Here we are, another week. Grab your coffee and let’s get right to it.
A bit of a slow week, but not entirely dormant for Buckeye fans. Obviously, I’m referring to Jim Bollman being hired as OC by Michigan State after a quite brief stint as offensive line coach at Purdue. Evidently, Jim thought that he only needed a month or so to get the Purdue offensive line to the standards that we experienced in Columbus during his tenure. Since this chain of events involved Bollman, Mark Dantonio and Darrell Hazell, the Jim Tressel Coaching Tree is in full leaf.
Entering the week, the Buckeyes came off an impressive display of basketball, gouging the Gophers 71-45 in Columbus. Then Ohio State had a truly inspired effort to beat a tough, especially this time of year, Michigan State team, 68-60 on Sunday. On Wednesday OSU had an all too common experience in Evanston, toughing out a 63-53 win over a shorthanded Northwestern squad. There was quite a bit of ebb and flow until about the 3:57 mark, after ‘Zelle Smith’s 3-pointer gave OSU the lead 51-49. From that point on, 3 steals and 2 blocked shots by the Buckeyes ebbed the Wildcats into submission. Read More
As the temperatures drop, the games get more heated… and nowhere saw this more true than in the Midwest, where three games with title implications found themselves coming down to the final seconds.
You read that right. The midwest- “flyover country” and “battleground states”. We’ll get to the events in Louisiana and Los Angeles in a bit, but there was a 25 minute period on Saturday that saw the eyes of college football fans tuned to the states of Indiana and Michigan.
First, the Battle in the B1G Legends Division saw either a “Sparty NO!!” moment or the referees stealing yet another game from Dantonio’s team, depending on your perspective and your proximity to LeVeon Bell. Nebraska managed a last second touchdown after two huge mental errors/penalties against the Spartans- first, Taylor Martinez was intercepted on the two yard line as the Huskers were threatening to score; the INT was taken back for an apparent score, but a personal foul well away from the play ended up costing MSU the score (they would get no points from the turnover). As Nebraska mounted a late drive for what would prove to be the go ahead score, a pass into the endzone was called Spartan interference,allowing Martinez to throw the game winner on the next play.
Not only did the win keep the Huskers in the drivers seat for their trip to Indy, but it also helped keep Michigan one game behind for that same opportunity- in spite of their “Denardless” win against Minnesota. Devan Gardner was more than adequate to beat the Gophers and maintain the Little Brown Jug for another year- as someone commented, Michigan’s QB turned WR turned QB outperformed Minnesota’s QB turned WR turned QB turned WR. Here’s hoping that TTUN’s RB masquerading as a QB doesn’t have any permanent damage to the nerves in his puntin’ arm.
After the Nebraska win, most of us clicked over to the Leaders’ game of the week, where we watched Indiana continue their storybook season… if you like storybooks where the protagonist essentially backs into something amazing out of default. In spite of James’ Vandenberg’s mom’s son having a pretty decent day, B1G coach of the year Kirk Ferentz’ team fell just short after holding a 14-10 lead at the break. IU punted back to Iowa with 18 seconds left on the clock, but the last Hawkeyes plays were not able to get the job done, given that the “interesting” B1G refs were in East Lansing this week. And so, should the Hoosiers beat Wisconsin this week (in what’s sure to be a trap game), they are headed to Indianapolis for a chance to play for all the Roses.
At this point, most of America was looking to kill time before the Alabama/LSU game kicked off, only to have their friends text them that the Pitt/Notre Dame game was headed to overtime. At the beginning of the fourth quarter, the Panthers held a 20-6 lead; when that scrolled across the ticker, I commented to my wife that Notre Dame would win, since the game was being played in South Bend. The Irish scored 17 points in the final period, and we headed to overtime.
After exchanging field goals, Notre Dame’s Cierre Wood fumbled on his way into the end zone and Pitt recovered. And, this time the officials made the right call and gave Pitt the ball. The Panthers chose to run three straight plays to set up the field goal, but on third down chose not to center the ball on the field of play. You can guess what happened next- the field go was wide right; kicked from the right hash, it never wavered from it’s initial trajectory. It was, unless you’re Brian Kelly, an exciting moment.
Ah, but we can’t have “the luck of the Irish” without a little controversy; this one emerging after the fact. On the missed field goal, Notre Dame had two players on the field with the same number, which should have resulted in Pitt having an automatic first down. It’s not as if the officials might have seen this before, or that Notre Dame might have been aware that they should address this issue… nonetheless, a Pitt Field Goal led to a Notre Dame touchdown and the undefeated season continued.
There are a lot of folks who are comparing this year’s Irish season to the 2002 Ohio State champions… good enough offense, but an outstanding defense and a little luck from a resurgent program. Here’s the problem with that analogy… it doesn’t take into account the obnoxiousness that Irish fans bring due to their perceived “special” place in the “annals of college football history”. For a point of reference, this week’s offering by MSPaint maestro ThuJone might help clarify the issue just a bit… warning, most of his stuff is hilariously not safe for work. Read More
If you think the “Final Verdict” segments of College Gameday are amazing places for rhetoric and logic, you’re probably excited for the beginning of the Presidential Debates tonight. Me? I’d rather argue about college sports… compared to politics, the BCS makes sense.
I think the answer is quite simply “yes, yes we were”.
Ring the Bell.He wasn’t necessarily worn out, but he was reduced to what will possibly be the least number of yards he’ll gain all year – 17 carries for 45 yards. The Silver Bullets definitely locked down and eliminated him as a viable part of MSU’s gameplan.
Speed it up. They sure did on the first drive. The rest of the game was played a bit slower, probably due to Michigan State’s defense blitzing and disguising what they were doing.
3rd down. Yea, not so much yet. They figured it out at the end of the game, but there’s a reason the recap say “Don’t talk to me about Third and Long”.
XBrax360. Braxton Miller did his thing, but he didn’t take care of the football particularly well. That’s something he needs to work on.
College Gameday. You got your wish, the Buckeyes are now 20-10 when College Gameday visits. (Though, that makes them .667, not .500, just sayin’.)
Under 80. Is 45 yards less than 80? Oh it is? Well then, wish granted!
Hall and Hyde. We saw it early, but unfortunately Hall tweaked his knee. Hopefully we’ll see him back again soon.
Wrap Up. For all but one play, the Buckeye defense did a great job wrapping up. That one play went 29 yards for a touchdown though, so I’m still not happy.
It doesn’t get much closer than that.
The Buckeyes and Spartans opened up the Big Ten regular season with a tough fought classic B1G battle that ended with a 17-16 win for the now 5-0 Buckeyes. Braxton Miller threw 16-23 for 179 yards, a touchdown and an interception, and added 23 carries for 136 yards on the ground but with 2 fumbles. His effort was significant in securing the win against a tough, hard-nosed Dantonio team.
As much as we wanted to believe the Buckeyes the Buckeyes were going to put together a much more impressive offensive performance, the Michigan State defense had other ideas. There are ways to be successful against the Spartans, and they aren’t the mobile QB killers they like to think they are, but they’re still a Dantonio defense. Playing them requires a slog through the mud that takes a level of intestinal fortitude few actually possess.
Carlos Hyde may have been the saving grace for this team today. He ran tough all game long and gave the Buckeyes a first down on a third and four from the 50 late in the 4th quarter. His number may not be explosive, but they seemed to come when we needed them most.
Andrew Maxwell played extremely well for the Spartans today. I can’t tell you how impressed I am about how much he has seemed to have grown in the last couple weeks. He could be a dangerous opponent next year if he can get a few better wide receiver targets. Thankfully his receivers dropped a few catchable balls today at key moments.
The defense obviously still needs work, but they were very close to not giving up any touchdowns again. They blew that by deciding to try to strip the football instead of wrapping up and tackling. They need to change their focus in future weeks, especially against Taylor Martinez of Nebraska, who has improved his passing this year.
It’s time for the start of the B1G Football season! The Buckeyes and Spartans are set to collide at 3:30 PM on ABC.
Looking forward to seeing you there! Go Bucks!
This week THE Buckeyes will take on the other team from up North. For this week’s Across the Web we look to our friends at www.enlightenedspartan.com, who also joined us for last year’s chat. ES took some time from his busy schedule to answer our questions on Sparty.
1. Are MSU Fans excited about William Gholston’s play, or is it more of a “man, I hope he doesn’t kill us with a stupid penalty”?
ES: Gholston is the Spartans’ version of Dirty Harry… he is mean, and with a penchant for taking no prisoners ‘cause he’s THE MAN – but while kicking butt, he’s not thinking about the impact of his actions outside of his own skin. So, we’ll take his two steps forward, knowing we’ll take one step back.
2. What are the odds that MSU drops Notre Dame, following their move to the ACC? Bigger rival- the Irish or the Wolverines?
ES: Part 1, ND: Nil. As expected, the Catholics dropped the Wolvies, because scUM is a far more disinteresting matchup. The Spartans have a much longer history, and more wins in the series, and we’re on the docket for… forever.
Part 2, Rival: Our bigger rival is the Rodents, and that’s tied into our relationship in the Big Ten… speaking of which, the Roadkill was the only Big Ten school to vote against Michigan State joining the conference back in 1949, and we’ve hated that scUM ever since. The ES is permanently irked at having to watch both scUM and the Goddam Catholics get support annually from millions of Trailer Trash who love them yet never even attended college. Read More
Ring the Bell. Put as many silver helmets on Le’Veon Bell as possible. Wear him out before he wear the defense out.
Speed it up. I’d like to see the offense speed things up to a pace similar to the Miami of Ohio game when they ran 85 plays.
3rd down. Silver Bullets: Get off the field on third downs, especially ones over 5 yards.
XBrax360. Braxton Miller, do your thing.
College Gameday. Ohio State is 19-10 in games whereby ESPN’s College Gameday broadcast their morning pregame show from the site. Time to make that an even ten games over .500
Under 80. Hold Le’Veon Bell to under 80 yards. MAY is going to try and run early and often. If the Buckeyes contain Bell and force Andrew Maxwell to beat them with his arm, they have a great chance to win.
Hall and Hyde. There’s been some talk of both being on the field together. It will be interesting to see if that happens. And if so, what kind of plays will Urban Meyer have in store.
Wrap Up. It has been hammered home as a point of emphasis, but OSU simply cannot miss open field tackles or they will be in trouble. It would be nice to see 2 or 3 guys swarming to the ball on every play.