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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.

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