This past weekend in East Lansing the Buckeyes put on a gutsy performance and came away with a narrow win over the Michigan State Spartans, 17-16. This week Ohio State returns home to the friendly confines of Ohio Stadium for a nightcap with the Nebraska Cornhuskers on national television (ABC 8:00 EST). It also marks the return of Bo Pelini, a captain on John Cooper’s 1990 Ohio State team. Saturday night also brings the opportunity for another shot at a goal achieved in East Lansing: Payback.
Wanna hear a dirty joke? A pig rolled in the mud. Want to see a dirty play? Watch this video of MSU’s Jack Allen (number 66) trying to gouge out the eyes of Jonathan Hankins at the end of a run caught beautifully by the ABC/ESPN camera crew.
I know what you’re thinking: Doesn’t this happen at the bottom of those dog piles for fumbles and after tackles all the time? Well, actually, no it doesn’t. See, despite what old school commentators or that guy at the bar who was all-league in high school and is now “in between jobs, but somethin’ll come up!” may want you to believe, sportsmanship does exist on a football field. Not everyone is trying to literally poke someone’s eyes out when they think nobody is looking. What drives me really insane about this is the thought of how often must it have been happening for Allen to pull it so blatantly?
The video has been turned in to the Big Ten offices for review. Anything less than a one game suspension for Allen is unacceptable. Remember Robert Reynolds choking Jim Sorgi in 2003 at Wisconsin? Reynolds was on the phone with Barry Alvarez the next day apologizing to both him and Sorgi for the incident. He then received a suspension and sat for a week. While Allen’s actions didn’t take Hankins out of the game like Reynolds with Sorgi, it is just as heinous and deserves an equal punishment.
By the way, if you recall, as an aside, Sorgi really played up that throat thing for all it was worth too, didn’t he? I mean come on man, you could have gone back in the game… I have to let things go.
After Further Review
Two other interesting tidbits came out of Spartan Stadium on Saturday, one was blown way out of proportion and the other has largely been ignored.
Blown way out proportion, almost to a comical level, was Pat Narduzzi (defensive coordinator MSU) bringing to light an issue they had with the game film that was exchanged from Ohio State early in the week. The fact of the matter is that MSU filed a complaint regarding the video sent to them by Ohio State. The complaint was closed when the issue was rectified with new tapes. End of story. Narduzzi spouted off after the game with a myriad of whining complaints and made sure to bring up the tape incident in the process. He didn’t come out and blame it as a reason his team lost, but by bringing it up he puts the notion out in the public. Narduzzi knew what he was doing when he opened his mouth.
What was been ignored and barely mentioned in the mainstream media is that fact that William Gholston (MSU star defensive end) was knocked out cold inadvertently by a teammate in the second quarter and returned to the game almost instantly. And I mean out cold completely, dude wasn’t moving. It was a scary sight to say the least watching him lie on the field with a limp arm still strewn across Braxton Miller who was partially lying underneath him. The MSU medical team later reported that Gholston had a “neck issue” and was, a mere one series later, deemed ok to be back on the field.
Who am I, right? I’m not a doctor and I certainly wasn’t on the MSU sideline evaluating Gholston. I do know that if I’m a member of the MSU media and certainly if I work for the Big Ten conference safety offices or commission or whatever they have that reviews these type of things and makes sure player safety if priority number one, I’d be grilling head coach Mark Dantonio hard this week and demanding to see test results and speak with the trainers and doctors who let him back on the field at all let alone so quickly. After all, Gholston is a kid. And from what we’ve seen in his prior actions we have learned he’s not the brightest crayon in the box. Regardless, like any kid trying to help his team win a game, he’ll say anything to get back on the field. It’s the adults who have to make the call and put the players safety first.
Dominant Up Front
The last thing I want to touch on from the MSU win is the complete domination from Ohio State’s defensive and offensive lines. That was truly a thing of beauty to watch! The defensive line moved the line of scrimmage one to two yards into the Spartan backfield all afternoon and forced Le’Veon Bell to have nowhere to run. Keeping Bell from getting “downhill” was a big key to shutting him down the way the Silver Bullets did.
The offensive line took some time, but by the fourth quarter was opening big holes. The last series of the game was everything you want from your offensive front five. They simply wanted it more and overpowered the MSU defense, a feat many thought Ohio State would come up short in trying to achieve if it was to be a requirement. When finesse was taken off the menu, the Ohio State offensive line stepped up and ordered grit and served it in huge helpings to win a game they badly wanted. Bravo, gentleman. Bravo!
And with the offensive line it cannot go without be stated how huge the power of Carlos Hyde was toting the rock behind them. Hyde once again ran like a man! Time to bring back my #FeedCarlos on twitter from week one and two.
We now move on to Saturday night and the arrival of the Big Ten’s newest member, the Nebraska Cornhuskers. What can you say about Nebraska that isn’t flattery? Tom Osbourne is about as classy as they come and a true winner. The program, despite recently having a few down years and employing Bill Callahan, is always respected as an all-time great and a marquee game on anybody’s schedule just for name recognition alone. They rank fourth, one spot ahead of Ohio State at fifth, on the all-time winningest programs list. The Nebraska Cornhuskers are program to model an up and coming program after, to aspire to be like.
Now let’s rip their heads off!
We all remember the nightmare that was last season’s 34-27 loss in Lincoln. Taylor Martinez and Rex Burkhead, need me to say any other names? Do you recall Joe Bausermann tossing balls to the camera decks and assaulting innocent people in the lower levels? Remember the rain? Remember the 21 point lead? The atmosphere at Nebraska’s Memorial Stadium was loud and raucous. It would have been a great night to be a Husker.
The bad news is that Martinez and Burkhead are still huge parts of the team. The good news is that this year’s game is being played in front of 105,000 at Ohio Stadium, a place that has been known to get a little loud and rowdy itself from time to time.
Nebraska brings an offense and defensive attack unlike anything we’ve seen this year. Etienne Sabino, Ryan Shazier, Storm Klein, Curtis Grant and anyone else Luke Fickell and Everett Whithers rotate in at linebacker on Saturday night will have their hands full and will be doing a lot of running. Unlike MSU lining up to pound Bell or straight drop-backs in a pro-style pass attack, Nebraska runs a spread that utilizes the whole field and keeps you guessing. Martinez is a seasoned veteran quarterback and is flourishing amidst having the same offensive coordinator for two years consecutively for the first time since he got to Lincoln.
Bo Knows Buckeye Football
When asked Tuesday if there would be any special feelings returning as a head coach against Ohio State in Ohio Stadium, Bo Pelini downplayed the thought and essentially said “no.” If that’s truly the case, then either Pelini is a stone cold heartless robot or everything I’ve ever read and been told about being a captain at Ohio State has been drastically over exaggerated. Bo knows what it means to grow up in Ohio and be a Buckeye. Urban Meyer never played a down at Ohio State yet admitted during the 06 title game to still carrying a Buckeye in his pants pocket and that he was going to be emotional hearing Hang on Sloopy the first time. This one means a lot to Bo, whether he’ll admit it or not.
Was tackling improved enough (short of that putrid touchdown run, you know which one!) this past week against Sparty? You cannot undervalue the importance of focus when things get real. The amount of players to the ball, the gang tackling was like nothing we’ve seen this year. The Silver Bullets must make Rex Burkhead feel what Le’Veon Bell felt.
I expect to see a lot of things offensively we haven’t seen to this point on Saturday night. Call me crazy, but I still think Urban has been sandbagging his play-calls and what they are putting on film regarding formations and tendencies. Remember when Jim Tressel used to talk about saving plays for Michigan? I think Meyer saves chapters in his playbook until the right time comes to open them up.
Carlos Hyde was spectacular in the fourth quarter against MSU. He did what great backs do; he got stronger as they kept feeding him. With Jordan Hall likely out vs Nebraska, I expect Hyde to see a lot of carries. We should see some more of Rod Smith and there may also be a Bri’ontee Dunn appearance in Hall’s absence.
Get loud! If you’re going to be in The Shoe on Saturday, there is no excuse if you leave with a voice. Make that place shake!!
Wrap It Up
At 5-0, Ohio State is ahead of where most thought they’d be going into week 6. Some expected 4-1 or 3-2, but the record is what it is and I’m sure they’ll take, no matter how it may have looked at times, over the latter. This game Saturday night is huge, but you didn’t need me to tell you that. This is the last currently top 25 ranked opponent on the schedule for the entirety of it. I know they can’t make a bowl or a trip to Indianapolis for the Big Ten title game, but running the table sure would be a nice “6-7 in 2011, well we’re back!” to the rest of the college football world. If the games are scheduled and you have to play them, might as well win them!
Metallica Track of the Week
When you walk in to The Shoe on Saturday… “Adrenaline starts to flow!” Let’s go back to September 09 on the World Magnetic tour and let’s stop off in Cincinnati’s US Bank Arena for a show I attended, and maybe some you as well, for our track of the week. Here’s the incomparable WHIPLASH to get you fired up for Nebraska!