Tag Archives: Michigan State

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.

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?

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 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.

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.”