BREAKING: Ohio State Lands the Country’s No. 1 Tight End

Ohio State Buckeyes’ head coach Urban Meyer has always been excellent at recruiting. A preliminary glance at the amount of his former players are on NFL rosters is evidence of that in itself. Well, add another diamond to his treasure trove of talent, as Meyer and the Buckeyes landed the country’s No. 1  tight end, Jeremy Ruckert, Monday afternoon.

The 6-5.5 238 lbs prospect out of Lindenhurst, NY was a star at ‘The Opening’, bolstering him from the country’s No. 52 ranked prospect to No. 11 in the 247sports composite rankings, and earning him a fifth star. Ruckert is the third five-star prospect to commit to Ohio State in the 2018 class, and he certainly won’t be the last.

He is a crucial pick up for the Buckeyes, as, although they have the nation’s top-ranked recruiting class at this particular moment, the one thing it lacks is people to throw the football to. In came Ruckert to help fill that void.

So, what exactly do we get in Ruckert? Well, you get a big-bodied tight end with the athleticism of a wide receiver, whose combination of route-running abilities, size, great hands, and his propensity to make secondaries look bad make him a five-star prospect.

“Updated rankings got me my 5th star.. #1 TE and #11 Overall player in the nation!! #blessed”, Ruckert said on a Twitter post last Monday. 

Yes, indeed Ruckert is blessed. However, he’s not nearly as blessed as Ohio State is after receiving a commitment from him. If the rankings remain the same (or even close to the same) come national signing day, Ruckert will be the highest ranked tight end recruit Ohio State has landed in history.

He is a big reason why Ohio State’s 2018 recruiting class will end Alabama’s six-year streak of having the No. 1 class in the country.

Until next time, God bless and GO BUCKS!

Private Jet Not Needed for Buckeyes Newest Commit

Do you remember when Quinn Nordin recently announced his commitment to Penn State? Lucky for you I have the tweet to help you.

Why am I telling you about Quinn? Apparently he is the highest rated kicker of the 2016 class that had a ton of offers but non from Urban and company. Something already doesn’t smell right here, no Buckeye offer and your the top then commit via private plane and music. That’s not what Ohio State is about. Don’t need a hashtag #WeAre when #WeAreUndisputedNationalChampions.

Last night was the Friday Night Lights Camp and coach Meyer found himself a kicker. According to Bill Landis of

Blake Haubeil stood at the 45-yard line looking into the north end zone of Ohio Stadium.

He was surrounded by a gang of Buckeyes, a group that included Urban Meyer and offensive coordinator Ed Warinner, and just behind them was the entire collection of campers at Ohio State’s Friday Night Lights camp.

While the campers got a speech from Luke Fickell, Haubeil was trying to bang 55-yard field goals with Meyer in his ear. Haubeil missed a couple, getting a smattering of applause from the few hundred fans in attendance just for the effort. Then he nailed one, and Meyer threw his hands in the air.

Urban Meyer has a thing for special teams and he has a knack for finding talent. Not offering a top kicker who seemingly is enjoying the “its about me” aspect seems right. Coach going after a hungry kid that’s a diamond in the rough is what seems to work better especially for the Scarlet and Gray.

Buckeye Nation welcome your new kicker for the 2017 class. Blake Habeil a 6’3″/200lb young man from Canisius High in Buffalo, NY.

Habeil committed after Friday Night Lights seems this he enjoys pressure and isn’t backing down from it. Love he committed with a picture of his family by his side, looks like he gets it at such a young age.

MotSaG TV Guide

All right, everybody, it’s week two! Time to stop losing to FCS schools and turning in mildly disappointing performances that do not meet all of your fans’ absurd expectations!



Sacramento State at Arizona State. Don’t worry about the late kickoff, this game isn’t likely to be on your TV anyway. So why would I include it on a list of games I think you should watch? Well, for starters, there are no other good options tonight, but more importantly, Sacramento State is one of two FCS schools who beat FBS opponents in 2011 and 2012. The other one? North Dakota State, who just beat Kansas State in last weekend’s Dawn of the Living Sisters of the Poor. Working in the Sun Devils’ favor here is the fact that Sac State got shut out by San Jose State last week. (Pac-12 Network, which is a thing I guess)



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Three Yards and a Cloud of Links

Good morning Buckeye Nation.

Running Buckeyes: Both the men’s and women’s cross country teams took first place this weekend at the Dayton Flyer 5k.

The men’s cross country team finished with 30 points beating second place IUPUI by 12 points. The Buckeyes placed 4 runners in the Top 10 with sophomore Jordan Redd crossing the finish line first overall. Redshirt sophomores Brian and Jeff Hannaford along with sophomore Nick Pupino helped the Buckeyes earn the win with their Top 10 performances.

The women’s cross country team also finished first by beating IUPUI by 29 points. The Buckeyes had 5 runners in the Top 10. Lead by freshman Jill Kanney who finished second in her first collegiate race sophomores Lexi Aughenbaugh, Minori Minagawa, and Helen Willman along with junior Katie Borches all combined to take home the top spot.

Congratulations Buckeyes on opening the season with a great performance. The Running Buckeyes will be back in action in two weeks in the B1G Preview in Lafayette, Ind.

Tournament Champions: The woman’s volleyball team finished the NIU Invitational this weekend with the championship.

The Buckeyes defeated Green Bay Saturday 3-2. Senior Kaitlyn Leary had a career best 22 kils and career high 9 digs, freshman Taylor Sanbothe had 15 kills and 5 aces, sophomore Andrea Kacsits had 13 kills, junior Erin Sekinger tied career high 15 kills and Taylor Sherwin came up with 68 assists.

Ohio State also defeated Northern Illinois Saturday 3-2 to earn the tournament victory. Kaitlyn Leary picked up her frst career double-double with 26 kills and 22 digs, freshman Kylie Randall made her first collegiate apperance with 18 kills and Taylor Sherwin had 50 assissts. Junior setter Taylor Sherwin was tournament MVP while senior teamates Kaitlyn Leary and Davionna DiSalvatore made All-Tournament Team.

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MotSaG TV Guide

College Football is back just in time for a long holiday weekend! You can celebrate the end of your 234-day sports prison sentence by watching games for five straight days (if you agree to lower your standards a little).



North Carolina at South Carolina. You would think this game would happen more often than it does, but there is no historical animosity to fuel a good old-fashioned border-war college football rivalry. The colony of Carolina split so amicably in 1712 that it makes Bruce and Demi look like Alec and Kim (I had to Google that entire sentence). UNC is probably good enough to keep things interesting at least until you finish your wings. (ESPN)

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Three Yards and a Cloud of Links

Good morning Buckeye Nation.

T. V. Time: The Big Ten Network made a couple of announcements with regards to Ohio State Women’s Soccer and the Buckeyes Women’s Field Hockey teams.

The Big Ten Network will televise the regular season final match between the Buckeyes and the Northwestern Wildcats being played in Evanston, Ill on November 1st at 3pm. Ohio State will be having seven returning starters and seven newcomers on this years squad. They report for practice tomorrow and have a scrimmage against Miami at 4pm August 22 at Buckeyes Varsity Field.

The Buckeye women’s soccer team who begin season play on August 23th against Morehead State in Columbus will have three matches televised on BTN. The games against Indiana at 3pm on September 26th, at Wisconsin at 12:30pm October 6th and a 3pm match at Penn State on October 17th. The Buckeyes will have seven returning starters from a team that finished second in Big Ten regular season play last year and they also won the B1G tournament. You can see the women’s soccer team play an exhibition game against Miami on Friday in Columbus.

Rankings: The American Volleyball Coaches Association (AVCA) Coaches preseason Top 25 poll came out yesterday. The Big Ten has the most teams in the current rankings with your Ohio State Women’s Team having a presean ranking of 23. The conference looks to be very strong this season with Penn State (2), Minnesota (6), Michigan (7), Nebraska (10), Michigan State (14), and Purdue (16) all in the Top 25. The Buckeyes open the season at the NIU Invitational August 30-31st in Dekalb, Ill.

August Starts: Other Ohio State sports that will begin this month besides The Ohio State Football who open the season on August 31st at the ‘Shoe against Buffalo at 12pm is the Men and Women’s Cross Country teams. The Buckeye runners will take part in the Flyer 5k Challenge in Kettering, Ohio. Also the Men’s Soccer team will have three exhibition matches this month with the first one in Morgantown West Virginia against the Mountaineers on the 18th at 3pm.

Getting excited to see all the various teams wearing the Scarlet and Gray starting their action in their respected sports. Good luck to all the Buckeyes hope everyone has a great and safe season.

Until next time Buckeye Nation…

Three Yards and a Cloud of Links

OSU FootballMorning Buckeye Nation!!

First off I would like to thank MotSaG adding me to their staff. It is great to be a part of the Buckeye Nation. Thank You to all our readers for taking the time to be a part of our family. I hope to keep you entertained and informed as we go forward.

That being said these are going to be the longest weeks in college football. I mean the coaches are going on vacation, players working out getting ready for camp approximately a month away. Recruiting slows to a crawl and its my job to find Buckeye info to share with you.

Awards Watch lists: The Maxwell Football Club has released their Maxwell and Bednarik Award preseason watch lists.

The Maxwell award is given to the best player in college football. No surprise but Braxton Miller is one of the Buckeyes offensive weapons that made the list. Also making the list is Carlos Hyde who has the chance to become Urban Meyers first 1000 yard rusher.

The Bednarik Award is given to the top Defensive player. Three Buckeyes made this list. C.J. Barnett, Bradley Roby, and Ryan Shazier.

I know preseason awards don’t mean much but it goes to show that the Buckeyes have some great players on both sides of the ball. The biggest question mark is going to be the Front Seven of OSU’s defense. Having Barnett, Roby, and Shazier as your leaders is going to help the young front. The Buckeyes might have one of the best secondaries in the nation this year. It’s going to be fun watching these players grow and get better each week.

New Uniforms for Sale: The Buckeye Room Tweeted about new Buckeye Uni’s on sale now

No official word if these will be the same as the players wear. Nike has added seven Golden Leafs on the back collar representing the Seven National Championships. I know Ohio State has seven Heisman Trophy’s too. If you want one and have 120 dollars I would get with the Buckeye Room before they are gone.

Mascot Love: Chomps the Browns mascot tweeted a picture of him and Brutus together playing in a mascot soccer game at Columbus Crew Stadium.

M*ch*g*n wins in football: Hahaha not really just a poll for the best B1G uniforms. We all know the Scarlet and Gray have the best uniforms but I guess we can be nice and let them win something. You know its not going to be on the field anytime soon!!

Beat M*ch*g*n: This is a story that even M*ch*g*n fans are embracing. A young Grant Reed was diagnosed with life threatening brain tumor 2 years ago. His parents, both former members of The Best Damn Band in the Land and die hard Buckeye fans, instilled the values of being a Buckeye which lead to them calling the disease “M*ch*g*n”. He has beaten Blue. He has been visited by Urban Meyer and his story is inspirational. There’s a chance it can come back but Buckeye Nation stands behind this young man.

Grant, from one cancer survivor to another, I say congratulations. You are an inspiration to so many.

Well Buckeye Nation until next time.

The View from Rutgers: Conference Re-Alignment, UFC, Recruiting and Other Matters of Amateur Athletics

b1g_icon“The campus is alive—people can tell you much more about the 2014 football schedule than they can about the 2013 schedule” says Scott Goodale, coach of the Rutgers wrestling team. Starting fall, 2014, the Scarlet Knights will begin competition in the Big Ten which will then expand to 14 members with the addition of Rutgers and ACC charter member Maryland. For the record, in 2014, Rutgers football will receive visits from Michigan, Penn State and Wisconsin and will go on the road to play Ohio State, Nebraska and Maryland (by contrast, in 2013, the last season before Big Ten play, the Scarlett Knights play the likes of Arkansas, Houston, Louisville, Cincinnati,  Connecticut, Central Florida and South Florida).  The renewal of their long-time rivalry with Penn State has to be particularly exciting given that the two programs have not played since 1995—shortly after Penn State ceased being an independent power by joining the Big Ten.

While some treat this affiliation as a big yawn, one only has to dig a little deeper to appreciate why this could well be a move where the sum is much more significant than its parts.  I had a chance to sit down with Coach Goodale, who happened to be in my adopted home, Carlsbad, CA on a recruiting visit.  I was struck by how a wrestling program at a school like Rutgers now sits right in the middle of some of the big amateur sports and Olympic issues of our day.

Rutgers has certainly enjoyed football success, and much of it in the last decade, but few would pretend it has cracked into the level of consistently being an elite program, despite being a major football playing power in the talent rich Atlantic seaboard region.  While one always has to be careful about comparing football, which is species unto itself, to other athletics programs, in this instance Rutgers wrestling may be a useful comparator as it also sits in a talent rich region.

“The problem we have is that if a wrestler is interested in us, he is probably also interested and capable of getting into Princeton, Harvard, etc., so we often lose that wrestler. If he is capable of wrestling at a higher level, he often chooses the Big Ten, so we are somewhat caught in the middle.”  One suspects football is much the same—the Big East is typically not the recruiting draw that other conferences are for top tier talent, and while Rutgers may not have to compete with the Ivies for the next level of high school football talent, they still have to share that talent with a number of competing programs such as Boston College, West Virginia, Connecticut, Temple to name just a few.

Thus, at least for football, wrestling and many other sports, one suspects, the move to the Big Ten has to be seen as a recruiting bonanza, a point directly underscored by Coach Goodale.  There are some exceptions—while Rutgers may in fact be able to amp up the basketball excitement for moving to the Big Ten, the Big East was of course among the elite of basketball conferences (underscore “was” as the Catholic seven bolt from the rest of the old Big East—even retaining the name). Some sports might actually have a tougher go—men’s soccer for example where four current Big Ten teams do not sponsor a team (Nebraska, Iowa, Minnesota and Purdue).  Despite the overall prestige of the Big Ten, it might be tougher to recruit soccer players into a conference where less than all members are enthusiastic—one can only imagine how men’s lacrosse recruits in lacrosse-mad Maryland view the move to the much less lacrosse serious Big Ten (though the addition of powerhouse Johns Hopkins as a Big Ten lacrosse member does provide a powerful counter for that particular concern).

Obviously of course, the new money that will funnel through to Rutgers because of the move to the Big Ten will be felt across the board as the annual take, while uncertain at this point, will be millions more than it enjoyed before the move.  While football recruiting will not be affected at least in terms of scholarships, facilities will doubtlessly improve and recruiting in other sports will improve.  Wrestling was already fully funded in that the full NCAA allotment of 9.9 annual scholarships is provided at Rutgers—however, the dollar amount is based on in-state tuition, meaning it is quite a bit tougher to recruit out of state kids who typically have to pay a portion of tuition at out of state rates.  The increased budget as a result of joining the Big Ten is likely to allow filling those scholarships with out of state rates—a significant new bonus for the non-revenue sports.

Indeed, for 2014, the first recruiting year in which the jump to the Big Ten has had an effect as a recruiting tool, Rutgers has seen an impressive bump in the rankings of its commitments, highlighted so far by the overall number 60 ranked high school wrestler, Anthony Giraldo, ironically from nearby North Bergen NJ.  “Last year I would have been basically limited to driving around New Jersey looking for athletes. This year I am talking to you in Southern California as I recruit the best kids in the country—kids that know that by the time they arrive on campus they will have the chance to compete for a Big Ten title,”  says Coach Goodale.  With no disrespect whatsoever to the proud and successful Eastern Intercollegiate Wrestling Association, where Rutgers participates through the 2013-14 season, it is quite a step up to be able to tell recruits they will compete for their entire careers in the Big Ten—a conference that produced six of ten 2013 NCAA champions.

Football recruiting seems to be off to a similarly stalwart start.  College football recruiting rankings, inherently suspect, are even more specious when it comes to mid-year snapshots.  Nonetheless, after finishing 45th in the Yahoo/Rivals 2013 rankings, Rutgers football is up to 16th in the latest 2014 rankings (as of now, Maryland has not enjoyed a similar bump).

One also suspects this change in the state of Rutgers recruiting reflects an expanded travel budget in anticipation of Big Ten riches as much as it does the prospect of offering recruits the opportunity to wrestle in the dominant wrestling conference in the country once they arrive.

I was surprised to learn from Coach Goodale that the there is not a lot of buzz within the college wrestling community about the Ed O’Bannon case and its impact on collegiate sports.  It might be that wrestling is fighting too many other battles right now to worry about the speculative effect of what that case might bring.  Wrestling, which has been devastated perhaps as much as any sport because of Title IX, now worries about how the impact of a potential loss of wrestling in the Olympics might further erode its brand appeal with young athletes.  Since February when the Olympic executive board recommended dropping wrestling after the 2016 Olympics, many feel the battle being waged for permanent Olympic reinstatement September is being won.

It is ironic that one of the adjustments made by US and International wrestling to save wrestling in the Olympics has been to further embrace women’s wrestling.  One wonders, as Title IX continues to chip away at wrestling (for example, proponents were saddened to learn of Boston University’s recent decision to drop wrestling), could women’s wrestling not only help on the Olympic level but on the collegiate level as well? Wrestling is not a capital intensive sport—if a college can adopt a women’s program, the same facilities could of course support a men’s team.  And if the O’Bannon case does shrink the dollars available for non-revenue sports, could a sport like wrestling address Title IX and still restrain costs in a post-O’Bannon era? While women’s wrestling is still not on the shortlist yet of programs to be added by major universities, the list of smaller colleges adopting wrestling programs is impressive and growing.  Coach Goodale could not speculate on the future of women’s wrestling except to indicate there is a palpable buzz that did not exist in prior years and added: “if you watch women wrestlers at the highest level, it is really impressive how far they have come in just a few short years.  If this catches on, I could see women’s wrestling becoming a major force.”

Among the changes that wrestling adopted to save its Olympic cache was a revamp of bizarre and almost random scoring rules.  The most hated was a “ball drop” to decide a tie where one wrestler was awarded a starting position that led to a win nearly 90% of the time.  For the most part, fans and wrestlers have applauded the move to the new rules which penalize passivity and end a lopsided match more quickly.  Coach Goodale thought some of the new freestyle rules could have a beneficial effect at the collegiate level, especially the passivity rule which, if there has been no score for a set period, the referee declares one wrestler as the passive wrestler.  If no one scores in the next 30 seconds, the non-passive wrestler is awarded a point.  “I also like the one point awarded on a push out—make them wrestle in the middle.” Continuing, Coach Goodale adds, “and recently, someone suggested awarding three points for just the first takedown—that might make things more exciting too if a premium was put on early aggression.”

Despite potential challenges on the horizon for wrestling, in some respects the future of wrestling has never been brighter.  As the key building block for the immensely popular MMA/UFC, wrestling has an opportunity to reach a young, excited and huge audience–a genuine opportunity for mass appeal. Former Buckeye wrestling star Tommy Rowlands has been one of the most active persons in linking the popular consciousness of MMA to its wrestling roots.  Some of the most dominant fight names are and have been collegiate wrestlers, including Brock Lesnar, Randy Couture, Chuck Liddell, Chael Sonnen, Phil, “Mr. Wonderful” Davis and Buckeye strongman and pioneer Kevin Randleman.  Wrestlers watched former Hofstra star Chris Weidman rock the world by ending the seven year reign of former middleweight champion Anderson Silva.  The night was particularly sweet for the Rutgers wrestling community, Coach Goodale and his close friend,  volunteer Rutgers coach Frankie Edgar, former featherweight champ (currently ranked No. 3).  Edgar, one of the most popular UFC fighters of his era, shared the card with New Yorker Weidman and won an exciting and decisive bout against physically imposing up and coming Charles Oliveira.  Wrestlers now have exciting options beyond coaching—and the potential to earn enormous income.  “You see a great guy like Frankie Edgar, how much he means to the UFC and how much wrestling has meant to him.  He works out with our team as one of the guys–it is exciting to the kids, but you can tell Frankie gets a lot out of it too in terms of his own fight preparation.  I would never want to get hit in the face, but these guys come out of college, and they are so tough, and they have mastered the art of close contact and precise maneuvers.  For most of them, picking up boxing and cementing the other pieces is actually pretty easy given what they have already mastered, and before long, they are the ones dishing out the punishment. This fight game has gone way past boxing, and it is exciting that our young men are so much a part of it” observes Coach Goodale.  Then, siting back with eyes on the horizon, he added, “and hey, young women too. It’s an exciting new time, and I’m glad I’m a part of it.”

Indeed it is.  Welcome Scarlet Knights.

Three Yards and a Cloud of Links

OSU LogoThree Yards and a Cloud of Links is Men of the Scarlet and Gray’s newly renamed, semi-regular curated look at items that would interest the casual and hard-core Ohio State fan. These include news items, interesting blog posts and the occasional meme you’ve probably already seen. It’s all here and it’s all for you. Have a tip that should be included in the next TYAACOL? Drop us a line at or through our Contact Page.

w680As the B1G grows: “It’s pretty obvious to us that the paradigm has shifted, and it’s not your father’s Big Ten,” Delany said via Brett McMurphy and Dana O’Neil of ESPN.

Adam Kramer of Bleacher Report talks about how the B1G is changing with their expansion, changing of league names (finally), and recruiting as a whole.

The B1G is making more of a push into the large market of New York by adding a bowl game at Yankee Stadium the addition of  Rutgers and the planned new B1G offices by 2014. The additions of Maryland and Rutgers pushes the B1G’s reach all the way to the east coast. Finally changing the Leaders and Legends divisions to being called East and West. The B1G is also having its inaugural men’s hockey season. Michigan, Michigan State, Minnesota, Ohio State, Penn State, and Wisconsin will be the teams. Not only is Men’s Hockey being added  as a B1G sport but also men and women’s Lacrosse will become the 27th and 28th official sports. Maryland, Michigan, Ohio State, Penn State, Rutgers, and John Hopkins(just men’s) and Northwestern (just woman’s).

It’s a new day in the B1G!!

He said What: Drew Sharp of recently posted a blog basically blasting Michigan and the B1G.

“A little delusion once in awhile isn’t terrible. Fooling yourself into believing that anything’s possible has restorative properties.

But eventually, reality hits you pretty hard squarely between the eyes.

The impending birth of a new football season doesn’t change an old argument: The Big Ten isn’t anywhere close to the SEC competitively. It wasn’t close 10 years ago. It’s not close now. It won’t be close 10 years from now.

Accept the limitations and move on.”

Now I don’t know what he’s hearing, watching or reading but I know for sure without a doubt there is a team in the B1G that is changing this attitude. The Ohio State University lead by, the coach who started the SEC dominance and has two National Championships, Mr. Urban Meyer. Urban has done an outstanding job at recruiting speed as he has been accustomed to doing wherever he coached at. As evidenced by watching The Opening the last two years you would have seen Urban’s recruits on hand as some of the fastest in the nation. Mike Mitchell finished first in last years Sparq combine while Terry Mclaurin represented Buckeye Nation well by almost beating ATH Speedy Noil.

Cory Mccune of Bleacher Report has a nice section that has a little breakdown and video highlights of each recruit of Ohio State.

Oh No She Didn’t: Speaking of recruiting I came across an article from Lisa Horne. She quotes, Bleacher Reports Andrew Kulha’s interview with Miami (FLA.) commit ,Kc McDermott as saying this in regards to Urban Meyer.

He came to my school a week after I told his assistant that I wasn’t even interested in them. I told him no to his face, and it’s got to be one of the top five reactions of someone ever. His facial expression was just so funny. My coach was tearing up and had to go in his office to laugh.

More like the state of shock where the guy has literally never been told no in his life. It literally looked like a kid the first time you tell him ‘no, you can’t do something.’ It looked like he was a baby about to cry. It was so funny.

She also went on to say that Five Star Defensive End Lorenzo Carter talked about his “drive through visit” to Ohio State’s campus. She implies that Urban is having a problem with recruiting because of “bad publicity”, kids talk.

Here’s my problem number one I’m sure that Urban has been turned down before and I’m sure it has been to his face, now I’m not sure but I’m betting that Meyer’s reaction was from the way the “kid” disrespected him. To say that coaches who have been recruiting longer than he’s been playing football haven’t heard “No Thanks I’m going elsewhere” is ridiculous. Number two when Carter claims his “unofficial visit” was just a drive through was anyone on the coaching staff notified ahead of time? Did we check into this or we just taking a kids word.

Trying to manufacture that there’s something wrong with the way Urban Meyer recruits, we should  verify what these kids are saying is true and number lets look at his whole body of work. Meyer is not going to get every single kid he wants, no coach will, but to take the word of two kids over his whole body of work is insulting.

Breaking, Another One bits the Dust: It seems like the Buckeyes have lost another player. Unfortunately its at an already thin linebacker corp. Luke Roberts is transferring to Harvard. He is the second player after David Perkins announced his transfer. Seems Luke turned down a scholarship to Virginia to attend Harvard. Wish Luke well in his future endeavors.

Thank You for your time.

Being a new writer to the site I would love to hear you input!!!

Indiana Preview

March has arrived. Two huge tournaments loom for the Buckeyes as the Madness draws near. Indiana poses a major challenge for the Buckeyes today, and will be a preview of what to expect come Tourney time. Ohio State needs to step up to the challenge in order to gain ground in the conference standings, but also to boost confidence heading into the last game of the regular season.

Tonight’s 9 p.m. matchup is the second-last regular season contest for each of the two contenders before the Big Ten Tournament begins on March 14. Both teams could use some momentum heading into the postseason, especially the Buckeyes. #2 Indiana (25-4, 13-3 Big Ten) needs a win to assert its dominance and prove that the Hoosiers are the top dog of the league. Following an upset loss on the road to Illinois on February 26, Indiana looked a bit vulnerable. Though the Hoosiers easily handled Iowa a few days later, Indiana would love to have some positive energy heading into the team’s season finale with Michigan and then the Big Ten Tourney. Still, #14 Ohio State needs the “W” even more.

The Buckeyes (21-7, 11-5 Big Ten) have won their last three matches, snagging victories over tough opponents Minnesota, Michigan State and Northwestern. But the Bucks lack a significant, defining road win this season. Against ranked opponents on the road, OSU owns an unappealing 0-5 record. The most recent road game against a ranked opponent resulted in an embarrassing 71-49 loss to Wisconsin on February 17. For OSU, picking up its first big victory away from the Schottenstein Center will not be a simple task. Assembly Hall is not an easy venue to play in as the road team. As OSU’s Deshaun Thomas told The Lantern, “It’s one of the loudest places I’ve been at, besides Kansas.” Head coach Thad Matta agreed: “It’s proven over time it’s one of the toughest places to play in.” Indiana boasts a 17-1 record on its home court this season, with the lone loss coming against Wisconsin in mid-January.

But if Ohio State wants to claw its way to the top of the pack past Michigan, Michigan State and Wisconsin, all tied with OSU for the second spot, the Bucks need to find a way to win tonight. The key to doing so is defending Indiana’s top scorers better than last time and coming up with secondary scoring. The last time the squads paired off on February 10, the Hoosiers trounced Ohio State, 81-68. Indiana playmakers Cody Zeller and Victor Oladipo ran rampant. OSU’s defense could not stop the dangerous pair, as Zeller finished with 24 points and eight rebounds, while Oladipo collected a career-high 26 points and eight boards.

Ohio State has improved since it suffered a beating to Indiana. The Buckeyes have drawn more fouls and seen more scoring from Lenzelle Smith Jr. The junior guard led the team in scoring in OSU’s last game on February 28, putting up 24 in a 63-53 triumph over Northwestern. The defense has also looked stellar as of late, limiting opponents to 60 or fewer points in four of the past five games. Indiana head coach Tom Crean agrees that this is a much-improved OSU team. “They’re better from when we played them the last time, because they are getting fouled a lot more,” Crean said. “In the last five games, they’ve made more free throws than their opponents have taken. Deshaun Thomas is way up in his free throw shooting; Lenzelle Smith is shooting the ball at a high rate. They are rebounding the ball well, they’re getting fouled, they’re winning games and they’re really good. There’s no doubt in our mind that it’s going to be an incredible battle.”

For it to be an “incredible battle,” Ohio State has to keep the score low. The Buckeyes excel in low-scoring affairs but often falter when games require the winner to score more than 70 points. Four of the team’s five conference losses occurred when opponents posted over 70 points. The Bucks have simply lacked the secondary scoring needed to keep up with high-flying offenses. Aaron Craft and DeShaun Thomas can only carry the team so far. Though Smith, Sam Thompson and Evan Ravenal often provide some support, it is not enough to consistently score 70 points a night in the Big Ten. Thus OSU has to rely on its defense to help carry the team.

Against Indiana, that starts with defending a National Player of the Year candidate in Oladipo and an ever-dangerous playmaker in Zeller. But stopping Christian Watford must also be a focus for Ohio State. The senior forward hurt the Bucks for 20 points in the last meeting, connecting on four of five shots from behind the arc. You can’t forget Jordan Hulls either, as the senior averages 10.7 points per game and likes to shoot from deep. Overall, Indiana averages a whopping 81.9 points per night. Facing the Hoosiers offense compares to Luke Fickell’s defense taking on AJ McCarron, Eddie Lacy and the Alabama offense of last year. Thad Matta’s defense will have a tough time tonight. His team is known for playing stout D, but Indiana’s offense is a whole different beast. The Buckeyes need to turn up the knob another notch if this game is going to be close.

On offense, Thomas obviously needs to have a big night. The junior forward (19.9 ppg) is the heart of the offense, and without him to lead it, the unit sputters. Craft also plays a critical role, as he is the quarterback of the offense and the soul of the team. The junior point guard must show his well-known tenacity and aggressiveness if the rest of the team is to follow suit. Smith, Ravenal, Thompson and others must also put up significant figures. Coming off the bench, look closely at LaQuinton Ross, Shannon Scott and Amir Williams. If one or more of these three men can step up and give the team quality minutes, as well as some points off the bench, the Bucks will be in much better position.

As a whole, the OSU offense needs more explosiveness than it has shown in the past five games, when the team has shot just 41.9 percent. The Buckeyes need to shoot the ball better than that tonight. Defense will only take you so far against the Hoosiers. Defense may keep the game close, but to put away the troublesome Hoosiers, you need to have the hot hand down the stretch.

Indiana is no easy foe to face on the road, especially on an emotional Senior Night for three Hoosiers. There is a reason Ohio State has not taken down a ranked Indiana team in Assembly Hall since 2000. But the Bucks do have a chance to topple the giants of the Big Ten. Though the odds are stacked against OSU, with a combination of stellar defense and secondary scoring, the Buckeyes can capture a crucial road victory heading into Tournament season.