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Current Football News Archive

Johnnie Dixon is Number 19
December 17, 2013 Source: Eleven Warriors - The rich get richer. The gray box returns with the commitment of Florida speedster Johnnie Dixon.

Johnnie Dixon, a speedy wide receiver from Palm Beach Gardens, Florida is the latest weapon to secure his spot in "The Dream 14." The 5-foot-10, 190 pound receiver out of Dwyer High School chose Ohio State over Miami (FL.) and Alabama today.

Urban Meyer sealed the deal with an in-home visit on Tuesday. He also had an opportunity to watch Dixon up close at Dwyer earlier that evening. In-home visits from Nick Saban and Al Golden were not enough to persuade him to stay in the south.

"I just liked everything they said," Dixon said about his in-home visit with Meyer. "We talked about the things we talk about all the time like education. That's the most important thing in my mom's life and my life because without football you have to have something to lean on. That and I could also play right away."

On picking Ohio State Dixon said he wanted to "go where my heart leads me and where I feel the most comfortable at. I've known for a while. I've just had some mixed emotions."

Dixon is ranked as the nation's No. 16 wide receiver according to 247Sports.com "composite" score which provides an average across the major scouting services. He is also the No. 14 ranked player in the state of Florida, becoming the third highly-touted commit from Florida in the last two years for the Buckeyes. Ohio State assistant coach Zach Smith handled his recruitment, as Dixon becomes the second big recruiting victory for coach Smith.

Our own Jeremy Birmingham was the first crystal baller to cast his prediction of Dixon to Ohio State, doing so in early November. It wasn't until recently that many experts would follow his lead to crystal ball the four-star receiver to the Buckeyes.

With Danny Clark, Raekwon McMillan and Dixon in the fold, Ohio State has gained some major recruiting momentum going into the "dead period." Buckeye fans will now turn their attention to the duo from Glenville, Marshon Lattimore and Erick Smith, who will be announcing at the Army All-American game on January 4th.

More on this commitment from the ElevenWarriors.com recruiting team as it develops.

Here is the video of Johnnie Dixon announcing his commitment to the Buckeyes:

Highlights? Here are highlights of the Miami speedster.

Dixon had offers from Miami, Alabama, Auburn Clemson, Notre Dame, Florida, Florida State, Oregon, and many more. See his offer list HERE Source: 247Sports.com


We Are a Family! We Are The Ohio State University!

Ohio State just wrapped up an important recruiting weekend that included an intense speech by corners coach / special teams coordinator Kerry Coombs.

Coombs flat out brought the juice.

You'll want to watch the speech below, but we've also transcribed his words for you HERE December 16, 2013 Source: CoachingSearch.com


Raekwon McMillian Commitment Video


Raekwon McMillan Profile


Raekwon McMillan commits to Ohio State
December 16, 2013 Source: Eleven Warriors - Today, after nearly two long years of recruitment, up-and-down emotions and a back-and-forth decision making process, Raekwon McMillan has made his college choice and just announced via NBCSports.com/Rivlas.com on live TV that he's headed to Ohio State.

While many had thought McMillan was Columbus bound for sometime the decision was far from easy for the nation's top prep linebacker. He struggled mightily with the whether to follow his head, which had him believing that Alabama might be the "best" place for him, or his heart, which has always loved Ohio State. Today he chose his heart.

McMillan, the nation's top-ranked inside linebacker prospect according to 247Sports.com's composite feature, which combines the ranking for players across the three major recruiting networks, is not just your everyday, run-of-the-mill athlete. He's a deeply introspective talent that uses brain as much as brawn and despite multiple emotionally charged visits to each school he considered, ended up choosing the one he was always the most at ease, the most comfortable, with.

At 6-foot-2, and 242-pounds, McMillan fits the mold at linebacker perfectly, he is a run-stuffing nightmare, but has excellent top end speed that allows him to get sideline-to-sideline if he needs to. Simply put, there's not much that Raekwon McMillan can't do, and the knack for football was something his mother, Monica Washington, recognized at an early age.

"He was nine-years-old when he started really playing football," Mrs. Washington told 11W. "(We) wanted something that would keep him focused, something he would enjoy doing and something that could give him a future besides sitting in front of the TV playing video games. So his father and I signed him up for (recreational football) and it's been that ever since."

"(His football talent) was real natural talent. He first started as a running back, but as he got bigger, they wanted him to start tackling. It's just a God-given talent. Like it was just meant to be."

Last week, McMillan was named the high school football winner of the Butkus Award. The award, given at the high school, collegiate and professional levels, is not awarded solely on athletic prowess, and it's the Georgian's success off-the-field that has earned him the respect of coaches, teammates and opponents everywhere he's been in the past two years. Despite all the acclaim, McMillan has kept a low-profile and kept his focus where it belongs, on others.

"He's grown from a good football player who was quiet, who led by example, to a kid who was a vocal leader his senior year," Tony Glazer, an assistant coach at Liberty County told Eleven Warriors when McMillan was awarded the Butkus. "He turned into the best LB in the nation (because) he was the ultimate team guy. It was always about just trying to get in the win on Friday an not how many tackles could he get. He's a better person then he is football player."

When asked how she has seen him grow after years of national attention, attention that can often take even the humblest soul and turn them into a "me-first" person, Washington echoed the sentiments of Glazer, heaping praise on her son, not as a football player, but as a person.

"He's always stayed so humble," she said. "Raekwon is an ‘old soul,' but he's grown into a wonderful young man. I'm most happy about his academics, because even though he's a smart kid, with all this stuff going on he has still maintained his 3.4 grade point average. I'm not worried about much (as he prepares to leave for college in under three weeks,) I just don't want him to get caught up in any hype. (I hope) he just stays focused and always do what his heart feels."

It was his heart that led him to the choice he made today, the choice to pick the Buckeyes despite immense pressure to stay closer to home, to play football in the SEC, and to "buck" the "tide" that insists that good football is only played beneath the Mason-Dixon line.

It was not just McMillan's relationship with the Ohio State head coach that pushed him in direction of the Buckeyes. He's become very close with another nationally-ranked recruit who spurned the lure of southern football, Buckeye commitment Jalyn Holmes.

Much was made over the last few months about McMillan's choice being impacted by his desire to stay closer to home, and to his younger brothers and parents, but in the end, the decision is about the chance to play big-time football at a place he was comfortable inside and out, knowing that he'll get a chance to compete for national championships and to receive a degree. The latter is what stands out to his mother.

"We want him to be happy and get his degree," Monica Washington said. "So wherever he is going to be happy, (wherever) he is going to accomplish all he needs (to do,) we are satisfied. We've always said that hundreds of miles away from home is not a problem."

McMillan's talents extend off the football field as well, he's an ROTC member and is even skilled in places one would not usually predict for a teenage as adept at a game with football's inherent violence.

"He's an awesome baker! He bakes cakes from scratch," Washington added. "They are awesome. (He makes) the icing and everything from scratch."

McMillan plans to enroll at Ohio State on January 6th. He is the 18th member of the 2014 Buckeye recruiting class.


Raekwon McMillan commits to Ohio State
December 16, 2013 Source: Land-Grant Holy Land - The Buckeyes grabbed one of their most important commitments on Monday afternoon, following the announcement of one of the top linebackers in the class of 2014, putting Ohio State at 18 total commitments for the year.

highly anticipated day for anyone that follows recruiting, '14 5-star LB Raekwon McMillan's decision day, ended with the scarlet and gray coming out on top. The Buckeyes have been in pursuit of the nation's top inside linebacker since the beginning, and have put in the time and effort to land the Georgia-native. McMillan was down to Alabama, Auburn, Clemson, and Ohio State, but it was reported that it was really a race between Alabama and Ohio State, with an outside shot for Clemson.

McMillan first received his offer from Ohio State back in April of 2012, which then was only his third offer overall. Coach Meyer and the rest of the staff instantly made the 6'2, 242-pound inside linebacker their top priority on their recruiting board. Now, the Buckeyes come out on top in one of the more important signings in recent memory.

In his junior year of high school, McMillan had an astounding 152 tackles, while 22 of them went for losses. This season, his senior year, McMillan did even better with 159 tackles, 35 tackles for loss, 8.5 sacks, one interception, and three forced fumbles. McMillan was also named the 2013 High School Butkus Award winner, which is given annually to the nation's best linebacker.

Urban Meyer, Luke Fickell, Everett Withers and Mike Vrabel had the last shot at landing McMillan when they had an in-home visit Sunday night. Before Ohio State's coaching staff, McMillan had heard from Auburn and Clemson on the same day. Alabama got their in-home visit on Thursday. You have to think that this last visit made an important impact on McMillan's decision.

As of Monday morning, McMillan's standing on the 247 Crystal Ball had Ohio State as 75% favorites, with Alabama (20%) and Clemson (6%) the only other teams considered at all. Rated as the 17th-best prospect overall in the country, the nation's best inside linebacker, and the second-best recruit from the state of Georgia, this is a monstrous signing for the Buckeyes.

Raekwon McMillan's commitment gives Ohio State 18 total commitments for the class of 2014 thus far, and the highest rated prospect in that class. This is also good news for the staff as the linebacker depth at Ohio State isn't very strong, and could likely end up much weaker with the possible departure of junior linebacker Ryan Shazier, as he decides if he's going to the NFL or staying for his senior season.

With the announcement of '14 WR Johnnie Dixon coming later this week, the Buckeyes could end up with two top commitments in the past couple of days. Dixon is another top prospect, and Ohio State has been working around the clock to try and land both star high school athletes. We'll keep you up to date on the latest happenings with Dixon.

Check out what the 5-star linebacker really brings to Ohio State on the field with his senior highlight film:

RecruitingspacerOhio State recruiting: State Secrets, 12/20 - Soloman Thomas, Malik McDowell, and Torrance Gibson Updates
December 20, 2013 Source: Land-Grant Holy Land - This last week of recruiting is probably the biggest one we've seen in quite a while as the Buckeyes picked up two commitments in the 2014 class (Raekwon McMillan and Johnnie Dixon), a commit in the 2017 class (Danny Clark), and hosted a couple of top targets on official visits last weekend (Marshon Lattimore and Erick Smith). Despite all of this, there's still plenty to cover in the world of Ohio State recruiting.

We'll start off with Coppell (TX) defensive end Soloman Thomas, who named a top five of Arkansas, Ohio State, Stanford, Texas, and UCLA yesterday. He doesn't claim a leader of the five schools, though I think Ohio State, Stanford, and Texas have the best shot of scoring his commitment.

The Buckeyes will get Thomas' last official visit as he's currently slated to come to Columbus on January 31st. He has already visited UCLA and is scheduled to visit Arkansas on January 18th and Stanford on January 25th. There is currently no scheduled official visit to Texas, but he has taken many unofficial visits to the in-state school.

Ohio State is also pushing for another elite defensive end in the likes of Southfield Michigan's Malik McDowell. There are multiple elite schools in this race including the likes of Alabama, Florida, Florida State, LSU, Michigan, Michigan State, and Ohio State.

Michigan is the perceived leader for McDowell, but I'm hearing the Buckeyes are currently right behind the Wolverines in second place. Other teams still firmly in this race include LSU and Michigan State, with Alabama, Florida, and Florida State trailing that pack.

McDowell has a busy January planned as he is scheduled to take an official visit to Florida State on January 17th, LSU on January 24th, and Ohio State on January 31st. He has already taken official visits to Alabama and Florida. Due to the fact that Michigan and Michigan State are so close to home, he will take unofficial visits to both of those schools.

See video highlights HERE

I think there's a very good chance the Buckeyes end up with one of Thomas or McDowell, with the former being the most likely to be in this class. One thing Urban Meyer and his staff have going for them is they're slated to receive the last official visit from both of this standout prospects. A decision from both of these players is expected sometime close to or on National Signing Day 2014, which is on February 5th.

To close out the news on 2014 prospects, we have a little news on 2014 Cleveland (OH) athlete Marshon Lattimore and safety Erick Smith. I've heard their official visits last weekend went very well and essentially locked them into the class, if they weren't already locked in.

They're both slated to announce at the 2014 US Army All-American Bowl, which is set for January 4th. I think the biggest question that remains is the order in which the Glenville duo commits. You can take these two commitments to the bank.

Next we have news on 2015 Fort Lauderdale (FL) Heritage athlete Torrance Gibson. Gibson led his team to a 66-8 victory in the Florida 5A state title game. It's unclear which position he'll play in the collegiate ranks. He plays quarterback in high school, but some people think he'd be a better receiver at the next level. The 6-foot-4-inch, 200 pound super athlete could definitely fit in at either of these positions.

He's also very interested in Ohio State. I think the Buckeyes are in his top two schools along with Miami. I briefly chatted with him earlier this week and he told me that he talks to Urban Meyer on the phone every other week and wants to get up to Columbus for a visit as soon as possible. Meyer visited Gibson at his school in the week that led up to his state title game.

My 247Sports Crystal Ball prediction for Gibson is Ohio State as things currently stand, but Miami will provide some stiff competition in this race.

Finally, as per usual, here are my latest picks to complete Ohio State's 2014 class (plus for good measure some key dates to keep an eye on):

1. ATH Marshon Lattimore (announces January 4th)

2. S Erick Smith (announces January 4th)

3. S Mike Rogers (Central Florida commit)

4. OT Brady Taylor (Virginia Tech commit)

5. DE Solomon Thomas (official visit January 31st)

IMPORTANT DATES: •January 2nd, 2014: Under Armour All-American Game (4 PM ET on ESPN) - Ohio State commits/targets: Jamarco Jones and Raekwon McMillan. •January 4th, 2014: US Army All-American Bowl (2 PM ET on NBC) - Ohio State commits/targets: Dante Booker Jr., Johnnie Dixon, Marcelys Jones, Demetrius Knox, Marshon Lattimore, Malik McDowell, Curtis Samuel, Erick Smith, Soloman Thomas, and Damon Webb. •February 5th, 2014: National Signing Day (Land-Grant Holy Land will have coverage all day)...


Urban Meyer - #2 Pre-Bowl Q&A 12/18/13

Michael Bennett - #2 Pre-Bowl Q&A 12/18/13
Braxton Miller - #2 Pre-Bowl Q&A 12/18/13

Jack Mewhort - #2 Pre-Bowl Q&A 12/18/13
CJ Barnett - #2 Pre-Bowl Q&A 12/18/13

Source: theozone.net


Meyer on whether he's worried about Clemson pass offense: "You think?"
December 18, 2013 Source: Columbus Dispatch - There was quite the setup line tossed to Ohio State coach Urban Meyer after the Buckeyes' practice this afternoon. They are headed toward an Orange Bowl date Jan.3 vs. Clemson and its potent spread passing offense, and he was asked by a television reporter "Are you worried about them throwing it?"

Meyer said "Oh … yeah … you think?"

Talk about hitting a sore spot, the OSU pass defense has been derided incessantly since the Big Ten championship game loss to Michigan State on Dec.7. It was burned for more than 1,000 yards passing combined in the last three games of the season. But the media hadn't had a chance to ask Meyer – busy with recruiting the past week -- to address it until today.

"It's too many, (not just) one thing," Meyer said of the problems that must be fixed. "It's not man coverage, it's not zone coverage – it's all of the above. It's the pass rush, the time to call the blitzes, making sure the blitzes match the coverage.

"It just you've got to play better."

In the effort to fix it, "Tweaks might be the appropriate word," Meyer said. "We're still working through that, working at changes."

When asked if scheme or personnel changes could be in the offing, he said "There might be," but he didn't get into specifics about either.

He did say, however, that freshman safety Vonn Bell, considered a major recruiting victory when he signed with the Buckeyes in February but who rarely saw quality time with the defense in the season, could see more playing time in the Orange Bowl. Keep in mind Ohio State's two starting safeties C.J. Barnett and Corey "Pitt" Brown are seniors.

Barnett had the memorable line of the day, though. When asked if he and his teammates were aware of the criticism of the defense, he said "Yeah, there's critics of everything. I think LeBron James was criticized a lot, too."


Quick fix needed for shaky pass defense
December 19, 2013 Source: Columbus Dispatch - The air raid siren is quiet for now as Ohio State tries to restructure a pass defense that was overwhelmed much of the season, and definitely down the stretch.

But these few weeks are just the quiet before the next wave, perhaps the most dangerous of the season. In the Orange Bowl on Jan. 3, Ohio State plays Clemson, its talented quarterback Tajh Boyd, playmaking receiver Sammy Watkins and an offense designed by coordinator Chad Morris that specializes in getting receivers open for big plays.

"They're a little bit scary with the things they can do because they have really great players," said Ohio State junior linebacker Ryan Shazier, who yesterday was named first team All-America by both the Associated Press and Sports Illustrated. "They have a lot of speed on their team, and a lot of guys can do a number of things with the ball in their hands.

"We also have great players on defense, and we've just got to try to cover their athletes."

No. 1 Florida State got it done by attacking Boyd and keeping Watkins and the other Clemson receivers in check during a 51-14 win in October. But don't confuse the Seminoles' pass defense with the Buckeyes'.

Florida State finished the season first nationally in fewest passing yards allowed (153.0 a game). Ohio State gave up almost twice that in its last game, a 34-24 loss to Michigan State, and that was against an offense known for throwing only when necessary. Against the Buckeyes, though, the Spartans on several occasions made the pass defense look confused and, at times, silly.

The Buckeyes are 102nd nationally in passing yards allowed (259.5). Pass defense was the elephant in the room during a second straight 12-0 regular season as they pushed their winning streak to 24 games and climbed as high as No. 2 in the polls. But pass defense finally helped bring the party to a stop just when a spot in the national championship game was in reach.

"We've just got to break on the ball a little better, and be more sound in our gaps and responsibilities," Shazier said. "We've just got to communicate a little better. It's little things we've got to fix."

Those "little things" were like squeaks under the hood that kept getting louder during the season — defenders giving too much cushion on routine pass routes, losing track of receivers in zone coverage, taking bad angles on breaks or being slow to "trigger" — as coach Urban Meyer calls it — and at times missing tackles after catches.

Nearly every player in the secondary had trouble from time to time, and so did the linebackers.

A whole season passed and those problems were never consistently fixed. It's why defensive coordinator Luke Fickell and co-coordinator Everett Withers, the safeties coach and presumed coverage schemer for the backside of the defense, finished the season with fans criticizing them.

"It is what it is. Guys have got to make plays, and we've got to put them in positions where they can make plays," Fickell said after the Michigan State game. "There's no finger pointing. … Guys have got to cover, guys have got to rush (the quarterback), guys have got to get there with pressure. The biggest thing is we've got to get better as a group."

From a player's perspective, Shazier said, the scheme is fine.

"I feel like guys are being put in the right place to make plays, it's just some of the plays we weren't making, and some of the guys weren't making plays we need to make," Shazier said.

A year ago, Meyer declared his first Ohio State team, which was suspended from the postseason, fit to compete against any in the country because it had improved so much defensively. He made no such declaration after the Big Ten title game this year. The offense didn't help much in that game, either, with only two quarters of effective play.

But not being able to stop the pass doomed the Buckeyes.

The "little things" wound up being the big problem for the defense, because teams, even conservative Michigan State, passed at will. In the last four games, the Buckeyes gave up 288 yards passing and two touchdowns at Illinois, 320 and two touchdowns to Indiana, 451 and four touchdowns at Michigan, and 304 and three touchdowns to Michigan State.

That's a combined 1,363 yards and 11 touchdowns, and those four teams combined to complete 121 of 190 passes, with Ohio State intercepting just three. Clemson, with the nation's 12th-most prolific passing offense (329.3 yards per game), can be expected to come out throwing to test those "little things."

"I'm kind of surprised, because those little things, we definitely should have controlled at the beginning of the season," Shazier said. "We've just got to do a better job in the time we've got before this game and try to fix them."

RecruitingspacerOhio State recruiting: State Secrets, 12/27 - Roderick Johnson, Marcelys Jones updates
December 27, 2013 Source: Land-Grant Holy Land - Recruiting has slowed a bit in the last week or so as we're currently in the "dead" period, meaning coaches cannot have face-to-face contact with players, which is why we won't see any visits for a few more weeks. However, there has been some notable Buckeye recruiting news over the past couple of days.

We're going to start with Florissant (MO) Hazelwood Central offensive tackle Roderick Johnson, who is one of the two or three offensive linemen the Bucks are still targeting in the 2014 class.

Florida State is the current leader for the 6'6, 315-pound tackle, but the Buckeyes are running second for the standout lineman's commitment. I briefly chatted with Johnson a couple of days ago and he told me he keeps in contact with Ohio State offensive line coach Ed Warinner and will "probably" take an official visit to Columbus next month. He was previously in Columbus for the 2012 Ohio State-Michigan game.

I think the Seminoles are still pretty heavy favorites for Johnson services until the Buckeyes can get him on campus for a visit. However, if Urban Meyer and his staff are able to convince Johnson to take an official to OSU, this race could get interesting as the Bucks are still looking to add one more offensive lineman to this class.

Other un-committed offensive linemen Ohio State is still targeting include the likes of Chanhassen (MN) OT Frank Ragnow and Columbus (OH) Bishop Ready OT Brady Taylor. As things currently stand, I feel the Buckeyes have the best shot at landing Taylor, who grew up rooting on the Scarlet and Gray.

Staying on the topic of the offensive line, there is also some news regarding offensive line commit Marcelys Jones and Kentucky. Several Kentucky recruiting experts have made Crystal Ball picks pegging the 6'5 offensive lineman to the Wildcats in the past couple of days.

While I know for a fact Jones has been in pretty close contact with Kentucky head coach Mike Stoops and his staff ever since he committed to the Buckeyes, I'm hearing he's still likely to end up a part of Ohio State's class. He might enroll in school early, but I wouldn't count on that happening. Anyway, unless something else changes, I'm expecting him to be a part of this class.

Jones was the first member of the "Dream 14" recruiting class as he gave Urban Meyer his commitment a year and two days ago. If he does ultimately flip to Kentucky, it's extremely doubtful his Glenville teammates Marshon Lattimore and Erick Smith would follow him south. I'm still VERY confident the aforementioned Tarblooder duo will commit to the Buckeyes at the Army All-American game on January 4th.

Some people have wondered why the Ohio State staff hasn't pulled Jones' offer due to his highly publicized communicating with other schools. The answer to that is pretty easy: Jones has a lot of upside and could develop into a good player and the Ohio State staff wouldn't pull an offer from a recruit from a major pipeline school like Cleveland Glenville.

We also have a couple of updates on players Urban Meyer and his staff have offered in the 2015 recruiting class in the likes of quarterback Brandon Wimbush (highlights) and offensive lineman Steven Gonzalez.

Wimbush, who is one of the quarterbacks on Ohio State's shortlist for 2015, talks to Urban Meyer and offensive line coach Ed Warinner about once a week and has built pretty strong relationships with both coaches. He said he doesn't have a set timetable for his decision, but could announce at any time, which I think could be a soon as January or February.

I'm pretty sure at least one of Wimbush or Lorenzo Nunez will be in this class and the staff will also look to add a player like Torrance Gibson (highlights below) who could play either quarterback or wide receiver at the college level, but definitely isn't a sure thing to be in the class. Wimbush plans on visiting Ohio State sometime in the spring.

Gonzalez is another player the Bucks are in a good position with early in the recruiting process. He talks to Ohio State's director of player personnel Mark Pantoni and offensive line coach Ed Warinner pretty frequently. He told me Ohio State is his early leader, followed by Rutgers, Wisconsin, and South Carolina. He added that list will probably change once more offers comes his way.

The 6'5, 300-pound offensive lineman plans on visiting Ohio State sometime this spring. I think OSU has a good chance at landing Gonzalez, but it will be a lengthy battle as he doesn't plan on announcing his college decision until National Signing Day 2015.

Finally, as per usual, here are my latest picks to complete Ohio State's 2014 class (plus for good measure some key dates to keep an eye on):

1. ATH Marshon Lattimore (announces January 4th)

2. S Erick Smith (announces January 4th)

3. CB Jermaine Roberts (Texas commit/official visit January 24th)

4. OT Brady Taylor (Virginia Tech commit)

5. DE Solomon Thomas (official visit January 31st)

Dropped S Mike Rogers (Central Florida commit) due to departure of Everett Withers and no word of an official visit.


•January 2nd, 2014: Under Armour All-American Game (4 PM ET on ESPN) - Ohio State commits/targets: Jamarco Jones and Raekwon McMillan.

•January 4th, 2014: US Army All-American Bowl (2 PM ET on NBC) - Ohio State commits/targets: Dante Booker Jr., Johnnie Dixon, Marcelys Jones, Demetrius Knox, Marshon Lattimore, Malik McDowell, Curtis Samuel, Erick Smith, Soloman Thomas, and Damon Webb.

•February 5th, 2014: National Signing Day (Land-Grant Holy Land will have coverage all day)...


Buckeyes DL Joey Bosa

Joey Bosa is doing a lot of coming and going this week, but all the while, the Ohio State freshman is riding high.
December 27, 2013 Source: Columbus Dispatch - Named to two freshman All-America teams at defensive end, Bosa flew to Fort Lauderdale, Fla., four days ago to spend Christmas with his family. He is expected back in Columbus today to join the Buckeyes for two more practices before flying back to Fort Lauderdale with the team on Sunday morning to being final preparations for the Orange Bowl on Jan. 3 against Clemson.

“I get a nice little break, I get to spend some time with my family,” Bosa said before the holiday. “Then I’m back up here, then back down for the game. I’m just excited to be home.”

When push came to shove this season, he was up to the task. One of the more celebrated members of the Buckeyes’ 2013 recruiting class, Bosa became the breakout star by seizing on an opportunity.

He gained the starting job on the strong side of the defense in game three at California when sophomore Adolphus Washington was suffering from a groin strain. Washington eventually returned and by the end of the regular season had become a starter — at tackle next to Bosa.

“I had no idea what it was going to be like coming in,” Bosa said. “I didn’t really hold any expectations.”

Bosa wound up third on the team in tackles for loss (12.5) and sacks (6.5), behind linebacker Ryan Shazier (22.5) and Noah Spence (14.5) in tackles for loss, and behind Spence (eight) and defensive tackle Michael Bennett (seven) in sacks.

“I definitely wouldn’t say it came easy,” Bosa said. “In the beginning, I wasn’t really a good player, and it took a lot of hard work and push through a lot of stuff to get where I am.”

Bennett expected as much from Bosa after watching him, pushed by defensive line coach Mike Vrabel, practice a few times before the season.

“He goes hard, and he learns technique quickly,” Bennett said. “And obviously, I think he’s one of more well-developed freshmen I have seen come through here in a while. He came in here at 275 (pounds), just huge, and you don’t see that very often. …The kid grew each week, got better each week. I mean, 13th week of the season, he’s going to be pretty good.”

There was a hump game when Bosa felt he’d earned his spot.

“Probably the Northwestern game, it was the big turning point,” Bosa said. “I had my first sack in that game. I was making some plays. I had a touchdown.”

He had two sacks and, on the game’s last play, pounced on a fumble in the end zone that put a cap on a come-from-behind victory on the road.

It also gave renewed vigor to an Ohio State winning streak that eventually stretched to a school-record 24 games before the Buckeyes lost to Michigan State in the Big Ten championship game. A win likely would have sent them to the national championship game.

“I’m trying to not think about it anymore, pretty much gotten over it,” Bosa said of the loss. “But it was really hard. ... We had the opportunity to go 25-0 and play for the national championship. Obviously, if you lose that opportunity it’s going to make anyone upset.”

The consolation prize, though, isn’t bad for him. Bosa starred for powerhouse St. Thomas Aquinas in Fort Lauderdale, which he helped win a 2012 state championship. Now he’s going to play in the Orange Bowl just a few miles away in Sun Life Stadium.

“Going back home to Miami, it’s going to be fun,” Bosa said, even if it means two personal trips down there inside a week. “It’s a big game. We’re playing a good team.”


Joey Bosa - Pre-Bowl Q&A 12/13/13

Ryan Shazier - Pre-Bowl Q&A 12/13/13

Jack Mewhort - Pre-Bowl Q&A 12/13/13

Source: theozone.net

0spacerOhio State football Insider: Passing game a problem on offense, defense
December 9, 2013 Source: Columbus Dispatch

25 words or fewer
Michigan State has a knack for ruining potentially great Ohio State seasons: 1974, 1998, 2013. But an Orange Bowl spot is a nice consolation prize.

In the BCS/polls
Ohio State dropped to No.?7 in the final version of the final Bowl Championship Series ratings. The Buckeyes ended up No.?6 in the USA Today coaches poll and No.?7 in the Associated Press media poll. Now they are poised to take on BCS No.?12 Clemson in the Orange Bowl. It's just the second trip for the Buckeyes to that game; they defeated Colorado after the 1976 season

What's hot?
Braxton Miller, Carlos Hyde and Ohio State's running game. Miller was stopped a yard short on fourth-and-2 on the most crucial play of Saturday night's game and the season, but, overall, he (142 yards), Hyde (118) and the offensive line helped the Buckeyes rush for 273 yards against the nation's No.?1 defense against the run. The big question was, why didn't Hyde get more than 18 carries? As for Miller, there is a good chance he will get invited to New York this week as a fast-rising finalist in the Heisman Trophy race, expected to be won hands down by Florida State's Jameis Winston.

What's not hot?
The passing game. Short of those maddening hitch routes, the 36-yard throw to wide-open tight end Jeff Heuerman, and the 20-yard touchdown throw to Corey Brown, there would have been no OSU passing game. Miller was a mere 8 of 21, and several of those misses were the result of tight coverage by an underrated MSU secondary. But where were the quick throws to Heuerman or the slant routes to inside receivers taking advantage of voids caused by the running threats of Miller and Hyde?

What went right?
The run defense, almost all game. It focused on MSU's Jeremy Langford and almost kept intact its reputation for not giving up 100 yards or more to a back this season. However, he topped that plateau in his last couple of carries, including a 26-yarder for the clinching touchdown, which put him at 128. In the end, the run defense couldn't make the stop that would get the offense back on the field for a last shot.

Back to drawing board
Ohio State cannot defend the pass consistently. Despite the extraordinary efforts of defensive end Joey Bosa and frequent quarterback flushing by the defensive front, MSU's Connor Cook (304 yards, three touchdowns) still was able to get the ball to his receivers, who often were wide open. Devin Gardner did the same the week before, and Nathan Scheelhaase a couple weeks before that. One has to figure that Winston would have enjoyed eyeing such a target-rich environment. When Urban Meyer said it needs to change, and weeks later it doesn't, well, it should be an interesting next couple of months.

Dinged up
Bradley Roby had to leave briefly with what appeared to be a knee bruise, and Tommy Schutt needed a tape job for a twisted ankle. Both returned to the game, but in the fourth-quarter series that cornerback Roby missed, the Spartans drove to a touchdown.

Catch that?
Neither team could complain of exhaustion after almost interminable stoppages for television timeouts. Televised by Fox, it was a like an NFL game because often there were commercial breaks after a score and after the ensuing kickoff. The game went on way too long.

Clemson, the ipso facto runner-up in the Atlantic Coast Conference because its only loss was a thrashing it took from Florida State and Winston. The Tigers, led by quarterback Tajh Boyd, were riding high after a season-opening victory over Georgia but come in on a down note: a regular season-ending loss to instate rival South Carolina. Meanwhile, the most recent meeting of OSU and Clemson was the last game for OSU coach Woody Hayes, and we all know what happened that night.

This month's challenge
It will be to replenish the mojo. The Buckeyes were riding the longest winning streak in the country at 24 games until they jumped the track in the fourth quarter against Michigan State. Now they will have a last shot to let it all hang out against another team long on offense and sort of spotty on defense. Miller vs. Boyd has a chance to be one of the more entertaining postseason games.

Current National Rankings
National Rankings
The Ohio State University
Team Stats - Through games 12/07/2013
Stat Rank Value
Total Offense 7 518.5
Rushing Offense 4 317.5
Passing Offense 91 200.9
Team Passing Efficiency 10 158.78
Scoring Offense 4 46.3
Total Defense 29 362.2
Rushing Defense 7 102.6
Passing Yards Allowed 102 259.5
Team Passing Efficiency Defense 75 129.60
Scoring Defense 21 21.3
Turnover Margin 27 0.5
3rd Down Conversion Pct 14 0.494
4th Down Conversion Pct T-27 0.600
3rd Down Conversion Pct Defense 25 0.344
4th Down Conversion Pct Defense 82 0.565
Red Zone Offense 4 0.950
Red Zone Defense 36 0.795
Net Punting T-11 40.00
Punt Returns 54 8.86
Kickoff Returns 37 22.96
First Downs Offense 7 334
First Downs Defense T-77 259
Fewest Penalties Per Game 47 5.15
Fewest Penalty Yards Per Game 53 44.46
Time of Possession 35 31:17
View Complete Ranking Summary

Stat Watch

Maurice Clarett and Jim Tressel reflect on their Youngstown Boys documentary: Clarett talks about what it was like having his live detailed in "Youngstown Boys," at a screening of the 30 for 30 ESPN documentary on Thursday night in Columbus, while Tressel discusses his relationship with Clarett over the years.

Jim Tressel and Maurice Clarett talk about 'Youngstown Boys' and a movie mistake to watch for
December 13, 2013 Source: Chicago Tribune - This should be the first of several takes on "Youngstown Boys," the ESPN 30 for 30 film on Maurice Clarett and Jim Tressel that will be shown after the Heisman Trophy on Saturday, that you read on Cleveland.com today. I will have a longer piece about Thursday night's screening with Tressel and Clarett in Columbus up later this morning.

For a taste of how Thursday night went, check the video above of Tressel and Clarett talking about their experiences with the film.

I spoke with co-director Mike Zimbalist on the phone on Monday and again in person for a while Thursday night. He's only 33 and has already made some sports documentaries that have gained attention, including "The Two Escobars" several years ago.

This is a solid film. Not perfect, but an interesting looking into the relationship between Tressel, Clarett and Ohio State football. Most OSU fans will probably be intrigued.

And some may notice a few inconsistencies. I asked Zimbalist about the one that is the most glaring.

There is a moment in the film where Tressel is talking about a hyped-up freshman and he makes a joke about there being other players on the team if anyone would like to talk about them. It's presented as being about Clarett. It's really about Terrelle Pryor in 2008. I remember the news conference at the start of practice and even the tent Tressel was standing in while he spoke.

I asked Zimbalist about it, and he said that had been brought to their attention this week. He explained that there are some things that a film like this can take liberties with. For instance, there's a time-lapse of Ohio Stadium filling up that's not from 2002 or 2003, though it is shown while Clarett's career is discussed. A stadium filling up is a stadium filling up. No biggie.

This is different. And Zimbalist agreed. He said using the Pryor quote about Clarett wasn't done on purpose, and that it's not right. He said a final edit before Saturday is still being done. And in his mind, that quote should be removed. So maybe you won't see it.

You may see other things - like shots of celebrations that are supposed to be from 2002 that have players like Etienne Sabino, a Buckeye from 2008 to 2012, in them.

This movie was years in the making, and it does tell an interesting story. Zimbalist seemed like a nice guy doing interesting work while we talked at the after party for a while. But that quote is a problem. Look to see if it sticks around for the film you see on Saturday.

Ohio State's Miller wins Tribune Silver Football
December 12, 2013 Source: Chicago Tribune - Many Big Ten greats never won the Tribune Silver Football, awarded annually to the league’s best player. Apologies go out to Bubba Smith, Rod Woodson, Cris Carter, Pat Fitzgerald and Larry Johnson.

A lengthy list of Big Ten legends won the award once, from Alan Ameche and Dick Butkus to Ron Dayne and Drew Brees.

Until this fall, only three men had won the award twice: Ohio State’s Archie Griffin (1973-74), Indiana’s Anthony Thompson (1988-89) and the answer to a trivia question, Paul Giel. The Minnesota quarterback from the early ‘50s lost out on the ’53 Heisman Trophy to Notre Dame’s Johnny Lattner and passed on football opportunities to win 11 games a major-league pitcher.

Braxton Miller threw a mean fastball as a kid, but football will consume his future. And if it’s college football — meaning, if Miller decides to return to Ohio State for his senior season — he could become the first three-time Silver Football winner in history.

And the award has been around since 1924, 11 years before Jay Berwanger won the first Heisman Trophy.

“That is just crazy,” a jubilant Miller said upon being informed that he had won for a second consecutive year. “I look at that as a prime example of why I need to keep doing my thing.”

The vote was not close. Miller appeared on 10 of the 11 ballots — Big Ten head coaches cannot vote for their own players — and received nine first-place votes and one second.

Wisconsin linebacker Chris Borland finished second, garnering three first-place votes and four seconds. Buckeyes tailback Carlos Hyde took third place, snagging four second-place votes.

Wisconsin playmakers Jared Abbrederis and Melvin Gordon each got a second-place vote, as did Iowa left tackle Brandon Scherff.

Surprisingly, no coaches gave support to Wisconsin tailback James White, Nebraska’s Ameer Abdullah or Penn State wideout Allen Robinson.

The voting took place before the Big Ten championship game, in which Miller rushed for 142 yards and two scores but connected on just 8 of 21 pass attempts.

“Are there things he could have done better? Yeah,” said Ohio State offensive coordinator/quarterbacks coach Tom Herman. “But we didn’t play very well around him.”

NFL scouts who believe Miller should return for his senior season will use that passing performance as proof, even though he threw several catchable balls against Michigan State that were not hauled in.

One NFL scout called Miller “tough as hell, and not far from where Donovan McNabb was in college. Braxton made a big jump from a season ago; his footwork is better. Coming back would certainly benefit him.”

Miller hopes to light up the south Florida skies on Jan. 3 when the Buckeyes take on Clemson in the Orange Bowl. He’ll consult the NFL’s draft advisory board long before the Jan. 15 deadline.

“It’s tough; I just don’t know,” Miller said of the stay-or-go decision. “I’ve really got to sit down and go through the pros and cons. I’ll talk to my parents, take it slow. Hopefully ball out on January 3rd and see what the scouts are looking at.”

Miller is wary of exposing himself to the kind of injury he suffered in September, a sprained left knee. He attempted 153 rushes this season (down from 227 last year), averaging 16.5 in the Buckeyes’ final four games.

He said he’s “getting tired” of the pounding and is well aware that Ohio State will lose four senior starters on its offensive line.

He wants to develop as more of a traditional, pro-style quarterback, saying: “We recruit running backs. They’re on scholarship, too.”

Another factor: This could be an extremely deep class of quarterbacks if UCF’s Blake Bortles and UCLA’s Brett Hundley turn pro.

Louisville’s Teddy Bridgewater, Texas A&M’s Johnny Manziel and Fresno State’s Derek Carr are potential first-round picks, and Alabama’s AJ McCarron, Eastern Illinois’ Jimmy Garoppolo, Georgia’s Aaron Murray, LSU’s Zach Mettenberger, Clemson's Tajh Boyd and San Jose State’s David Fales all figure to get drafted.

“Any quarterback who is an underclassmen and not that highly regarded would take a risk by coming out,” said analyst Russ Lande, a former scout for the St. Louis Rams and Cleveland Browns. “Guys who go in the first round, like Blaine Gabbert and Christian Ponder, get more ‘lives.’ Even if you get taken in the second round, you might only get a chance to fail one time.

“Braxton is an immense talent. His arm (strength) is ridiculous and he can make every throw, but his accuracy is all over place and needs a ton of work on his footwork. He’d probably be a third- or fourth-rounder; I’d be shocked if he went higher than that. He is still so raw.”

Needless to say, Ohio State coaches are dying for Miller to return. Backup Kenny Guiton will graduate, meaning next year’s starter could be J.T. Barrett, a freshman who was redshirted this season.

The Buckeyes will have skill players galore, but don’t forget about that young offensive line.

“If he can make the same improvement as he did from last year to this,” Herman said, “then the sky is the limit. We’re talking about the first or second round. He has all the physical tools.”


spacerOhio State football: Fourth-down miss still haunts Jeff Heuerman
December 14, 2013 Source: Columbus Dispatch - Ohio State football players can’t spend much time dwelling on a devastating loss to Michigan State a week ago, not with the Orange Bowl against Clemson less than three weeks away.

Regardless, one play in particular from that Big Ten championship game has been flipping through OSU tight end Jeff Heuerman’s mind.

“About a million times,” he said.

It was fourth-and-2 late in the game when the Buckeyes, trailing by three points but in Michigan State territory, went for it, using quarterback Braxton Miller on a keeper around the right side. He was stopped a yard short by linebacker Denicos Allen, who had slipped away from a Heuerman block to make the play.

“It’s obviously one of those plays you wish you could have back,” Heuerman said. “But it’s part of the game of football. One play, yeah, I wish I could have it back, but you’ve got to move on from it.”

It was only one play of several that proved pivotal in the 34-24 loss, “but, yeah, I beat myself up a little bit,” Heuerman said. “Every competitive athlete does. I don’t think anyone can kind of shake (off) a play like that or a game like that, especially the outcome.

“But you’ve got to keep moving. That’s a big thing we’ve been focusing on. You can’t dwell on the past.”

Easier said than done, especially for members of an Ohio State defense who saw their unit torched again by the pass, and by a team not known for being particularly adept at passing.

“I continue to watch film over it, and continue to ask myself, ‘Why did this happen? And why did this happen?’ and just lay in my bed sometimes — I just couldn’t stop thinking about it, it was so unreal,” linebacker Ryan Shazier said. “I’ve been talking to my family members and guys close to me, and have just been dealing with it.”

He and several teammates spoke to the media yesterday before practice for the first time since the loss that knocked them out of the final Bowl Championship Series title game. Although OSU’s defense has taken shots for its play, the offense — which ebbed and flowed against the Spartans — also has improvements to make.

“Everybody needs to get better; everybody always needs to get better,” offensive tackle Jack Mewhort said. “I don’t think there are specifics, if that’s what you’re asking.

“We can all improve execution. That’s how you win football games, eliminating mental errors and physically not getting beat and stuff like that. That’s going to be our focus this whole bowl practice.”

It’s an all-for-one, one-for-all kind of approach, Heuerman said.

“We understand we just need to play better football as a whole,” he said. “Good football teams don’t rely on just one side of the ball. Both sides get it done, and I think that will be the focus going through bowl practice, finding that medium with both the offense and the defense, and make us more well-rounded.”


Jeff Heuerman - Pre-Bowl Q&A 12/13/13

RecruitingspacerOhio State recruiting: State Secrets, 12/12 - A new offer, 2 official visits set
December 11, 2013 Source: Land-Grant Holy Land - Ohio State recruiting is starting to heat up coming off of the loss to Michigan State in the Big Ten Championship Game. Yesterday was a prime example of that as the Buckeyes coaching staff was all across the nation visiting many targets, who for the most part were 2015 prospects and even sent out an offer.

The offer went to '15 ATH Shawn Burgess-Becker from Monarch High School in Florida. Burgess-Becker is rated as a 4-star prospect and the 63rd ranked player in the 2015 recruiting class. His offer sheet defends that notion as he already has picked up offers from Alabama, Florida State, LSU, Miami, Ohio State and many others.

DB coach Kerry Coombs was in enemy territory on Wednesday, as he stopped by Heritage High School in Saginaw, Michigan to check on '15 ATH Brian Cole. With the Wolverines and Spartans seemingly in the best position to land the 4-star ATH, the Buckeyes will attempt to take another top player from that state up north like they did with Damon Webb in this class. Another stop was to Northville High School in Michigan to visit '15 OT David Moorman. The 6'5", 275-pound prospect currently holds offers from Central, Eastern and Western Michigan, as well as Illinois. Michigan and Michigan State are also showing interest in Moorman.

OL coach Ed Warinner was in the garden state to check out a few targets. One of those targets was '15 OG Steven Gonzalez from Union City High School. The Buckeyes are currently in a great spot to land the 4-star lineman but will have to hold off the Scarlet Knights in order to do so. Gonzalez briefly talked with Land Grant Holy-Land to discuss the visit:

Coach Warinner stopped by. He just wanted to check up on me and told me that I'm one of their main recruits for 2015 and that he really wants me. I'm thinking about going to Columbus in the spring.

Warinner also stopped by St. Peters Prep to check out two teammates in Brandon Wimbush and Minkah Fitzpatrick, who both have Buckeyes offers. The talented duo visited Columbus on October 26th to check out the 63-14 beating that the Buckeyes put on the Nittany Lions and they are definitely two prospects to keep an eye on. Lastly, '15 4-star WR Irving Charles was visited as well. Charles does not hold an offer from Ohio State at the moment but does from Ole Miss, Rutgers, Virginia and a handful of others.

247Sports' Brian Perroni reported that head coach Urban Meyer would be in Texas later today to check out '14 CB Tony Brown. The Buckeyes have always pursued the 5-star CB quite hard but it will be tough for them to take him out of the state of Louisiana. The Tigers of LSU are in great shape to land the stud corner.

As far as prospects visiting Ohio State, two highly-touted defensive lineman in the 2014 class set up official visits to Columbus yesterday. The one that seems like a more realistic option is big-time '14 DE Solomon Thomas from Texas. The Buckeyes will have to battle with the Longhorns and the Cardinal to land Thomas. '14 DT Derrick Nnadi from Virginia also planned an official visit to Columbus for January 17th according to Michael Clark of Scout. Nnadi named Ohio State in his Top 4 last week along with Virginia Tech, Florida State and Penn State.

Finally, Ohio State commit and '14 WR Terry McLaurin won Mr. Football in the state of Indiana yesterday. McLaurin deservedly won the award after compiling 953 yards on 58 receptions with 8 touchdowns as well as running for 744 yards and six touchdowns according to the Indianapolis Star...


Ohio State recruiting: State Secrets, 12/11 - Urban Meyer pays a visit to Johnnie Dixon
December 11, 2013 Source: Land-Grant Holy Land - Johnnie Dixon has been a hot commodity for many programs this season. Urban Meyer was in to see him on Tuesday for one last pitch. Also, 2016 prospect Demetris Robertson picked up an offer from the Buckeyes.

As each calendar day turns, the closer we get to a decision from one of the most highly coveted receiver prospects in the country, Johnnie Dixon. Like we've been accustomed to for quite some time, it's been a Buckeye, Crimson Tide, and Hurricane race for the athlete from Florida and over the last week, things seem to be switching gears in Ohio State's favor.

This 2014 class the Buckeyes have put together is filled with electric playmakers, like last year's class was, and a commitment from Dixon would be huge. In the future of Ohio State football, the problem will never be lack of athletes because the Bucks will have two handfuls of some of the best in the country. On Tuesday, Urban Meyer was in to see Dixon at practice and for an in-home visit. Meyer wasn't the only top tier coach to take in practice, though.

Also approaching a decision date is 5-star linebacker Raekwon McMillan, a player that could do wonders for the Buckeyes if he gives his commitment to Urban Meyer. Yesterday, Raekwon was awarded with the High School Butkus Award for the best linebacker in the country.

Buckeye Nation's class of 2014 quarterback Stephen Collier was named co-offensive player of the year for region 1-5A in the state of Georgia on Tuesday. Sharing the honor with Clemson commit Adam Choice, Collier absolutely lit defenses on fire this season setting the single season touchdown record at Lee County High School. This is what he had to say about winning the award and about enrolling early at Ohio State in the coming month.

It means a lot. I look at it as a team accomplishment more than anything. I'm simply a facilitator, they make things happen. I only have a few weeks left so I'm trying to do as much running and lifting as I can to shake the rust off before I get there. Other than that, though, I'm just throwing everyday and preparing myself for the move.

Stephen's senior season highlight film was recently released, check it out:

Though his recruiting process is just getting underway, Savannah, Georgia wide receiver Demetris Robertson picked up an offer from Ohio State yesterday. A super-sophomore, Robertson is already up to 6'1 and also holds offers from Clemson, Georgia, and Georgia Tech. In addition to gaining a Buckeye offer on Tuesday, Robertson was also able to grab one from North Carolina as well. The class of 2016 recruiting class is too far away to know what needs Ohio State will have to fill, but the one thing we do know is that Demetris Robertson is quickly developing into a can't-miss prospect.

Another offer went out to in-state offensive lineman James Daniels on Tuesday. Daniels is a 6'4, class of 2015 prospect who holds a slew of offers from Iowa, UCLA, Northwestern, Illinois, and now the Buckeyes. James is the son of LeShun Daniels who lettered as a guard for Ohio State from 1994-1996.


-Tom Herman hit the road on Tuesday, traveling to Texas to check in on Demetrius Knox and a slew of other 2015 prospects. Big-time quarterback prospect Jarrett Stidham is also expected to be paid a visit...

This is what an angry Urban Meyer looks like… and it’s not pretty.

0spacerOSU Insider: Shot at national title is within reach
December 2, 2013 Source: Columbus Dispatch

25 words or fewer
Ohio State started the season No.?2, is back up to No.?2 and needs a 25th straight victory for a shot to be No.?1. Probably.

In the BCS/polls
With Auburn’s upset of top-ranked Alabama, Florida State moved to No.?1 this week in the Bowl Championship Series standings and Ohio State moved up a spot to No.?2. The top two after this weekend’s games move on to the BCS title game on Jan.?6 in Pasadena, Calif. With one-loss Auburn leaping to No.?3 in the two major polls behind Ohio State, there is a slight possibility the Tigers could jump the Buckeyes next Sunday night. But history is against it.

What’s hot?
The running game. Ohio State is up to No.?2 nationally in rushing, averaging 321.3 yards a game, behind triple-option mainstay Army (323.6). Carlos Hyde has rushed for 111 yards or more in seven straight games, including 226 on Saturday, the most by a Buckeye against Michigan. He debuted in the national rankings finally yesterday at No.?6 (143.3-yard average). Quarterback Braxton Miller (153 rushing yards at Michigan) had his third straight game of 144 yards or more.

What’s not hot?
The passing offense. But again, Miller and the Buckeyes made the most out of limited attempts, with Miller throwing for two touchdown passes, including a 53-yard rainbow to Devin Smith. Passing likely will need to be more a part of the game plan this week against a Michigan State defense that is No.?1 nationally against the run (64.8).

What went right?
The Buckeyes’ pass defense against that two-point attempt, the biggest play of the season. Tyvis Powell and the other defenders knew what was coming, and Powell stepped in to intercept Devin Gardner’s pass. It was the difference between victory and defeat.

Back to drawing board
The rest of the pass defense. How could a defense so focused on that climactic play be so snookered by Michigan’s often misdirection passing attack the previous 59 minutes and 28 seconds? Michigan State no doubt noted how wide screens, throwback screens and backside passes often found not enough defenders to thwart them. This deep into the season, Urban Meyer thought the defense had those things figured out.

Dinged up
Middle linebacker Curtis Grant, coming off a high-ankle sprain, did play early, but was replaced by Camren Williams as the game progressed.

Catch that?
Freshman Dontre Wilson and right guard Marcus Hall, along with a Michigan player, were ejected early in the second quarter after a melee broke out following a kickoff return by Wilson. There also were other moments of chippiness. But in the fourth quarter, after knocking Gardner down on a pass attempt, OSU freshman defensive end Joey Bosa reached down and helped him up in a clear show of sportsmanship.

Michigan State (11-1, 8-0), the Big Ten Legends Division winner in the league championship game on Saturday night in Indianapolis. The Spartans, in the seventh year under coach Mark Dantonio, have quietly turned in an awesome season blemished only by an early loss to Notre Dame, and anchored by what might be the best defense in the nation. The offense, led by sophomore first-year starting quarterback Connor Cook, has steadily improved.

This week’s challenge
It will be in keeping all thoughts on the Spartans instead of daydreaming about a trip to the national title game. This matchup pits the two teams’ strengths (OSU offense vs. MSU defense) and their more pedestrian parts (MSU offense vs. OSU defense). In a season in which Ohio State’s schedule has been decried for its weakness, this will be a top-10 matchup, and definitely the best opponent the Buckeyes have faced this year.

Current National Rankings
National Rankings
The Ohio State University
Team Stats - Through games 11/30/2013
Stat Rank Value
Total Offense 6 530.5
Rushing Offense 2 321.3
Passing Offense 83 209.3
Team Passing Efficiency 7 164.00
Scoring Offense 3 48.2
Total Defense 30 355.8
Rushing Defense 5 100.0
Passing Yards Allowed 98 255.8
Team Passing Efficiency Defense 73 128.37
Scoring Defense 18 20.3
Turnover Margin T-28 0.5
3rd Down Conversion Pct 9 0.521
4th Down Conversion Pct T-12 0.667
3rd Down Conversion Pct Defense 25 0.345
4th Down Conversion Pct Defense T-66 0.524
Red Zone Offense 4 0.946
Red Zone Defense 35 0.789
Net Punting 13 39.84
Punt Returns 56 8.69
Kickoff Returns 38 22.92
First Downs Offense 9 314
First Downs Defense 47 236
Fewest Penalties Per Game T-50 5.17
Fewest Penalty Yards Per Game 46 43.00
Time of Possession 33 31:38
View Complete Ranking Summary

Stat Watch

RecruitingspacerOhio State recruiting: State Secrets, 11/29
November 29, 2013 Source: Land-Grant Holy Land

Now we're going to touch on the status of a couple of Ohio State's top targets in the 2014 and 2015 classes.

We'll start of with Hinesville (GA) Liberty County linebacker Raekwon McMillan who is the Buckeye's top remaining target in the 2014 class.

Recently there have been reports that Clemson has gained ground in the race for the five-star linebacker, which has reflected on the 247Sports Crystal Ball as four of the last seven predictions have been for the Tigers – mostly from Clemson writers though.

Despite these reports, I'm still pretty confident that Raekwon will be a Buckeye when he announces his decision on December 16th.

Next is junior college offensive tackle Chad Mavety who took his official visit to Columbus last weekend to watch the Bucks take on Indiana.

I briefly spoke to Chad about his visit and he told me it went really well. He is down to Florida State and Ohio State and added that he is very close to making his college decision. He said it's probably only a couple of weeks away. I think this weekend helped solidify the lead for the Bucks.

You still can't count the Seminoles out of this race, but I would be mildly surprised if Mavety didn't announce for the Scarlet and Gray sometime in the next couple of weeks.

Palm Beach Gardens (FL) Dwyer wide receiver Johnnie Dixon and Durham (NC) Hillside wide receiver Trevion Thompson are the two wide receivers left on Ohio State board that the Bucks have the best chance at landing.

Earlier this week, Dixon revealed that he would be announcing his college decision on December 8th, which is just a little over a week away. Right now I have Dixon projected to Ohio State, but it's not a pick I'm super confident on. Miami definitely poises the biggest threat to the Buckeyes in this race. Alabama is also still in the race. The 5-foot-10-inch, 187 pound wideout took his official to Ohio State for the Wisconsin game at the end of September.

While I've seen a couple of Crystal Ball picks pegging Trevion Thompson to OSU over the past couple of days, I don't think this is very likely. Clemson has been in the driver's seat for the duration of this race and I don't think much has changed recently. If Dixon goes elsewhere, I think this would be more likely, but for now I'm sticking with the Clemson Tigers in this race. He officially visited OSU last weekend for the Indiana game.

To wrap things up, Jerome Baker, who in my opinion is the top player in the state of Ohio's 2015 class, finally named the Buckeyes as his leader when we spoke earlier in the week. I think it's not if, but when Baker become a member of the 2015 class. His visit last weekend went very well.

Finally, here are my latest predictions to close out the 2014 recruiting class:
1. ATH Marshon Lattimore
2. S Erick Smith
3. ILB Raekwon McMillan
4. OT Chad Mavety
5. DE Solomon Thomas
6. WR Johnnie Dixon
7. S Mike Rogers...



Ohio State coach Urban Meyer and QB Braxton Miller (5) are two reasons why the 2012 and 2013 teams are among the highest scoring ever at OSU.
with photo gallery

RecruitingspacerOhio State recruiting: State Secrets, 11/27- Johnnie Dixon favoring OSU?
November 27, 2013 Source: Land-Grant Holy Land

The Raekwon McMillan recruiting circus continues to move along and the new development seems to be heading in favor of the Clemson Tigers, however I'm still not putting Dabo Sweeney and company at the top of the list. As we've seen throughout the fall, McMillan has taken several visits to Death Valley, but that can largely be due to the fact it's a short trip from his hometown. The longer it takes the five-star linebacker to make his decision, the higher chance new droppings, like this, will continue to pop up. Ohio State has felt good about their chances for awhile and have seemed to be in the driver's seat for most of the process. As this one continues to play out and we get closer to the middle of December, when a likely announcement is expected, the momentum should start to get back to the Buckeyes.

Five-star linebacker, Justin Hilliard will be in attendance when the Buckeyes visit the Wolverines on Saturday. A huge Ohio State target foe 2015, the Buckeyes have put themselves in a great position for the Ohio native, and though it's a Michigan visit, he'll have a chance to see Urban Meyer's Buckeyes first hand, yet again, in a big time setting. It was previously thought that he would use this weekend to make the trip to the Iron Bowl for the Alabama-Auburn game. At the moment, it seems to be an Iowa, Michigan, and Ohio State battle for the 6'2 linebacker and the contender list will only expand as we enter into the winter time.

A 2015 target that looks like the Buckeye's to lose is offensive tackle Drew Richmond. From Tennessee, Richmond visited Columbus on September 28th and would be a huge get to add to a 2015 class that has potential to be one of the nation's tops. He's not a Buckeye, at the moment, but he's already embracing the rivalry.

A good sign? I think yes.

With Lonnie Johnson's decommitment a few weeks ago, it opened the door for Ohio State to add another receiver. Among the targets is Trevion Thompson, a 6'3 prospect from North Carolina. Thompson has elite size and would a viable option for Ohio State moving forward. He's also rated a the 122nd best prospect in 247Sports composite rankings. Check out his recently released senior highlights.

Another wide out, and arguably one of the better athletes in the country, that the Buckeyes would love to get their hands on is Johnnie Dixon. Miami and Alabama have went back and forth for the top spot for months, but Ohio State has always been in the picture. His decision will come December 8th and the Buckeyes are in a firm position to grab the Dwyer High School stand out.


Ohio State target Marshon Lattimore has been named a U.S. Army Player of the Year finalist...

BCS Standings: Ohio State Buckeyes Could Jump Florida State With Help From Below
November 25, 2013 Source: Rant Sports

The Ohio State Buckeyes still find themselves ranked No. 3 and on the outside looking in this week, but they’re inching closer to the top two teams. Alabama (.9881) is still firmly in control of the top spot, but Florida State (.9697) could now be within striking distance for Ohio State (.9200), if a matrix of fortunate events comes together over the next two weeks.

Most would point out obviously that the Buckeyes need some help from above, whether from the Crimson Tide, Seminoles or a higher power. But what if I told you that even if both of the top two win out, Ohio State could still have a chance at jumping FSU with the help of three lower-ranked teams?

Here’s how the fortuitous chain of events must play out. First, No. 10 South Carolina needs to beat No. 6 Clemson handily in their season finale next weekend. Right now, FSU’s 51-14 win at Clemson is the foundation of its BCS resume, considering the rest of the schedule has been pretty soft. If the Gamecocks take down the Tigers, it would diminish that win and the Seminoles’ overall resume.

Fast forward one week to No. 11 Michigan State’s regular season finale against Minnesota. Ohio State would like nothing more than to see the Spartans win big and move into the top 10 heading into the Big Ten title game. The Buckeyes would then have a shot at notching their first win over a top-10 opponent this season, which would provide a significant boost to their chances of leaping over FSU.

Our tale now takes us from the Midwest to the Arizona desert and the Pac 12 title game. The Buckeyes have a vested interest here as well, needing No. 12 Arizona State to take down No. 8 Stanford. Remember when the Sun Devils’ controversial 32-30 win over No. 15 Wisconsin? That and a 31-24 loss to Ohio State are the Badgers’ only blemishes, both of which were on the road.

If ASU becomes Pac-12 champs, Winconsin’s resume would gain strength, and so in turn would the Buckeyes’.

Even if everything falls into place, it’s unclear whether it would be enough to help Ohio State leapfrog Florida State. The Seminoles have games against 4-7 Florida and the winner of the ACC Coastal remaining. Only one of FSU’s potential ACC title game opponents, No. 24 Duke, is currently ranked in the BCS Standings, so it’s unlikely that the Noles can improve their resume much from here on.

OSU is closer to the top-two in the BCS Standings than it has been at any point this year. If the Buckeyes win out impressively and get a little help from below, they may not be the odd team out on bowl selection Sunday after all.

0spacerOSU Insider: Buckeyes need to win, get help
November 25, 2013 Source: Columbus Dispatch

25 words or fewer
Buckeyes need one upset to get where they want to go, as long as they take care of the Michigan brothers the next two weeks.

In the BCS/polls
Because of Baylor’s blowout loss at Oklahoma State, the Buckeyes — carrying a 23-game winning streak into a game on Saturday at Michigan and having clinched a spot in the Big Ten championship game on Dec. 7 against Michigan State — have breathing room at No. 3 in the Bowl Championship Series standings. But Ohio State needs No.?1 Alabama or No.?2 Florida State to stumble to reach the national championship game.

What’s hot?
The running game. In the past four games, the Buckeyes have averaged 376.3 yards rushing, the lowest output being 311 yards in the snow and cold on Saturday against Indiana. Carlos Hyde passed 1,000 yards, becoming the first running back of an Urban Meyer-coached team to do so, and stands at 1,064 in just eight games this season. And look who is galloping up from behind. Quarterback Braxton Miller has 328 yards rushing in the past two games and 738 in nine games this season.

What’s not hot?
The passing game, which has been brutal outside the past two Saturdays. Miller had two touchdown passes against Indiana, one on a 39-yard post route to Devin Smith, the only receiver to catch a pass for positive yardage against the Hoosiers, and one on a short forward flip in the backfield to Dontre Wilson that he took for 24 yards.

What went right?
The defense bent a few times but didn’t break through the first 31/2 quarters. Two missed field-goal attempts by the Hoosiers benefited the attempt at a shutout, as did a pass breakup by freshman cornerback Cam Burrows in the fourth quarter. It was quite the turnaround for a defense that struggled to stop the Hoosiers’ spread offense a year ago.

Back to drawing board
That two-quarterback end-around play. The Buckeyes finally tried something fancy with backup quarterback Kenny Guiton and Miller on the field together. Guiton took the snap and got the ball to Miller, who had lined up wide left, then started back to the right. It was supposed to be an option pass to tight end Jeff Heuerman, but Indiana had him covered. Miller eventually leaped for the end zone, getting the touchdown but landing on his head. Don’t try this at home.

Dinged up
Doran Grant left the game because of an undisclosed ailment but is expected to play at Michigan. Linebacker Curtis Grant, coming back from a sprained ankle, was available but did not play. His role would have been limited against Indiana’s spread offense.

Catch that?
As the team gathered in the south end zone at Ohio Stadium to face the band and sing Carmen Ohio a final time for the seniors, Meyer stood on the end of the line with his right arm around Jordan Hall. The senior running back, whose playing time has been abbreviated by a chronic knee condition this year, has long been one of Meyer’s favorites.

Michigan, and what to make of the Wolverines? Many had them pegged to play Ohio State not only this Saturday, but potentially again a week later in the Big Ten championship game. But the Wolverines have faltered in the third year under coach Brady Hoke, primarily because their offense, led by quarterback Devin Gardner, is 95th among Football Bowl Subdivision schools at 362.8 yards a game. They gained just 158 yards, including 60 rushing, Saturday in a loss at Iowa.

This week’s challenge
It won’t be looking ahead to the Big Ten championship game against Michigan State as much as it will be not taking the Wolverines for granted. Michigan can salvage its season with a victory, but all of the Buckeyes’ goals remain in front of them. Which team will be able to muster the better resolve?

Current National Rankings
National Rankings
The Ohio State University

Stat Watch


Ohio State Football Mid-Season Highlight Source: Ohio State Athletics

Urban Meyer’s Wife Shelley Really Wants Shovel Passes To Be Added To The Buckeyes’ Offense
November 22, 2013 Source: College Spun - The Ohio State Buckeyes have been rolling recently, and part of their success comes from an offense that is really starting to fire on all cylinders. But while one might think that a team could grow content scoring over 50 points each week (Ohio State has accomplished the feat in three straight games), suggestions are still flying in for how to improve the offense.

One such suggestion came from Urban Meyer’s wife, Shelley, on Twitter. She knows her football, and apparently wants her husband to talk to offensive coordinator Tom Herman about adding the shovel pass to the offense:

When we see a shovel pass from the Buckeyes this weekend, we’ll know who wears the pants in the Meyer household.

Also, this is at least a proactive suggestion from Shelley — up north in Michigan, Brady Hoke’s family has been questioning his own coaching ability. (Even Brady Hoke’s Wife And Daughter Are Questioning His Coaching Right Now)

Who Gon' Stop Us [Ohio State 2013]

Who Gon' Stop Us - Cameron Grey Listen to the full song here: https://soundcloud.com/camerongrey

So apparently it isn’t just Ohio State’s fan base that has noticed that ESPN analyst Mark May constantly trolls the Buckeyes. Lou Holtz, former Notre Dame coach and current ESPN analyst, just called May out for “being against Ohio State” since the day he came on the show. It looks like Holtz may have gained himself some scarlet and gray fans Saturday afternoon. Source: CollegeSpun.com

Panthers' Ted Ginn gets go ahead TD, Brandon LaFell O-H-I-O
LSU's Brandon LaFell does O-H-I-O after Ted Ginn Jr scores game winning TD with 59 seconds left in Panther's 24-20 win over the Patriots in MNF November 18, 2013

"Did the former Bayou Bengal lose a bet or something? Either way, it's hardly a surprise to see Ted Ginn do everything once again. Ted Ginn. Ted Ginn. Ted Ginn did everything." (Video Credit: ESPN) Source: Land-Grant Holy Land

0spacerOSU Insider: Buckeyes stay No.3 in BCS
November 18, 2013 Source: Columbus Dispatch

25 words or fewer
It’s an odd world the Buckeyes live in when scoring 60, winning by 25 and tying the school-record winning streak (22) is considered ho-hum.

In the BCS/polls
Ohio State stayed No. 3 in the two polls — USA Today coaches and Harris Interactive — that make up two-thirds of the Bowl Championship Series ratings formula, which was why the Buckeyes stayed No.?3 in the BCS standings behind Alabama and Florida State. But as evidenced by the Associated Press poll, which moved Baylor over OSU into third, there are doubters. And if Baylor wins at Oklahoma State this week, the coaches and Harris Interactive voters might make the same flip, regardless of the Buckeyes’ result with Indiana.

Who’s hot?
Carlos Hyde. He might have been forced to watch the first two plays on Saturday because of a disciplinary issue between him and running backs coach Stan Drayton, but when he entered on the third play, he was swarmed by a wary Illinois defense. That freed Braxton Miller on his 70-yard touchdown sprint. But Hyde went on to get his, rushing for four touchdowns (including 55- and 51-yard sprints late in the fourth quarter) and amassing a career-high 246 yards. In just seven games, he’s at 947 yards, 53 short of becoming the first running back to gain 1,000 yards in a season on an Urban Meyer-coached team.

What’s not hot?
The punt coverage team. It was Meyer’s pride and joy, but it was gashed by a 67-yard return for a touchdown, a play that even seemed to take the starch out of OSU’s defense for a while, too. Cameron Johnston averaged 57yards on six punts, but one of the problems on those with the 20-mph wind was they often outdistanced the coverage.

What went right?
Miller passed for 150 yards and two touchdowns, but never mastered the wind, which was why Meyer went to attack by ground as the Illini threatened to make it a game. Many teams don’t have such either-or options. But behind a bunch Miller calls “the best ‘O’ line in the country,” Miller ran for 184 yards as he and Hyde carried the mail in the most prodigious ground day — 441 yards — this season for the Buckeyes.

Back to the drawing board
Just when OSU defenders were starting to feel good about themselves following two games of slamming the pass, and then a first quarter at Illinois in which C.J. Barnett intercepted a pass to set up a score and Bradley Roby returned another 63 yards for his second touchdown of the season, things unraveled. Some of it was because of Illinois quarterback Nathan Scheelhaase’s derring-do, some was slack coverage, some was not getting to Scheelhaase enough in a disruptive fashion. But on a day when the Buckeyes had six sacks, two interceptions and forced a fumble that led to a safety, there still seemed more questions than answers.

Dinged up
Starting linebackers Curtis Grant (ankle sprain) and Joshua Perry (head bump after slipping on the ice last week in Columbus) were out. Defensive end Joey Bosa had to leave because of a neck strain early in the second half. The status of all three will be evaluated as the week progresses.

Catch that?
Receiver Evan Spencer might have landed in Meyer’s penalty box for an ill-thought quote last week, but he threw the final clearing block on one of Hyde’s touchdowns. It was something Meyer pointed out proudly in the postgame news conference.

Up next
Indiana, which seemed to get over a hump with an upset of Penn State six games ago. But since then, the Hoosiers are 1-4. They were blasted 51-3 by Wisconsin on Saturday, with the Badgers rushing for 554 yards. Indiana lives by the pass, so that makes this week’s matchup interesting. But the Buckeyes break backs with their running game.

This week’s challenge
A victory will give the Buckeyes the longest winning streak — 23 — in school history, extend the longest current streak in the nation and clinch the Big Ten Leaders Division title and a spot in the league championship game. The problem is few people outside of Buckeye Nation seem impressed. The Buckeyes are still in the big race as long as they don’t slip.

Current National Rankings
National Rankings
The Ohio State University

Team Stats - Through games 11/16/2013
Stat Rank Value
Total Offense 6 536.9
Rushing Offense 4 315.1
Passing Offense 72 221.8
Team Passing Efficiency 8 164.57
Scoring Offense 4 49.4
Total Defense 10 322.5
Rushing Defense 5 92.6
Passing Yards Allowed 62 229.9
Team Passing Efficiency Defense 48 122.66
Scoring Defense 13 18.8
Turnover Margin T-9 1.0
3rd Down Conversion Pct 10 0.519
4th Down Conversion Pct T-12 0.667
3rd Down Conversion Pct Defense 14 0.324
4th Down Conversion Pct Defense T-45 0.455
Red Zone Offense 6 0.941
Red Zone Defense 50 0.815
Net Punting 12 40.19
Punt Returns 59 8.35
Kickoff Returns 11 25.45
First Downs Offense T-6 269
First Downs Defense 25 181
Fewest Penalties Per Game 60 5.60
Fewest Penalty Yards Per Game 62 46.60
Time of Possession 17    32:43
View Complete Ranking Summary

Stat Watch

What we learned in the Big Ten: Week 12 Novmber 17, 2013 Source: ESPN -  Michigan State vs. Ohio State is happening, so get ready: The Big Ten championship game is not signed, sealed and delivered yet. But it would take some major chaos for that game not to feature Michigan State and Ohio State. The Spartans clinched at least a tie for the Legends Division title with their 41-28 win at Nebraska. All they need is to win one of their final two games -- at Northwestern and versus Minnesota -- or have Minnesota lose next week against Wisconsin in order to punch their ticket to Indianapolis. Coach Mark Dantonio's team has come too far to slip up two straight weeks. Ohio State needs one more win to clinch the Leaders spot in the title game because of its head-to-head win over Wisconsin, and the Buckeyes will be favored by multiple scores next week at home against Indiana. This is the matchup that the Big Ten should want -- Michigan State will be in the top 15 and possibly the edge of the top 10 if it wins out, and the Spartans' outstanding defense will test Ohio State's high-scoring offense. It hasn't been the most exciting Big Ten regular season, but things are setting up for a fantastic finish at Lucas Oil Stadium

What happens when college football’s most storied rivalry isn’t decided on the field?
Debuts tonight, 11/16/13, 7pm on BTN


Forty years ago, a 10-10 tie between Ohio State and Michigan left the determination of which school would represent the Big Ten in the Rose Bowl up to its Athletic Directors. That unprecedented, controversial vote – in the days when only one Big Ten team could play in a bowl game – changed college football forever.

To commemorate the anniversary of that historic game, BTN is opening the tiebreaker vote to college football fans everywhere. Watch game footage and interviews with the key players from the 1973 game, then choose the team you think should have represented the Big Ten Conference in the Rose Bowl.

Daily winners will get a Big Ten school-specific tailgating helmet and one grand prize winner will receive a pair of 2014 football season tickets to their Big Ten team of choice.

Different PerspectivespacerOhio State: Margin of Victory and Preseason Narrative Will Cost Them BCS Title Game Bid
November 13, 2013 Source: thebiglead.com

The Buckeyes are third in the BCS standings. Barring a Florida State or Alabama loss, they could go 25-0 the past two years and not reach the BCS title game. Some are questioning the fairness of keeping Urban Meyer and his team out of the title game.

We thought we’d break down Ohio State’s merits vs. Florida State. Here is a breakdown of their respective schedules with Chase Stuart’s SRS.

These schedules, at least by this measure, are more or less identical. Ohio State fed on the bottom of the Big Ten. Florida State fed on the bottom of the ACC. Their best wins, Wisconsin and Clemson, came against good but not great opponents.

The differences? Well, we didn’t spend all off-season discussing how soft Florida State’s schedule was. So, they aren’t getting as much of a stigma as they perhaps should be. The major difference is margin of victory. It doesn’t factor in the formula. But flattening Clemson is certainly factoring in the voters’ minds. The best team Ohio State has beaten by more than 20 is Penn State.

Is it fair? No. But the BCS system has never been fair. One might ask why either one of those team’s resumés is more impressive than what an undefeated Baylor will have done, or Stanford going a potential 8-1 against the SRS Top 40.

Should Ohio State have a title shot?
Wide out Evan Spencer said that he felt his Ohio State Buckeyes would, 'wipe the field' with either Alabama or Florida State. Allie LaForce and Doug Gottlieb weigh in.


SEC expert and ESPN GameDay broadcaster Paul Finebaum wonders about Buckeyes: "I think Ohio State is really good"
November 12, 2013 Source: Cleveland Plain Dealer - ESPN radio host Paul Finebaum, maybe the leading voice on SEC football after decades writing and working in Alabama, knows Urban Meyer. He knows the SEC. And he thinks he may be changing his mind, a bit, on Ohio State.

Finebaum is now an ESPN broadcaster and part of the College GameDay crew on Saturday mornings. And he’s interested in where the Buckeyes fit into the college football big picture. If Finebaum cares, SEC fans might care.

He had me on his radio show Tuesday for the second time this season. The first came after our “Breaking Bama” series talked about Alabama and Ohio State recruiting against each other. My point in writing this is that I found Finebaum’s take on Ohio State during our conversation interesting for OSU fans.

Listen to the audioAudio of Finebaum and Doug Lesmerises November 12, 2013

“It’s a fascinating story,” he said, as our conversation ended with my theory on what Ohio State might be like entering 2014 at 26-0 under Meyer without having a shot at a national title game. “As someone who started the season, like everyone, taking shots, I’m starting to wonder if we didn’t jump the gun. But it’s not over yet.”

As he went to commercial, Finebaum said, “I know (Urban Meyer is) not going to get any sympathy around here, but I wonder if he’s being treated fairly.”

Later in the show, Finebaum said he’s “not the biggest fan of the Big Ten,” but added that dismissing completely Ohio State from the national conversation was “short-sighted.”

“I think Ohio State is really good,” Finebaum said.

And if you care what Ohio State’s perception is on the national scene, you should care about that.

Urban Meyer, on Evan Spencer: 'You don't do that. That's not good sportsmanship
November 12, 2013 Source: Cleveland Plain Dealer - Urban Meyer didn't mask his true feelings about the comments made by Evan Spencer, the Ohio State receiver who on Monday offered a bold assessment of the nation's top teams.

Spencer said the Buckeyes would "wipe the field" with the other teams vying for entry into the BCS Championship Game. Meyer admonished the junior for what he called "disrespecting other teams."

"I'm very disappointed. I can't stand that," Meyer said Tuesday on the weekly Big Ten coaches teleconference. … "He certainly is not the spokesman for our team. As a result, Evan won't talk to the media for a long, long time. "You don't do that. That's not good sportsmanship and that's not what we expect. I understand he's a young man and made a minor mistake, but we just don't do that. You talk about your teammates, talk about the team and move on."...

Meyer said he frequently advises players on how to engage with reporters.

"After every game I talk to them, because I know that's when they can approach the media," Meyer said. "Every couple weeks, I'll remind them. But there's a pretty clear rule over here that you always talk about your teammates, you talk about the team and you always are respectful to the team you're getting ready to play or the one you just played and the players. That's just the right thing to do."



Whenever a college athlete says something provocative or colorful, some fans question the kid's intelligence and others wonder if the player wasn't backed into a corner by reporters.

Here is the exact exchange between media and Ohio State WR Evan Spencer on Monday:

Reporter: Did you watch any football this weekend?

Spencer: "Oh, yeah. I got to. I got to sit on my couch and just watch other college teams and then, yesterday, watched all the pro teams. It's a good, relaxing few days."

Reporter: Obviously, you watched Alabama and LSU. Your thoughts on that.

Spencer: "I mean, both teams are really good. LSU seemed to have some momentum at the beginning in being able to move the ball up and down the field. But Alabama, they're one of the best technical teams in the country. So they kinda broke them down a little bit. But I saw holes in both teams and strengths in both teams."

Reporter: Does it happen when you're watching a game, envision how Ohio State would play against Alabama or what you might do against them?

Spencer: "Oh, yeah. Really since like midway through high school, every time I watch somebody else play, I always think about what I could have done there or what we would have done there as an offense or what we would have done there as a defense or what have you. It's good to look at other competition and kind of mentally play a game while you're sitting on the couch."

Reporter: So you did watch the Alabama game, and the Oklahoma-Baylor game and Stanford-Oregon. How do you think you guys would do against those teams.

Spencer: "I guess I'm a little biased, but I think we'd, uh, we'd wipe the field with both of them. But that's just my bias speaking." (laughs)

Reporter: That's Alabama and who's the other team?

Spencer: "Whoever. Whoever."

Reporter: How much do you follow this, rooting for Stanford or rooting for an LSU?

Spencer: "I was the biggest Cardinal fan for 3 hours because we needed a little bit of help but at the same time we still have to take care of our business. We have to go out there and show them that we're one of the best offenses in the country, one of the best defenses in the country, and one of the best kicking games in the country. We know we have to go out there and take care of business that we have to handle, but we also know we need a little bit of help as well."

THE UPSHOT: The word "wipe" was trending on social media sites in Columbus.

The fallout from other regions varied dramatically. Most fans in Southeasten Conference territory, home to Alabama, laughed at anyone saying they might easily defeat the two-time defending national champions. Some fans were angry that Spencer said it, others were pleased that he was so confident.

Needless to say, some pointed out that Ohio State is officially 0-9 against SEC teams in bowl games. (Note: The Buckeyes beat Arkansas 31-26 in the 2011 Sugar Bowl, but that outcome was vacated due to the NCAA violations committed under coach Jim Tressel.) Source: Associated Press

Spencer: OSU would "wipe the field" with Bama
November 11, 2013 Source: BuckeyeSports.com - After Ohio State head coach Urban Meyer revealed on Monday that he slotted the Buckeyes in at No. 2 with his USA Today Coaches’ Poll vote, many of his players were asked about where they thought they stood nationally. Junior wide receiver Evan Spencer, for one, wasn’t shy about his thoughts on Alabama and Florida State, the two teams currently ranked above OSU in the Bowl Championship Series.

“Well I guess I’m a little biased, but I think we’d wipe the field with both of them,” he said. “But that’s just my bias speaking.”

Ohio State’s No. 3 BCS ranking is a season high and came on the heels of previous third-ranked Oregon’s 26-20 loss to Stanford on Thursday. Spencer said he watched that game, as well as the Alabama-LSU clash on Saturday.

"I was the biggest Cardinal fan for three hours," Spencer said. "We needed a little bit of help, but at the same time, we still have to take care of our business and we have to go out there and show them why we're one of the best offenses in the country, show them why we’re one of the best defenses in the country and how we have the best kicking game in the country."

The Buckeyes are coming off arguably their two most complete performances of the season, having beaten Penn State 63-14 and Purdue 56-0. Although Ohio State struggled at times to put away the likes of Wisconsin (31-24), Northwestern (40-30) and Iowa (34-24), Spencer believes that on their best day, the Buckeyes are tops in the country.

“We’re going to go ahead and handle our business and play our best game every week,” he said. “We know that we just have to go out and execute. If we go out and execute for a full game, there’s nobody in the country that we feel can hang with us when we’re executing the way that we can.”

November 8, 2013 Source: Columbus Dispatch

Cover Story: Jack Mewhort
Ohio State Spotlight Offense: TE Jeff Heuerman
Ohio State Spotlight Defense: C.J. Barnett
Meet A Buckeye: Walk-on Ivon Blackman
Play of the week: Pistol, H right, 33 Iso
Dynamic offense separates these Buckeyes from 2012 & more...

Buckeyes Begin 2013-14 Season vs. Morgan State
Here's a preview of the season with schedule, roster, new faces, keys to the season & more

Listen to the audioUrban Meyer Call In Show - Listen to Replay November 7, 2013 Source: 97.1 The Fan

Urban Meyer Updates from his Thursday call in show
November 7, 2013 Source: The Ozone -  Meyer said they have approached this bye week much different than the last one. The last time their focus was rest. This week their focus is maintaining their energy and momentum. He said half of the staff is out recruiting right now.

* Meyer said that Mike Vrabel, Stan Drayton and Mickey Marotti are responsible for getting the team pumped up before each game. He said they do a very good job of it.

* Meyer said three or four weeks ago they made a change on defense to go more aggressive, and it's working. Not just with blitzing and things like that, but also with triggering from the defensive back spots when the ball gets thrown. The players are reacting to the football quicker.

* Meyer attributed the increase in OSU scoring to the improvement over the entire offense, but also because they are getting more three and outs on defense. They are getting good field position as well.

* Meyer said he's seeing some uncomfortable quarterbacks on the other side of the field, and he likes it. He said Purdue was overmatched, but the defense still did exactly what they asked them to.

* Meyer said their zone defense has gotten better with their recognition of pass patterns and then triggering to the ball. He said it comes with time, and this defense has been together for an entire season now. He said they also like to disguise coverages, and that's what they did on Doran Grant's interception return. Meyer said Christian Bryant was great at it.

* He said that after Braxton Miller's interception against Purdue, he came to the bench and explained to the coaches what he did wrong and he knew why he did it. Meyer said a year ago he wouldn't have been able to do that.

* Meyer said the team practiced hard this week, but they'll have the weekend off to refresh their “heart, mind and soul”. “Take care of your family and do right.” And then they'll be back at it Monday morning. He said today's practice was all Illinois. Tom Herman and Luke Fickell are still in town doing film evaluation.

* Meyer said he'll be up in northeast Ohio watching playoff football tomorrow night.

* Asked about the tight ends, he said it's not always easy to get tight ends involved because of the way defenses react.

* Meyer said that Philly Brown is the number one playmaker in the passing game, and Carlos Hyde is the number one playmaker in the running game, but when he's listing his playmakers, he likes going through to figure out who is number two at each, because it can change.

* Meyer said that Ezekiel Elliott didn't come to Ohio State to cover kickoffs, but he understands what he has to do to see the field. “His mom and dad ought to be awful proud.”

* Meyer said “We have the best kicker in the country.” Then added that he didn't know if Basil is the best “kicker”, but his value to Ohio State is vast.

* Meyer said they try to compress the return area on kickoffs to eliminate running lanes. He likes to have a couple of players that he trusts on the field (wide) side on returns to contain a returner who tries to reverse field.

* Meyer reiterated that Taylor Decker should be fine for next week.

* He said Josh Perry had surgery on his finger, it was to stabilize a dislocation, he practiced today. Curtis Grant has an ankle sprain, so he needs to get healthy. Jordan Hall is a question mark. They still have to get Tommy Schutt into football shape.

* Meyer said that for a guy like Kenny Guiton to be a grad assistant at Ohio State, he needs a 3.0 GPA, and he's right around there, so they're pushing him because they want to keep him around the program if the NFL isn't calling him.

* Meyer said they had two or three missed tackles last week against Purdue. They want to be in single digits every week.

* Meyer talked about how far Marcus Hall has come, citing how Hall was suspended a year for academics, and that he's one of the top five most-respected players on the team now because of what he's been through and where he is now.

* Meyer said that before the Purdue game the message was that they shouldn't have to motivate the players after being in the system for two years now. They should only have to show them what they can accomplish if they play hard. He said the team understands that now. He said they try to create a family atmosphere because players always play hard for their family.

* Meyer said it wasn't difficult to get his team ready for the Purdue game. It didn't hurt that there was so much Scarlet in the crowd.

What we learned in the Big Ten: Week 11
November 10, 2013 Source: ESPN - Five lessons from the week that was in Big Ten football:

1. The Legends Division is officially a three-team race: If you thought Michigan State was going to cruise into the Big Ten championship game, think again. The Spartans remain the favorite in their division, but they have to travel to Nebraska this week in a potential winner-take-all scenario. While the Huskers' banged-up offense figures to have serious trouble against Michigan State's defense, one thing Bo Pelini's team has shown the past couple of weeks is heart, particularly in its hard-fought 17-13 win at Michigan. We've criticized Nebraska in the past for not winning key conference road games; well, credit is due for dealing the Wolverines their first home loss under Brady Hoke. And remember that the Cornhuskers are 2-0 versus Michigan State since joining the Big Ten. Don't count out Minnesota, either. While the Gophers will need some help to win the division, they have grown beyond a nice little story and into a full-fledged contender. Once again, a stout defense and running game led the way in a 24-10 win over Penn State, giving the program its first four-game Big Ten winning streak since 1973. The Gophers have beaten Nebraska and play at Michigan State in the season finale. They're a team no one wants to play right now.

2. Ohio State is one stumble away: Despite not playing in Week 11, it was a good weekend for Ohio State, because one of the three teams ahead of it lost when Oregon fell to Stanford on Thursday night. It could have been a great weekend had Alabama lost to LSU, but the Buckeyes can't complain too much. That's because they're in position to move into the BCS national title game should either the Crimson Tide or Florida State stumble in its final games. Ohio State still has to worry about potentially getting passed by undefeated Baylor or one-loss Stanford, but it should remain in good shape if it keeps winning in style like it has the past few weeks. Wisconsin continuing to win also helps. We've known all along that the Buckeyes would need some help to get in the final two, but a big fluorescent green domino fell on Thursday night. One more break might be all Ohio State needs.

3. No quick fixes for Michigan, Penn State: Two of the Big Ten's marquee brands have fallen on hard times -- and might not be getting up soon. At least not much before the end of this season. Michigan followed up its beatdown at Michigan State by losing at home to Nebraska, snapping a 19-game win streak at the Big House. The Wolverines still can't run the ball; they had minus-21 rushing yards on Saturday, a week after going for minus-48 in East Lansing. Their flaws have been evident for weeks and have finally caught up to them; with road trips to Northwestern and Iowa and a date with Ohio State left, there's no guarantee this team finishes better than 6-6. Michigan is just 14-8 since the Sugar Bowl victory in Hoke's first year, and he'd better hope that all of those glittery recruiting rankings translate into better success down the road. Penn State's struggles are more understandable, given the sanctions, but things are still rougher than many expected. Not only is the defense still a mess, but the offense has taken a nose dive the past few weeks as the Nittany Lions have averaged just 13.7 points per game in regulation the last three times out. That's surprising, given the presence of stars such as Allen Robinson and Bill Belton and a talented, albeit freshman, quarterback in Christian Hackenberg. Penn State has lost to Indiana and Minnesota, and if not for near-miraculous overtime wins over Illinois and Michigan, it could be riding a five-game losing streak. Luckily, Purdue is up next, but with the final two games coming against Nebraska and then at Wisconsin, Bill O'Brien's team will need to do some good work just to finish at .500.

4. Iowa has positioned itself for a strong finish: ... & 5. James White deserves his due:...

Three games crucial to Ohio State’s BCS hopes
November 7, 2013 Source: Columbus Dispatch - Like many college football fans, Ohio State coach Urban Meyer expects to be glued to his television tonight.

"I’m going to try to watch the games, absolutely," Meyer said. "I’ll watch them both, obviously with a lot of interest."

A doubleheader tonight, and another high-profile matchup on Saturday, could have a major impact on the Bowl Championship Series standings, where Ohio State (9-0) has spent the past three weeks locked in at No.?4 despite increasing its winning streak to 21 games.

Baylor (7-0) is No.?6 heading into a Big 12 home game tonight against No.?10 Oklahoma (7-1), and that game will be followed by a Pac-12 showdown with No.?3 Oregon (8-0) at No.?5 Stanford (7-1).

After those high-powered offensive games, the BCS will get another possible shakeup on Saturday in an old-fashioned Southeastern Conference slugfest when No.?1 Alabama (8-0) plays host to No.?13 LSU (7-2). Their past three regular-season meetings have been decided by four points or fewer, and LSU has won two.

Ohio State has not faced an opponent in the BCS’s top 15 in the past two years; Alabama will meet three in the next five weeks. That certainly will bolster the Crimson Tide’s strength of schedule in its quest to win a third consecutive national title.

Meyer and all Ohio State fans should be rooting for Oklahoma and Stanford tonight and for LSU on Saturday because the Buckeyes need help moving up the standings. Ohio State’s nine wins have come against opponents with a combined record of 36-41, and the remaining schedule will be a hindrance in BCS rankings if the teams ahead of them remain unbeaten.

Ohio State next plays on Nov.?16 at Illinois (3-5), which has lost 18 consecutive Big Ten games.

The Buckeyes then come home for Indiana (3-5), ranked 116th in the nation in points allowed, before playing at Michigan (6-2), a near loser to Akron and Connecticut.

Florida State (8-0) is also rooting for upsets tonight and Saturday despite having three wins over top 25 teams by a combined score of 155-28. The Seminoles are No. 2 in the BCS rankings but figure to be passed by Oregon if the Ducks win tonight.

Although Florida State has scored at least 41 points a school-record eight times, the Seminoles will be dragged down in the BCS rankings by their remaining schedule. They play Wake Forest (4-5) on Saturday and then Syracuse (4-4), Idaho (1-8), and Florida (4-4).

November has historically been a wild month, with major upsets affecting the BCS race. Last year, Oregon was No.?1 in the polls and No.?2 in the BCS standings when it lost at home 17-14 in overtime to Stanford. The Ducks were 10-0 and averaging 54.8 points at the time but ended up in the Fiesta Bowl.

Led by Heisman Trophy-contending quarterback Marcus Mariota, Oregon’s up-tempo offense is once again putting up video game-type numbers. Stanford, however, knows how to slow opponents. The Cardinal averages 63.6 plays per game, ranking 123rd out of 125 teams in the Football Bowl Subdivision.

Two of Oregon’s past three wins have come against ranked opponents, but after tonight the Ducks don’t face another opponent in the BCS top 25 until possibly the Pac-12 championship game.

"You can’t take anything for granted, because every single game is vital," Oregon coach Mark Helfrich said.

Baylor is about to find out. For the untested Bears, who lead the nation in scoring offense (63.9 points per game) and total offense (718.4 yards), tonight’s game against Oklahoma is the first of four against teams in the top half of the Big 12 standings. Games against Texas Tech, Oklahoma State, and Texas remain.

"From a realistic standpoint, we just feel like this season is just getting started," said Baylor coach Art Briles, riding a school-record 11-game winning streak. "I know we’ve played seven games, but we’re ready and willing and anxious to get into the grind time, get into where we’re fighting and scraping for every single thing that’s out there."

0spacerOSU will be hot shopping spot for ADs
November 6, 2013 Source: ESPN - COLUMBUS, Ohio -- The holiday shopping seemingly starts earlier every year.

The two-year commitments Urban Meyer asked of his first coaching staff at Ohio State will soon be filled. The assistants have all added 21 wins without a loss to their most current résumés. The No. 4 Buckeyes are on pace for another division title, in line for a spot in the Big Ten title game and still jockeying for a bid to compete for the crystal football.

So, as the South Florida Sun Sentinel reported on Tuesday that Florida Atlantic is targeting defensive coordinator Luke Fickell, it’s a safe bet that some of the hottest coaching toys on the market are at Ohio State. And after keeping them all to himself after last season's undefeated campaign, the signs are already there that Meyer will need to restock his shelves this offseason.

"We had four guys that had some people trying to discuss head-coaching opportunities for them," Meyer said in the spring. "And I hope that happens for some of them, but I’m kind of glad it doesn’t happen after just one year.

"I always ask for just a two-year commitment. I think that’s fair."

Across the board, Meyer’s first staff has provided just about everything he could have hoped for when he took over the program, including sticking around and turning down a few offers a year ago.

As the team appears to be getting stronger every week, the benefits for the Buckeyes are obvious. OSU is thriving on the continuity and familiarity that comes with the opportunity to spend more than one season with a position coach, coordinator or simply a playbook. They’ve proven more than capable of making successful in-game adjustments -- whether it was altering the approach defensively against Iowa after seeing a new formation or tweaking an offensive game plan to feature the brutal running style of Carlos Hyde more as the passing attack struggled at Northwestern -- there are trademarks of a group of coaches and players all on the same page.

Returning for another season with the Buckeyes wasn’t solely a perk for the program, of course. For all the attention Ohio State got in 2012 while going unbeaten, it didn’t win a national title and couldn’t even play for the conference crown. Adding those to a list of accomplishments can certainly help a potential candidate stand out when business really picks up for athletic directors in the coming months.

And the Buckeyes will have no shortage of options depending on what a potential suitor is looking for, from innovative offensive minds to a pair of defensive guys with previous experience as interim coaches.

Tom Herman’s work with quarterback Braxton Miller and Ohio State’s eye-popping offensive numbers will surely make him one of the top targets among coordinators. Ed Warinner’s results with the offensive line while serving as the co-offensive coordinator and his background in multiple styles of attacks could be appealing as well.

Fickell has interviewed for at least one major program in the past, and Ohio State’s surging defense may well get him cracks at jobs bigger than the one Florida Atlantic might offer. Everett Withers has long been respected around the country for his ball-hawking defenses, and the Buckeyes have only helped him add to that reputation.

The rest of the assistants have enhanced their profiles as well, with Mike Vrabel’s young defensive line zipping through the learning curve and Zach Smith’s receivers operating at a much higher level this fall, just to name two.

It may turn out that keeping most of his assistants around becomes an even bigger priority for Meyer if the inquiries start flooding in for his coordinators. But, for now, two-year engagement isn’t over, and there’s still plenty of work to be done.

But if the Buckeyes end up doing what they planned on by the end of the season, Meyer will surely have no problem passing on a glowing recommendation.

"The one negative thing about success and hiring good coaches is that they’re hot items," Meyer said after last season. "If I had five guys that people never call me and want to hire them, that means I’ve probably got bad coaches."

With the shopping season apparently underway and the Buckeyes still rolling, Meyer had better make sure his phone is fully charged.


Ohio State HC Urban Meyer shot down a report that Buckeyes defensive coordinator Luke Fickell interviewed for the head job at Florida Atlantic.

"He did not interview," Meyer said after practice tonight. "He better not have."

Meyer said he was not contacted by FAU and that there is "absolutely no interviewing going on" with his assistants during the regular season.

Fickell is apparently Florida Atlantic’s top target to fill its coaching vacancy, with the South Florida Sun Sentinel reporting that FAU athletic director and former OSU staffer Pat Chun flew to Columbus to interview him Tuesday.

Owls coach Carl Pelini resigned last month after he was spotted allegedly using cocaine and marijuana. Fickell went 6-7 as the Buckeyes’ interim coach in 2011 and is in his second year as Meyer’s defensive coordinator.

Meyer: Fickell did not interview at FAU November 6, 2013 Source: Toledo Blade

0spacerThe Ozone had the opportunity to speak with Junior Quarterback Braxton Miller, Junior Linebacker Ryan Shazier, Junior Tight End JT Moore, Senior Offensive Lineman Corey Linsley and Junior Defensive Lineman Michael Bennett following practice on Wednesday, November 6:

Braxton Miller
Ryan Shazier

JT Moore
Corey Linsley

Michael Bennett


Two-Minute Drill: Wednesday Post-Practice Updates
November 6, 2013 Source: The Ozone - * Meyer said that defensive coordinator Luke Fickell did not interview with Florida Atlantic about their vacant head coaching job. He said that if any assistant coach asked to interview in this middle of the season, he would tell them not to distract the team and to wait. Meyer said the normal protocol for a school that wants to interview one of his coaches would be for that athletic director to call Meyer and ask for permission. That apparently has not happened yet.

* Meyer said that he will definitely be watching college football Thursday night, and he will compare his team to the teams that he is watching. He will also be attending one of his daughter's volleyball games this weekend.

* Meyer said that he doesn't like politicking for his team when it comes to the BCS, but he knows that he has to do it for his players and his coaches.

* Meyer said that right tackle Taylor Decker is ahead of schedule on his MCL sprain and should be good to go for the Illinois game.

* Meyer said that the same rules apply as the last time the team had a bye week. Nobody better get into trouble, and everybody better come in at weight. He said the team needs to be serious right now because "The chase is on, man." ...

Listen to the audioUrban Meyer Big Ten Teleconference November 5, 2013


Two-Minute Drill: Updates from Urban Meyer's Big Ten Teleconference
November 5, 2013 Source: The Ozone - Urban Meyer spoke on the Big Ten Football Coaches Teleconference on Tuesday afternoon. Meyer discussed the state of his team, and provided some injury updates. Here are the highlights.

Urban Meyer Updates

* Meyer was asked if he sees national championship-qualities in this football team, and he related it to the 2006 team that dealt with injuries and got better each week. He said the defense continues to get better, and the pass defense is much better than it has been. He said they'll be working more on the pass defense and the kickoff return unit during the off week.

* Meyer gave himself a grade of "B" when it comes to staying healthy and keeping away from the problems that he had at Florida.

* Asked about tight end Jeff Heuerman, he said they have no interest in big, plodding tight ends, and that's sort of what he was brought to Ohio State to be when he was originally recruited. He said that when he leaves, however, he will be one of the best tight ends in the nation.

* Meyer said that C.J. Barnett is one of the best tacklers on the team, and has "always been my right-hand man" when it comes to player situations. He said he's always been one of the top two guys he goes to on player issues.

* Meyer said the safeties who have stepped up in place of Christian Bryant are getting better, but they need to continue to improve.

* Meyer said he will be watching both big games on Thursday night.

* Meyer said he didn't realize Michigan State held Michigan to -48 yards rushing, but he's interested to watch the film in the next few days.

* Meyer said he usually watches Thursday night games with his son.

* He said he thinks "we're pretty close" to being where they want to be. It's the closest they've been since he has been here. "When we coach them, they get it." "These kids want to be coached, and they want to be great."

* Meyer said their focus is on Illinois, but they'll spend the early portion of the week working on themselves.

* Meyer said Jordan Hall practiced well last week, but he woke up on Saturday and was stiff and sore and couldn't go. He called it a chronic knee injury. He said Taylor Decker is doing well and his knee didn't swell, so they hope to have him this way.

* Meyer said Wisconsin's Chris Borland is one of the best blitzing linebackers that he's ever seen, and Ryan Shazier is similar. He said Shazier sees the blitzing lanes extremely well.

Defense responds to more pressure
November 5, 2013 Source: Columbus Dispatch - Whether it’s a corporation or a football team striving for greatness, no segment of an organization enjoys the feeling that it’s putting a drag on the operation. That’s how members of the Ohio State defense felt a few weeks ago.

"There was a lot of pressure on us," safety C.J. Barnett said. "The offense is playing great, and we weren’t really holding up our end of the deal as good as we should have been.

"So coach (Urban) Meyer, the coaches put a lot of pressure on us, and we changed our mentality."

The defense felt a lot better about itself as the No.?4 Buckeyes (9-0, 5-0 Big Ten) headed into this bye week after staging aggressive, often stifling efforts in lopsided wins over Penn State and Purdue.

In both games, the OSU defense delivered big plays early. Safety Corey Brown’s interception in the end zone thwarted Penn State’s initial offensive thrust in a 63-14 win. Cornerback Doran Grant’s interception return for a touchdown on the second play at Purdue set the agenda in the 56-0 romp.

Statistically, Ohio State has risen to No.?9 nationally in total defense (311.7 yard average). It’s No.?4 in rush defense (88.2) and No.?9 in scoring defense (17.0-point average).

"We’re just playing more together, we’re communicating, we’re forming like one unit," cornerback Bradley Roby said. "The beginning of the season we weren’t all together, and now we’re getting together."

The Buckeyes had to replace seven starters from last year’s defense. That unit also had taken about half of that unbeaten season to get its act together. It took awhile again this year, but here are some of the noticeable personnel reasons for the uptick:

• The return of tackle Tommy Schutt three games ago to the defensive line rotation after he missed the first six because of a broken foot.

• The rise of freshman Joey Bosa at strongside defensive end.

• The switched-on play of defensive end Noah Spence, who took his game up a notch against Penn State and kept it there at Purdue.

• The maturation of linebackers Curtis Grant and Joshua Perry (he underwent hand surgery yesterday but is expected to return for the next game) playing beside all-Big Ten performer Ryan Shazier.

• The way Brown has stepped in at safety for Christian Bryant, who was lost for at least the regular season because of a broken ankle suffered on Sept. 28.

"As a team, we’ve just got to keep on coming," Spence said. "That’s just giving us some confidence, the team all coming together. It’s feeling pretty good."

If there was an impetus, it was the urging by Meyer for the group to be more disruptive instead of lying back. It also helped that the past two games the Buckeyes were going against freshman quarterbacks, who didn’t always respond well to the pressure.

"I feel like it’s mostly us not thinking as much and just playing football," Spence said. "We know what our assignment is, and we’re just going out there and playing."

Meyer likes the trend, especially the sting brought by a blitzing Shazier. But it is the coach’s custom to continue to prod with three games left in the regular season.

"We’ve taken a weakness, which was pass defense, and I don’t want to say it’s a strength yet, but it’s much improved," said Meyer, with the Buckeyes now sitting No.?50 in pass efficiency defense compared with No.?71 two weeks earlier.

Barnett expects the rise to continue because "being on the attack instead of sitting back" has increased confidence through the ranks.

"I think the coaches have done a great job of utilizing our strengths, which I think is pressuring the quarterback," he said. "We’ve been playing a lot of man coverage. So I think our whole mentality has changed."

0spacerOSU Insider
November 4, 2013 Source: Columbus Dispatch

25 words or fewer
With their throw, pitch, throw then "Roll Hyde, roll" offense, the Buckeyes feel great about themselves despite what poll voters and computers think.

In the BCS/polls
The Buckeyes stayed No.?4 in the Bowl Championship Series ratings, as well as the USA Today coaches and Harris Interactive polls that make up two-thirds of the BCS formula. No.?1 Alabama, No.?2 Florida State and No.?3 Oregon present a logjam for OSU that will need some dynamite upsets to clear and give the Buckeyes a channel to one of the two spots in the BCS title game.

Who’s hot?
Carlos Hyde, who kept rolling behind the veteran offensive line, and making his own way when there was a leak. He had 111 yards at Purdue on just eight carries, taking a seat after his first run in the second half put him over 100. He’s at 701 yards for the season, well within reaching 1,000 for the season. He’s averaging 116.8, but NCAA rules dictate that you have to play in 75 percent of the games to be included in national rankings. Hyde was suspended the first three games, which means his first appearance could be after the Michigan game. Unofficially, his average is 11th best. Meanwhile, OSU is No.?5 nationally in scoring (48.2) and No.?8 in rushing (301.1) and total offense (530.9).

What’s not hot?
Reading the advertising on Jeff Heuerman. Going into Purdue, he was touted as one of the better blocking tight ends in the country. Then he broke wide open time after time early and Braxton Miller found him. Heuerman had five catches for 116 yards — the most receiving yards by an OSU tight end since John Frank at Michigan in 1983 — and scored OSU’s first offensive touchdown. Fellow tight end Nick Vannett also caught a TD pass, the first time two OSU tight ends caught TD passes in the same game since 2006.

What went right?
Not only did cornerback Doran Grant deliver the first big play of the game with his interception, but he picked up a quick convoy from Joey Bosa, Joel Hale, Curtis Grant, Tyvis Powell and C.J. Barnett to finish off the pick-six. Purdue had freshman quarterback Danny Etling rolling out on the second play of the game, which meant word of Ohio State’s enhanced upfront defensive pressure preceded it. OSU is No.?9 nationally in total defense (311.7) and scoring defense (17.0).

Back to the drawing board
Emails and tweets keep coming from critics of OSU’s Big Ten schedule, as if the Buckeyes have the ability to erase what’s up on the board and call, say, Alabama this week for a game on Thursday night. The schedule is what it is, and it’s not difficult for Ohio State by any measure this season. But it’s also looking as if the Buckeyes’ path to stay in contention for a BCS title game bid could run into Associated Press No.?18 Michigan State in the Big Ten championship game.

Dinged up
Right offensive tackle Taylor Decker suffered a left knee sprain, similar to the injury Miller incurred in game two, and could be out for a couple of weeks or more. Tommy Brown took his place. Middle linebacker Curtis Grant limped off twice with a left ankle sprain, but is expected to be OK.

Catch that?
Chris Fields did, on that leaping 1-yard pop pass from backup quarterback Kenny Guiton for OSU’s fifth touchdown in the six-TD first half. Shades of Tim Tebow at Florida when Urban Meyer was there, the play was introduced a couple of weeks ago to the Buckeyes, Guiton said. It played off of Guiton’s numerous spread-the-field plunges into the middle of the line, but he still went on to score two rushing TDs in the second half.

Up next
It’s the second bye week of the season for the Buckeyes.

This week’s challenge
Meyer said R&R are as much a part of a bye week as practice. He wants his team as fresh as possible for the three-game regular-season stretch run to Illinois, home with Indiana, then at Michigan. There also will be some scoreboard watching: No.?2 Oregon plays at No.?6 Stanford and No.?5 Baylor plays host to No.?12 Oklahoma on Thursday night, and No.?1 Alabama plays host to No.?10 LSU on Saturday night. Will all the dominoes stay standing?

Current National Rankings
National Rankings
The Ohio State University

Team Stats - Through games 11/02/2013
Stat Rank Value
Total Offense 8 530.9
Rushing Offense 8 301.1
Passing Offense 66 229.8
Team Passing Efficiency 7 171.20
Scoring Offense 5 48.2
Total Defense 9 311.7
Rushing Defense 4 88.2
Passing Yards Allowed 50 223.4
Team Passing Efficiency Defense 50 123.17
Scoring Defense 9 17.0
Turnover Margin T-8 1.0
3rd Down Conversion Pct 5 0.542
4th Down Conversion Pct 16 0.647
3rd Down Conversion Pct Defense 14 0.315
4th Down Conversion Pct Defense T-53 0.500
Red Zone Offense 9 0.935
Red Zone Defense T-33 0.783
Net Punting 15 40.00
Punt Returns 39 10.35
Kickoff Returns 15 25.00
First Downs Offense 3 244
First Downs Defense T-32 157
Fewest Penalties Per Game 53 5.44
Fewest Penalty Yards Per Game 53 46.33
Time of Possession 14    33:09
View Complete Ranking Summary

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