Tag Archives: B1G

Buckeyes in the NFL (Week 1, 2016)

It was a big weekend for Ohio State on the gridiron this weekend. The current Buckeyes are fresh off a 48-3 victory over the Tulsa Hurricane to move to 2-0 on the season, and looking ahead to their primetime matchup with the Oklahoma Sooners in Norman this coming Saturday. Meanwhile, several former Buckeye stars made their imprint in the Big League this weekend.

Currently there are 40 former Bucks on NFL rosters. Several of them faced off against each other in a game for the first time.

Roby and Brown swapped jerseys after they faced off in a Super Bowl 50 rematch. Photo courtesy: NFL Snapcaht

Defensive back Bradley Roby and wideout Corey “Philly” Brown faced off Thursday night in the season opener. Roby had 5 tackles for the defending Champion Denver Broncos in their 21-20 come from behind victory over the Carolina Panthers in a Super Bowl 50 rematch. Brown only had one reception for 11 yards. His Panthers teammate and fellow Buckeye Ted Ginn Junior also only had one reception for 5 yards, but rushed for 20 yards, had one kick return for 9 yards and two punt returns for 12 yards. Seven-year pro, safety Kurt Coleman, had 3 tackles for Carolina in the loss.

Ezekiel Elliott, the overwhelming favorite to win the 2016 NFL Rookie of the Year award, got introduced to the Cowboys-Gaints NFC East rivalry in his debut. Elliott got his first of many career rushing touchdowns in the Cowboys 20-19 loss. “Zeke” carried the ball 20 times for 51 yards. On the other side Eli Apple had 4 tackles for the Giants as their starting cornerback.

Terrell Pryor had a breakout day at wide receiver for the Cleveland Browns. Pryor made his first start at wide receiver since converting from quarterback and caught 3 passes for 68 yards, 44 of those on a long bomb from Robert Griffin III that set up the Browns first score in Cleveland’s 29-10 loss to the Philadelphia Eagles.

Braxton Miller, another former Buckeye quarterback turned wideout, made his debut for the Houston Texans. Miller had one catch for 6 yards in Houston’s 23-14 victory over the Chicago Bears.

Rookie wideout and return specialist Jalin Marshall made his debut with the New York Jets in a big way. The undrafted standout from Middletown played against his home area team, the Cincinnati Bengals, and ripped off a 65-yard kickoff return to set up a Jets touchdown. He had a total of 110 kickoff return yards on 3 attempts and added 2 punt returns for 11 yards.

His fellow rookie and Jets teammate, first round draft pick Darron Lee, made his debut with 6 tackles (3 solo) in New York’s 23-22 loss to the Bengals.

12-year Kicker Mike Nugent scored 11 of the Cincinnati Bengals 23 points. Nugent made two extra points and hit 3/4 field goals, his longest was from 47-yards out which was the game winner. His lone miss was from 50+.

Linebacker James Laurinaitis had 7 combined tackles in his debut as a New Orleans Saint in their 35-34 loss to the Oakland Raiders.

Cameron Heyward, Ryan Shazier and Carlos Hyde will make their season debuts on the Monday Night Football double header for the Pittsburgh Steelers and San Francisco 49ers, respectively.

2015 Buckeyes: What Could’ve Been

So the defending National Champion Ohio State Buckeyes didn’t repeat. I guess Buckeye Nation should’ve reveled in the 2014 team’s accomplishment a little longer, instead of getting greedy for more. But that’s not what this is about. This season just goes to show no matter how talented a team is, winning back to back championships may very well be more difficult than winning the first one.

I titled this “what could’ve been”, but that was just click bait to get you to read this. I’d rather focus on what was. And, what was is very positive and impressive when you look at the totality of what has been accomplished in the last four years, especially considering where this program was at the start of the 2011 season.

Finishing 12-1 with a 44-28 Fiesta Bowl win over Notre Dame isn’t a bad or disappointing season. But more impressive, the Senior Class leaves Columbus with a record of 50-4, and is tied for the winningest senior class in COLLEGE FOOTBALL HISTORY. They completed 4 consecutive 12+ win seasons, which included a 12-0 season in 2012 when they were bowl and conference championship ineligible, a Big Ten Championship, an impressive 4-0 record against “that school up north”, a Sugar Bowl win over Alabama and the big bad SEC, and a National Championship. How can one be disappointed in that?

In addition to the senior class, the junior class will highlight this spring’s NFL Draft as several of them will be first round picks with Joey Bosa leading the way as potentially the first OSU #1 overall pick since Orlando Pace back in 1997. This team will potentially have 5 players drafted into the first round of this spring’s NFL draft, and as many as 12 in the first 3 rounds.

The offense that was much maligned for the majority of the season, wasn’t as horrid as many fans made it out to be. The Buckeyes finished the season 2nd in the Big Ten in scoring at 35.7 points per game, while averaging 434.1 yards per game. They had the B1G’s number one rushing attack averaging 245.2 yards per game with a league best 39 touchdowns.

5 Buckeyes were selected as First-Team All-B1G performers, and Ezekiel Elliot won B1G Offensive Player of the Year, which is the 4th consecutive season a Buckeye won the award.

And, once again, Ohio State saved the B1G’s reputation, along with the “Fighting Khaki’s”, after a dismal performance by their conference mates in the bowl season. Buckeye Nation can be disappointed that this team didn’t get a shot to defend it’s title, but as Coach Meyer has said on many occasions in the past couple of weeks, the season is not a disappointment.

Enjoy this Buckeye fans, what we have witnessed doesn’t come around often, if at all.

Week 4 College Football Takeaways

Let’s overreact to another week of College Football.

It’s Sunday, so here’s my overreaction to week four of the college football season.

The B1G should replace a few of its schools with teams from the MAC, and would become a better overall conference. Northern Illinois got all the headlines for playing the defending National Champion Buckeyes close last week, but several of their conference brethren have given Power 5 schools headaches. Bowling Green has two wins against B1G schools (Purdue & Maryland) and played Tennessee out of the SEC close until succumbing 59-30. The Ohio Bobcats pushed the Minnesota Gophers to the final seconds this week, before losing 27-24. Kent State also only lost to the Golden Gophers by 3 points a week ago.

It’s clear the top teams in the MAC have caught up. My guess is that many of the top recruits from the Midwest who don’t accept or receive scholarships to power 5 schools–where they’ll have to sit for two years, behind upperclassmen who are also former top recruits–are getting on the field sooner at the mid major program’s, and it’s finally paying off for those programs. Illinois, Maryland, Rutgers, Purdue are a few that come to mind that don’t help the B1G case when it comes to football. Check back with those schools later this fall when hoops tips-off.

TCU is not a top 5 team. Look at their defense. They gave up 52 points and 607 total yards, and needed a fluke tip drill to score a touchdown on 4th down in the following seconds to beat Texas Tech. Last week they gave up 37 points and 508 total yards to SMU. Minnesota, a mid level team in the B1G, gave them a scare in week one. The Horned Frog defense will have circles ran around it against their major in conference challenger, Baylor. Who, by the way, just put up 70 points against Rice on Saturday. Number fifteen ranked Oklahoma, number twenty-three ranked West Virginia and number twenty ranked Oklahoma State may dash their playoff hopes soon enough.

Which brings me to this point, if the College Football Playoffs started today, the top 4 teams would be from the B1G Champion (Ohio State or Michigan State), the SEC champion (Georgia or LSU), Notre Dame and Utah. To me those are the four teams playing the best football, even though they aren’t ranked that way in this week’s Associated Press Top 25 Poll.

This means the Big 12 would get left out of the playoffs again. The Big 12 has become Arena Football with their focus on high volume passing offenses. Any champion from that conference would be physically dominated by the top teams in the B1G, SEC and PAC-12. The PAC-12 winner could have two losses because they best teams in conference and beating up on each other. However, the champion from the PAC-12 would still be highly impressive with two losses.

The Heisman Trophy race is a now two-man race between LSU’s Leonard Fournette and Georgia running back Nick Chubbs. I said last week Fournette should win hands down, but Chubbs is making a case while chasing history at Georgia. He just tied 1982 Heisman winner Herschel Walker’s school record for most consecutive 100 yard rushing games. The winner of the 2015 Heisman may be decided the night these two face off in the SEC Championship game. That is, if both teams continue winning.

Michigan just made the B1G a three team race. The “Fighting Khakis” are back in the Associated Press Top 25 at number 22. The FPI gives head coach Jim Harbaugh’s team a 25% chance of entering the bowl season with 10+ wins and a 56% chance to beat in state rival Michigan State. It was only 34% in the preseason. The Spartans and Buckeyes schedule just got a little more difficult. You happy Brett Bielema? I’m going to stay on his case all season.

The Razorbacks are 0-3 since Bielema called out the Buckeyes schedule.

Week 3 B1G Takeaways  

The NFL has overreaction Monday, in college football its overreaction Sunday. Here’s the biggest takeaways from week three in the B1G.

Michigan State is the best team in the country. Sure the Buckeyes are ranked number one in the Associated Press Top 25 Poll, but after stealing two first place votes last week after their victory over then ranked #7 Oregon, the Spartans once again showed why they deserve more consideration this week.

The Green & White earned 7 first place votes this week after their victory over Air Force (Ole Miss got 11 first place votes).

The 35-21 score might not reflect it, but Sparty was dominant in the win, especially in the passing game. Connor Cook went 15-23 for 247 yards and 4 touchdowns, 3 of them to Aaron Burbridge to go along with 156 yards. The defense also forced 3 Air Force turnovers.

Next up, Central Michigan of the MAC in East Lansing. Hopefully for MSU fans, they can avoid a similar scare as Ohio State did this past week.

The B1G Conference as a whole isn’t as bad as original thought.  For the first time since November of 2006, the top two teams in the AP poll hail from the B1G.

The Northwestern Wildcats came into Saturday ranked #23 in the nation and improved to #17 after their 19-10 victory over Duke. Also, with Stanford’s win over then ranked #6 USC, the Wildcats win over Stanford week one looks even more impressive.

The B1G conference went 9-3 in non-conference games. Penn State beat Rutgers 28-3 in the only game between conference opponents on the schedule.

Matter of fact, the B1G has 4 teams in the top 25 this week (OSU, MSU, Northwestern & # 22 Wisconsn). What do you think about that Brett Beilema?

Bielema’s Arkansas Razorbacks on 0-2 since he called out Ohio State’s schedule. Photo Credit: Wesley Hitt

None of the Buckeyes quad of Heisman Trophy candidates will win the award. The internet exploded week one when Braxton Miller made his case for the “Bronze Stiff Arm” with the spin seen around the world against Virginia Tech. Ezekiel Elliott and Cardale Jones, fresh off their performances in the College Football Playoff, entered the season as heavy favorites for the award. But, after three weeks, the stats and signature moments aren’t there.
Plus, there’s this guy in Baton Rouge, named Leonard Fournette, who has the stats and enough Heisman moments that producers of the award show won’t have enough time to show highlights of the other candidates.

J.T. Barrett is the better option for OSU at quarterback. Barrett didn’t play on Saturday like folks in Columbus are used to seeing him play in 2014 (11-19, 97 yards, 1 INT). However, he did throw a touchdown pass and led a drive to get the offense somewhat going.

But, it’s now clear why Barrett, not Cardale Jones, got the call last season when Braxton Miller went down to injury. On Saturday, Jones was 4-9 with 2 interceptions against Northern Illinois before he was pulled. 

If you really watch the game film from the first two games, he showed signs of erratic play then, especially not setting his feet on several throws. It just didn’t show up in the results because his teammates made great plays for him.

The time is now for Coach Urban Meyer to choose one QB to start, and allow that guy to take the majority of practice snaps. After Saturday’s game, Meyer said he didn’t know who would be his quarterback to start next week. I think that non answer says it all.

Jones even changed his Twitter bio that might signal what’s to come…..

He later took this update to his bio down, but the firestorm has already begun. Trouble in Buckeye-land?

Buckeyes in the NFL (week 2)

Roby returned the fumble for a TD to complete the Broncos stunning comeback. Photo Credit: AP photo/Ed Zurga

It was a big weekend in the NFL for OSU Alumns. Especially on defense where a couple of Former Silver Bullets made the biggest splashes in week two.

Thursday night Denver Broncos cornerback Bradley Roby returned a Jamaal Charles fumble 21 yards for a touchdown with 27 seconds in the fourth quarter to break a 24-24 tie against the Kansas City Chiefs.

Sunday, the former Silver Bullets duo of Cam Heyward and Ryan Shazier, led a much maligned Steelers defense after their poor performance in the season opener at the New England Patriots, to victory in Pittsburgh.

Heyward had 5 (4 solo) tackles and a sack of Colin Kaepernick, while Ryan Shazier was the star of the game for the Steelers D with 11 (7 solo) tackles, 1 sack and a fumble recovery to help the Steelers get their first win of 2015, 43-18 over San Francisco.

In that same game, Carlos Hyde of the 49ers came back down to earth after his career night on Monday. He only had 43 yards on 14 carries, and 4 catches for 18 yards before leaving the game with a leg contusion.

Another Buckeye duo helped the Carolina Panthers move to 2-0. Wide receivers Ted Ginn Jr. and Corey “Philly” Brown each caught at touchdown from Cam Newton to help the Carolina Panthers beat the Houston Texans 24-17. Ginn Jr. caught 4 passes for 41 yards, while Brown caught 3 passes for 57 yards.

Donte Whitner of the Cleveland Browns also represented well for the former Silver Bullets. He had 8 (4 solo) tackles and half a sack to help the Browns cool off Tennessee Titans QB Marcus Mariota, beating them 28-14.

Tight end Jake Stoneburner of the Miami Dolphins, just got promoted from the practice squad this week and caught two passes, one of them a 5 yard touchdown in the Dolphins 23-20 loss at the Jacksonville Jaguars.

Kicker Mike Nugent scored 6 points on 3 extra points and one field goal to help the Cincinnati Bengals beat the San Diego Chargers 24-19. The Bengals are 2-0 and in first place of the AFC North division.

Monday night, 4 more Buckeyes face off when the Indianapolis Colts host the New York Jets; running back Boom Herron and offensive lineman Jake Mewhort for the Colts, center Nick Mangold and rookie wide receiver Devin Smith of the Jets.

Top Current NFL Players From Each B1G Program 

The NFL preseason is underway…. thank goodness right? After the initial rush has worn off that football is back, I immediately calm down realizing it is meaningless football. But once the disappointment subsides, I began to enjoy watching the guys fighting to make the roster. I also enjoy listening for what school they hail from.

While the B1G has been much maligned for its lack of success against the likes of the SEC and Pac-12—before last season’s College Football Playoff—you can’t deny that the conference has produced some of the best Sunday players.

Here are the best NFL players from each B1G program.

Illinois – Vonte Davis (CB) Indianapolis Colts. Davis is the younger brother of San Francisco 49ers tight end and Maryland Alum Vernon Davis. The younger has stepped out of his big brother’s shadow and made a name for himself. In six seasons, the lockdown corner has picked off 17 passes and defended 70. He also has 289 tackles (256 solo). Vonte made his first pro bowl in 2014.

Indiana – Tracy Porter (CB) Chicago Bears. Porter was a Super Bowl 44 hero for the New Orleans Saints with a huge pick six on Peyton Manning. In his 8 year career he’s picked off 10 passes and scored on three of them. He adds 4 forced fumbles, recovering two of them, and collected 287 tackles (230 solo).

He’s bounced around the past few seasons. In 2015 he joined the Bears, his fifth team in as many seasons.

Iowa – Chad Greenway (LB) Minnesota Vikings. The former first round pick has 992 tackles (679 solo), 15.5 sacks, 8 forced fumbles, 11 fumble recoveries and 9 interceptions in his nine season since leaving the Hawkeye program.
Greenway has made two Pro Bowls (2011,2012) and was a Second-Team All-Pro in 2012.

Davis was the 6th pick of the ’06 Draft by the 49ers out of Maryland.

Maryland – Vernon Davis (TE) San Francisco 49ers. The older Davis brother on this list has hauled in 423 passes for 5,446 yards and 55 touchdowns in his nine season in the Bay. He’s a two-time Pro Bowler (2009,2013) and Second-Team All-Pro (2012). In 2009, his 13 touchdown catches tied for the NFL lead.

Brady was a backup on a National Champion and in an QB battle while in Ann Arbor.

Michigan – Tom Brady (QB) New England Patriots. Brady probably isn’t in the discussion for greatest quarterback in Wolverines history, which is probably why he was a sixth round pick. But, that’s ancient history now.

Brady’s the most accomplished player on this list. He’s four Super Bowl titles are tied with Joe Montana and Terry Bradshaw for most by a QB in NFL history.

He’s captured three Super Bowl MVPs, two NFL MVP, ten Pro Bowls, two-time First-Team All-Pro (2007,2010), Second-Team All-Pro (2005), and a selection on the NFL 2000s All-Decade team.

Coming into his sixteenth season, he has 53,258 passing yards, 392 touchdowns, with a passer rating of 95.9

Michigan State – Le’Veon Bell (RB) Pittsburgh Steelers. After only two seasons he’s already in the discussion of best running back in the NFL.

The dual threat made his first Pro Bowl and earned his first, First-Team All-Pro selection in 2014 as the key of the Steelers high-powered Killer B’s offense along with Big Ben and Antonio Brown. 2014 saw Bell also collect the AFC Offensive Player of the Year and the FedEx Ground Player of the Year. He finished 2014 second in rushing yards (1,361) and led all running backs in receiving yards (854).

Minnesota – Eric Decker (WR) New York Jets. Decker was a relatively unknown as a Denver Bronco until Peyton Manning showed up in the Mile High City. Before the “Sheriff”, Decker was known as the receiver who caught one of Tim Tebow’s two complete passes in a 17-10 victory over the Kansas City Chiefs in the 2011 season.

With Manning, Decker flourished and earned a five-year 36.25 million dollar contract with the Jets.
He has career totals of 296 catches, for 4,032 yards and 38 touchdowns in five seasons.

Nebraska – Ndamukong Suh (DT) Miami Dolphins. By far the most feared interior defensive player in pro football. Suh disrupts both the passing and running games of opposing offenses.

At Nebraska, Suh terrorized the Big 12 and never played in the B1G. The Huskers came into the conference in 2011.

In his five seasons in the NFL he has been selected to the Pro Bowl four times (2010, 2012-2014), a four-time First-team All-Pro (2010-2011, 2013-2014), once a Second-team All-Pro (2012), the 2010 AP NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year and the 2010 NFL Alumni Defensive Lineman of the Year.

Entering his sixth season he has 239 tackles (180 solo), 36 sacks, 1 safety, 1 interception, 2 forced fumbles and 15 passes defended.

Linebacker LaVonte David of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, is a Husker alum who definitely deserves some attention, but he’s hast reached the level yet to bump Suh as best current Nebraska alum in the League.

Northwestern – Let’s be honest, Northwestern is known more for their academics, specifically their journalism program, than their football program. But, they do have fifteen guys representing on Sundays. 8 of them rookies, 2 have only one season of experience
So it’s no surprise they don’t have a notable alum making a name for himself in the NFL.

Mike Kafka (QB) of the Minnesota Vikings is known as a career backup QB. He’s played in only 4 games in his career, throwing only 16 passes, completing 11 of them for 107 yards a two interceptions.

Ohio State – Nick Mangold (OL) New York Jets. Mangold has been a starter in the Big Apple since he entered the NFL in 2006. In his nine seasons, he’s started every game he’s played (141). The center of the O-line is a Six-time Pro Bowler (2008-2011, 2013-2014), two-time First-team All-Pro (2009,2010), one-time Second-team All-Pro (2011)

I could also make a case for Donte Whitner (DB) Cleveland Browns. One of the hardest hitting defensive players in the League, Whitner has 775 tackles (561 solo), 11 interceptions, 2 touchdowns and 10 forced fumbles.

Whiter has also made three Pro Bowls (2012,2013,2014), and was a member of the 2012 NFC Champion San Francisco 49ers.

Penn State – Tamba Hali (LB) Kansas City Chiefs. Hali is one of the most feared pass rushers in the NFL, much like the man’s who shadow he plays in with the Chiefs, the late Hall of Famer Derrick Thomas.

In nine seasons he has 512 tackles (392 solo), 79.5 sacks, 30 forced fumbles and 7 recoveries. Hali has made five Pro Bowls (2010-2014) and been a two-time Second-Team All Pro (2011,2013).

Purdue – Drew Brees (QB) New Orleans Saints. After an up and down start to his 14 year career—which included a nearly career ending shoulder injury—Brees has turned himself into one of premier quarterbacks in the League and a future sure-fire Hall of Famer.

Brees was All-B1G as a Boilermaker, and despite NFL scouts doubts, has become an HOF’er in New Orleans.

Brees has turned the New Orleans franchise from the Ain’ts to Champions winning Super Bowl 44 and the game’s MVP.
He’s made the Pro Bowl nine times, a First-Team All-Pro (2006), three-time Second-Team All-Pro (2008, 2009, 2011), two-time AP NFL Offensive Player of the Year (2008, 2011), and twice named NFC MVP (2008,2009).

Going into his fifteenth season in 2015, Brees has eight NFL records, passed for 56,033 yards, 396 touchdowns with a 95.4 passer rating.

Rutgers – Devin McCourty (DB) New England Patriots. McCourty was a key member of the Patriots secondary that helped New England win its fourth Lombardi Trophy.

McCourty was overshadowed by Darrell Revis and Brandon Browner last season, but he’s had a steadily productive career before teaming up with them for 2014. He has 388 tackles (296 solo), 17 interceptions, and 8 forced fumbles in his five-year career. He made the Pro Bowl as a rookie in 2010, and been a Second-Team All-Pro twice (2010, 2013).

Wisconsin – Joe Thomas (OL) Cleveland Browns. Arguably the best offensive lineman in the NFL Today. Thomas has never missed a game in his eight seasons, and has also played in over 7,100 consecutive snaps. Thomas has been a model of consistency and stability in a franchise that has been anything but.

He has been named to the Pro Bowl eight times (2007-2014), a five time First-Team All-Pro (2009-2011, 2013-2014), and a two-time Second-Team All-Pro (2008,2012).

With all do respect to notable Badger Alums, two-time AP Defensive Player of the Year J.J. Watt of the Texans and Super Bowl Champion Russell Wilson—who actually spent most of his collegiate career at NC State—of the Seahawks, Thomas has the most longevity and is the more accomplished Wisconsin alum, at this moment.

Top B1G Players to Watch in 2015 (Not Wearing Scarlet & Gray)

The B1G is filled with talent at more than just OSU.

We’re a month away (at the time of this post) from the start of the 2015 College Football Season. While most fans have checked their schedules several times over, received their tickets in the mail, set up their home theater’s, and caught up on nearly every preseason poll, there are several talented players around the conference you probably haven’t heard of yet (unless they’re on your team) that you also need to familiarize yourself with.

The B1G Conference has the defending National Champions in Ohio State, who may very well have the best collection of individual talent in America. But, the conference as a whole is loaded with guys who will be making a huge impact on college football this fall, and eventually playing for your favorite Sunday team very soon.

While most of the names are on the offensive side of the ball in this day and age where college football continues to look more like Arena Football, than the rugged game many of us grew up with. There are also several key players on the other side who are charged with stopping them.  So, here are the players (not playing for the Buckeyes) that you should store their name and jersey number into your memory bank.

Justin Jackson #21, SO, RB, Northwestern. A new season and new number for the Sophomore who ran for 1,187 yards at a 4.8 yard clip in twelve games during his freshman campaign in Evanston. Jackson finished the season eighth in the conference in all-purpose yards as he was also used out of the backfield in the passing game. The Wildcat program has hovered around the middle of the pack in the B1G for several seasons, a big season in 2015 from Jackson could vault them to the top of the pack in the West division.

Connor Cook #18, SR, QB, Michigan State. Aside from Cardale Jones and J.T. Barrett in Columbus, Cook could very well be the best at the position in the Conference. In 2014, the two-time 2nd Team All-Big Ten (2013,2014) QB passed for 3,214 yards and 24 touchdowns. He needs to improve on his 58 percent completion rating and losing his top target Tony Lippett to graduation won’t help. But, with a 24-3 record at the helm of Sparty, it’s likely he will find a way.

The Nittnany Lions return to glory rest on Mackerberg’s right arm. Photo Courtesy: Post-Gazette

Christian Hackenberg #14, JR, QB, Penn State. Many scouts at the Pro level say he has number one pick talent, but if you look at stats—2,977 yards with 12 touchdowns, 15 interceptions on 56 percent—wouldn’t suggest that, but another year in Head Coach James Franklin’s system should do wonders for his development and confidence. He also has his top target returning, more on him below.

Hamilton led the B1G in receptions in 2014. Photo Courtesy: Collegian.PSU.edu

DaeSean Hamilton #5, SO, WR, Penn State. As a freshman in 2014, he lead the Big Ten in receptions and another season of chemistry building with his quarterback Hackenberg should only add to his targets in 2015.

Clemet won’t be in anyone’s shadow in 2014. Photo Courtesy: Foxsports.com

Corey Clemet #6, JR, RB, Wisconsin. The Badgers lost all-time rusher Melvin Gordon to the NFL, and only return two starters on that offensive line that lead him to a historic season in Madison. But, Clemet should benefit from the extras carries he won’t share with Gordon. His 6.5 yards per carry average is second among returning running backs (Elliot 6.9 ypc). Clement rushed for 949 yards on 147 carries and 9 touchdowns in 2014.

Shilique Calhoun #89, SR, DE, Michigan State. The 2013 Big Ten Defensive Lineman of The Year registered 8 sacks and 12.5 tackles for loss in 2014 while being the focal point of attention for opposing offenses to stop. His 15.5 sacks in the past three seasons is the third highest total in the B1G, proving he’s stout against the run and pass.

Tommy Armstrong #4, JR, QB, Nebraska. The most athletic of dual threats in the conference not named Braxton Miller or J.T. Barrett. Armstrong passed for 2,695 yards and 22 touchdowns while rushing for 705 yards and another 6 touchdowns. He will be counted on the carry a bigger load in 2015 if the Cornhuskers are going to shake up the conference and bring the program back to National prominence.

Carroo should be one of the top WR’s drafted by the NFL in 2016. Photo Courtesy: Northjersey.com

Leonte Carroo #4, SR, WR, Rutgers. The 2014 1st Team All-Big Ten (by the media, ESPN.com & BTN.com) standout would’ve been one of the top WR’s drafted by the NFL in 2015, instead he opted to improve his stock at Rutgers while terrorizing the B1G for one more year. He led the Big Ten with 21 receptions for over twenty yards last season while amassing 1,086 total receiving yards and 10 touchdowns on 55 catches. His overall numbers may suffer from playing with a first year QB at starter in 2015, but he’s a special talent NFL scouts have eyes on and he will make standout plays.

Adam Breneman #81, SO, TE, Penn State. Returning from missing all of 2015 with a torn ACL. He caught 15 passes for 186 yards as a true freshman. But, the former top 100 national recruit will serve as an added weapon for QB Christian Hackenberg, who will likely need one with his top tight end from 2014 in Jesse James suiting up in West PA for the Pittsburgh Steelers, and top target Sophomore WR DeSean Hamilton drawing double teams and maximum attention from opponents.

Jake Butt #88, JR, Michigan, TE. Butt only caught 21 passes for 211 yards and 2 touchdowns in 2014, but is on the Mackey Award (Nation’s top TE) watch list and figures to play a major role in new Head Coach Jim Harbaugh’s passing attack. “The Khakis” is known for heavily utilizing the TE in his systems in both college and the pros, see Koby Fleener at Stanford and Vernon Davis with the San Francisco 49ers.

Joe Bolden #35, SR, LB, Michigan. The three-year Letterman for the Wolverines is on several preseason awards watch lists. The leading returning tackler for the Wolverines with 102, leads a defense returning five starters. New Defensive Coordinator D.J. Durkin plans to use his linebackers more to create a better pass rush hoping to get #35 in more QBs faces.

De’Vondre Campbell #26, SR, LB, Minnesota. Campbell leads a defense returning seven starters from 2014. His 75 tackles last season, was third on the Gophers and he added 6.5 tackles for loss with 2.5 sacks. At 6’5″, 241 pounds with exceptional speed, he’ll jump off your screens Saturday after Saturday. You’ll see why he’s an attractive future Sunday player.

Darien Harris #45, SR, LB, Michigan State. Harris will benefit from playing with Shilique Calhoun drawing double teams from opposing offensive lines. This will be his first season as the starter right out of the gate. In three seasons he has collected 64 tackles–48 of which game last season–(4 tackles for loss) in 40 games.

Anthony Zettel #98, SR, DT, Penn State. Zettel is the Nittany Lions leading returner in sacks (8) and interceptions (3), one of which was returned for touchdown in that instant classic against the Buckeyes in Happy Valley last season. He also added 17 tackles for loss in his breakout Junior season for a defense that was number one overall in the Big Ten.

Big Ten Well Represented on Preseason Awards Watch Lists

(Updated 7/17/15 with Walter Camp list)

(Updated 7/16/15 with O’Brien Award and Walker Trophy lists)

(Updated 7/15/15 with Biletnikoff Award and Wuerffel Trophy lists)

(Updated 7/14/15 with Butkus and Lombardi Awards lists)

The Big Ten is loaded with talent amongst their fourteen teams, and it’s showing on the preseason awards watch lists.

The watch list for the Jim Thorpe award, which goes to the top defensive back in college football was announced Moday. Only two players from the conference made the cut, Juniors Vonn Bell from Ohio State and William Likely from Maryland. But, last week the Maxwell, Bednarik, Nagurski and several other major prestigious individual awards announced their preseason watch list, and the defending National Champion Buckeyes, and the Big Ten were well represented. Here’s a look at the players from the conference on each list.

Eleven B1G players are on Maxwell Award watch list, which goes to the player voted America’s College Player of the Year. As expected Ohio State Junior running back Ezekiel Elliot is on the list, he is also an early favorite for the Heisman Trophy. Joining him from OSU are quarterbacks Sophomore  J.T. Barrett, Junior Cardale Jones and Senior Braxton Miller. The Big Ten is also represented by:

2014 Maxwell semifinalist Connor Cook, Senior, QB, Michigan State
Leonte Carroo, Senior,WR, Rutgers
Christian Hackenberg, Junior, QB, Penn State
DaeSean Hamilton Sophomore, WR, Penn State
Justin Jackson, Sophomore, RB, Northwestern
Nate Sudfeld, Senior, QB, Indiana

The Bednarik Award which goes to college football’s Defensive Player of the Year, also has eleven Big Ten players on the list, headlined by Buckeye defensive end Joey Bosa a finalist in 2014. He’s joined by Buckeye teammate Senior linebacker Joshua Perry. The rest of the list goes:

Briean Boddy-Calhoun, Senior, CB, Minnesota
2013 Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year Shilique Calhoun, Senior, DE, Michigan State 
Michael Caputo, Senior, S, Wisconsin
Maliek Collins, Junior, DT, Nebraska
Ed Davis, Senior, LB, Michigan State
Darius Hamilton, Senior, DL, Rutgers
William Likely, Junior, CB, Maryland
Eric Murray, Senior, CB, Minnesota
Anthony Zettel, Senior, DT, Penn State.

Mackey Award (Most Outstanding Collegiate tight end)
Jake Butt, Junior, Michigan
Kyle Carter, Senior, Penn State
Jake Duzey, Senior, Iowa
Josiah Price, Junior, Michigan State
Nick Vannett, Senior, Ohio State.

Rimington Trophy (Nation’s top center)
2014 winner Jake Allen, Senior, Michigan State
Austin Blythe, Senior, Iowa
Jacoby Boren, Senior, Ohio State
Robert Kugler, Senior, Purdue
Angelo Mangino, Senior, Penn State
Dan Voltz, Junior, Wisconsin

Ray Guy award (Nation’s top punter)
Cameron Johnston, Junior, Ohio State
Peter Mortell, Senior, Minnesota

Lou Groza award (Nation’s top place kicker)
Rafaell Gaglianone, Sophomore, Wisconsin
Paul Griggs, Senior, Purdue.

Dick Butkus Award (Nation’s top linebacker)
Joe Bolden, Senior, Michigan 
De’Vondre Campbell, Senior, Minnesota 
Darien Harris, Senior, Michigan State
Raekwon McMillan, Sophomore, Ohio State 
Mason Monheim, Senior, Illinois 
Yannick Ngakoue, Junior, Maryland 
Joshua Perry, Senior, Ohio State 
James Ross, Senior, Michigan 

Rotary Lombardi Award (Nation’s top interior lineman)
Mason Monheim, Senior, LB, Illinois 
Dan Feeny, Junior, OG, Indiana 
Jack Allen, Senior, C, Michigan State
Shilique Calhoun, Senior, DE, Michigan State 
Jack Conklin, Junior, OT, Michigan State 
Joey Bosa, Junior, DE, Ohio State
Taylor Decker, Senior, OT, Ohio State
Pat Elflein, Junior, OG, Ohio State
Adolphus Washington, Senior, DT, Ohio State 
Darron Lee, Sophomore, LB, Ohio State
Anthony Zettel, Senior, DT, Penn State
Steve Longa, Junior, LB, Rutgers
Vince Biegel, Junior, LB, Wisconsin 

If one of the five Buckeyes on the Lombardi Award watch list wins, they would be the sixth in school history, giving them the most in NCAA Football history.

Biletnikoff Award (Nation’s top receiver)
Leonte Carroo, Senior, Rutgers
Alex Erickson, Senior, Wisconsin
DaeSean Hamilton, Sophomore, Penn State
Michael Thomas, Junior, Ohio State 

Wuerffel Trophy (Community Service Award)
Nate Sudfeld, Senior, QB, Indiana 
Josiah Price, Junior, TE, Michigan State
Peter Mortell, Senior, P, Minnesota 
Bryce Haynes, Senior, LS, Ohio State 
Joshua Perry, Senior, LB, Ohio State

O’Brien Award (Nation’s top quarterback)
Connor Cook, Senior, Michigan State
Christian Hackenberg, Junior, Penn State
Cardale Jones, Junior, Ohio State 

Walker Award (Nation’s top running back)
Jordan Canzeri, Senior, Iowa
Corey Clemet, Junior, Wisconsin 
Ezekiel Elliott, Junior, Ohio State 
Josh Ferguson, Senior, Illinois 
Jordan Howard, Junior, Indiana 
Justin Jackson, Sophomore, Northwestern 
Paul James, Senior, Rutgers
Akeel Lynch, Senior, Penn State

Walter Camp (Nation’s most outstanding player)
J.T. Barrett, Sophomore, QB, Ohio State
Joey Bosa, Junior, DE, Ohio State 
Shilique Calhoun, Senior, DE, Michigan State
Connor Cook, Senior, QB, Michigan State
Ezekiel Elliott, Junior, RB, Ohio State 
Christian Hackenberg, Junior, QB, Penn State
Cardale Jones, Junior, QB, Ohio State
Braxton Miller, Senior, QB, Ohio State

9 Players From the B1G on the Top 50 Players in College Football For 2015 List

The SEC has been by far the best college football conference for the past decade, and it wasn’t even close. They had better teams, and clearly better individual talent. But, now that the Buckeyes have slayed the “King’s of the South” in Alabama on the way to winning the first College Football Playoff, the debate can begin again. But, the B1G is filled with talent at more than just OSU. The Big Lead’s Ty Duffy released his Top 50 College Football players in 2015, and a few notable names from around the conference made the cut.

#46 Christian Hackenberg, QB, Penn State. Many scouts at the Pro level say he has number one pick talent, but if you look at his stats—2,977 yards with 12 touchdowns, 15 interceptions on 56 percent—it wouldn’t suggest that. Another year in Head Coach James Franklin’s system should do wonders for his development and confidence. He also has his top target, Sophomore DeSean Hamilton (who led the Big Ten in receptions with 82) returning.

#44 Von Bell, S, Ohio State. The Junior tied for the Conference lead in interceptions in 2014 with 6. He also finished second on the Buckeyes in tackles with 92.

#27 Connor Cook, QB, Michigan State. Along with the three-headed monster down in Columbus, Cook could vie for the best at the position in the Big Ten Conference. In 2014, Cook passed for 3,214 yards and 24 touchdowns. He needs to improve on his 58 percent completion rating and losing his top target Tony Lippett to graduation won’t help. But, with a 24-3 record and a Conference Championship under his belt at the helm of Sparty, he’s a proven winner.

#24 Shilique Calhoun, DE, Michigan State. The 2013 Big Ten Defensive Lineman of The Year registered 8 sacks and 12.5 tackles for loss in 2014 while being the focal point of attention for opposing offenses to stop.

#18 Taylor Decker, OL, Ohio State. The Senior lineman will lead an offensive line that rapidly improved from game one to fifteen in 2014. Who ever wins that QB battle, he will be charged with protecting their blind side, while also opening up holes for the Heisman Trophy front-runner, Ezekiel Elliott.

#14 Darron Lee, LB, Ohio State. The Junior registered 81 tackles, 16.5 tackles for loss and 7.5 sacks in 2014. Lee along with his counterpart Perry really burst on to the scene late in the season through the College Football Playoffs. The Buckeyes have a long-standing tradition of great linebackers from Tom Cousineau, Chris Speilman, Andy Katzemoyer, A.J. Hawk to James Laurinitus, and Lee along with Perry are admirably continuing it.

#5 Braxton Miller/J.T. Barrett/Cardale Jones, QB, Ohio State. One is the two-time Big Ten Player of the Year. The other set the school record for all-purpose yards in a season in his first season. The latter, lead the team to the three biggest wins of the season. All of them are on the preseason Maxwell Award watch list and will probably be on the Walter Camp Award list when it is released on Friday July 17th. Urban Meyer has an embarrassment of riches in Columbus. Which ever one wins the job of starter will be a favorite to win many of the most coveted awards in the game, as well as expected to lead this talented bunch to another title.

#3 Ezekiel Elliott, RB, Ohio State.
He is hands down the leading candidate for the Heisman Trophy this season. We’re not sure who will be lining up next to him at QB in the backfield, and it probably won’t matter. Everything in Columbus will be going through number fifteen in Scarlet & Gray.

#1 Joey Bosa, DE, Ohio State. Bosa is already projected to be a top three pick in the 2016 NFL Draft, if he decides to leave Buckeye City after this his Junior season. In 2014 he had 21 tackles for loss, 4 forced fumbles and 13.5 sacks including this game winner that turned Beaver Stadium into “Not-so-happy Valley.”

Braxton Miller’s Case to Start at QB For OSU


Miller has one more season of eligibility at OSU. Photo courtesy: ESPN.

Hello, my name is Braxton Miller, quarterback for THE Ohio State Buckeyes. As you know I missed the entire 2014 National Championship season recovering from shoulder surgery. But you may have forgotten about me, so allow me to reintroduce myself. I’ve won 26 games at quarterback for the Buckeyes. That’s 11 wins away from passing Art Schlicther for first place in school history. I’ve led the Silver Bullets to two victories over “that team up North.” In my three-year career I’ve passed for 5,292 yards and 52 touchdowns, while rushing for 3,054 yards and another 32 touchdowns. I won Big Ten Offensive Player of the Year the last two seasons I’ve played (2012,2013). As a Sophomore in 2012, I finished 5th in the Heisman voting. Before the 2013 season began I held nine records in The Ohio State Football History book. These are the reasons why I can lead the Scarlet and Gray to glory one more season. I appreciate the love and support I’ve received from Buckeye Nation over the course of my career and while rehabbing my injury. That’s why I want one more year to bring you my best and end my career on a high note.

O-H! Braxton Miller

This weekend in Ohio Stadium on the field where he made many a highlights, Braxton Miller and his teammates celebrated their 2014 National Championship with close to 45 thousand Buckeye fans. During the rally he told them “we’ve got another year”, suggesting he’ll be back to compete for the starting QB job against J.T. Barrett and Cardale Jones.


Miller told fans on January 24th, “We’ve got another year.” Photo courtesy: yahoo sports.

I love that Miller is staying with the Buckeyes to compete to win HIS job back. It shows leadership and a competitive spirit that has helped him to accomplish what he has on and off the field at Ohio State. If you’re an NFL scout, GM or Coach you have to be impressed that instead of taking the easy route and transferring to another ready-made situation, he has decided to finish what he started in Columbus. What Miller is also showing is a level of loyalty and exceptional character that isn’t seen in highly competitive sports on any level these days. Miller was at the helm of two teams that finished the regular season undefeated, and was a favorite to win the 2014 Heisman and projected Buckeye starter before the shoulder injury ended his season before it began. So in his mind, maybe he believes if he gets the chance he can lead this great group of talent to a another National Title in 2015. Even if he doesn’t, don’t we have to respect and admire the attempt?

(FYI, the letter from Braxton Miller at the beginning of this post was fictional. )