Never Too Early: 2014 Rutgers Preview

Written July 10th, 2014 by Patrick
Scarlet. That's cute.

Scarlet. That’s cute.

For the second time in as many games, the Buckeyes will play a new member of the B1G. After a bye week after their trip to Maryland, the Bucks return back home to play Rutgers. Rutgers will be coming off a bye week themselves and will already have two B1G games (Penn State/Michigan) under their belts when they play their first B1G road game. Rutgers will also be playing in their third conference in as many years (Big East, AAC, B1G) and are coming off of a 6-7 season that saw them lost to Notre Dame in the New Era Pinstripe Bowl.

Getting nine starters back on offense is a big positive and there are a lot of developing names on defense, but this team will have to improve significantly across the board if it wants to return to the postseason as a B1G representative. Head coach Kyle Flood is hoping that a reworked coaching staff will provide the spark needed to compete at a higher level in ’14.

Kyle Flood totally overhauled his coaching staff this offseason, bringing in offensive guru Ralph Friedgen to run the offense. His first order of business is to find a stabilizing force under center for the Knights after a season in which Rutgers quarterbacks threw 22 interceptions and just 22 touchdowns. This is why Flood has opened up the position battle this spring despite Gary Nova (2,159 yds, 18 TDs, 14 INTs) returning after starting most of last year (until the final three games). Read More

Never Too Early: 2014 Maryland Preview

Written July 3rd, 2014 by Patrick

Gonna’ Take Some Getting Used To

After 4 non conference games and a bye week, the Buckeyes finally launch into B1G play. The scarlet and gray make their second trip in to the state of Maryland for the 2014 season and introduce the Maryland Terrapins to the B1G. The welcome gift the Terps get…..a B1G home opener against the best team in the conference.

The Buckeyes will be coming off a tougher than usual non conference schedule and they’ll play the Terps with a bye week to follow. The Terps will be playing their sixth game in as many weeks and will have one B1G game under their belts as they travel to Bloomington the week prior to Ohio State.

The Real Deal

There is little doubt that the Terps boast the best young WR in the country in Stephon Diggs, but quite possibly could have the best WR tandem in the country when you add Deon Long. Most notably, though, the Terps will try to overcome a horrendous injury plague season that was 2013. What would you think if I told you they ended the season with a freshman linebacker……AT QUARTERBACK. Yes, you read that right. The Big Ten’s new kid on the block has the potential to be potent offensively if it can get healthy.

Senior quarterback C.J. Brown became the first Terrapin to ever pass for 2,000 yards and rush for more than 500 in a single season, but his physical style makes him prone to injury, particularly behind an unproven offensive line still hoping to add pieces this summer.

But what Brown can do for you, besides make chunk-yardage plays on the ground, is get the ball to the aforementioned Stefon Diggs and Deon Long, both back from broken legs. Their return should make the Terps better on third down — where they converted just 32 percent of the time (114th nationally) in 2013 — and make Maryland a quick-strike team in a pound-on-the-ground league.

The return of sophomore tailback Wes Brown from suspension improves a running back-by-committee that boasts Brandon Ross and his 776 rushing yards last year. C.J. Brown and Diggs, who will get the ball in a variety of ways in multiple receiver formations, are the main threats, though. Read More

Campus Insiders: 2014 Ohio State Preview

Written July 1st, 2014 by MaliBuckeye

Our friends at Campus Insiders are taking a look around the nation to help fans get ready for the inaugural “College Football Playoff” season. Here’s their take on the Scarlet and Gray, including a look at breakout players and scheduling possibilities:

Gotta’ say that I agree with their assessment of the Buckeyes’ biggest challenge, but disagree vehemently with their prediction on that outcome.

2014 Big Ten Conference Preview: East Division

Written June 30th, 2014 by Patrick
Part two of our conference preview looks at the “group of death” and a likely conference title game:

2014 EAST DIVISION PREVIEW

Many feel the east will be a battle of 2 teams and the winner of the November 8th battle in East Lansing between Ohio State and Michigan State can go ahead and make plans for Indy.

EAST PREDICTION

  1. Ohio State
  2. Michigan State
  3. Penn State
  4. Michigan
  5. Indiana
  6. Maryland
  7. Rutgers

OHIO STATE 12-2 (8-0)

Heisman Run?

There is no doubt that all of Buckeye nation is still reeling from the 10 point loss to Michigan State in last year’s B1G Championship game.

There are so many “what if’s” from that game: What if they don’t have the 3 personal fouls on the Spartans first drive? What if they give the ball to Hyde on 4th and 1? What if……..okay, I’ll stop. There’s no doubt Urban Meyer will use that loss as motivation for the 2014 Buckeyes.

The turnover for this squad was quite large. Gone are 4 5th’s of an offensive line that many believed was one of the best in the nation last year as is its work horse back Carlos Hyde. Also gone are Philly Brown, Ryan Shazier, Bradley Roby, Christian Bryant, and C.J. Barnett.

Now, some will say that losing players on defense isn’t such a bad thing. The front seven should be very very solid. Joey Bosa, Noah Spence, Adolphis Washington, and Michael Bennett should keep a ton of pressure on B1G qb’s while the secondary led by Doran Grant and Von Bell begin to mesh.

The best news of the offseason was most surely the return of Braxton Miller. Miller is considered by many to be a preseason top 5 Heisman candidate but will have to do it behind a rebuilt offensive line and with a new running mate in his backfield. Ezekiel Elliott is the odds on favorite to take the torch from Hyde. Elliott showed glimpses of greatness when given a chance last year. The Buckeyes B1G portion of their schedule shapes up rather nice.

Home games against Rutgers, Illinois, Indiana, and TSUN seems rather easy and to most, their only tough road test will fall on November 8th as they travel to East Lansing for a date with Sparty. Other road games include Maryland, Penn State, and Minnesota putting the Buckeyes in a great position for a return trip to Indy and a date with Wisconsin.

MICHIGAN STATE 13-1 (8-0) Read More

2014 Big Ten Conference Preview: West Division

Written June 30th, 2014 by Patrick
Not content to only preview Ohio State’s schedule, Patrick is taking a two part look at the B1G for 2014. Here’s a look at the newbies and our Western Division brethren; after lunch the East gets due scrutiny in addition to the championship game predictions.

Motivation Fuel

When the dust settled on the 2013-14 season, the B1G had a Rose Bowl champion and……another bad bowl record as a conference.

Michigan State and Nebraska were the lone winners (Rose and Gator Bowls respectively) and the conference was 2-7 overall. Yet even after that showing, many pundits feel like the B1G is poised to be a top tier conference this season. When the season opens, they will more than likely have two top 10 teams (Michigan State and Ohio State) as well as a slew of others ranked in the top 25.

The B1G welcomes two new members this season as well. Maryland and Rutgers will make their football debuts in 2014. The B1G received a ton of criticism for the recent additions. Other conferences such as the SEC are adding schools like Texas A&M and Missouri while many people feel the B1G adding “schedule padders” for football. What people won’t tell you is that these two schools gets the B1G into markets (Washington DC and New York) that they haven’t been in since its inception.

The non conference schedules for a lot of the B1G schools is very very good this season. Defending champion MSU will travel west to Eugene, Oregon to take on the Ducks, Ohio State welcomes Va Tech into Columbus, Wisconsin takes on LSU in Houston, Nebraska travels to Fresno for a battle with Fresno St and then back home the following week to take on the Miami Hurricanes, Michigan will try to avenge a loss to Appalachian St (did I really just type that) as well as take on Notre Dame for the last time and welcome the Utes of Utah to Ann Arbor, and Minnesota will travel to Texas to battle TCU. The B1G as a conference will need a lot of wins from these non conference tilts in order to gain some respect from the rest of the country and the national media

2014 will also mark the first year of new conference alignment. Gone are the awful Leaders and Legends divisions and we finally get a traditional East/West divisions.

*2014 will also mark the 3rd year that Penn State will be ineligible for post season play.

2014 WEST PREVIEW

Even though the B1G divided up the divisions by east/west location, many feel the west is by far the weaker of the two. Nebraska and Wisconsin should battle for the next few years for the west crown with little challenge. Read More

Never Too Early: 2014 Cincinnati Preview

Written June 26th, 2014 by Patrick

Never Forget…

As the Buckeyes come off their first bye week of the 2014 season and prepare for B1G football play, they’ll have one more task standing in front of them in the form of the University of Cincinnati Bearcats. This will be the first meeting between the two Ohio schools since 2006 when the Bucks came away victorious 37-7.

The Bearcats are coming off the first year for head coach Tommy Tuberville and a very successful one it was. UC was 9-4 (6-2 in the AAC) and lost to North Carolina 39-17 in the 2013 Belk Bowl. The 2013 season also included wins over B1G members Purdue, and soon to be member Rutgers. They also beat something called Northwestern, but it’s not the one you’re thinking of.

The biggest and best news for the Bearcats this offseason was getting transfer QB Gunner Kiel. The former big time recruit made national news over his recruiting process by committing to Indiana, then LSU, THEN finally to Notre Dame. When Kiel found himself behind several other qb’s in South Bend including returning starter from 2012, Everett Golson, he decided to transfer to Cincinnati. Kiel sat out the 2013 season and has 3 years of eligibility remaining. Kiel impressed all during the Bearcats spring game and seems to have the lead for the starting job heading into fall camp.

He got away from Brian Kelly… wouldn’t you be smiling?

The Bearcats are looking forward to what could be a special season if their quarterback situation pans out and their defense will be more consistent with a new coordinator. Kiel has a big arm, is very accurate, can throw a nice deep ball and has good mobility. The one area he must improve on is throwing the football on the run. The one challenger he will have this fall is from junior college transfer Jarred Evans. Former starter Munchie Legaux will return for his fifth year after suffering a severe knee injury last September.

Whoever the quarterback will be Cincinnati will return its top three rushers including Hosey Williams, Ralph David Abernathy and Tion Green. The wide receiver position is in good shape with Senior Shaq Washington and Chris Moore. Washington is an excellent possession receiver who had 78 catches last year. The offensive line returns three starters including tackle Eric Lefeld (6-6 309).

Cincinnati’s defense ranked ninth in the country in total defense and yet still fired their defensive coordinator Art Kaufman. Coach Tuberville hired Hank Hughes to run the defense, and they will continue to run the 4-3 defense that was implemented last year. Read More

Never Too Early: 2014 Kent State Preview

Written June 20th, 2014 by Patrick

When the Buckeyes take to the field in week 3, they’ll do it against a familiar state of Ohio foe in the Kent State Golden Flashes. It will mark the first time since ’02 that the Buckeyes and Flashes have battled. Ohio State trounced Josh Cribbs and the Flashes that day 51-17 despite giving up over a 100 yards on the ground that day to Cribbs. Ohio State hasn’t lost to an instate opponent since 1921 when the mighty Yoemen of Oberlin College defeated OSU.

Reardon Battle Tested

The Buckeyes will be coming off of a night battle versus Virginia Tech whereas the Golden Flashes will make their first trip on the road in 2014 after home games versus Ohio and the South Alabama Jaguars.

This will also mark the return of Paul Haynes back to Ohio Stadium. Paul Haynes led Kent State to a disappointing 4-8 record in his first season as head coach in 2013, but he’s hoping to get his alma mater back on track starting in 2014.

The Golden Flashes will be without their do everything running back Dri Archer, who’s moved on to the NFL. The offense will only work under four conditions: one, the running game rediscovers the big play; two, the running game succeeds on first down; three, the line continues to excel in protection; and four, the passing game finds success on non-traditional downs. Becoming a touch more untraditional will help this offense move the football even as it undergoes a slight transition in personnel.

One returnee will dictate the tempo, if he gets help on the ground: Colin Reardon (1,957 yards and 12 touchdowns) enters his second season as the Flashes’ quarterback with the potential for noticeable improvement should the offense keep his back away from the wall – meaning Reardon can produce, but only if the opposition can’t key into the passing game. For this offense as a whole, putting Reardon into more manageable situations is of the highest priority; the only way to ensure his production is with a healthy running game.

Reardon’s totals when KSU rushed for 200 yards on the ground: 67-of-107 – 62.6% clip – with five touchdowns against two picks. When the Flashes averaged less than four yards per carry against the FBS, on the other hand: 52-of-89 with one score against three interceptions. Simplified, yes, but an adequate way to gauge how Reardon can succeed when combined with the Flashes’ hot-and-cold running game. And when he’s on – and put into good down and distances – Reardon can absolutely find holes in the secondary both in the pocket and out, giving this offense a solid foundation at the position. Having said that, let’s not forget: KSU has a really nice redshirt freshman in Nathan Strock, who showed during the spring that he’s ready to take on a role should Reardon not build on his rookie season.

Reardon has identified his favorite targets in the passing game. One is senior Chris Humphrey (51 receptions for 613 yards), the sophomore’s go-to option on first and second down. The second is tight end Casey Pierce (33 for 364), the Flashes’ best weapon in the red zone. The offense also returns junior Josh Boyle (19 for 210) and sophomores William Woods and Ernest Calhoun while breaking into the mix a quintet of second-year players with the athleticism to change the dynamics of the passing game. Kent State has surrounded Reardon with a nice array of choices. Read More

Never Too Early: 2014 Virginia Tech Preview

Written June 13th, 2014 by Patrick

When the Buckeyes return home after the their week 1 battle against Navy, they’ll do it against an unfamiliar foe, as Frank Beamer and Virginia Tech will make their first trip to Columbus for the first time in either school’s history.

Longest Tenured FBS Coach

Frank Beamer has etched himself in the annals of college football coaches history with his unique brand of Beamer ball, hallmarked by great strong defense coupled with awesome special teams play and an offense that will do just enough to win ballgames. Hmmmm… where have we heard that before?

This game will also mark the first time since 2010 (Marshall) that the Bucks will open at home under the lights.

The Hokies are coming off a very disappointing 8-5 2013 season. In Tech’s defense, they did lose games to Alabama, Duke, and finally a 42-12 loss to UCLA in the Hyundai Sun Bowl. Va Tech finished second in the ACC-Coastal division and their loss to Duke inevitably cost themselves a trip to Charlotte and the ACC Championship Game. However, they were able to beat their arch rivals from UVA 16-6 to end their regular season… and we all know how important it is to win the rivalry game.

On offense, Va Tech loses quarterback Logan Thomas (some Hokie fans will tell you that’s not a bad thing) and welcome in Texas Tech transfer Michael Brewer. Brewer will battle 3 other qb’s this fall to see who ends up taking the snaps in Blacksburg.

Tech’s ground game should be better, if only because it would be tough to be worse. The Hokies had one of the most inept rushing attacks in Frank Beamer’s 27 seasons in Blacksburg last year, averaging only 119.8 yards per game. But sophomore Trey Edmunds (675 yards, 10 TDs) is back after suffering a broken leg in the regular-season finale, and 224-pound freshman Marshawn Williams might be the answer to the Hokies’ short-yardage woes. It’ll help if Tech’s underperforming offensive line, which returns five players who started games last year, can come together under Stacy Searels, the unit’s third coach in as many years. Read More

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