Tag Archives: Penn State

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.

 

 

Advertisements

Buckeyes Overcome Early Mistakes to Beat Penn State

Barrett carried the Buckeyes to a 4th quarter comeback win 39-38, over Penn State. Photo Credit: Aaron Dotser/USA Today

Remember when everyone around the nation, including some in Buckeye Nation, were bashing J.T. Barrett? I wish he’d go to the post game press conference and channel his inner Kirk Cousins right now.

Lead by the senior quarterback, the Buckeyes overcame several early mistakes on special teams, offense and coaching to overcome a 15 points fourth quarter deficit to knockoff the second ranked Penn State Nittany Lions 39-38.

Barrett completed 33 of 39 passes for 328 yards and 4 touchdowns. With this performance and the others since the loss to Oklahoma, he has firmly placed his name in the Heisman Trophy race.

But it wasn’t pretty. Here are my takeaways from the Buckeyes come from behind victory.

* THE SILVER BULLETS ARE THE BEST DAMN DEFENSE IN THE LAND.

Penn State came into the game averaging 463.3 yards per game (2nd in B1G). The Buckeyes held them to 283 total yards (192 passing, 91 rushing.)

Ohio State may very well have snatched the Heisman Trophy from Saquon Barkley after he started the game looking to run away with it on the opening kickoff. Eight of Barkley’s 21 carries resulted in loss yardage. He finished the game with 44 rushing yards for an average of 2.1 per carry. Defensive Coordinator Greg Schiano and defensive line coach Larry Johnson had the perfect game plan to stop the most dynamic player in the country.

* J.T. WAS NEVER THE PROBLEM. 

As I’ve been saying all season, the supporting cast around Barrett hadn’t stepped up in big games, until Saturday night. When Barrett has time, and receivers run good routes to get open, J.T. will look like the Heisman finalist he was in 2014 and the guy who has now catapulted himself into the top of the conversation with this victory. Just Touchdowns is clutch! He completed his last 16 pass attempts and was 13 of 13 in the fourth quarter.

Johnnie Dixon and his two touchdowns in the fourth quarter will be all anyone talks about, but Austin Mack and K.J. Hill were huge keeping the chains moving. Hill finished with 12 receptions for 102 yards. I also can’t forget Marcus Baugh coming back from a huge drop early in the game to redeem himself for the game winner. When the skill guys play to their expectations around Barrett, this is the performance you’ll get from the Senior QB. He will look just like he did when he had Ezekiel Elliott, Devin Smith and Michael Thomas to name a few.

* POOR PLAY CALLING/COACHING SHOULD HAVE LOST THIS GAME

The majority of the finger-pointing the last two seasons in Columbus has been towards Barrett, but maybe it’s time to point the finger at Urban Meyer and his coaching staff. As poorly as the Senior QB has played in past big games, the coaching staff hasn’t put him or the rest of the Scarlet and Gray in the best positions to succeed.

This coaching staff hasn’t learned from the losses to Clemson in the 2017 College Football Playoff and Oklahoma in game two of this season that you can’t call plays on offense that go sideline to sideline. The top defenses are too quick. You need to throw it down field, even if it’s incomplete, just to loosen up the defense and put them on their heels.

Going for it on 4th and 8 in field goal range to end the first quarter was a panic move from Urban Meyer that I’ve never seen from him before in his career in Columbus or at the University of Florida. Had he allowed Nuernberger to kick what would have been a 35-yard field goal, and he made it, Ohio State would have been down one possession at halftime 28-20 with the ball to start the second half. Instead they went into the locker room down 11. Thankfully that decision didn’t come back to haunt them.

The game plan also needs to focus more on the best use of their best weapons. J.K. Dobbins getting only 13 carries isn’t enough. He finished the game with a per carry average of 6.8 for a total of 88 rushing yards. Dobbins is what Barkley was when he entered the B1G three years ago. He needs to be used more.

* THE SPECIAL TEAMS UNIT CONTINUES TO SUCK

It didn’t take long for this unit to show its flaws. Saquon Barkley took the opening kickoff 97-yards to pay dirt. They also allowed Koa Farmer, a linebacker, to return a pooch kick 60-yards to set up another touchdown. Coming off a Bye week were these problems had persisted for weeks, you would think this unit would have come out to play the perfect game. These mistakes still haven’t cost them a game, yet. I put emphasis on yet.

As bad as special teams was, I must them a big nod, because it was the blocked punt by Denzel Ward with 11:39 remaining in the game down 35-20 that turned the game. So there was a bit of redemption for the Buckeyes since it was as blocked field goal by Penn State last season that helped them complete the upset.

The first College Football Playoff poll will be released this week. The Buckeyes have a real shot to be in the first four, top five at worse.

Next up, the Iowa Hawkeyes in Kinnick Stadium in Iowa City. Kickoff is yet to be determined.

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.

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.”