the season he is 277-435 and has thrown for 3787 yards, 26 TD’s against 12 INT’s, with 100 yards on the ground and 5 TD’s.  He has a lot of talent around him at WR and TE that could give the Silver Bullets fits.

With Barrett, he is a dual-threat that tends to take over during crunch time.  He is 229-354 for 2939 yards with 35 TD’s and 9 INT’s.  He also has rushed for 732 and 10 TD’s.  He holds a variety of BIG and NCAA records, but he is a long shot in this years draft to make in on an NFL roster.  Barrett has weapons at WR and TE, but they aren’t as established as USC’s is, but they can flat out fly past defenders and make people miss for yards after the catch.

In the backfield, Ronald Jones is a load at running back with 1486 yards and 18 TD’s for the season.  Ohio State has a two-headed monster in Mike Weber and J.K. Dobbins, who combined for 1972 total yards rushing and 17 TD’s, with Dobbins becoming the the 4th Freshman at Ohio State to break the 1,000 yard mark and surpassing Weber’s mark from a season ago.

Both teams will try to impose their will against each others defenses and it will start with these two positions.  Neither team can afford to start out sloppy because the game could get out of hand quickly.  Turnovers will give the other team the edge.

Position Advantages

QB:  Objectively, I will give the slight edge at this position to USC.  Yes, Darnold is prone to turnovers, but like we saw against Washington, he is elusive in the pocket and has the awareness and accuracy and arm strength to get out of trouble.  I love Barrett, but his accuracy has been an issue this season and throwing just isn’t his strength.

RB:  Ronald Jones II is a beast, but the depth isn’t there.  Carr is a good player, but I will give Ohio State the edge at RB.  J.K. Dobbins has been a pleasant surprise this season and leads the Buckeyes in rushing, but Mike Weber has also come on as of late.  Together, they make up one of the best duo’s in College Football, and they are both looking to tear up this USC defense.  Jones is an all-purpose back, but so is Dobbins.  The deciding factor is Weber’s ability to run north and south.