Well, well, the Buckeyes get to head south for their bowl game rather than west. Oh well, it wasn’t our first preference, but let’s go Orange Bowling. The bowl game that we know as the Orange Bowl was inaugurated in 1933 as the Palm Festival. The bowl game was renamed the Orange Bowl and under the new name, the first game was played on January 1st, 1935 between Bucknell and Miami, won by Bucknell 26-0. From 1935 through 1988, this contest was known as the Orange Bowl. From 1989 – 2010, buttressed by corporate sponsorship, it was renamed the FedEx Orange Bowl. Moving from logistics to financial services, the game was renamed again in 2010 as the Discover (Financial) Orange Bowl.
The protagonists this January are the Ohio State University Buckeyes, Big Ten Conference (12-1, 8-1) and the Clemson Tigers, Atlantic Coast Conference (10-2, 7-1). Both teams have a brief history in playing in the Orange Bowl, and have played one another. The Buckeyes enter this game averaging 46 points on offense, while giving up 21 points. The Tigers average 40 points on offense and 21 on defense. The early line is Ohio State -2.5 with an over/under of 67, so Vegas is anticipating both teams scoring in the mid-30′s. They are probably right. Look for a high scoring game. Without much further ado, let’s get into the preview.
Merry Christmas! I hope everyone has had a great day and is settling in for a great evening. I’d ask what you’re doing reading this, but hey, everybody needs a break from in-laws. Without and further ado or fanfare, it’s Wednesday, let’s rumble!
The seriousness of Clemson and the Orange Bowl
Before we have some fun, I want to try and drive home the point on just how important this Orange Bowl and beating Clemson next Friday is. The nation will be watching and the Buckeyes need to make a statement.
I won’t take anything away from Clemson. It’s a good school that seems to follow the rules and does things the right way. They have a young coach that has brought them some recent success and talent all over the field. That being said, they cannot be allowed to beat the Ohio State University at football in a major bowl game to close a season in which said Buckeye team had realistic national championship dreams.
I say “realistic” national championship dreams because this is the chance to prove that all the talk coming out of Columbus was legitimate. Beating Clemson (and if it happens by a lot, the better) and their high powered offense sends a message that the Buckeye program under Urban Meyer is ready to compete on a national stage again and expects to win. A loss would be devastating on so many levels: National perception, recruits, senior send-offs, building for 2014. Read More
The #4 Ohio State Buckeyes (7-0, 3-0) host the Penn State Nittany Lions (4-2, 1-1) for a Saturday evening game in Columbus.
After winning the first two games of the season, the Nits have alternated L’s with W’s, with their last game an exciting 43-40 win over TTUN two weeks ago. Penn State had a bye week to recover from that game and to prepare for this week’s contest.
This is Coach Bill O’Brien’s (BOB) 2nd year, and he seems to be continuing last year’s success (8-4) under challenging coaching conditions. Although the Lions feature Thunder (Zack Zwinak, 6’1” 240) and Lightning (Bill Belton, 5’10” 205) as their running backs, freshman QB Christian Hackenberg truly leads this offense. Hackenberg is averaging 284 YPG (3rd in B1G) on 26 attempts per game.
His key receiver is junior WR Allen Robinson (43 rec, 16.5 YPC, 5 TD). Robinson is 6’3” and 210 pounds. That presents some physical match up challenges. As you may guess, PSU throws to their TE’s quite a bit, with the 6’7” Jesse James and 6’3” Kyle Carter being the main targets.
Historically, Penn State’s offense has averaged slightly more yards passing than rushing. Not under BOB. In the past season and a half, PSU is running a yardage ratio of 65/35 in favor of passing. This is not your Pa’s Penn State offense by any means.
Meanwhile, Ohio State is coming off a 2nd half will-imposing win against Iowa. It was a return to 2012, as Miller and Hyde carried the running game with 42 carries for 251 yards between them.
Ohio State on Offense Read More
The #4/3 Buckeyes (6-0, 2-0) host the Fightin’ Ferentzs’ of Iowa (4-2, 1-1) for an afternoon game in Columbus on Saturday. Up until a couple years ago, I always considered this a match-up of two teams with similar philosophies. Now, I see the game as the “new/improved” Ohio State playing a Tressel-ball bound team with less quality athletes, in Iowa.
Iowa under 15th year coach Kirk Ferentz are 104-76 (.578). Other than the team uniform’s similarity to the Pittsburgh Steelers (thanks, Hayden), Iowa is noted for cranking out offensive linemen (Bollman, you listening?) and having a stoic note-taking, gum-chewing head coach.
Coming off an very impressive 11-2 season in 2009, Iowa AD Gary Barta decided to elevate Kirk into the Hayden Fry pantheon with a contract extension through the year 2020 at $3.75 million per year, per HawkCentral.. With this contract, that’s a lot of chewing gum and notepads. Since the impressive contract extension, Iowa has been a less-than-impressive 19-19.
Back to football: Iowa ended their non-con portion at 3-1, then opened their B1G slate with an impressive 23-7 win over Minnesota. The next week, the Hawkeyes got roughed up, physically and statistically, against Michigan State, 26-14. Since I see OSU having a better offense but worse defense than MSU, things will not improve for Iowa. Read More
The #4/3 Buckeyes (5-0, 1-0) move their Prime Time show from Columbus, OH to Evanston, IL for another 8:00 PM kickoff. The opponents, the undefeated (4-0, 0-0) #16/15 Northwestern Wildcats. Yes, another night game against another ranked B1G team.
When I saw this game on the schedule, I was only mildly concerned about the outcome. And that was based on the 2004 night game debacle in Evanston, not on this year’s talent/performance. Northwestern will be a different challenge from Wisconsin, in that, despite what we saw on Saturday, the Wildcats bring a legitimate balanced offense into this game.
Northwestern has two legitimate quarterbacks in Kain Colter (27-35, 264 yds, 4TD, 2INT)/Trevor Siemian (47-70, 671, 3,2), two quality running backs in Venric Mark (if healthy)/Treyvon Green (101 YPG)and two quality receivers in Tony Jones/Christian Jones (39 Rec, 15 YPR, 5TD). Their offense is also a bit different from Wiscy’s in that rather than relying on raw power, Northwestern brings more speed and elusiveness to the field.
Last year’s all-everything running back Venric Mark appears to be healthy enough to be listed on the Wildcats depth chart as the starting running back for Saturday. This could be a Carlos Hyde situation where a player comes back to play in a big game after a 2-3 game layoff. Whether Venric Mark gets the every down workload remains to be seen, but I expect him to see spot duty in the backfield and to line up as kick/punt returner. Last year, Venric was 2nd team all-conference as a running back, and All-American as a punt returner, so look for Pat Fitzgerald and his staff to put him in positions to handle the ball, particularly in the open field.
After rolling the overmatched FAMU Rattlers last week, things get a bit tougher this Saturday night as Ohio State hosts B1G/Leaders leader Wisconsin in an 8:00 PM game. The Buckeyes (4-0, 0-0) look to move into 1st place in the Leaders Division by shutting down the Badgers (3-1, 1-0).
First year Badgers Head Coach Gary Andersen was defensive line coach at Utah in 2004, Urban Meyer’s last year as Utah head coach, so there is familiarity between the two gentlemen. After a 4 year stint as Utah State’s head coach, Wisconsin AD Barry Alvarez hired Andersen to replace the departed Bret Bielema, who was banished to coach at Arkansas.
I’m going to gloss over most of the season-to-date statistics for both teams because I don’t think those numbers are relevant for this game. Wisconsin’s wins and “numbers’ were racked up against University of Massachusetts (MAC) who has won 1 of its last 16 games, FCS school Tennessee Tech (2-2) and a not very good Purdue team. Unfortunately, Ohio State’s schedule is pretty similar.
Here are two tables that summarize both teams’ offensive and defensive performances so far this season. As I mentioned above, with both teams having sketchy schedules, use these numbers more for a general indication of performance. The first table, is relative offensive performances comparison between Wisconsin and Ohio State.
Yep, a lot of yards and points against so-so competition.
Here’s the defensive comparison; it’s looks similar.
Now that we really know that Wisconsin and Ohio State took care of their early season opponents, we move on to the game at hand.
Well, that was a somewhat interesting game on Saturday, wasn’t it? I’ve noticed there’s been the usual beefing, complaining and angst about Ohio State scheduling an FCS team like Florida A&M University. These feelings have come in the guise of articles and their comments. I can understand that; demolishing a clearly inferior opponent 76-0 doesn’t prompt me to don my Buckeye garb and proudly puff up my chest.
The articles that I’ve read are well thought out and generally have the theme of “Oh, Gene, why did you do this?” or something similar. Good sentiment, but quite a few major programs schedule this way, for various reasons.
The general tone of some commenters was it was a classless example of running up the score on a clearly overmatched opponent. I want to address the comments that I’ve seen that take Urban Meyer, personally, to task for his team’s rout of FAMU.
The Buckeyes return home from a successful Left Coast trip to play an FCS opponent out of the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference (MEAC), the Rattlers of Florida A&M University (FAMU). The Buckeyes (3-0) are coming off an exciting, yet convincing, win over Cali-Berkeley (52-34), while the Rattlers (1-2) lost to Samford (27-20).
This is OSU’s last game before Conference play begins, so it will be a good opportunity to take care of a few loose ends. False starts and tackling techniques come to mind. Even though, to Jason’s chagrin, this is a noon start, the weather forecast is for low 70’s, cloudy and 30% chance of rain. This is no time to “go Cal” and not show up until well into the game. We’re fortunate to have a really good football team; be there to support them.
Ohio State on Offense
This will be a good game to get a couple quarterbacks some playing time before conference play; Braxton Miller and Cardale Jones. I think that Ken Guiton has proved his capability and reliability. Braxton probably needs some fine tuning after missing the last two games, and Cardale needs some ‘live fire’ experience, just in case.
Oh, and the Buckeyes get starting (last year, anyway) running back Carlos Hyde back, although how much playing time he gets is up in the air. I anticipate Dontre Wilson to get more involved with the offense, and possibly even some Ezekiel Elliot. However, the bulk of the non-Jordan Hall carries will be Hyde’s
FAMU’s defense is giving up 321 yards per game, good for 70th in the country if they were FBS. I think that pending too much experimentation on Urban’s part, OSU will find this defense a bit less challenging than last week. The bright spot for FAMU is that against Samford, they did come up with 2 pick-6’s.