Happy 2012! Here’s our version of the weekly wish list for the Gator Bowl… the last Buckeye bowl game for a while.
A Will To Win - This is the first time since 2004 that Ohio State isn’t in a BCS bowl…. With a whole new fold in place for the upcoming season, it’s important to go out and play like you want to win this meaningless bowl. It just sets up momentum heading into the spring and leaves a lasting mark.
Seniors and Juniors Play their Best - Seniors and Juniors, this is the last time you will ever compete in a bowl situation ever again. Cherish it. Enjoy it. Play your heart out like your life depended on it. It might just be another bowl to everyone else, but for you guys– it’s your last chance to compete in the “post-season.”
Run it Up the Gut - As much as everyone is looking forward to new Urban Meyer folds in the offense, I want to see a game like the Illinois contest, where Ohio State runs it a heavy amount. Okay, not that much, but still I’d love to see two 100 yard rushers and some secondary scorers out of the backfield.
Ebner Strike - The Bo Rein most inspirational player on the squad deserves a BIG day on special teams. Here’s to hoping that he gets that against Florida. Read More
The Basics: Tuesday, January 2, 2012, 1:00 PM EST on ESPN2, from Jacksonville. Ohio State (6-6, 3-5 B1G) and Florida (6-6, 3-5 SEC).
It’s really hard to believe that in the history of both programs that the 2006 National Championship game was the first ever match-up between these two teams. This one hardly qualifies as a rematch and it is getting plenty of press about being the Urban Meyer Bowl. Both teams are 6-6 headed into the game and have some similarities after the record but very few. Let’s start with the men in charge.
Will Muschamp took over the reigns from Coach Meyer last December after his retirement from coaching. He grew up in Gainesville and appears to be the leader of the future even after a very sub par season that had National Title expectations. Muschamp has a great pedigree of coaching and more recently was the head coach in waiting at Texas but just couldn’t pass up the Gator opportunity. In his 17th year of coaching he has a defensive background and has had great success as a coordinator posting several top 10 defenses and this years squad is NO different coming in at #9. He has a bright future in Florida and has been left with some great talent as a result of Coach Meyers recruiting efforts.
Luke Fickell is admired by many for what he has done in leading these Buckeyes this season. Tabbed originally as the interim head coach to stand in while Coach Tressel took a five game suspension, he was eventually given the title for the entire season when Coach Tressel resigned. Fickell played for Ohio State on one of the best lines to ever play there and lived in the trenches with Mike Vrabel and Matt Finkes. He has spent all of his time coaching at Ohio State save for two years at Akron. He recently turned down an opportunity to coach the Zip so he could return to his alma mater under Coach Meyer. He was the only person for the job this year and has done an admirable job at holding things together and giving the team a good reason to win this game and finish on a high note before Coach Meyer takes over the next day. Read More
Back with another preview this one of the Grandaddy of them all. It feels odd that this game is not on today on New Year’s Day.
The Basics: Monday, January 2nd from Pasadena California at 5:00 PM EST. The game will be televised on ESPN. Wisconsin (11-2) and Oregon (11-2).
History: The Rose Bowl is just oozing with History and probably the bowl game that us Big Ten fans know the most about. It usually pits the winners of the Pac-10 and the Big 10, unless of course either of those teams make the NC game. Probably one of the best Ohio State memories comes from the 1997 Rose Bowl when our Buckeyes defeated Arizona St. and Jake Plummer when Joe Germaine hit David Boston in the corner of the endzone. The Rose bowl started in 1902 and has been played at the Rose Bowl stadium ever since it was built in 1922. Oh, and there’s also the yearly Rose Bowl parade as well that usually takes place on New Years day.
Wisconsin: Wisconsin is a team that at one point in the season had hopes of playing in the NC after the off-season transfer of Russell Wilson to Quarterback the Badgers. This was until Michigan State beat them on Hail Mary, which was followed up the following week by Braxton Miller’s back foot throw in the last minute to Devin Smith. Wisconsin was then able to finish out the season, and win the B1G.
The Badgers are led by a huge offensive line on offense. They pave the way for Montee Ball who led the Badgers with 1,759 yds and 32 tds. Ball finished the season with 38 total tds which is one short of the FBS record set by Barry Sanders. Russell Wilson also has Nick Toon to throw the ball too, who has turned out to be a very good college receiver. Wisconsin will be looking to avenge last years Rose Bowl lose to TCU. The game will fall on the shoulders of their Offense to be able to put up plenty of points as well as their D to try and slow down the high powered Oregon offense. Wisconsin is not to be outdone by Oregon’s new uniforms (more later) with the unveiling of their new Adidas uniforms for the Rose Bowl game.
Oregon: The Ducks also have a big play maker that totes the rock in LaMichael James. He led the country with 149.7 yds / game. They are led on offense by Daron Thomas at QB. Oregon also possesses two more threats out of the backfield with Kenjon Barner and De’Anthony Thomas. Thomas is also the leading receiver for the Ducks. Oregon will also be unveiling new Nike uniforms and a “liquid metal” helmet.
Oregon will also be trying to avenge losses in BCS bowl games as they have dropped their last 2- Last year in the NC game against Auburn and 2 years ago to our own Buckeyes in the Rose Bowl game. Look for Oregon to really try and go up tempo and put a ton of points on the board; which, to be honest, they should be able to do against a so-so Wisconsin D.
Fun Fact: This game will have 2 of the top 10 Heisman finalists in Ball (4th) and James (10th). The fun fact is Ball was a 3 star #47 RB in the 2009 class and James was a 3 star #40 RB in the country in the 2007 class. Both were very underrated to say the least, and it’s a great reminder about scouting services.
Who we got?
None of us have faith in our B1G representative… or maybe we just hate Bielema.
The Basics: Tuesday, January 2, 2012, 8:30 PM EST on ESPN, from Glendale. Oklahoma State (11-1, 8-1 Big Integer) and Stanford (11-1, 8-1 PAC12).
Steve, our regular season picks champion, just happens to also be a Stanford season ticket holder, and gives us his rationale for the Cardinal’s sure victory. Be sure to check out the counterpoint!
At the beginning of the season I posted the following to poke a little fun at my Ohio State family:
To my Buckeye friends, Last year I wished I could afford tickets to see a BCS bowl champion, with a returning Heisman candidate QB, playing for a highly successful coach with experience in 2 levels of college football, playing in a recently renovated state of the art stadium. Sadly that coach is no longer with the team, but today my dream came true. I bought season tickets to watch Andrew Luck play for Stanford and they only cost me $240 … for 6 games … for all 4 members of my family. “All … Right … Now!”
It has truly been a magical year on The Farm and since all Stanford football conversations start with Andrew Luck let’s get that out of the way early. He’s good, seriously he makes playing QB look easy, his tears have the ability to grow hair on bald men and he makes a mean western omelet.
I would love to tell you that it’s not just him, that there are all kinds of offensive threats around him. The 3-headed TE corps of Fleener, Toilolo and Ertz, the 1,100 yard back Stepfan Taylor, the strong ground game of Gafney, Wilkerson and Stewart, and the speedy sure-handed receivers Griff Whelan, Chris Owusu and Ty Montgomery. But from where I sat this year, it was pretty easy to see how it is Luck that makes them all better.
When the Cardinal has the ball, look for Luck to exploit any TE mismatches. 19 of his 35 touchdowns have gone to one of the big 3. With Ertz out and Toilolo around 70% for Oregon much of the gameplan was gone and offensive output suffered. Watching one of the 3 go down field and take on a much shorter/smaller DB is excruciatingly fun. Sadly Owusu’s concussion against Oregon State probably sealed a once promising career but, Luck’s roommate Whelan and Freshman Ty Montgomery have filled in well. The hidden gem of the Cardinal attack is the running game. 2nd in the Pac 12 (passing was 6th btw) in yards per game, the running game owes much to the attention opposing defenses pay to Luck. All of this behind a front line with 2 2-time all Pac 12 OLs that gives up less than 1 sack per game and against the 83rd ranked rushing and 107th ranked total defense in the country. If I were Luck, I would have stayed in school for that too.
On defense the story is going to be simple, limit the big plays. OSU will be unable to move the ball on the ground. Period. I am sure they could care less. They will throw the ball and to tell you the truth it’s the part of this game that has me the most scared. The secondary has allowed over 250 yards in the air for 6 of the last 7 games with the sole exception being Oregon who didn’t need it. The DBs will need to come up with 1 or 2 stops because conceivably that is all it will take. I fear this mostly because of all the unnecessary big gainers given up to the likes of Washington State, Colorado, Washington, Berkely and Notre Dame not to mention Oregon and USC. A lack of effective running here may allow for extra help in the secondary.
This will be one of those high scoring affairs, but not one of the, “last one with the ball wins” types. This will be more, “he who makes the least number of mistakes wins.” Luck is human and has shown he can make the wrong decision on occasion. He threw 6 of his 9 interceptions in the last 5 games of the season, threw 2 against a much faster Duck D and almost cost the USC game with a late pick-6. Keep the Pokes offense off the field, cause +1 or more in turnover margin, and let Andrew be Andrew and everything will work out fine. As the say in Palo Alto, “Give ‘em the axe!”
The Basics: Tuesday, January 2, 2012, 8:30 PM EST on ESPN, from Glendale. Oklahoma State (11-1, 8-1 Big Integer) and Stanford (11-1, 8-1 PAC12).
Well, our Midwestern correspondent checks in with one side of the debate… yeah, he’s biased. Be sure to check out the counterpoint a bit later this evening.
Everyone knows about the stars, Luck, Weeden, Blackmon, but where I think this game will be won or lost is where most games are won and lost, along the lines and on defense. Oklahoma State has one of the best offensive line coaches in the nation in Joe Wickline. Last year he took 5 new starters and turned them into the best performing line in the Big 12, which is saying a lot with the other linemen in the conference. This season, he added 2 other linemen to this mix and again has a dominating line. This is why, in my opinion, OSU has one of the top offenses in the country. It’s not surprising that the only hiccup this year was when the line had their worst game. If the O-Line performs as it has for two seasons, I find it hard pressed that Stanford will be able to keep the Cowboys under 30.
This leads me to my next key of the game: The Defense. Much has been written about how bad (statistically) this side of the Cowboys team has been. However, look at it this way: They held 5 top 25 offenses below 30 points (3 of these games were on the road), and two potential top 10 draft picks (RG3 and Landry Jones) to 1 TD and 7 turnovers. Now many will say neither of these players is Andrew Luck. I’m sure they are not, but the Cowboys have fared just fine going up against top offenses all season. Some will also say holding an offense to under 30 shouldn’t be highlighted. Based on my first point, if Stanford doesn’t score 30, OSU wins, because I don’t believe Standford will hold the Cowboys under that number. Nobody has done that all season, and I don’t see the Stanford Cardinal doing it either.
Finally, I look at Stanford’s loss, Oregon. Not only did they lose, they lost BIG and at home. I watched this game from start to finish and what stood out was how slow Stanford looked, again AT HOME. Oklahoma State is very similar to Oregon…they spread you out, are crazy up-tempo, and then pass and run depending on how you line up. Also, like the ducks, they are VERY fast at the skill positions. I see more of the same happening to Stanford in this year’s version of the Party Bowl.
My prediction, Oklahoma State 41, Stanford 31. Oh, for kicks and giggles, Alabama beats LSU 4-3 with a safety as time expires. Now what do we have…3 one loss teams. And I say the Oklahoma State Cowboys are the AP National Champion! Hey, why not, because none of us buy into the BCS anyway.
The cavalcade of college football continues with our newest besties from Lincoln.
The Basics: Tuesday, January 2, 2012, 1:00 PM EST on ESPN, from Orlando. Nebraska (9-3, 5-3 B1G) and South Carolina (10-2, 6-2 SEC).
History: If this is finally the Capital One bowl, can we get the “Capital One Bowl Week” commercials to stop now? This SEC/BIG matchup has seen PSU/LSU in 2009 and MSU/Bama in 2010… and now those two SEC teams are now in the BCS game. Proud.
South Carolina: The year started out with high expectations, but the loss of running back Marcus Lattimore derailed that a bit- although they’re still averaging 198 yards per game on the ground. Their defense is only giving up 18.8 points a game, thanks in part to the most awesome high school athlete I’ve ever seen being a freshman on the Gamecock defensive line. They barely lost to Auburn, were blown out by Arkansas, and ended the season with a huge victory over Clemson. Oh, and they’re also currently under NCAA investigation and stuff; but I’m guessing you’ll never hear anything about that on eSECpn’s coverage of this match up.
Nebraska: We’re all too familiar with the Children of the Corn, although this version will be somewhat different since Carl Pelini now is a big fan of the state of Florida. Big Red is 14th in the country in rushing yardage, thanks to the two headed attack of Taylor Martinez and Rex Burkhead… however, Martinez’ leadership has only accounted for 166.6 yards of total offense. Their biggest win, unfortunately, was against the Buckeyes… they were blown out in Ann Arbor. Work with me, won’t you?
Fun Facts. We’re not going to talk about the last time each team met Ohio State… instead, let’s remind everyone that this game culminates the super awesome Capital One Mascot Challenge, which is probably more exciting to some folks than to others. While we’re at it, can we also acknowledge who the most talented member of Capital One’s commercial campaign is?
Who we got?
Need picturesque photos of tourists along a canal? Missing moments for mariachi bands in your life? Well, this is the bowl for you- Since I’m the only member of tBBC who’s actually seen both of these teams play over the past five years, I’m the guy to get you prepped for all the festivities.
The Basics: Thursday, December 29th, 2011, 9:00 PM EST on ESPN, from San Antonio. Washington (7-5, 5-4 Pac 12) and Baylor (9-3, 6-3 Big 12).
History: Ah, the Alamo… Here’s the jokes we’ve made at this games’ expense in the past. This historical festivity has seen such great matchups as Texas Tech’s last stand minus the Capn’, and the introduction of the Shot-Ginn (more later).
Washington: Year one of AL (After Luck), the Huskies got ready for the new stadium by putting together a relatively middle of the road team. No disrespect to Steverino; but UW won all the games they were supposed to (minus a loss to Oregon State) and were blown out against better opponents (including a revenge beating at the hands of the Cornhuskers). Starting out with a three point victory over a team with the worst field in America (take that, Boise!) , it was going to be a rebuilding year from the opening kick. Their defense is 99th in the country in points against, which means that Chris Polk (1340 yards rushing) and Keith Price (2625 yards passing) have to keep busy just to keep them in the game.
Baylor: You know, it’s a pity that Baylor never has anything newsworthy happen to it. Wonder what they’d be like with quality athletes and stuff, you know? Speaking of new stadiums, the Bears are joining in the game with a river side venue that’s actually near campus. Huge year for the Bears, with wins over Oklahoma and Texas in Waco; that one point loss to KSU probably stings a little bit. Heisman winner Robert Griffin the third leads a team that’s 5th in the country in passing yards and seventh in scoring- he’s accounted for 4600 yards himself, with 45 TDs and only 6 interceptions. Yeah, he’s good.
Fun Facts. Ohio State has never met Baylor on the field. Since Troy’s in the news and stuff, let’s remember that time where he was suspended and the Buckeyes beat Les Miles’ team, huh? Thanks, Vico!
Who we got?
One of those cliche’ phrases that seems to come true more times than not is that “defense wins championships”. It is true that most of the elite teams do what they do the defensive way and that if you choose to dictate what the opponents offense can and will do, you will win. The Buckeyes and Gators aren’t playing for a National title this time, but they are playing for Coach Meyer bragging rights. Which team IS better, his old team that he clearly will always have an affection for? Or his new team that he has always dreamt of coaching and now holds the key to the future of in THE Ohio State Buckeyes?
Let’s get into crunching some numbers about these two defenses. On paper the Gators appear to have the edge. #9 overall in the nation and only giving up 299 yards a game and allowing roughly 3 scores a game is 25th in the nation. Their #39 rush defense has allowed an average of 132 YPG and their pass efficiency defense is in the top 20 at 114. Yardage wise, their #10 pass defense only gives up 167 YPG.
In what has been an off-year for the Buckeyes they’re a ways down the list in national rankings. Overall they have the 24th ranked defense in the nation at 328 YPG. They are right behind the Gators in the scoring category at almost 3 scores a game. The rush defense has given up 142 YPG and comes in at 53 while the pass efficiency defense has been average at 125, good for 48th in the country. They don’t give up the yards in the passing game though, ranking 15th with only 186 YPG given up.