Tag Archives: Big Ten

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.

 

 

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.

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 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.

Top Ten Big Ten Games to Watch in 2015

  The excitement and anticipation are building. We’re just a little over a month away—34 days at the time of this post—from the start of a new college football season. But, it’s never too early to look ahead. Here’s a look at the key games involving Big Ten teams in 2015. 

September 3rd, Michigan at Utah 

The Jim Harbaugh coaching era begins in Ann Arbor. The Wolverines finally have their “Michigan Man” to lead their program. Going to the Utes is a tough opening act for a guy who in his first two college coaching stops at San Diego State and Stanford went 7-4 and 5-8 respectively in his first seasons. He’ll also be breaking in a new QB, Junior Shane Morris, who completed only 35 percent of his passes with three interceptions on his 40 attempts last season.  Harbaugh needs to get off to a great start in Ann Arbor to build momentum for a desperate fans base, or those khakis are going to be hot. 

September 3rd, TCU at Minnesota  

You have to love that so many power conference teams are facing off against each other to start the season. I don’t know if this is an effect of the college football playoff or not, but it’s going to heavily impact how the final four is selected. TCU and the Big XII feel they got snubbed by the committee in 2014, partially due to the Buckeyes emergence, but mostly because of poor non-conference schedules and no conference title game.  With a win the Golden Gophers can deliver an early knockout blow to the Horn Frogs redemption plans, and as a middle of the pack team in the B1G, make a case its a better conference than the Big XII. 

September 5th, Wisconsin vs. Alabama in Arlington, TX 

The Badgers have a new coaching staff for the second consecutive season, and lost their 2,000 plus running back Melvin Gordon to the NFL. Whisky is trying to defend its Big Ten West division title and get back to Indy to redeem itself in the championship game. 

The ESPN Football Power Index gives the Badgers a 52 percent chance of doing so. Their toughest competition will be Nebraska. 

Can the Badgers, be like the Buckeyes, and send a message to the sports world that the big bad SEC isn’t the bullies on the block anymore? Or, will they embarrass themselves on the national stage like they did the last time they were on it? The Tide have only four starters returning on offense, but eight on defense. They’ll be looking to avenge themselves from their disappointment in the CFP the last time the nation saw them. 

September 5th, BYU at Nebraska 

If the Nebraska Cornhuskers are going to re-establish the program to its past glory in its present conference, the time is now. 

The FPI gives the Cornhuskers a 59% chance of winning this game, but only project them to win 7.6 games on the season. They need to get off to a great start to make sure that prediction is off and over take the Badgers. The FPI has given them a 26.3 percent chance of succeeding making it to Indy. 

September 7th, Ohio State at Virginia Tech 

Who’s going to start at QB? That’s the big question everyone wants the answer to. Coach Meyer is a wise guy, and I wouldn’t be surprised if he doesn’t show us his hand until the offensive unit runs out for its first drive of the game.  

In case you forgot, the Hokies were the only team to beat the Buckeyes in 2014, and it was ugly. They took advantage of a young offensive line and a quarterback making his second start. And, they did it in “The Shoe.” 

Who doesn’t like a revenge game? Thankfully we don’t have to wait long to see it. The defending champs repeat bid will be tested early and we’ll get to see if they’re hungry or satisfied. 

September 12th, Oregon at Michigan State 

The Spartans got off to a good start in the game at Eugene last season, but the eventual Heisman Trophy winner Marcus Mariota had a few signature moments to lead the Ducks to victory.  He won’t be on the field in East Lansing facing a defense returning seven starters looking for revenge. 

MSU will likely have to be undefeated going into their November 21st showdown at Ohio State to overtake the Buckeyes as Big Ten East division champs. A lost to Oregon will all but derail those hopes. 

October 10th, Wisconsin at Nebraska 

This is the biggest game in the lowly West Division. The FPI gives the edge to the Cornhuskers at 51%. This game could decide who plays for the Big Ten crown at season’s end. 

October 17th, Penn State at Ohio State  

The Nittnany Lions had a chance to dash any hopes the Buckeyes had of making a title run last season. After the loss to Virginia Tech in week two, this was the closest game the Scarlet and Gray played. 

Penn State has seven starters returning to a defense that was ranked number one overall in the B1G and number one against the run. 

November 27th, Iowa at Nebraska 

Regardless of if the Cornhuskers beat the Badgers in October, the Hawkeyes will be their final hurdle to get a ticket to Indianapolis to play for the B1G Championship. 

Iowa is always sneaky and will likely be ramped up to play spoiler. Nebraska can’t overlook them. Luckily for them they won’t have to stare at those ugly pink locker rooms. 

November 28th, Ohio State at Michigan 

Meyer versus Harbaugh Episode 1. I wonder if “The Khakis” will continue to disrespectfully call the Buckeyes “Ohio” a la Brady Hoke. The mind games these two will play in the media all season long, especially the week of “The Game”, will probably be better than the actual game. 

The Buckeyes are 12-2 in the last 14 games against Michigan, which includes a three game winning streak.  

The Buckeyes likely will be undefeated and moving closer to a second national title. Folks in Columbus know all too well how the “The Team Up North” has dashed their championship dreams. If the last couple of seasons are any indication of how Michigan’s 2015 will go, a victory could be their crowning achievement on the season. Being spoiler will definitely guarantee season one in Ann Arbor a success for Harbaugh.

How Ezekiel Elliott Stacks up With the Best RBs in the Country in 2015

Photo Courtesy: Tom Pennington/Getty Images

Let me get this out there first, the Buckeye offense will go as far as Junior running back Ezekiel Elliott takes them. It won’t matter which quarterback lines up behind center in Scarlet and Gray. If Ohio State is to repeat as National Champions, Elliott will need to be close to the player who rushed for 696 yards and 8 touchdowns in the Big Ten Championship game, and the College Football Playoffs. Not the Guy who rushed for 138 yards, 2 TDs on 27 carries in the first three games of the season.

Coming into the 2015 season he is by many people’s opinion the favorite to win the Heisman Trophy. But, is he even the top back in the country? Here’s a look at his competition based on how they finished in 2014.

Total Rushing Yards 

#3 Ezekiel Elliott, Ohio St., Junior, 1,878 yards
#4 Donnel Pumphrey, San Diego St., Junior, 1,867
#6 Devon Johnsom, Marshall, Junior,  1,767
#7 James Conner, Pittsburgh, Junior, 1,765
#8 Samaje Perine, Oklahoma, Sophomore, 1,713
#10 Kareem Hunt, Toledo, Junior, 1,631
#14 Jordan Howard, UAB, Junior, 1,587
#16 Jarvion Franklin, Western Michigan, Sophomore, 1,551
#17 Nick Chubb, Sophomore, Georgia, 1,547
#18 Leon Allen, Western Ky., Senior, 1,512

Elliott finished in the top three despite not rushing for a hundred yards in the first three games of 2014, and missing the century mark six times in fifteen games. Part of his early season inconsistency was due in part to an inexperienced offensive line that came on strong at the end of the season. Also, teams loaded the box on the running game, hoping to force the Buckeye Offense to let a young J.T. Barrett throw more.

The O-line’s experience—they return four starters in 2015—along with Elliott’s growth as a runner, is the reason most believe he will hoist sports most coveted individual award.

Rushing Touchdowns

#3 James Conner, Pittsburgh, Junior, 26 TDs
#4 Jarvion Franklin, Western Michigan, Sophomore, 24 TDs
#6 Kenneth Dixon, Louisiana Tech, Senior, 22 TDs
#8 Samaje Perine, Oklahoma, Sophomore, 21 TDs
#9 Donnel Pumphrey, San Diego St., Junior, 20 TDs
#11 Ezekiel Elliott, Ohio St., Junior, 18 TDs
#13 Devon Johnson, Marshall, Senior, 17 TDs
#14 Dee Hart, Colorado St., Senior, 16 TDs
#14 Kareem Hunt, Toledo, Junior, 16 TDs
#14 Shock Linwood, Baylor, Junior, 16 TDs

Touchdowns can be very misleading when evaluating running backs. Depending on situation and the system, quarterbacks can rack up touchdown carries as well. The Buckeyes spread option is why J.T. Barrett, Ohio State’s QB for most of 2014, scored 11 touchdowns on the ground; his longest was 86 yards.

Rushing Yards Per Carry 

#2 Kareem Hunt, Toledo, Sophomore, 7.96
#3 Elijah McGuire, La-Lafayette, Junior, 7.61
#6 Nick Chubb, Georgia, Sophomore, 7.06
#7 Michael Gordon, Arkansas St., Senior, 6.92
#8 Ezekiel Elliott, Ohio St., Junior, 6.88
#10 Donnel Pumphrey, San Diego St., Junior, 6.76
#11 Dee Hart, Colorado St., Senior, 6.57
#13 Samaje Perine, Oklahoma, Sophomore, 6.51
#15 Corey Clemet, Wisconsin, Junior, 6.46
#17 Storm Woods, Oregon St., Senior, 6.3

6.88 yards per carry is nothing to sneeze at, especially going against the talented defenses in the Big Ten. Other than Nick Chubbs at Georgia, none of the backs ahead of Elliott play in one of the Power 5 conferences, where the talent and competition is much better.

Rushing Yards Per Game

#3 Kareem Hunt, Toledo, Junior, 163.1
#4 Donnel Pumphrey, San Diego St., Junior, 143.6
#5 Devon Johnson, Marshall, Senior, 135.9
#6 James Conner, Pittsburgh, Junior, 135.8
#7 Jordan Howard, UAB, Junior, 132.2
#8 Samaje Perine, Oklahoma, Sophomore, 131.8
#12 Ezekiel Elliott, Ohio St., Junior, 125.2
#16 Paul Perkins, UCLA, Senior, 121.2
#17 Jarvion Franklin, Western Michigan, Sophomore, 119.3
#18 Nick Chubb, Georgia, Sophomore, 119.0

Elliott, unlike most of the top running backs in this category, plays in a well-balanced offensive system with an accomplished quarterback—no matter which one wins the job—with him in the backfield. That means defenses won’t be able to load up on him, and it will create even more opportunities for him to dominate.

Another stat that determines the greatness of a running back, yards after contact. Last season, Elliott gained 836 yards after first contact. That was good for fourth most amongst Power 5 running backs.

Despite what’s happening in the NFL, running back in the college game still holds high value, and none are more valuable than Elliott. Don’t believe me, just go replay the final three games of the Buckeyes 2014 season.

Big Ten Football’s Mount Rushmore

It’s the never-ending argument or debate in sports, who’s the greatest? If you think narrowing it down to one is difficult, try coming up with a top four. It’s especially difficult when you have to factor in players and coaches across different eras, many of which from a time long before you were born. But like most sports fans we try. And, I’m opening myself up to ridicule and badgering by trying to come up with the faces that shape up the Big Ten. So without further or do…..

Woody Hayes, HC, Ohio State (1951-1978). In twenty-eight seasons, Coach Hayes led the Buckeyes to five National Championships, thirteen Big Ten Conference Titles and 205 victories. A Mount Rushmore for Big Ten football would have to start with the legendary Hayes, who is the most accomplished coach in conference history. Three times he won the College Football Coach of the Year Award. On top of being a great leader on the field, Coach Hayes is known for being one of the first to recruit and start African-American players and hire African-American assistant coaches.

His coaching tree has produced several legendary coaches in college football such as Bo Schembechler (Michigan), Ara Parseghian (Notre Dame), Lou Holtz (Notre Dame) and his own successor at Ohio State, Earle Bruce to name a few.


Bo Schembechler, HC, Michigan (1969-1989). In twenty-one seasons at the helm in Ann Arbor, Schembechler’s Wolverines won or shared the Big Ten Title thirteen times and won 194 games. Six times he was awarded the Big Ten Coach of the Year Award. Ten times in his career, Coach Bo led Michigan to the Rose Bowl.

Along with Coach Hayes, these two can largely be credited with helping the Big Ten Conference gain the prominence it has. And, the “Ten Year War” between Ohio State and Michigan is why the annual meeting between the school is largely regarded as one of the greatest rivalries in sports.

Archie Griffin, RB, Ohio State (1972-1975). The only two-time Heisman Trophy winner was, and still is in the conversation for greatest college football player ever. #45 is the only running back to lead the Big Ten Conference in rushing for three straight years. When he graduated from Ohio State in 1975, he was the NCAA record holder in rushing yards (5,589) and carries (924). His 31 games with at least 100 rushing yards from 1973-1975 is still an FBS record. The Buckeyes were 40-5-1 in his four seasons.

In 1990, Griffin was named to the Walter Camp All-Century team, and ESPN named him twenty first out of twenty fifth on the Top Players in College Football History list.


Dick Butkus, LB, Illinois (1962-1964). While he’s mostly remembered and revered for his time as a Chicago Bear,  history shows he was just as dominant as the leader of the defense with the Illini. He finished his career with 374 tackles in three seasons, in an era when freshman weren’t allowed to play varsity. In 1963 he won Big Ten’s Most Valuable Player, and in 1964 he was awarded the American Football Coaches Association Player of the Year. Adding to his accomplishments, Butkus finished sixth in Heisman Trophy balloting in 1963 and third in 1964, a rarity for defensive players.

In 1990 he was named to the Walter Camp All-Century team, and in 2000, College Football News named him the sixth-best ever college football player. ESPN ranked him nineteenth out of twenty-five on their Top Players In College Football History list.

I think it’s safe to say he is the best linebacker ever, I mean, he has his own award given out yearly to the best high school, collegiate and professional player at the position. That’s more than Mount Rushmore worthy.

HONORABLE MENTION:

Charles Woodson, CB/KR/PR, Michigan (1995-1997). The only defensive player to win the Heisman Trophy and leader of the 1997 National Champion Wolverines. He racked up the awards after ’97 season, from the Walter Camp, to the Thorpe, to the Bednarik award and others. But, his final season in Ann Arbor is really the one people only remember, not his entire career.

Joe Paterno, HC, Penn State (1966-2011). Earlier this year, the NCAA restored his 111 wins taken away as punishment in the aftermath of the Jerry Sandusky scandal to make him once again the winningest coach in college football. My knock against Joe Pa is that a majority of his success came before Penn State joined the conference in 1993, and his team’s were 13-22 against Ohio State and Michigan.

Ron Dayne, RB, Wisconsin (1996-1999). Dwayne won the 1999 Heisman Trophy and finished his career in Madison as the NCAA’s All-Time Leading Rusher (6,397 yards, 7,125 if you count bowl games). While he was consistent as a thousand yard rusher all four seasons, like Woodson, his last season is the most impactful year when he gained acclaim as the best player in the conference.

Drew Brees, QB, Purdue (1997-2000). Before he donned the black and gold of the New Orleans Saints, he wore the same as a member of the Purdue Boilermakers. Brees finished his career in West Lafayette as the Big Ten’s All-Time leader in passing yards (11,792), touchdown passes (90), total offensive yards (12,693), completions (1,026) and attempts (1,678). In a 2010 Big Ten Network Icons documentary, Brees was ranked forty-eighth out of fifty on the conference’s top student athletes. He was also named the Big Ten’s best quarterback of the 1990s.

His other honors Include, Big Ten Offensive POY 1998 & 2000, Big Ten MVP in 2000, 2000 Maxwell Award Winner, Big Ten Medal of Honor winner in 2001.

Pat Fitzgerald, LB, Northwestern (1993-1996). Before he was leading the Wildcats as head coach, Fitzgerald was the defensive leader on the field helping turn the program around from conference doormat, to conference champions. In 1995 as a consensus All-American, he led Northwestern to the first of consecutive Big Ten titles and a berth in the Rose Bowl, the school’s second ever and first since 1949.

“Fitz” is a two-time Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year and is the first two-time winner of the Bronko Nagurski Trophy and Chuck Bednarik Award. In 2008, he was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame.