Staying undefeated in November is a tough task. Just ask the Ohio State Buckeyes, who needed overtime to take care of business in Madison, Wisconsin against the Badgers on Saturday. Credit the Badgers for fighting to the end. Credit the Buckeyes for overcoming adversity and making plays to keep the dream alive.
Bert and the boys
It really seemed early on that the Buckeyes were going to run away with the game against Bert Bielema and his Wisconsin Badger boys. When Cory Brown’s punt return for a touchdown put the Buckeyes up 7 followed by a machine-like high tempo drive early in the second quarter that resulted in a Carlos Hyde touchdown giving the Bucks a 14 point lead, the Camp Randall crowd seemed uninterested and it looked like the good guys were going to have their way. We certainly didn’t see the dramatic ending that put this game in line with the recent history of classic endings in Wisconsin-Ohio State games on the horizon.
Both teams showed great perseverance and battled through the highs and lows of the game. For the Badgers it was facing a 14 point hole. For the Buckeyes, it was a stalling second half offense that couldn’t get things going. For the first time this season, Braxton Miller was contained.
Bielema and his staff devised a great scheme that slowed up Miller: Set the edge and force him to show his hand early on as to where he was going along with spying him with a corner and a safety. It is similar to what we saw Stanford due to Oregon later that night. They are daring the quarterback to stay in the pocket and beat them with his arm. They are also running the risk their spy’s can make a tackle one-on-one with one of the most elusive players in college football. The Badgers I’m sure are aware he hasn’t earned the name “XBrax360” because he lacks shake and spin. Bert’s gamble paid off and Wisconsin held Miller to his lowest yardage totals of the season and kept the Buckeye offense stammering to the end result of (even with overtime) a mere 21 points.
Fortunately in the overtime he offense got on track. Better late than never, I guess. Carlos Hyde’s seemingly easy touchdown gave the Buckeyes the coveted overtime edge of 7 points and put it on the shoulders of their defense. Four plays later, the Buckeyes were 11-0.
Last week we spotlighted the Wisconsin-Ohio State rivalry and how it was blossoming into a true “second tier” rivalry for the Buckeyes. Saturday’s game added to the burgeoning legacy. It was definitely one for the ages. Read More
Bert Blathers- Also in Tuesday’s B1G Conference Call, Coach Bielema talked about how impressed he is with Ohio State’s improvement as the season has progressed. He mentioned the offensive line in particular, and said that they are playing really well at this point in the year. He also addressed speculation that his team would be satisfied after last week’s win, which put them into the Conference Championship Game for the second straight year; and said that his team would not see a let down against the Buckeyes, especially given last year’s game. Added to the fact that it’s “Senior Day”, and it’s sure to be a high intensity game.
Uniform Updates Read More
52-49, the final score on Saturday night in Bloomington, left a lot of people outraged. The game should never have ended that close or ever been that close to begin with. However, due to a set of circumstances that left a lot of people scratching their heads, it happened and we have to move on from it. Let’s start now and officially put Indiana to rest.
Dark Day 3?
Was Saturday night going to end up being labeled “Dark Day 3″? Almost. While there is a ton of finger pointing to go around (officiating being one that deserves a review from some board of something, somewhere) the majority of fingers are pointing firmly at Luke Fickell and his Silver Bullet defense that was shredded for 481yards of total offense by the Hoosiers.
To his credit, Fickell has taken the criticism and spoken openly about the problem. The fact that he is admitting there is a problem is a huge step in the right direction to correcting the mess we watched on Saturday night. But how bad was it schematically that we should level all the blame on Fickell? Luke can’t make any tackles, he can’t take better pursuit angles, he can’t get guys off blockers and he certainly can’t use his shoulders to tackle instead of reaching for ankles or thighs. I’ve made this argument before and after watching what unfolded this past weekend it has to be repeated: Luke seems to have guys in the right spots, they just don’t make the play.
There is this myth going around that Ohio State is playing too much zone defense and therefore allowing these spread offenses to have free run and thus putting poor fundamental tackling players in positions to have to make plays they are not capable of making. It all sounds good except for one thing: They’re not running Luke Fickell’s (or Ohio State through time, in general for that matter) standard 4-3, they’re running Urban Meyer’s variations of it. Those variations appear to demand a type of player on defense that Ohio State, for the most part and certainly excluding the defensive line, does not have on campus yet. It’s what started getting the SEC ball rolling in the early 2000’s: defensive ends that can run like linebackers, linebackers that run like safeties and safeties that run like corners but hit like linebackers.
I’d also like clarification on what exactly the coverage calls are. I know we won’t get it from the staff and we shouldn’t, but if it’s true that they are (I’m not explaining this, so you may want to skip to the next bold headline) in a cover 4 base, then it’s the “one on one” matchups everyone is clamoring for that is actually the problem. My point is: This is Urban Meyer’s defense. It’s going to take time for Luke Fickell to learn to call it and recruiting the players to be on the field to execute it.
For my money, the real reason for concern is that they didn’t step on Indiana’s throats defensively when they had them down. Remember, they were given an 18 point lead and clearly went lax and gave IU the opportunity to get back in the game. This cannot happen against bad teams (see Indiana or even California) let alone some of the better teams on the schedule still remaining (see Wisconsin and Michigan). Against Nebraska, the hammer fell. They were up big and the defense attacked like sharks with blood in the water. What made the lead at Indiana so different? Oh, that’s right, it’s only Indiana. That line of thinking left the Buckeyes fortunate to escape.
Got Your Back Read More
And now, it gets real. Conference season. No more cupcakes… although, that hasn’t worked out all that well for a lot of teams. Today’s soundtrack is from this week’s release, and was chosen just to make our friend Bacon happy.
Let’s start out west this week, which gives me a chance to do two of my favorite things in the world. The first is to enjoy this moment: Oh, Rich Rod face, how I’ve missed your sublime poignancy. The second is to post a great FanShot, sent to us from pretty choice seats in Eugene… lots of people making their “O” face in that game, for sure. As a reminder, if you go to a game this year, send us a photo and we’ll run it on Monday mornings.
So, let’s talk about the Ducks. The wife and I watched the game… at least until Arizona threw a 4th and goal interception in the third quarter. After that, the fate of the Wildcats was sealed and we headed onto other things (Food Network, Ahoy!). ‘Cause here’s the fact- Oregon may take some time to warm up, but once they find weakness they will attack and attack and attack… and the next thing you know, you lose 49-0. Well, until they play a team with a defensive front, that is.
While the Ducks are still doing what they do, I’ve got to tip my hat a bit to Arizona- it was fun to watch the Rodriguez offense again and only have a little bit of hatred for the passes to the slot receivers and so forth. He’ll do well in Tuscon, particularly given that the transition won’t be as drastic as it was heading from Morgantown to Ann Arbor… and he probably doesn’t have alumni and former coaches trying to sabotage him as well.
In fact, I’d love to see RRod’s former team play the one he just faced- What WVa is doing offensively is probably the only thing that can match with the speed and scoring ability that we’re seeing in Eugene. Granted, they only managed 31 against a pretty bad Maryland team, but the potential is there. A bowl game between Chip Kelly and Dana Holgorsen would certainly surpass the UW/Baylor game from last year, and would feature some of the most unique
costumes uniforms in college sports.
I don’t know which is worse- that the play was allowed to continue, or that the official seems to be enjoying the spectacle. A little help here: Was the player that removed the helmet ejected, as per the rules? Read More
This week’s soundtrack is colorful, but has a bit of a different taste to it: trust me, it makes total sense in the grand scheme of things. Enjoy… language warning.
There’s no denying it… one group of conference-mates had an incredibly difficult Saturday.
Positioned for excellence, and featured in a number of nationally significant matchups, the on the field results just did not help dissuade the critics who argue that they have lost their prestige, and are rightfully scorned by college fans across the country. Once seen as powerful contenders for titles, it seems as if the results on Saturday have shown that the game may have passed them by.
Yup, it was a terrible day for the Big 12 expats. Who did you think I was talking about?
Texas A&M, Missouri, Colorado, Nebraska all dropped matches on Saturday, with two of these being significant “upsets” in terms of rankings and so forth. The Aggies, after a week full of bravado regarding their new allegiance to the “we can spell three letter words” conference, saw the early lead against Florida disappear in the waning moments of the game, and couldn’t count on Kyle Field to help carry the day. You’ve got to wonder if the different understanding of the word “cheerleader” might have had something to do with it. Ah well, you know they’ll just say that they won later… it’s the SEC way.
Missouri also opened SEC play by welcoming Georgia to play between the… uh… rocks in Columbia. The Bulldawgs emerged victorious, but you’re right in realizing that Mizzou is excited to be in a new home. There were too many Longhorns in the last one, and the B1G never returned their phone calls, so you can’t blame them for being OK with a loss in their prestigious opener. So excited about the new opportunities were they, that they broke out their new school clothes… or someone else’s old school clothes from when they were in the Arena League. As goofy as they looked, though, they didn’t win our “awkward haberdashery of the week award”… more later.
Ah, CoLOLorado… See, here’s how it works. You schedule a FCS opponent in the pre-season, you get them at home, you beat them and build up your alumni/student confidence in your program = profit. But, the Buffs are constricted by no man’s social norms, and instead chose to allow the mighty Hornets of Sacramento State to kick a field goal with time expiring and upset the Buffs in Boulder. I’m sure the fans will have to find some way to console their grief.
Which brings us to Nebraska. Read More
Sure, there’s games on Monday, but the weekend has been so amazing that we just couldn’t wait to get back in the saddle for our reflections on the games of note. Plus, are we really all that excited about a game that’s all technical and stuff? I thought not. Obvious choice for this week’s soundtrack… happy Labor Day.
Whew… I’ve got to admit, I should have been working out with Coach Mick during the offseason. Saturday found me trying to knock the rust off of my college football regimen, although I can definitely say that I was well hydrated. I’m guessing that’s what happened during the livechat- I hadn’t prepared enough, and brought the jinxation. You can breathe a sigh of relief, though- when I caught the replay on Sunday, my presence made no difference in the outcome… Baby steps, right?
From the looks of things, a number of teams were still in “preseason” form, and didn’t have their moves down pat just yet. For instance, while I’m sure that Dabo Swinney’s mom is sure proud of him for leading his fellers to victory over North Carolina State, she certainly couldn’t have been too excited that his first steps leading the team onto the turf ended up in a faceplant. That, combined with this excellent display of exuberance are enough to remind Volunteer fans that their team still has some work to do. Which is good… no one likes to peak during the first weekend of games- well, no one outside of the B1G, that is (more later).
Some of the butterflies were even evident in the Southern Idaho State University trip to East Lansing. Sure, the B1G represented well, as Michigan State showed many why they are a favorite for the conference title… but the game turned out to be “off-script” for both teams. For instance, no matter how hard they tried, Rob Harley’s new squadron couldn’t “Sparty” the game away. Shocker. Oh, and SISU broke their streak of beating out of conference teams when they have a ridiculously long time to prepare… effectively ending their bid at a BCS bowl until they join a legitimate BCS conference in the Big Eas…. I’m sorry. I just couldn’t bring myself to type that. The game also gave us a pretty amazing interception- as always, Tim Burke has ALL the great screencaps and stuff from the weekend’s events.
Saturday’s festivities kicked off with Notre Dame pounding the living stuffing out of Navy in their game in the Emerald Isle… Brian Kelly, why you no like America? And then, your boys let this happen?
Man, back in my day, we fought revolutions for less <adjusts tricorner cap>. Read More
Midweek look at news and notes from around Ohio State and the nation… getting ready for what’s been predicted to be a very wet weekend.
Tim checks in again looking at the guy behind the guy behind the guy across the B1G
Throwing the forward pass is a big question mark for the majority of Big Ten quarterbacks. Their athleticism, though, is not.
Many of the 2012 Big Ten starting quarterbacks are doing everything they can to fight the stereotype of “game manager.” For a conference usually classified by others as boring, I see only four of the 12 projected starters as “pro-style” quarterbacks; the rest can be classified as “dual-threats” or “athletes.”
With that said, I give to you my 2012 Big Ten quarterback rankings.
12. Matt McGloin (Penn State): McGloin has started ten games in his Nittany Lion career, but just hasn’t gotten any better. However, he’s far and away PSU’s best option at quarterback. Last year, McGloin threw for 1,571 yards with 8 touchdowns and 5 interceptions. With the Penn State program in such turmoil, it would be nice if they had a savior at quarterback. Matt McGloin is not that.
11. Tre Roberson (Indiana): Although he was just a true freshman, Roberson struggled as Indiana’s starting quarterback last year. His rushing ability can make him a dangerous player for defense to account for. And in Roberson’s defense, he plays for Indiana.
10. Andrew Maxwell (Michigan State): Maxwell sat behind Kirk Cousins for two seasons, not getting many opportunities to show off his talent. Inexperience is the reason why I have Maxwell ranked where I do. He’s got the physical skills, but just simply hasn’t played in enough games yet for me to rate him any higher than ten.
9. Kain Colter (Northwestern): Colter may not be the best natural quarterback for the Wildcats, but he’s definitely their best athlete. In addition to quarterback, he also spent time playing running back and wide receiver for Northwestern. In 2011, Colter threw for 673 yards and six touchdowns, ran for 654 yards and nine touchdowns and caught 43 passes for 466 yards and three touchdowns. For Northwestern, it is simple: Get him the damn ball.
8. Caleb TerBush (Purdue): From everything I’ve heard, Purdue doesn’t even know who its starting quarterback is going to be. It’s a race between TerBush and Robert Marve, who has been playing college football for about fifteen years now. My guess is the Boilermakers will go with TerBush, who threw for nearly 2,000 yards and 13 touchdowns last year.
7. MarQueis Gray (Minnesota): Gray has all of the physical tools to be an All-Big Ten selection. The 6’4” 240 quarterback has a deadly combination of size and speed, but he hasn’t lived up to all of his hype—now entering his senior season. He did take major strides last season, though, under coach Jerry Kill. Gray threw for nearly 1,500 yards last season and ran for 966, scoring 14 total touchdowns. But, like Roberson, Gray does not have much help as he plays for a team that finished 3-9 last season.
6. Nathan Scheelhaase (Illinois): Illini fans were left wanting more from Scheelhaase in 2011. After a very promising freshman campaign in which he threw for over 1,800 yards, ran for 868 yards and scored 22 total touchdowns, Scheelhaase showed little improvement in h is sophomore season. In fact, many Illinois supporters say he took a step backwards during his sophomore campaign. He threw for just 13 touchdowns and ran for 624 yards. Losing superstar wide receiver A.J. Jenkins won’t make things easier for him either, but Scheelhaase is another dual-threat quarterback that has the ability to drive opposing coaches crazy.