Focused Buckeyes Rout Illinois 

Urban Meyer leads the Buckeyes onto the field at Ohio Stadium before their 52-14 victory over Illinois. Photo Credit: OhioStateBuckeyes.com

The Ohio State Buckeyes did what everyone expected them to do. They beat up on the Illinois Fighting Illini 52-14 in the 2017 home finale. It’s clear they weren’t looking ahead to next week’s big matchup with Xichigan.

The first team offense scored touchdowns on their first four drives, a 33-yard field goal on their fifth drive and another touchdown on their sixth drive for 38 points. Each of the first four touchdown drives ended quicker than the previous. 9 plays in 3:18, 6 plays in 2:07, 3 plays in a 1:13 and 2 plays in 44 seconds.

It wasn’t until 3:48 seconds left in the second quarter after the first-team offense was ceremoniously substituted out of the game that Drue Chrisman came in to punt for the first time.  

J.T. Barrett finished his last game in “The ‘Shoe” completing 11 of 19 pass attempts for 141 yards and connected on his 100th and 101st career touchdown passes to become the first B1G quarterback to pass the century mark.

Meanwhile the Silver Bullets forced the Illini into 6 consecutive three and outs. Illinois didn’t get their first first-down until 3:38 seconds left in the second quarter. The Buckeyes first-team D allowed only 43 total yards in the first half.

The one blemish for the Buckeyes this game was the 6 penalties for 53 yards. They are the most penalized team in the conference. Watch that the next two weeks, it could be the difference between being champions or not if they don’t eliminate those mistakes. 

Besides that, there’s not much to analyze from this game. It’s pretty much what you expect from a matchup of a 2-8 team focused on their long-term future versus an 8-2 team with their season goals still on the line. This was the type of performance you want to see heading into the most crucial time of the season. This game was about the Scarlet & Gray tuning up for the Wolverines and a run at the B1G Championship.

Before the game kicked off, Ohio State knew they would clinch the B1G East division with their win thanks to the Wolverines 24-10 loss to the Wisconsin Badgers. With that sewn up, now it’s time to focus on manhandling TTUN and impressing the College Football Playoff Committee.

“The Game” at “The Big House in Ann Arbor is set for a 12:07 pm kickoff. The Buckeyes have won the last 5-0 against TTUN and 12 of the last 15 (2010’s win was vacated). With a win, J.T. Barrett will tie Art Schlichter at 36 for the most in Buckeye history. 

J.T. Barrett runs onto the Ohio Stadium turf for his final home game. Photo Credit: OhioStateBuckeyes.com

 

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NFL Buckeyes (2017, Week 10)

Several former Buckeyes are playing key roles in their teams’ playoff pushes.

The four New Orleans Saints-Buckeyes of Michael Thomas, Ted Ginn, Vonn Bell & Marshon Lattimore played an instrumental role in their 47-10 win over the Buffalo Bills. Thomas caught 9 passes for 117 yards; Ginn only had 1 catch for 3 yards and 5 punt returns for 19 yards. Bell led New Orleans with 6 total tackles and a tackle for loss. Lattimore added 5 solo tackles. The Saints have now won 7 consecutive games after starting the season 0-2. Adolphus Washington had only 1 tackle for the Bills in defeat.

After several appeals and injunctions, Ezekiel Elliott finally began serving his 6-game suspension from the NFL for domestic violence. In his absence his Dallas Cowboys struggled. Rod Smith saw some action in place of Elliott. He carried the ball 3 times for 14 yards and caught 4 passes for 15 yards in the Cowboys 7-27 loss to the Atlanta Falcons. Mike Nugent scored one point on an extra point and missed a 38-yard field goal in his third game with Dallas.

Ryan Shazier and Cam Heyward of the Steelers helped Pittsburgh to a 20-17 over the Indianapolis Colts. Shazier made 5 total tackles, 2 passes defended and had a key interception at Indianapolis’ 10-yard line that set Pittsburgh up for a game tying touchdown. Heyward made 2 tackles and had 2 hits on the QB to aid in the victory. Jonathan Hankins had 3 tackles and 1 pass batted down in defeat. Linebacker Josh Perry suited up for the Colts, but didn’t register any statistics. John Simon and Malik Hooker missed the game with injuries.

Alex Boone started at left guard for the Arizona Cardinals against the Seattle Seahawks. During player introductions, instead of saying “from THE Ohio State university”, he said “from the LeCharles Bentley O-line academy”, a salute to the 2001 Buckeye consensus All-American center. Nick Vannett caught 2 passes for 22 yards for the Seahawks the 22-16 victory.

Offensive tackle Taylor Decker was activated from the physically unable to perform (PUP) list by the Detroit Lions and made his season debut. He had been sidelined with a shoulder injury he sustained during off-season team workouts.

Center Corey Linsley started for Green Bay in the Packers 23-16 win over the Chicago Bears.

Joey Bosa had 4 tackles and a sack for the Los Angeles Chargers in a 17-20 overtime loss to the Jacksonville Jaguars.

Braxton Miller had 1 rush for 1 yard in the Houston Texans’ 7-33 loss to the Los Angeles Rams.

Darron Lee collected 4 tackles for the New York Jets in a 15-10 loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Carlos Hyde rushed for 98 yards on 17 carries to help the San Francisco 49ers get their first win of the season 31-21 over the New York Giants. Eli Apple made 2 tackles and Curtis Grant 1 for the Giants in defeat.

Bradley Roby had 2 tackles and Jeff Heuerman gained 4 yards on 1 catch for the Denver Broncos in their 41-16 loss to the New England Patriots. Nate Ebner had one tackles and recovered a muffed punt in the win.

Curtis Samuel, Kurt Coleman and the Carolina Panthers faced the Miami Dolphins on Monday Night Football in Charlotte. Samuel caught 5 passes for 45 yards before leaving the game with an ankle injury. Coleman had 2 tackles and a pass batted down in the 45-21 win.

Gareon Conley of the Oakland Raiders and Malcolm Jenkins of the Philadelphia Eagles were on a Bye this week.

Buckeyes Bounce Back Big Over Sparty

The surprises in the B1G continue. As shocking as the Iowa Hawkeyes win over the Ohio State Buckeyes was, the way OSU manhandled the twelfth ranked Spartans 48-3 was just as shocking.

The Scarlet and Gray played angry, like a team wanting to wipe away the stench of last week’s embarrassing loss. The fashion in which they did it is the reason why last week’s loss was so baffling and frustrating for Buckeye Nation.

Here are my takeaways from the victory.

HELLO, RUNNING GAME!

Woody Hayes would’ve been proud of this performance. Even though they didn’t go to an I-Formation lineup, the Buckeyes played old school football with a heavy dose of J.K. Dobbins and Mike Weber. The duo that only carried the ball 11 times for 78 yards last week, rushed for 290 yards on 27 carries. Weber gained a career high 162 yards and 2 touchdowns, 161 came in the first half. Dobbins added 128 yards on 6.9 yards per carry. J.T. Barrett also ran for 55 yards with 2 touchdowns.

The 335 total rushing yards on the day is the most ever allowed by a Mark Dantonio coached team. The Ohio State rushing attack gained more yards, 102, in the first quarter than MSU had given up per game this season (87.0).

Coming into this game, the Buckeyes were running the ball 52% of the time versus throwing it 48% of the time. Saturday, 65% of the offensive plays were run calls, 35% passing. With two homerun hitters in the backfield, that’s more like the formula Buckeye Nation would like to see going forward.

SILVER BULLETS FIRE BACK 

Defensive Coordinator Greg Schiano’s unit was completely embarrassed and outcoached a week ago. As bad as Barrett’s day was with 4 interceptions, Schiano’s may have been just as bad. This week was a complete 180.

After getting two first downs on the opening drive of the game, the Buckeye D clamped down and forced the Spartans into 4 consecutive 3 & outs with the last ending in a forced fumble and recovery at the MSU 17-yard line. The Silver Bullets only yielded 195 total yards (131 passing; 64 rushing) for an average of 2.8 yards per play. On the day, they collected 6 sacks for -57 yards and 9 tackles for loss for -60 yards, while holding “Sparty” to 4 of 17 on 3rd down.

The secondary picked off two passes, three if you count the one negated by a roughing the passer penalty, and also held MSU’s leading receiver Felton Davis III, who caught 12 passes for 181 yards and a TD last week, to no catches.

Also of note, the 3 points they allowed came after one of Barrett’s two interceptions.

KICK COVERAGE ISSUES SOLVED?

It appears the move to put more playmakers and starters on kickoff coverage is paying off. The Spartans average starting field position on kickoffs was the 22-yard line. Michigan State had -37 net yards per kickoff. Only one of their drives started at the 35-yard line and that came after a penalty when the kickoff went out of bounds.

WELL DISCIPLINED

Speaking of penalties, the Buckeyes are the most flagged team in the conference. For the season they were averaging 77.2 penalty yards per game. Against the Spartans they were penalized only twice for twenty-seven yards. The first didn’t come until three minutes left in the first half when Dre’Mont Jones was flagged for targeting and negated what would’ve been Damon Arnette’s 1st of two interceptions.

OTHER NOTES

Since Urban Meyer took over in 2012, this is the first time one team has won back-to-back games in the series and won at home.

Next up, the home finale and Senior Day against the 2-8 (0-7) Illinois Fighting Illini for the Illibuck trophy. Ohio State hasn’t lost to Illinois since 2007.

Has Buckeye Nation Lost Perspective?

Buckeye Football is fine. Photo Credit: Nike.com

 When the Iowa Hawkeyes drubbed the Buckeyes 55-24, pretty much ending their College Football Playoff hopes, many Ohio State fans threw in their collective towels and called the 2017 season a loss season. But, if the Buckeyes win out, they’ll be B1G Champions for only the second time in Urban Meyer’s tenure. A conference title will land them in either the Fiesta or Orange Bowl. There’s still the very small possibility of a College Football Playoffs birth if chaos occurs. So there is a LOT left to play for.
However, this defeated mindset leaves me ashamed to be an Ohio State fan sometimes. This fan base needs some perspective and I’m here to offer it to you.

As a 37-year old who was born after the Woody Hayes era unceremoniously ended, I missed the golden age he led in Columbus that propelled the Buckeyes to national prominence with 5 National Championships, 13 Big Ten titles and 16 wins over “That Team Up North” in 28 seasons.

My father raised by me on Buckeye football. I listened to him tell stories about the greatness of this program before my birth, yet as I watched as a youngster teams lead by Earle Bruce, I didn’t see it. There were no national titles, but he did win 4 Big Ten titles, 5 bowl games and was 5-4 against the Wolverines. Coach Bruce only had one top 5 finishes (1979) and had eight consecutive seasons of 3 or more losses. This program was no longer on the level of the Notre Dame’s, Nebraska’s, Oklahoma’s, Miami’s and Penn State (pre-B1G affiliation) who dominated NCAA football during that period.

Then there was the Cooper era, the period that hurts and haunts me still. Only 2 wins and a tie in 13 tries against TTUN. 7 bowl losses. 3 Big Ten Titles and No National Championships despite reaching the top 10 in Associated Press Poll 7 times and starting the season in the Top 10 four times.

It wasn’t until I was a 22-year old senior at The Ohio State University that I saw my favorite team play for a national title and win it, led by Jim Tressel, Craig Krenzel and super freshman Maurice Clarett. 22 years it took for me to experience my team win it all. Compare that to a current 22-year old Ohio State fan that has seen the Buckeyes win 2 National titles (2002, 2014), play for another 3, 9 outright/shared B1G titles and 15 wins in “The Game”, which include a current 5-game win streak. I’ll gladly trade my first 22 years of Buckeye football fandom for that of a current 22-year old.

 

These last 15 years especially have spoiled Buckeye Nation and distorted our perspective of how hard it is to truly be great in college football.

The schools that dominated the college football landscape of my youth (Notre Dame, Nebraska, Miami, Georgia, Michigan) and even the turn of this century (Miami again, Texas, USC, Florida and Florida State) have all gone through multiple losing seasons, coaching changes and program derailing scandals. Meanwhile, the Buckeyes have been at the top or in the thick of the Championship race. And when there has been a down season, scandal or coaching change (2011), the Scarlet and Gray quickly bounced back (2012; 12-0).

In the last 25 years or so, we’ve never had to hear the phrase “The Buckeyes are back!” like the Miami Hurricanes are hearing this week ahead of their matchup with the Fighting Irish.

So as you watch this 2017 version fight for a B1G Championship in clearly the most challenging Power 5 conference this season, remember the main goals are still obtainable. But more importantly, there are a lot of fans bases that would love to have our “problems.”

NFL Buckeyes (2017, Week 9)

Buckeye fans were probably in no mood to watch any more football this weekend after the Saturday afternoon massacre at Kinnick stadium. If you were one that avoided the NFL games on Sunday, you missed great performances by Buckeye alums.

Thanks to another appeal of his 6-game suspension by the NFL, Ezekiel Elliott was able to play for the Dallas Cowboys against the Kansas City Chiefs. Elliott carried the ball 27 times for 93 yards and a touchdown in Dallas’ 28-17 win over the Chiefs.

Carlos Hyde rushed for 41 yards on 12 carries and caught 9 passes for 84 yards for the San Francisco 49ers against the Arizona Cardinals. However, Hyde’s day ended early when he was ejected for fighting after a late hit by the Cardinals Antoine Bethea on Niners quarterback C.J. Beathard incited a brawl between the teams. San Francisco is 0-9.

The Denver Broncos Buckeye duo of Bradley Roby and Jeff Heuerman also suffered a huge loss to the Philadelphia Eagles on a short week after a Monday Night loss. Roby made 5 tackles and a pass breakup, and Heuerman was targeted once with no catches in the 51-23 loss. Malcolm Jenkins collected 3 total tackles and 2 pass breakups for the Eagles who are now 8-1.

The New Orleans quad of Buckeyes, Michael Thomas, Ted Ginn, Vonn Bell and Marshon Lattimore led the way for the Saints in their 30-10 win over their NFC South rivals from Tampa Bay. Ginn caught 4 balls for 59 yards and a touchdown; he also returned 2 kickoffs for 21 yards. Thomas caught 8 passes for 65 yards. Defensively, Bell made 5 tackles (3 solo), had 2 hits on the QB, 1 pass breakup and a half sack. The rookie, Lattimore, collected 4 total tackles and broke up a pass.

On Thursday Night Football, Adolphus Washington from the Buffalo Bills had 5 tackles (3 solo), 2 of them for a loss and a pass deflection in a 34-21 loss to the New York Jets. 2-year linebacker Darron Lee made 8 tackles (5 solo), 2 tackles for loss, 2 hits on the QB and a sack in the win.

New York’s other team, the Giants, with Eli Apple and Curtis Grant suffered a loss as bad as their former school. Apple had one tackle, while Grant made 6 total tackles in the G-Men’s 51-17 loss to the Los Angeles Rams.

John Simon and Malik Hooker missed the Indianapolis Colts 20-14 victory over the Houston Texans. Johnathan Hankins made 2 total tackles and broke up a pass in the win. Braxton Miller registered no stats for the Texans.

Carolina safety Kurt Coleman made 10 total tackles for the Panthers to help them get a 20-17 win against the Atlanta Falcons. Curtis Samuel caught 3 passes for 23 yards and carried the ball once for 14 in the win.

Washington’s Terrelle Pryor caught 2 passes for 17 yards in a 17-14 win over the Seattle Seahawks. Last week he had no catches.

On a Bye this week were Ryan Shazier and Cam Heyward of the Pittsburgh Steelers, Joey Bosa and Cardale Jones from the LA Chargers, and Pat Elflein of the Minnesota Vikings.

Buckeyes Fall into the Trap at Iowa

Hawkeye fans storm the field after watching their team blowout #6 Ohio State.

The roller coaster of emotion from last week’s thrilling comeback win to this week’s crushing defeat is only surpassed in my mind by the 2006 win over “TTUN” followed by the National Championship blowout loss to Florida a little over a month later. The Iowa Hawkeyes stomped out the Ohio State Buckeyes College Football Playoff hopes with a 55-24 victory.

Buckeye Nation knew it was going to be difficult. The warnings of a “trap game” were everywhere around Columbus. Iowa had Penn State on the ropes until the final seconds earlier this season. The Hawkeyes have completed a handful of historical upsets over Top 5 Associated Press ranked teams at Kinnick stadium since 2008. So when J.T. Barrett threw his second interception of the season for a 30-yard touchdown return eight seconds into the game, Buckeye Nation sensed they were in for a long uneasy day.

Here are my takeaways from a game Ohio State will love to forget.

* SILVER BLANKS?

The vaunted Silver Bullets defense got punked up and down the field by the Hawkeyes giving up 487 total yards (244 passing, 243 rushing) and 48 points. That’s the most points Iowa has EVER scored on an Ohio State team. On the season Iowa averaged only 28 points per game and 345.9 yards per game coming into Saturday’s game. Both of those stats rank 10th out of the 14 teams in the Big Ten.

The linebackers have shown no ability to effectively cover opposing team tight ends. The combo of T.J. Hockenson and Noah Fant caught 9 passes for 135 yards and 4 touchdowns receptions. The ability to come up with a scheme to cover tight ends has been a problem for this team all season. Mike Gesicki made key plays for Penn State to move the chains last week. And that’s where I start to point the finger at the coaching staff.

Iowa ran a pro style offense that defensive coordinator Greg Schiano clearly wasn’t prepared for. During the ESPN broadcast, color analyst Brian Griese said Iowa head coach Kirk Ferentz went back to Schiano’s days as Tampa Bay Buccaneers head coach for film to prepare for this game. His last season there was 2013. 2013! That’s how you out coach someone, by looking for any and every edge you can get. All Schiano had to do was watch Iowa’s loss to Penn State.

* DOES URBAN STILL HAVE IT?

This has been itching at me for some time. At some point we need to question Urban Meyer’s ability to get his team’s ready for big games. I don’t care what Iowa’s record was coming into Saturday this was a big game (It was 5-3). Especially when you look at what was at stake for the Buckeyes in the College Football Playoffs. From Clemson in last season’s CFP, Oklahoma this season, Michigan State in 2015, the 2013 B1G championship game loss to the Spartans and the Orange Bowl loss to Clemson after the 2013 season, Coach Meyer has lost his luster in the games that Buckeye Nation has come accustomed to watching him win. That belief in him goes back to his 2006 National Championship victory over the Buckeyes with Florida. Did he lose it? We’ll find out in the next coming weeks.

* J.T. IS WHO WE THOUGHT HE WAS

All season I’ve been in his corner when Buckeye fans were calling for anyone to be under center but him. Then he goes out there last week and plays the best game of his career in a scarlet and gray jersey and tossed his name in the Heisman race only to come up with this 4-interception dud. His first interception in 190 passing on the first play from scrimmage of the game definitely set a bad tone and continued throughout the game. He looked like a true freshman playing his first Big Ten road game, not a 5th-year senior. Barrett was rattled and making terrible reads when his first receiver wasn’t open. He finished 18 of 34 for 208 yards and 3 touchdowns to go along with those 4 picks.

* B1G CHAMPS IS STILL A POSSIBILITY

Even with all the negatives, there is still something to play for. The Big Ten East division is still up for grabs with Michigan State’s win over Penn State. Next week’s showdown between the Spartans and the Buckeyes at the ‘Shoe all but decide who heads to Indianapolis to play for the conference championship and a New Year’s Six Bowl game. Hopefully they can bounce back. Kickoff is set for Noon.

 

 

NFL Buckeyes (2017, Week 8)

Buckeye Nation is still riding on a high after the Silver Bullets pulled off a 15-point 4th quarter comeback against Penn State. Several former Buckeyes, now in the NFL, played as if they were inspired by the huge win.

Coming off arguably his best single game of his young NFL career, Ezekiel Elliott didn’t start so hot in a rivalry game against Washington. “Zeke” fumbled on the Cowboys opening drive that led to a Washington field goal. But like his alma mater, he had no trouble bouncing back. On the next possession he scored on a 13-yard touchdown run to put Dallas up 7-3. He finished the game with 150 rushing yards on 33 carries and one catch for 4 yards in Dallas’ 33-19 win.

Mike Nugent made his debut with the Cowboys making 4 of 5 field goals and connecting on all 3 of his extra point attempts. Terrelle Pryor was targeted once for Washington and finished with no catches.

Joey Bosa made 4 total tackles and a sack for the Los Angeles Chargers in their 13-21 loss to the New England Patriots. With his 8.5 sacks on the season Bosa now has the most sacks in NFL history through his first 20 games

New Orleans Saints leading receiver Michael Thomas caught 7 passes for 77 yards in their 20-12 victory over the Chicago Bears. Ted Ginn Junior caught 2 passes for 68 yards, had 3 punt returns for 22 yards and 1 kickoff return for 9 yards. Rookie Marshon Lattimore collected his second career interception and returned it 25 yards. He also defensed 2 passes and made 3 total tackles. Safety Vonn Bell made 5 tackles (2 solo) to aid the victory.

Malcolm Jenkins made 5 total tackles and had one pass defended to help the Philadelphia Eagles get a 33-10 win over the San Francisco 49ers and move to 7-1 on the season. That’s the best record in the NFL. 49ers running back Carlos Hyde rushed for 25 yards on 12 carries. He also caught 4 passes for 22 yards in defeat.

The Pittsburgh Steelers defeated the Detroit Lions 20-15 behind their defense led by Ryan Shazier and Cam Heyward. Heyward had a sack, 2 tackles for loss, 2 hits on quarterback Matthew Stafford and 3 tackles, while Shazier made 7 total tackles (6 solo) and one pass defensed. The Steelers are now 6-2 headed into their Bye week.

Kurt Coleman returned to the Carolina Panthers lineup after an injury that kept him out last week and recovered a fumble and made 9 total tackles in a 17-3 win over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Rookie Curtis Samuel caught 2 passes for 15 yards and rushed once for 11 yards in the victory.

Tight end Nick Vannett played in possibly the game of the year. Vannett caught one pass for 8 yards for the Seattle Seahawks in their 41-38 win over the Houston Texans. Braxton Miller did not register any stats for Houston.

Adolphus Washington had 3 total tackles and one pass defensed for the Buffalo Bills in a 34-14 win over the Oakland Raiders.

Jets linebacker Darron Lee had 5 tackles (4 solo) and a pass defensed in New York’s 25-20 loss to the Atlanta Falcons.

John Simon missed the Indianapolis Colts 24-23 loss to the Cincinnati Bengals with a neck injury. Rookie Malik Hooker was placed on injured reserve on Tuesday of last week. Josh Perry and Jonathan Hankins dressed for Indianapolis, but didn’t register any stats.

Bradley Roby had 2 tackles and Jeff Heuerman caught one pass for 11yards for the Denver Broncos in 29-19 loss their AFC West rivals, the Kansas City Chiefs on Monday Night Football.

Eli Apple and Curtis Grant of the New York Giants, Alex Boone of the Arizona Cardinals, the Green Bay Packers Corey Linsley and Michael Bennett of the Jacksonville Jaguars were all on a Bye.