Wednesday Night Rumble: Eyes On

Written January 2nd, 2013 by Jason

2013 is here, I hope everyone rang in the New Year safe and sound but still had a lot of fun! With a new year brings the opportunity to look forward to what we are expecting and would like to see at this time next year. Let’s rumble!

Next Man Up

No drop off on the d-line

For the first time in who knows how long, Ohio State will go into the upcoming football season replacing all four starters on its defensive front line. Gone are Jonathan Hankins, John Simon, Nathan Williams and Garret Goebel. The guys taking their place have big shoes to fill as Hankins may potentially be a top ten pick in the NFL draft, Williams and Simon were deadly on the ends (most notably when on the field together) while Goebel came into his own in 2011 and really blossomed in 2012 as a solid run stuffer. Goebel and Simon were named captains at the end of fall practice.

Fortunately, the Buckeyes appear to be loaded. We watched true freshman Tommy Schutt, Adolphus Washington and Noah Spence see significant snaps, some in critical junctures of big games. Junior Joel Hale was solid when called on. Another junior, Michael Bennett, has the potential to be the next “big time” defensive lineman at Ohio State. More troops are on the way as incoming freshman Tracy Sprinkle, Joey Bosa and Michael Hill are being looked at to perform as well as the Schutt-Spence-Washington trio did in 2012 or better.

There’s also the enigma that is J.T. Moore. He has the size and speed to be a steady hand in the rotation but has yet to show an ability to stay on the field when opportunities arise. Along with Moore, what will become of Chris Carter? Carter has the size to shut down run lanes in the manner that Hankins did in his career, but does he have the desire?

The REAL Linebacker U

Andy Katzenmoyer. A.J. Hawk. Ike Kelly. Bobby Carpenter. Randy Gradishar. Chris Spielman. Steve Tovar. Pepper Johnson. Tom Cousineau. James Laurinitis. Matt Wilhelm. Marcus Marek. Na’ill Diggs. Tell me, Penn State, is your list remotely close to this one? Didn’t think so. Read More

Wednesday Night Rumble: Best and Worst of 2012

Written December 26th, 2012 by Jason

How Sweet It Was

I hope everyone had a great Christmas and survived it safely! Did you get what you wanted? I decided since this is the last week of 2012, why not do a “best of and worst of” to recap all the things that caught our eye or made us angry this past year. Let’s rumble!

The Gator Bowl- The year started out with the Buckeyes in the Gator Bowl taking on the Florida Gators. The outcome and subsequent bowl ban clearly make this one of our “worst of” for the year. The catch to it that makes me crazy is listening to everyone now talk about it like they knew that the bowl ban was coming. From Gordon Gee to Gene Smith and down the line to all of us, everyone thought they would be getting probation and reduced scholarships for “Tattoo-gate”. The revisionists out there like to destroy Smith for not taking a self-imposed one year ban. There are plenty of reasons to not like Gene Smith, the bowl ban isn’t one of them.

Beating Syracuse- Everyone knows Jim Boeheim is a cranky old fart. One of the “best of” moments of 2012 was watching the Buckeyes take apart his Syracuse Orangemen to earn a berth in the Final Four. Watching him grimace and complain, knowing he was outmatched and on his way out of the tournament was a beautiful sight!

Circle Drill- Read More

Wednesday Night Rumble: Football Season Review

Written December 19th, 2012 by Jason

Rough Way To Start The Year

Everything is sort of quiet around the Woody Hayes Athletic Center, the holidays are almost here. Since hindsight is 20/20, let’s look back on 2012. Who’s ready to rumble?

The 2012 story didn’t begin on January 1, 2012. Of course, so much had already happened up to that point that I would be remiss without first going back to November 29, 2011 when the hiring of Urban Meyer as the next head coach at Ohio State became official. With that, we also have to think back to December 22nd of 2011, the day the sanctions prohibiting the Buckeyes from playing in a bowl game after the 2012 season, reducing scholarships and prohibiting Ohio State from competing in the Big Ten Championship game was announced.

“Gator don’t play…”

2012 started out with a trip to something called the Tax Slayer dot com Gator Bowl where the Buckeyes squared off with? Of course it had to be Urban Meyer’s old team, the Florida Gators. In a game that was quite honestly hard to watch, the Buckeyes fell 24-17. Unfortunately it was a game that didn’t feel like it was winnable in the end despite the mere seven point deficit. The good news from that day was that on the next day, January 2nd the Gators former boss officially took the wheel driving the Buckeye football program.

Anticipation and predictions

We waited all spring and through a long dry summer to finally see what Urban Meyer’s offense with Braxton Miller at quarterback would look like once it actually came to fruition on the field. Preseason speculation saw the Buckeyes picked to win anywhere from 7-10 games. With the Big Ten being in another of its string of down years, it wasn’t too farfetched to think the Buckeyes could be 10-2 or even 9-3. I think the consensus among people closest to the program were that road games at Michigan State and Wisconsin seemed like stumbling blocks for a young team. I think most thought Nebraska at Ohio Stadium would be a toss-up considering all that Nebraska had returning from 2011. Naturally, we all know anything can happen in The Game.

The first quarter against Miami… Read More

Thursday Night Rumble: Anesthesia

Written December 13th, 2012 by Jason

The Heisman trophy has been awarded. The Buckeyes are gaining recruits. Buckeye basketball players are shooting hoops. It’s almost Christmas time. Let’s rumble!

Hei-sham

We're just as surprised as you are

On Saturday the Heisman trophy was awarded to Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel. Why did people outside the SEC region vote for Manziel? Yes, he accumulated 4600 total yards on the season. Sure, he won at Alabama. So, let me get this straight: The requirements to be the “most outstanding player in college football” is to have the most yards and beat an SEC “super power”? Being a leader no longer matters. Neither does keeping your nose clean off the field. Leading a team with the hardest schedule in college football to an undefeated season and spearheading a defense that allows ten (10!) touchdowns for an entire season doesn’t matter either apparently.

I should be ecstatic. Apparently having the name Notre Dame attached to yours no longer guarantees trophy’s the way it has in the past. We all remember when Troy Smith won the Heisman in 2006 and being worried that Brady Quinn might edge him out simply because of the name Notre Dame. After Saturday’s Heisman vote, that is clearly a thing of the past. Unfortunately, it’s been replaced by another stigma or fallacy, and that is simply being associated with the mighty SEC. Why do I say that? Let’s be honest: If Manziel plays for Texas A&M of the Big 12 and has his “Heisman moment” Thanksgiving night against the Texas Longhorns, I don’t care how many yards Manziel accumulated, Manti Te’o would be the 2012 Heisman Trophy winner. But because Manziel plays in the SEC and beat Alabama, well, that’s Herculean and should obviously be rewarded.

If you don’t believe me, look at the voting. The southern region of the country ie SEC-land voted overwhelmingly for Manziel. Not really that surprising. The shocker was the amount of folks in the Midwest and East that voted for Manziel. Some surely voted for “Johnny Football” because they dislike the Irish, while others I can guarantee voted for him “because he did what he did in the SEC”. And that’s rubbish.

Manziel was not “the most outstanding player in college football” in 2012, stats be damned. The Heisman has always been an accumulation of stats, team achievement, off the field success, highlight moments and their personal story. With the exception of stats, Manti Te’o trumps “Johnny Football” in every category. But he didn’t win it. He lost to the stigma of the SEC.

How far is this going to go and when is it going to end?
Read More

Wednesday Night Rumble: Shocking!

Written December 5th, 2012 by Jason

I’m still basking in the glow of 12-0. And more importantly, I continue to cherish the win over Michigan and think about it every day. I didn’t realize how much the 2011 game impacted me until this week. To see them lose to TTUN after everything that happened to them in 2011, while playing maybe their best game of the season, was truly heartbreaking. But that memory can be suppressed, the undefeated Buckeyes have made it so. It’s Wednesday, let’s get ready to rumble!

Braxton and the Heisman

By default?

I was absolutely shocked when the Heisman trophy finalists were announced on Monday evening and Braxton Miller wasn’t amongst them. I realize he had “average” games against Wisconsin and Michigan to close the season, but his team did finish 12-0 and he put up some pretty gaudy numbers in leading them to that mark. I didn’t in any way expect him to win it, but in a year with no clear favorite how does the highlight reel quarterback of the undefeated Ohio State Buckeyes get left off the invite list?

Without further ado: The finalists are Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te’o, Kansas State quarterback Collin Klein and Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel. I know what you want to know now: Who should win it and who would I vote for?

If you’re looking for consistency then it has to be Klein or Te’o. If it’s the “story” that you’re looking for, it would have to be Te’o or “Johnny Football” Manziel. If it’s the guy who meant the most to his team, it’s Te’o spearheading one of the nation’s best defenses through a tough schedule and leading it to Miami and the national championship game. If it’s the statistically best player in college football, Klein has thrown for 2500 yards and ran for 900 more while Manziel has accounted for 4600 total yards on the season.

Who would I vote for? If Collin Klein’s team had finished undefeated, he would likely have been my pic. However they didn’t, so he’s out. I’m not giving the Heisman Trophy to someone simply based on what conference they play in. So while “Johnny Football” has ridiculous numbers and a win at Alabama, he can win it next year if he does it again. That’s provided he can hold off Braxton Miller and the run he will get just from having the Ohio State name and exposure attached to him. So that leaves Manti Te’o of the three finalists, and yes, he’d get my vote. I realize he doesn’t lead the nation in statistics, but if he were not on the Notre Dame defense, would they be in Miami challenging for the crystal football? I think absolutely not. He’s not only the best player on the number one team in the country; he is their heart and soul.

The Heisman used to be about awarding the best player in college football, regardless or conference, stats, position etc. A vote for Te’o is a throwback and I’d be “all in” for it. I’d have absolutely no problem checking the box to give the Heisman Trophy to Manti Te’o. Read More

Wednesday Night Rumble: The Reckoning

Written November 21st, 2012 by Jason

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

Wednesday Night Rumble: Down Goes Creed!

Written November 14th, 2012 by Jason

A bye week can make for a lazy Saturday. Maybe you finish up some yard work before the weather really changes for the worst or maybe one last trip to do your favorite outdoor activities. For me, fun during a bye week is seeing the defending national champion aka the unbeatable aka the mighty aka the lock for the national championship game again from the otherworldly Southeastern Conference fall (at home!) to a mediocre Big 12 team with a freshman quarterback. I also enjoy thinking about the inevitable whipping that the Buckeyes are going to put on Wisconsin and the ensuing painful look on Bert Bielema’s face.

Rivalry

Maybe nobody has actually said it but it has been pretty apparent that Wisconsin has become the secondary rival to our Ohio State Buckeyes. The Badgers fill the “next level” rival spot for Ohio State that Penn State wishes it could be. The players this week have been pointing to the 2010 game (when the Buckeyes were ambushed at Camp Randall and a perfect season was ruined) as the spark that ignited the rivalry, but I think it goes back a lot farther than that. Let’s go back in time…

Brooks Bollinger

Classy.

In the 1999 meeting of the Bucks and Badgers, the Buckeyes delighted the home crowd to a mid-second quarter 17-0 lead. Things seemed to be in cruise control and a blowout eminent, especially with freshman quarterback Brooks Bollinger filling in for injured senior Scott Kavanaugh for Wisconsin. The outcome? 42-17… Badgers.

The Buckeyes got revenge a year later in 2000 winning 23-7 in Madison. It should be noted: This game was played with the lingering stigma of Wisconsin finally returning to full strength after having 26 players suspended for obtaining illegal benefits from a local shoe store earlier that summer. In other words, Wisconsin felt due to the suspension their season was a bust.

In 2001 back in The Shoe, the Buckeyes once again went up 17-0. They would again not hold the lead and lost 20-17 to another Brooks Bollinger lead Badger team.

This made tensions high heading into the 2002 meeting at Camp Randall. As we all remember, the Buckeyes were undefeated and in the midst of making a magical championship run. The Badgers were beginning to be a real thorn in the Buckeyes sides. Would they play the role so many Michigan teams played in the 90’s and spoil the championship dream?

A little added fuel to the fire to help a blossoming rivalry also helped inspire and drive the Buckeyes to remain undefeated. The accelerant came in the form of an autographed picture Brooks Bollinger had given to a friend that was likely never meant to see the light of day. He signed the photo “The Horeshoe. They built it. WE OWN IT.” The Buckeyes won 19-14 and went on to win the national championship. Read More

Wednesday Night Rumble: Finally Complete

Written November 7th, 2012 by Jason

The Buckeyes played their most complete game of the season this past Saturday in dispatching Illinois 52-22. A game that shouldn’t have been close wasn’t. A team that has in recent years played to the level of its competition, whether up or down, the Buckeyes showed their mite by putting their foot on the gas early against the Illini and never looking back.

Urban’s attitude

A lot has been said about the Big Ten being weak and the Buckeye schedule being light. I can’t argue much about either of those points. When writing last week’s entry, the thought crossed my mind that this (past) week against Illinois could be the week when it all comes together and the “Urbanization” of the Buckeyes begins to take shape.

For me, the real transformation to this program completely becoming Urban Meyer’s will be when we no longer see games like Purdue or California. The day we see the Buckeyes playing at a high level every week, not just when it’s a rival or a night game against a major name opponent, is the day the transformation is complete. It’s the day that everyone else in the Big Ten realizes that they are either going to work longer and recruit harder or be crushed in Meyer and Ohio State’s wake.

The destruction of Illinois may have been the first sign of this process taking shape. The defense was responsible for 6 points, the offense went up and down the field at will, backups played like they could have won the game if asked from the start, lots of excitement and celebrating on the sidelines, a confident swagger. Good times are ahead, my friends. Read More

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