Sunday, May 31, 2009

Is Ohio State Football Still Among the Elites?

by HD Handshoe
Founder
BlockONation.com



These days, when you think of elite programs in college football, several teams that immediately come to mind are the USC Trojans, Florida Gators, Oklahoma Sooners, LSU Tigers, Texas Longhorns and the Ohio State Buckeyes.

Since 2001, only USC and Pete Carroll has more wins than Jim Tressel's Buckeyes and both equally have one BCS title. USC also haa an AP title from 2003 when LSU won the BCS title, but the AP still voted the Trojans #1 for some odd reason.

It's no secret that Ohio State's recent losses vs. the other elite teams previously mentioned have taken away some of the luster of the program and led many to believe Ohio State is not elite and in fact, overrated simply because of the history and tradition of the program.

Here are Ohio State's last eight losses, all since 2005. I'm not sure why this resume is the reason they have been dragged through the mud over the past several seasons, but nonetheless, it is.

2005 Regular Season vs. eventual BCS National Champions Texas

Team AP Rank on gameday:

Texas was ranked No. 2
Ohio State was ranked No. 4

Final Score:

Texas 25
Ohio State 22

Looking back:

Vince Young should have won the Heisman and he led Texas (13-0) over USC (12-1) 41-38 in one of the best BCS title games ever played.

Ohio State (10-2) should have won this game and literally, they were one dropped touchdown catch away from beating Texas, but fell short in the end.

2005 Final AP Poll Rank:

Texas No. 1
Ohio State No. 4


2005 Regular Season vs. eventual Big 10 & Orange Bowl Champions Penn State

Team rankings on gameday:

Penn State was ranked No. 16
Ohio State was ranked No. 6

Final Score:

Penn State 17
Ohio State 10

Looking back:

The 2005 Nittny Lions (11-1) were one of Joe Pa's best teams ever and if not for a fluke loss at Michigan (7-5), they may have won the BCS title against either Texas or USC.

So, while a loss is a loss, Ohio State (10-2) had chances to win this game, which by the way, was played in Happy Valley at night in the "whiteout" where very few opponents ever come away victorious.

2005 Final AP Poll Rank:

Penn State No. 3
Ohio State No. 4


2006 BCS National Championship Game vs. SEC and eventual BCS Champions Florida


Team rankings on gameday:

Ohio State was ranked No. 1
Florida was ranked No. 2

Final Score:

Florida 41
Ohio State 14

Looking back:

Sure the score was lop-sided and Ohio State (12-1) was favored but Ted Ginn going out after the opening kickoff was a major blow not to be overlooked, and let's not forget...

For 50+ days straight, all Ohio State heard was how great they were and how all they needed to do was show up and pick up the trophy and all Florida (13-0) heard was how much they didn't belong, and how Michigan deserved to be there more than them, and that they had no shot to beat the Buckeyes and they only got in because UF coach Urban Meyer, aka Urban Cryer, told his sob story about how the SEC is just so tough and there's no way an SEC team can go undefeated and that's why his team deserved to jump UM...which they did in the final poll.

It's no surprise why UF won. They had more motivation and more to prove and Buckeyes were told that they couldn't lose. No excuse though in this game in the end because the Bucks rolled over and got rolled by UF in embarrassing fashion as the heavy favorites so I get why OSU took a hit nationally after this game and deservedly so.

2006 Final AP Poll Rank:

Florida No. 1
Ohio State No. 2


2007 Regular Season vs. eventual Big Ten Runner-up and Rose Bowl representative Illinois

Team rankings on gameday:

Ohio State was ranked No. 1
Illinois was unranked

Final Score:

Illinois 28
Ohio Stare 21

Looking back:

I guess this was Ohio State's "hiccup" game, kind of like when Stanford beat USC in 2007 or when Ole Miss beat Florida in 2008.

I won't go overboard on excuses but there was a clear fumble by Illinois (9-4) out of the end-zone that the refs missed which would have given the Buckeyes (11-2) the ball. Instead Illinois scored a touchdown a play or two later.

I'm not saying the Buckeyes would have won, but we'll never know for sure now.

The bottom line is Ron Zook is a good coach and he has fared well vs. Ohio State since he's been in Champaign.

2007 was a very strange year in college football anyway because every week that a new team took over the No. 1 ranking, they seemed to lose their very next game.

The Buckeyes followed that trend, just like all the others.

2007 Final AP Poll Rank:

Ohio State No. 5
Illinois No. 20


2007 BCS National Championship Game vs. SEC and eventual BCS Champions LSU

Team rankings on gameday:

Ohio State was ranked No. 1
LSU was ranked No. 2

Final Score:

LSU 38
Ohio State 24

Looking back:

This game pushed the Buckeyes record all-time vs. teams from the SEC in bowl games to the now infamous and pathetic record of 0-9.

In fairness, Ohio State was never expected to even play for the title in 2007. Not by the fans, the media or even the players and coaches. It was widely viewed as a stepping stone season to a legit title run in 2008.

They overachieved all year and in the end, teams like Kansas, Missouri and West Virginia choked in the final week or two of the season, allowing both LSU and Ohio State to move up to the top two spots essentially by default.

The title game was played in New Orleans, a mere 80 miles or so from Baton Rouge. It's not quite like playing USC in the Rose Bowl in Pasadena 910 miles from USC's campus), but pretty damn close!

It was a "neutral field" home game for LSU and the inept and immobile Todd Boeckman, and Ohio State O-line, gave the ball and the game away by consistently killing OSU drives with costly unforced turnovers and by not throwing it away instead of allowing the LSU defense to sack him repeatedly 5 and 10 yards behind the line of scrimmage.

There were also at least two personal foul penalites called on OSU that kept stalled LSU drives alive and eventually led to more points for the Tigers.

By my count and if my memory serves me correctly (which it does), the penalties and turnovers resulted in a four touchdown swing in favor of LSU, meaning had Ohio State not killed themselves with these stupid mistakes, they would have won this game 42-10.

But, they did kill themselves and they didn't win. LSU had a good team and I'm suggesting that they didn't, but Ohio State was just as fast and just as talented.

Even at "home", the Tigers were very beatable and the game could have and should have went the other way.

2007 Final AP Poll Rank:

LSU No. 1
Ohio State No. 5


2008 Regular Season vs. eventual Pac-10 and Rose Bowl Champions USC

Team rankings on gameday:

USC was ranked No. 1
Ohio State was ranked No. 5

Final Score:

USC 35
Ohio State 3

Looking back:

Again, I'm not trying to make excuses here but when a team is without their best offensive player, the game outcome is going to be affected.

Stud running back Beanie Wells didn't play in this game and unfortunately, Todd Boeckman did.

True freshman phenom Terrelle Pryor saw very limited action in the first quarter only and he ran circles around USC's vaunted defense, but Tressel didn't want to throw him to the wolves in such a huge game so, once OSU was behind 10-3, Pryor didn't see the field again and Boeckman buckled under the pressure as usual and the game was swiftly out of reach.

Now, if there is a the silver lining, it's that USC is great, especially at home and they were the then No. 1 ranked team in the nation and as mentioned, Wells was out for OSU.

The bad news is, the media and college football fans didn't seem to think Wells would have made any difference. I disagree 1000%!

All I'm saying is, take away the best offensive threat from any team in the country and then have them go play USC in L.A. and let me know how that turns out...

2008 Final AP Poll Rank:

USC No. 3
Ohio State No. 9


2008 Regular Season vs. eventual Big 10 Co-Champions and Rose Bowl Representative Penn State

Team rankings on gameday:

Penn State was ranked No. 3
Ohio State was ranked No. 10

Final Score:

Penn State 13
Ohio State 6

Looking back:

This game came down to true freshman Terrelle Pryor trying to make a big play and instead he fumbled the ball late in the game on Ohio State's side of the field.

Ultimately, that led to the games only touchdown and Penn State's first win in Columbus in 30 years.

There's really not much else to tell. It was a close, defensive battle and unfortunately, Pryor made a freshman mistake and that was the difference.

The game really could have went either way. Had Pryor simply ran the play up the middle for a first down (it was 3rd and 1), the Buckeyes very well may have won.

2008 Final AP Poll Rank:

Penn State No. 8
Ohio State No. 9


2008 Fiesta Bowl vs. eventual Big 12 Co-Champions and Fiesta Bowl Champions Texas

Team rankings on gameday:

Texas was ranked No. 3
Ohio State was ranked No. 10

Final Score:

Texas 24
Ohio State 21

Looking back:

Texas (12-1) beat Oklahoma (12-1) 45-35 during the regular season, but because of an odd tie-breaker, Oklahoma played in the Big 12 Championship game and eventually against Florida in the BCS Championship game instead of the Longhorns.

Without doing a full game recap, Texas started out strong but the Buckeyes (10-3) came back to take a 21-17 game with close to two minutes left in the game.

Colt McCoy engineered the Longhorns to a game-winning touchdown with only a few seconds on the clock.

Ohio State was given no chance to win this game and even less of a chance to keep from being blown out.

Ironically, this actually was one of the best bowl games of the entire postseason and essentially, the Bucks lost the game by a couple inches when they almost forced a turnover on downs on Texas's game winning drive.

But in the end, this was just another game where the Buckeyes could/should have won, but came up just short, literally this time by inches.

2008 Final AP Poll Rank:

Texas No. 4
Ohio State No. 9


In hindsight, other than the Illinois loss, none of these other defeats were so-called "hiccups".

All eight teams that Ohio State lost to finished that season ranked in the top twenty.

Seven of the eight finished ranked in top ten.

Six of the eight finished ranked in the top five.

The final AP Poll is the most important because it is after the season, when all the games have been played, and when we truly know how good or how overrated teams were.

Can Ohio State win every big game vs. every elite team they ever play?

Of course not and it's extremely unlikely that any other team in the nation would have won all eight of these games.

Does that mean Ohio State is not elite?

If winning 10 games or more practically every year and being ranked in the top ten at years end almost every season means a team isn't elite, well, then yes but we all know better than that.

Does Ohio State have to start winning some of these games on the "national stage" to reaffirm and maintain their status as one of college football's elite?

Absolutely and unequivocally YES—Without question!

It all has to start this season when the Buckeyes host USC.

A win solidifies the program as elite, while a loss, particularly one comparable to last seasons in L.A. will further erode the fading memories of the Buckeyes previous greatness from yesteryear's of old.

It's unrealistic to expect any team to win every game, every year.

The Buckeyes can't and don't have to win do that, but they have to start winning some of these OOC games vs. the other elitesm—and fast.

For that reason, the USC game is more or less a must win game for the Buckeye program.

After all, there's no free pass when it comes to being in the discussion as one of the nation's elite programs.

Just ask any Michigan, Notre Dame, Nebraska, Miami, or Florida State fan.

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Friday, May 29, 2009

Buckeye Banter | From 12 to 1—Breaking Down the 2009 Ohio State Schedule

by Kristofer Green
BlockONation Columnist



The Ohio State football team is still about 100 days from taking the field, but it is never too early to take a hard look at the Buckeyes schedule.

Instead of just listing the games and giving generic team descriptions I have ranked the Buckeye's opponents from the easiest game to the toughest.


12. New Mexico State (Oct. 31)

With the Hal Mumme era over, the addition of new head coach DeWayne Walker has brought a new attitude and a feeling that things may finally change, but the Aggies are still light years away from competing for the WAC title.

The team will go from trying to out-bomb everyone to trying to win with defense and a strong running game. Sound familiar Buckeye fans? Walker could see some success in time, but on Halloween the Aggies will have a very difficult time trying to beat the Buckeyes at their own game.


11. at Indiana (Oct. 3)

When Indiana still had Kellen Lewis—its most dynamic player—the Hoosiers were still considered by many to be the 11th best team in the Big Ten. Now that coach Bill Lynch has dismissed Lewis from the team, Indiana's doormat status seems to be all but confirmed.

The Buckeyes will make their first trip to Bloomington in several years and will almost certainly build on their current win streak against the Hoosiers. In the Jim Tressel era alone the Buckeyes are 6-0 against Indiana and have outscored the Hoosiers 221-57.


10. Toledo at Cleveland Browns Stadium (Sept. 19)

The Rockets have as much talent as any team in the MAC (including Central Michigan) and they have experience with returning starters at nearly every position. It will be up to new head coach Tim Beckman to get the talent to perform on a consistent basis, something former coach Tom Amstutz couldn't do.

Toledo will run an up-tempo spread offense that could prove to be difficult for the Buckeyes to get a handle on. But for all Toledo's talent, the Buckeyes have more and no other Ohio team has beaten the Buckeyes for nearly 100 years.


9. Navy (Sept. 5)

Navy coach Ken Niumatalolo not only has best name in coaching but the Midshipmen boasted the best rushing offense in the country the last two seasons. The Buckeyes rush defense slipped last season (to 18th nationally) and will be tested early and often by the Midshipmen.

The last time the two teams met was in the 1981 Liberty Bowl where the Buckeyes held on for a 31-28 win. I suspect the Buckeyes will feed off the energy of an opening day crowd of 105,000 rabid Buckeye fans who just waited 8 long months to see their team win.


8. Wisconsin (Oct. 10)

The Badgers might be tremendously flawed and if they played like they did last season they can be beaten by anyone, but the Buckeyes and the Badgers always seem to be in close battles.

Bret Bielema gets seven starters back on offense, while the defense returns three starters in the secondary, but the Badgers have huge question marks at quarterback and on the lines.


7. at Purdue (Oct. 17)

Purdue is in a state of change. The Boilermakers must replace eight starters from an offense that didn't really do anything anyway. First year coach Danny Hope must incorporate his first recruiting class into an offense that lacks experience and depth.

But, the Purdue proved last season in Columbus that they could keep it interesting with defense. The bad news for Buckeye fans is that the Boilermakers return the entire secondary from a defense that held the Buckeyes without a touchdown in last season's meeting.


6. Minnesota (Oct. 24)

Everyone is back for coach Tim Brewster including QB Adam Weber, WR Eric Decker, and eight others on offense, as well as, nine starters on defense. The thing is the running game has become non-existent.

There was a time when Minnesota had one of the nation's most feared ground attacks, but injuries, a change in offense, and the lack of a steady back have dropped the Gophers to last in the Big Ten in rushing offense. While Weber and the passing game will be fine, there is a ceiling on what the team can do without an improved run game.


5. at Michigan (Nov. 21)

Let's face facts Buckeye fans, the winning streak is eventually going to come to an end. The Wolverines are young, but so are the Buckeyes. The Rich Rodriguez era got off to a bumpy start, but things are starting to smooth out a bit for the embattled coach. This season could be as good a time as any.

If this game was earlier in the season I would feel more secure about the Buckeyes getting their sixth straight victory, but as it stands, late November in the Big House is never easy.


4. Illinois (Sept. 26)

The Illini have as much talent at the skill positions as anyone in the conference. Juice Williams has matured into an efficient passer and a pretty good all-around playmaker and he has all his key parts back.

The knock on Ron Zook's team has been consistency and starting fast. Illinois has played the Buckeyes tough the last few seasons and has all the parts in place to challenge the Buckeyes again in the 'Shoe. Will Zook be able to get his players to perform?


3. Iowa (Nov. 14)

The offensive line that was so strong last season loses guard Seth Olsen and center Rob Bruggeman, but the tackles are back along with emerging quarterback Ricky Stanzi and top receiver Darrell Johnson-Koulianos.

Replacing Shonn Greene will be difficult, but Jewel Hampton looks to fill in and should give the Hawkeyes enough of a threat to keep defenses honest.

Iowa is aiming for their first Big Ten championship since the 2002 season and by mid-November the Hawkeyes should be clicking on all cylinders. The Buckeyes will have to be on their "A" game for this one.


2. at Penn State (Nov. 7)

Darryl Clark had a great 2008, but he wasn't able to come through in the fourth quarter against Iowa and wasn't on the field for the key final drive in the win over the Buckeyes last season. Motivation for 2009?

Clark was ultra-efficient last season, but will need an even more spectacular year in 2009 when he will work behind a retooled line and have new receivers all over the field.

That being said, Beaver Stadium is one of the toughest stadiums to play in and the Penn State faithful will surely be revved up for this one.

Not to mention the fact that Sean Lee returns from his knee injury to join Josh Hull and Navarro Bowman, forming one of the nation's best linebacking corps, while the offensive backfield of Clark, Evan Royster, and Stephon Green is scary good.


1. Southern California (Sept. 12)

USC coach Pete Carroll has practically written the book about how to compete for championships in this age of parity. In fact he has. His new book, Win Forever, is coming out soon.

Still, every year fans and pundits alike wrack their brains trying to figure out how the Trojans will replace the number of stars it loses to the NFL. It can't be fun losing a Rey Maualuga or Mark Sanchez every year, but Pete Carroll always has players waiting in the wings and 2009 will be no different.

The Trojans are hardly starting from scratch. Eight starters will be missing from one of the nations top defensive units, but that only means the guys who thought they should have been starters—and are good enough to be starters at most other schools—will get their chance to break into the starting lineup.

The secondary is unbelievable, while defensive end Everson Griffen is almost unstoppable and offensively the Trojans return the entire line and a stable of running backs that are arguably the best in the nation.

USC returns enough experience to scare anyone and the Buckeyes will need to be more prepared than they were last season if they hope for a different outcome.

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Thursday, May 28, 2009

Short and Sweet: The REAL 2009 NCAA Football Preseason Top 25

by HD Handshoe
Founder
BlockONation.com




Like the title says...short and sweet rankings and why.

Here we go!


1-FLORIDA

Tim Tebow plus everyone back but Harvin.

2-TEXAS

Colt McCoy is that good.

3-USC

Offense will be almost as good. Defense will be reloaded.

4-OKLAHOMA

OU lost some guys but Bradford is still there plus not one, two 1000 yard running backs.

5-OKLAHOMA STATE


Robinson, Bryant, and Hunter. Think 2008 Texas Tech, but with a running back!

6-OHIO STATE


Terrelle Pryor is the truth and Boom and Zoom will replace Beanie Wells just fine and the depth and speed at WR is just sick!

7-OLE MISS

Jevan Snead is considered the best NFL QB prospect and he did beat UF last year!

8-VA TECH

I'm on the Tyrod Taylor bandwagon for now and Evans was solid...

9-PENN STATE

If they can fill the holes at O-line and WR, Clark and Royster should do the rest.

10-LSU


Jordan Jefferson should be a capable QB for now and Charles Scott will be the best back in the SEC.

11-CAL

Kevin Riley looks to provide the Golden Bears with some stability at QB. It won't hurt him that he has the nation's top returing RB, Jahvid Best, to hand the ball to.

12-OREGON

The tandem of QB Jeremiah Masoli and RB LeGarrette Blount should make a formidable one-two punch for Pac-10 opponents this season.

13-ALABAMA

The Tide lost several starters, but they've also been recruiting very well and say what you will about Saban, but the guy can coach!

14-GA TECH

Paul Johnson is also a heck of a coach and the triple option seems to be his great equalizer against top notch opponents.

15-BOISE STATE

Kellen Moore was great a season ago as a freshman and BSU could play BCS buster once again if they survive against Oregon.

16-TCU

Defense, defense , defense. Plus, they return starters quarterback Andy Dalton and running back Joseph Turner. If not Boise, then TCU!

17-IOWA

RB Shonn Greene is gone but Jewel Hampton is ready to step in and QB Ricky Stanzi has been getting some hype so I'll conform for now until I can see if he can play or not.

18-NOTRE DAME


It's do or die time for Charlie Weis and Jimmy Clausen. All the highly touted recruiting classes and returning starters make this season make or break. With their easy schedule, anything less than nine or ten wins and it's "Sorry Charlie".

19-N. CAROLINA

Sorry Browns fans, Butch Davis can coach....just not in the NFL. He can recruit too. The 2009 class of 29 players was ranked No. 9 by Rivals & No. 6 by Scouts Inc.

20-NEBRASKA

The Huskers lose their QB and top receivers but year two under Bo Pelini could still be better than year one if RB Roy Helu Jr. is more consistent and new and very mobile QB Zac Lee doesn't make costly mistakes on the fly.

21-CINCINNATI

Brian Kelly wins wherever he goes. That's the bottom line. I mean, he led his team to an 11-3 season last year with the 5th string QB so give the man and his team their due!

22-BYU

QB Max Hall returns to a Cougar team that does has holes to fill. There's likely no BCS game in their future as they open at Oklahoma but 10 wins and a solid season isn't impossible.

23-OREGON STATE

I'm a huge fan of JaQuizz Rodgers after seeing him tear up USC last season. I'm going to ride this pony again until it bucks me off!

24-KANSAS

Todd Reesing is back and so is top WR Dezmon Briscoe. I don't see the Jayhawks winning the Big 12 but they could make it to the title game....or not.

25-BOSTON COLLEGE

The Eagles return starters WR Rich Gunnell and RB Montel Harris in addition to QB Dominique Davis. When starter Chris Crane was injured, he played good enough to help BC beat Wake Forest and Maryland down the stretch before flopping in the ACC title game vs. Va Tech.


That's it, that's the short and sweet of it.

I know I'm pretty much dead on and all (sarcasm), but let's hear what you all think anyway!

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The Need for Speed: Buckeyes 2009 Recruits Have Plenty of It

by Tim Bielik
BlockONation Analyst



The Vest has been in charge of the Buckeyes for just under a decade, but what he has done the last two years on the recruiting front may have been some of his best work in his tenure.

After having a blockbuster '08 class featuring Terrelle Pryor and Michael Brewster, '09 made sure not to disappoint.

This new group of Buckeyes features an abundance of DBs and lots of linemen on both sides of the ball. Plus having one of the top RBs and OLBs in the country doesn't hurt either.

One common trend with this recruiting class: speed. In this era of college football, speed kills. And there's simply no way around it.

So by loading up on guys that can run and run fast, Tressel has brought in tremendous talents giving the Buckeyes a top five recruiting class, behind LSU, USC, and Texas on most lists.

Scout.inc has this class ranked No. 1. However, these rankings aren't an exact science by any means, but the type of players recruited are fast and furious.

RB Jamaal Berry from South Florida may be the face of this class offensively. Ranked in the top five of RBs in most rankings, Berry is a burner with 4.35 speed and not afraid to run between the tackles.

LB Dorian Bell, the defensive gem of this class, is also considered a speedster with a nasty attitude and a guy you don't want to get hit by. Pennsylvania's top player for the last two years has become part of Buckeye Nation. Without a doubt, the Vest has shoved a pipeline into western Pennsylvania and southern Florida.

And based on the recent correlation of great recruiting leading to national championships (that is a little obvious), Ohio State has stepped up their efforts drastically.

However, some complain that Tressel cannot land the big players when it comes to signing day, as was evident with the Marlon Brown commitment to Georgia. But sometimes, the recruit just doesn't go your way no matter how hard you work.

The results cannot be argued so far: back-to-back elite classes spearheaded by improved talent in the trenches. Losses to the SEC and USC have revealed that the Bucks needed new talent up front.

Ask and you shall receive.

Now with the departure of the slower linemen, in comes the newer, faster boys up front, led by Brewster and Michigan transfer Justin Boren.

No doubt this 2008 class has a lot to live up to, but there is also no doubt the potential is palpable.

If Pryor's freshman season was any indication and the contributions of numerous freshmen including Brewster and DE Nathan Williams among others, 2009 should be a coming out party for this amazing '08 class.

As for 2009, it's unclear how much playing time these players will get. Although Berry and Bell may be among the first to jump right in to the action, no doubt the Vest will look to the other players to contribute.

The real impact of this group may not be felt until 2010, when the '08s are juniors and those '09s are sophs.

Just a fair warning to the rest of the nation: Tressel has turned two-star recruits into All-Americans. Just imagine what he can do with all these four- and five-star players.

Scary, although one has to take these rankings with a grain of salt.

Expect this team to become faster over the next few years. Much faster.

This new infusion of speedy and athletic players can only mean that a great Buckeyes team will turn into an elite team faster than Pryor can score a 60-yard touchdown run.

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Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Big Ten Football Post-Spring Power Rankings: A New Big Two, Little Nine?

by Kristofer Green
BlockONation Columnist



Is this the year the Big Ten bounces back and becomes among the nation's elite conferences again? Probably not, but led by Ohio State's Terrelle Pryor and Penn State's Daryll Clark, there is talent in several key positions all over the conference.

It is starting to look more and more like the battle for the Big Ten crown is going to be a three-man race. This spring Ohio State and Penn State cemented their claim to the top two spots and are far and away the best two teams heading into the fall.

But the Iowa Hawkeyes are not far behind and before the season ends will once again play a major role in the Big Ten title race. If the Hawkeyes are not challenging for the title themselves, they will have a shot at knocking off both the Buckeyes and the Nittany Lions—even though they must travel to Columbus and Happy Valley to do it.

Heading into the fall, there is still a lot of work to do for every team. These power rankings reflect how I see the teams after the close of spring practice. Pre-spring rankings are in parentheses.


1. OHIO STATE BUCKEYES (1)

The Buckeyes lost a large senior class and a few underclassmen to the NFL, but after two huge recruiting classes for Jim Tressel, the cupboards are far from bare in Columbus. The evidence was on full display at Ohio state's spring game.

Sophomore quarterback Terrelle Pryor showed significant improvement after 15 practices, receivers Dane Sanzenbacher, DeVier Posey, Ray Small, and Lamar Thomas could be better than the two Brians (Robiskie and Hartline), and the running back combo of Daniel Herron and Brandon Saine could add a different element to the Buckeyes offense.

Defensively the Buckeyes must replace superstars James Laurinaitis and Malcolm Jenkins, but before Laurinaitis and Jenkins there were A.J. Hawk and Donte Whitner. Ohio State always seems to be able to replace superstars on defense, and after this season we could be asking how the Buckeyes will be able to replace Austin Spitler and Chimdi Chekwa.


2. PENN STATE NITTANY LIONS (2)


The good thing about a good team playing a weak schedule is that the season can essentially be boiled down to a few games. For the Nittany Lions, 2009 boils down to four games, and the big one is at home. The Lions must travel to Illinois and Michigan State, while the revenge game against the Hawkeyes and what may end up being the de facto Big Ten Championship game against Ohio State are at home.

This team will be talented but young in key positions. The lines need a lot of retooling. Maurice Evans and Aaron Maybin are gone on the defensive line, and only guard Stefen Wisniewski returns on the offensive line.

Galen Hall and Jay Paterno must also find replacements for Derrick Williams, Deon Butler, and Jordan Norwood, all of whom were four-year players.


3. IOWA HAWKEYES (3)


There is plenty to get excited about in Iowa City, but cautious optimism may be the best course of action for fans.

The offensive line was strong last season but lost guard Seth Olsen and center Rob Bruggeman; however, the tackles are back, as well as quarterback Ricky Stanzi and top receiver Derrell Johnson-Koulianos.

Jewel Hampton seems like he'll be a competent replacement for Shonn Greene, but Greene's ability to make something out of nothing isn't so easily replaced.

Defensively, replacing Mitch King and Matt Kroul is going to be difficult. The pair was certainly the best tackle combination in the conference last season. The Hawkeyes may have an easier time replacing King and Kroul than they do with their Big Ten road schedule: They visit Penn State, Wisconsin, Michigan State, and Ohio State in 2009.


4. ILLINOIS FIGHTING ILLINI (5)


The skill players in Champaign might be the best in the conference. Juice Williams has matured into an efficient passer and a good all-around playmaker, and he has all his key parts back, from receivers Arrelious Benn and Jeff Cumberland to tight end Michael Hoomanawanui, who will be a bigger part of the offense this season.

The Illini pass rush was the best in the Big Ten, and the entire front seven was great at getting into the backfield, but the run defense stunk. The team led the league in tackles for loss and still finished ninth in run defense. This season, the defense will again be active and athletic but must show it can be tough.


5. MICHIGAN STATE SPARTANS (4)

The defense showed some flashes last season but lacked the consistency that Mark Dantonio defenses usually have. This season, most of the defense returns and should be loaded with Greg Jones and Trevor Anderson leading a good front seven.

The defense will need to carry the load especially early on as quarterbacks Kirk Cousins and Keith Nichol gain some experience. Replacing Javon Ringer is still a major concern heading into the fall, but a receiving corps that was mediocre last season should be better with a year of experience under its belt.


6. NORTHWESTERN WILDCATS (6)

The Wildcats were second in the Big Ten in sacks allowed last season, and that was with three redshirt freshmen starting. The entire line returns, including senior tackle Desmond Taylor, and could be the best offensive line in the conference heading into the season.

Offensively there is still work to do. Mike Kafka showed some improvement this spring at the quarterback position but still needs to prove he can do more than run, and Pat Fitzgerald is still looking for a steady running back to emerge to replace Tyrell Sutton.


7. MINNESOTA GOLDEN GOPHERS (7)

Tim Brewster joked that he fielded more questions about the new TCF Bank Stadium than he did about football this spring. Maybe it's because there isn't much new to report about the Gophers football team. Everyone is back.

Sure, Jack Simmons, Willie VanDeSteeg, and Deon Hightower were all major producers, but they’re the only ones missing from a team that started out last season so hot.

Everyone else is back, including quarterback Adam Weber, receiver Eric Decker, and eight other starters on offense, as well as nine starters on defense.


8. WISCONSIN BADGERS (9)

The Badgers might be tremendously flawed, and if they play like they did last year, they can be beaten by anyone, but the schedule works out relatively well with no Penn State or Illinois and plenty of winnable home games against teams like Wofford, Northern Illinois, and Purdue.

Another reason to get excited is the emergence of freshman quarterback Curt Phillips this spring. Although Dustin Sherer does have starting experience, Phillips' quick feet and running ability could give the Badgers offense the kick they so desperately need.


9. MICHIGAN WOLVERINES (8)

The Wolverines had a promising spring but still have major concerns all over the field. Last season, the defense was the strength of the team and can be directly credited with all three of the Wolverines' victories, but the losses of Tim Jamison and Terrence Taylor on the line and Morgan Trent and Brandon Harrison in the secondary seem all the more devastating after the defensive unit struggled this spring.

The star this spring was undeniably freshman quarterback Tate Forcier, who struggled early on but had seemingly taken over as the leader of the quarterback race heading into the fall.


10. PURDUE BOILERMAKERS (10)

Danny Hope's first spring as Purdue's head coach is over, and while there is reason to be excited about a defense that returns its entire secondary—which led the Big Ten in pass defense—there is still reason for concern about an offense that lost everyone of significance from last season.

Hope looks to the fall when he can add talented freshmen Eric Williams, Gary Bush, and Gabe Holmes to the mix on offense. Al-Terek McBurse needs to step up this fall and show that he can carry the rushing load left by Kory Sheets.


11. INDIANA HOOSIERS (11)

The Hoosiers were last in the Big Ten in almost every meaningful defensive category, struggled offensively, and were blown out in every FBS game but two last season. Is the talent level there to improve?

Bill Lynch kicked Kellen Lewis, his best offensive player, off the team, and the defense, led by defensive end Jammie Kirlew, didn't show much growth in the spring. It's hard to see the Hoosiers improving on last season's 3-9 record.


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Monday, May 25, 2009

Why Terrelle Pryor Will Lead the Buckeyes to the BCS Championship

by Michael Periatt
BlockONation Analyst



I've been reading all the backlash from that recent Andy Staples article that basically said Pryor was better than Tebow and Bradford. And I have one thing to say...

WHO CARES!!!

Really, we can go back and forth all day and argue until we are blue in the face and still probably change no one's mind.

Why don't we talk about what really matters like oh I don't know, the BCS CHAMPIONSHIP?!

But we'll get back to that in a second.

I went up to the Ohio State Spring game a couple weeks go (along with the rest of Ohio) and just like everyone else, witnessed a vastly improved Terrelle Pryor.

His footwork, mechanics, and accuracy were all night and day compared to last year and it was really refreshing to see that the OSU coaching staff was doing what they're paid to do.

But then again, how hard can it be to teach a mix between LeBron James, Usain Bolt, and Ben Roethlisberger to do anything that involves athleticism?

It's like teaching Eva Longoria to be gorgeous or George Bush to epically fail when he was our President.

Anyway, it got me thinking about the potential of this team. They are young and somewhat inexperienced, but I think they are overall more talented than the 2007 and 2008 teams and pretty darn close to (if not better than) the 2006 team.

Both the 2006 and 2007 teams made it to the BCS championship and then got utterly embarrassed in front of the entire nation. Their reputation still has not recovered.

Don't get me wrong, both teams were very good, but I think think this team has something they didn't; Terrelle Pryor.

I think Terrelle Pryor is the piece in the puzzle that can put them over the top. In fact, I know it.

TP is so special that I guarantee the Buckeyes will win a BCS Championship.

Notice, I didn't say this year (it could happen), but before he graduates (or declares for the NFL Draft), TP will deliver the Bucks to the promised land.

And here's why...

1. As I was saying before, TP is one of the most naturally gifted athletes in the history of college sports.

Remember, this guy was a top basketball recruit, too.

But it's crazy to watch what Pryor did last year without really having the ability to consistently throw the ball. At times (especially when Beanie was out), Pryor was OSU's only offense.

He was getting by guys not because he was the most polished and skilled player, but because he was the most athletic.

I remember one play against Michigan State last year in particular. It was a PA fake roll out to the right. Right when Pryor turned from the PA fake, an unblocked DE was right in his face.

Pryor's raw athleticism took over as he brought the ball back like he was going to throw, jabbed forward leaving the defender in his dust, ran toward the sideline, and threw the ball across his body to Brian Robiskie in the end zone.

No one else in the entire nation could have made that play. And that's what makes him so great. He has the ability to do things no one else can.

2. Have you ever heard Pryor talk?

The guy expects perfection.

Pryor lost two games as a starter last season. After the Penn State loss (in which his fourth quarter fumble lead the games only score and interception ended the game) Pryor said,

"When you turn over the ball two times in a game, everyone can say that it's not my fault, but if you really look at it, it is."

Later when talking about the interception he said,

"I should have known not to throw the ball there. I should have known to throw somewhere else. I mean, that's the game. I feel it's on me."

I like seeing a guy take responsibility for his mistakes. That shows character and maturity. It shows he's ready to handle the pressure that comes with being a top flight athlete.

My favorite TP quote, however came right after the the Fiesta Bowl loss to the Texas Longhorns. He said,

"We got to get better. We got to improve. Next year, we got to throw points up on the board. Point blank. Period."

Minutes after a heart breaking loss and the end to the longest football season of his life, Pryor was already thinking about next year and getting better.

This kid expects to win and has the motivation and the work ethic to accomplish just that. Mentally, TP is wired to win.

Point blank period.

3. There have been super athletic players in college before, but not all of them won it all.

Why?

Because they didn't have the supporting cast. But the Buckeyes have proven year in and year out that they bring in quality players that can win games.

Pryor will have a supporting cast and they're going to be pretty darn good. OSU is bringing in top ten recruiting classes year after year. They have the talent to build a great team around TP. Pryor will be what makes the ultimate difference, but his talented group of teammates will be right there with him.

Also, Pryor plays QB. No position has more of an impact in football. Great athletes at RB and WR can only make so much of an impact because they can only get so many touches.

But at QB, Pryor has the ball in his hands every play ready to change the game.

The Ohio State nation has gone through some tough times as of late. They're seen as a slightly above average team in a below average conference.

But Terrelle Pryor is going to change all that. He's going to EARN the respect back.

So sit back and enjoy—I know I will!

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Friday, May 22, 2009

2009 Ohio State Football NEW Movie Trailer - Redemption II

Once again, Kitchel22130 has created a sweet video in the style of a movie trailer for the upcoming 2009 football season.

Check out the video right here and check out Kitchel's channel and other videos by clicking here!



Monday, May 18, 2009

Best of the Best Non-Traditonal OOC Games for 2009: Week 1

by HD Handshoe
Founder
BlockONation.com



There are out of conference matchups that are an annual tradition and many of them are huge games and some even potentially have national title implications.

Games such as Michigan—Notre Dame, Notre Dame—USC, Georgia—Georgia Tech, and Florida—Florida State come to mind.

In this era of college football, it seems that these regular season meetings between many of the traditional powerhouse programs are few and far between.

That being said, all is not lost in 2009.

There are a handful of noteworthy inter-conference games this coming season and I'm going to highlight the best of them for you between now and the start of the season.

The opening week of the season offers, by my count, six OOC games very much worth watching!



Virginia Tech Alabama

Both teams are projected to be in or near the top ten teams to start the year. This could and should be one of the best games of the week! Who moves up and who drops down after this one?

If Tyrod Taylor is legit like all the hype suggests, the Tide may get rolled much like they did by Utah in the Sugar Bowl last season but if not, VT might get "Hokied", whatever that means!


Oklahoma BYU

BYU is a very good mid-major program that should be ranked in the top 20 to open the year. They have a solid veteran QB in Max Hall but Oklahoma, who will very likely be ranked in the top three, has a guy named Sam Bradford you may have heard of.

This one could play out like an actual Big 12 conference game as we could see a lot of points scored in this one, but with the majority of them being scored by OU.


Oklahoma State Georgia

Oklahoma State was a surprise team a year ago and returns quarterback Zac Robinson, wideout Dez Bryant and tailback Kendall Hunter. Georgia, the preseason No. 1, was a flop.

OK State, who some view as this years Texas Tech, looks to make a statement for the Big 12 vs. the SEC's Bulldogs who lost QB Matthew Stafford and star running back Knosean Moreno. OK State will be favored but don't give them the "W" just yet!


Oregon Boise State

Boise State, led by Sophomore QB Kellen Moore, looks to pull the upset again this time on the blue turf over the Ducks. They'll have to do it without running back Ian Johnson who finally graduated after what seemed like forever.

Oregon however is thinking payback and they do have the skill players to possibly pull out a win in Boise in the form of quarterback Jeremiah Masoli and running back LeGarrette Blount, but will they?


Ohio State Navy

This game at first glance seems like it should be an easy win to open the season in Columbus. But upon further review, it will be tougher than expected for a couple of reasons.

First, Navy is a decent program and an excellent rushing team. Last years featured running back Shun White is gone but the Midshipmen have a star QB in the making in Ricky Dobbs, who can both run and throw very well.

Secondly, it's impossible for the OSU players to not be thinking about week 2 when USC comes to town. Terrelle Pryor and the Bucks have not forgotten the embarrassing loss in the L.A. Colisuem last September and that's another reason why the Navy game could end up a thriller, a-la Ohio vs. OSU 2008!


Illinois Missouri

No Chase Daniel and no Jeremy Maclin for Mizzou takes away some of the luster but Illinois and Missouri have both fielded quality teams over the past few seasons and have very entertainingly scored a lot of points in the process! Even if they aren't top 25 teams to open the year, Illinois could eventually get there and this game is still worth tuning in for!

Senior QB Juice Williams and Coach Ron Zook will try to lead the Illini to a bounce back season after a disappointing 2008 which followed 2007's Rose Bowl season, although Illinois was crushed by USC in that game. What's new right?

It all starts with the Missouri game but will the Illini have enough Juice to tame the Tigers?



So there you have them. The best non-traditional OOC games week one has to offer.

But wait, there's more!

Over the next few weeks, this series will continue to will highlight more of the games you MUST see!

The 2009 college football season absolutely promises to be as exciting as ever and it's going to be a great ride, so stay tuned and remember, it will be September before you know it and I'll do my part to help you survive until then!

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Saturday, May 16, 2009

Oklahoma's Sam Bradford is No Terrelle Pryor

by HD Handshoe
Founder
BlockONation.com



In case you are not a Buckeye fan. hold on a second and hear me out.

Bradford is an excellent pocket quarterback and he didn't win the 2008 Heisman trophy based on his looks, but rather the nearly 4800 passing yards and 50 touchdowns he tossed. Winning the Big 12 conference didn't hurt either!

So before the OU fans and/or OSU haters come out in droves to attack me, let me reiterate that Bradford is a great player and as of right now, he's obviously a couple of notches above Terrelle Pryor in the grand scheme that is college football.

So how can I write an article titled Oklahoma's Sam Bradford is No Terrelle Pryor, you ask?

That's easy—Because it's 100% true!

As a pocket passer, Bradford is what Pryor aspires to be—fluid, efficient, accurate and confident in the throws he makes.

But Pryor adds a whole other dimension to the quarterback position. He's a freak of an athlete. He has 4.3 speed and he makes it look effortless as he flies around and past would-be defenders. He has a long stride and fast feet.

I've never seen anyone gain twenty yards with less effort and more speed in all my days as a college football fan. I've also never seen a quarterback, until Pryor, with a stiff-arm comparable to that of former OSU running back Chris Wells!

When you consider how great of an athlete and threat he is as a ball carrier, the fact that he has just barely scratched the surface as a passer and the valuable experience he gained playing as a true freshmen instead of being red-shirted or relegated to clipboard duty, it's clear just how amazing and exciting this kid could and will end up being.

These intangible attributes and God-given athletic ability Pryor possesses have led many, including Espn's college football analyst Shaun King and myself (albeit I am admittedly biased), to believe when his Ohio State career is over, he will be considered one of the best to have ever played the game at the collegiate level.

Forget me in that equation for a second and consider that Shaun King is not a Big Ten guy. He's from Alabama and he played at Tulane and most importantly, his current employer is the TV Network giant that secretly despises the Big Ten and OSU, ESPN.

Unless you've been stranded with Tom Hanks and "Wilson" on a tropical island in the Pacific the past four years, you know ESPN has been over-critical of the Big Ten and specifically Ohio State. So, for any one of their analysts to project Terrelle Pryor as potentially the best to have ever played, as King did, is quite a statement.

Bottom line here is, while Pryor has been inconsistent as a passer, he has a strong arm and is progressing very well. He can make the same throws that Sam Bradford, or Tim Tebow, or Colt McCoy can make, even if not every time, yet.

In a way, it's like comparing apples to oranges to grapes to bananas.

Here's what I mean:

Bradford is your atypical pocket passer that the NFL generally covets. McCoy can throw from the pocket but is more your classic roll-out / scrambling passer. Tebow is a halfback / quarterback hybrid "do a little bit of everything" passer. Pryor is a dual-threat run first, throw second "in the mold of Pat White" passer.

They are all good players and they are very different from one another.

I expect Pryor's passing game to develop and improve much like Vince Young's and Troy Smith's did and when it does, and it will, he will be as good or better than all of them when his college days are over.

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Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Ohio State Football 2009—Where Will Amazing Happen This Year?

by HD Handshoe
Founder
BlockONation.com


There are a lot of college football fans across the nation that clearly do not think Terrelle Pryor can pass.

Please allow me to educate you with some knowledge because "knowledge is power!"

I really want you people who say Pryor can't make throws like Tebow, Bradford, or McCoy to pay EXTRA CLOSE ATTENTION to this 40 second video at the :21 second mark and watch that pass play from the Michigan game.

I'm not saying Pryor is consistent enough yet as a passer (because he's not), but I am saying he's got the arm, talent and ability to make some great throws and you'll see a lot of them more and more as he continues to improve in 2009!

If you watch this video and still don't believe the kid is going to be a very good passing QB, then I would suggest a visit to the optometrist to get your eyes checked. You're going to need new glasses to replace the hater-focals you're wearing!



Thursday, May 7, 2009

College Football Live: Terrelle Pryor Chats With Kirk Herbstreit

by HD Handshoe
Founder
BlockONation.com



As much as I rip on ESPN for their love-fest with Tim Tebow and the SEC in general, occasionally, they do get put their heads on straight up there in Bristol, CT. from time to time!

Such was the case on College Football Live yesterday (May 5, 2009) when the interview series they have been conducting with some of the nation's top QB's landed in Columbus to talk to Super-Sophomore Terrelle Pryor.

In case you missed it, analyst Shaun King (who I absolutely love on this show) boldly stated that TP has the potential to become the best QB to have EVER played college football!

I think Kevin Negandi's jaw about hit the floor when King said that and Joe Schad agreed (with King). Afterall, Negandi hosts the show quite often and Tebow is CFL's and ESPN's golden poster child for everything that is right in the world.

Not surprisingly, Herbie didn't say it. I bet Herbstreit even twitched a little when he watched that back on TV and heard King's comments. Sometimes I wonder if he forgets where he himself played his college football at...

Desmond Howard, Mark May, and even King don't hold back their blatant homerism for UM, Pitt and Tulane respectively, but sometimes, Herbstreit and even Robert Smith almost seem brainwashed by ESPN to be embarrassed to be former Buckeyes....

But, I will digress and call a cease fire (for now), as this is actually, for a change, a positive story by ESPN featuring a Buckeye.

So without further ado, here's the Pryor interview—Enjoy!



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Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Dear SEC-Loving, Big Ten-Hating Media—The Big Ten Is Back!

by HD Handshoe
Founder
BlockONation.com



For the past four years or so of college football, the media (cough, Espn, cough) has fallen in love with the SEC, anointing it the "best and toughest conference, top to bottom" in the nation.

I will just say that yes, they have had some great teams during that span like Auburn in 2004, LSU in 2005 and 2007 and Florida in 2006 and 2008.

What I can't help but wonder though is how does having three or four solid teams, maybe another two or three average teams, and five or six below average teams qualify the SEC as the best?

Every year, I think all of the BCS conferences have a few good teams at the top, followed by a handful of not-so-good teams bringing up the rear.

Just as the media has hyped the SEC as the greatest thing since bottled water, they have piled on the Big Ten as outdated, slow and weak.

Call me crazy, but to me, a conference that is "good top to bottom" is one where it's competitive and wide open.

Look at the SEC heading into 2009, especially the East. The Gators can put it on cruise control all year.

Honestly, I can't find one team that will challenge Florida until the SEC Championship game and even then, while the SEC West will be slightly more competitive within, I'm not convinced Alabama, Ole Miss or LSU combined can measure up to UF.

Meyer, Tebow and company will face little
or no resistance from the SEC in 2009.



The UF OOC schedule is downright pathetic too, so a 12-0 regular season is practically a lock for the Gators.

To those who will be quick to lash out at me and/or more likely my Buckeyes after that statement, I'm not saying OSU's overall OOC schedule is the toughest in the nation, but the Bucks are playing Southern Cal for the second straight season.

Whose UF got again? If you decide to attack me for that one (Carson, etc), would you mind posting their OOC schedule for me in your response? Thanks!

OK, now that I got that rant out of my system (LOL) back to the topic at hand.

The Big Ten will be very competitive in 2009. That being said, I do understand why the recent perception of the Big Ten came about but, the tide is turning, starting in 2009!

Here are each teams overall and conference W/L records from 2008.



Penn State (11-2, 7-1)

Ohio State (10-3, 7-1)

Michigan State (9-4, 6-2)

Northwestern (9-4, 5-3)

Illinois (5-7, 3-5)

Michigan (3-9, 2-6)

Iowa (9-4, 5-3)

Wisconsin (7-6, 3-5)

=================

Minnesota (7-6, 3-5)

Indiana (3-9, 1-7)

Purdue (4-8, 2-6)



The teams are not listed according to the 2008 standings, but rather I have them listed based on how I expect they will do in 2009.

In my opinion, every team above the line is capable of winning at least six or more games in conference play. Of course, all of them won't, but some of them absolutely will.

The Big Ten is back and will be a very tight and competitive race in 2009!

I know the media and fans of teams from other conferences (especially the SEC) may disagree with me right now and that's fine and to be expected.

But come November though, I'll be the one flexing my muscles while saying I told them so!

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Monday, May 4, 2009

Dan "Boom" Herron—10 Buckeyes You Don't Know About Yet: Part II

by HD Handshoe
Founder
BlockONation.com



As the series progresses, I will continue to repost the opening few paragraphs from Part I in all ten segments in the event that a new reader who may have missed a previous segment begins to follow along so if you've been following from the beginning, please bear with me and thanks!


First off, let me say this article is not for die-hard Ohio State fans. I suspect you will know the players I highlight.

Instead, I wrote this in response to my recent preview article about the OSU/USC football matchup in Columbus this fall. A lot has been made by non-OSU fans of how USC will be reloaded as usual, and thus, many of these people believe that Ohio State will have zero chance of beating the Trojans.

Pretty much everyone who isn't a Buckeye fan seems to believe this, but the problem is, they are overlooking the fact that USC lost far more than OSU.

They are also making a generalization about how good or how not-so-good the Buckeyes will be based on Ohio State's big-stage losses, starting with Florida in the 2006 BCS title game and culminating with their lop-sided loss in Los Angeles last September.

They are also focusing on the players OSU is losing and aren't looking at the players who are here and ready to start, including a few guys from the last two highly-regarded recruiting classes, and that's where I come in!

To help educate those doom-and-gloom prognosticators who make those type of general statements about the Buckeyes 2009 season outlook, I've decided to create a 10-part series to spotlight 10 players who will make a name for themselves nationally and step in for Ohio State and sufficiently fill the holes left by the likes of Beanie Wells, James Laurinaitus, Malcolm Jenkins, Marcus Freeman, Alex Boone, Brian Robiskie, etc.

Obviously, no Buckeye fan, player, or coach will deny that losing Beanie Wells is beyond huge; but remember, Terrelle Pryor is an amazing dual-threat quarterback who will carry the ball more often in 2009 if needed, but he's not the only potential game-breaking playmaker that will see action in the Buckeyes' backfield.




No. 9—Dan "Boom" Herron
RB (5-11, 195)


Boom was red-shirted as a freshmen in 2007 out of Warren G. Harding high school in Warren, Ohio.

He's a talented tailback who got his first chance to play and compete in 2008 when Beanie Wells missed time after a foot injury in week one vs. YSU.

He possesses great versatility, strength and is a reasonably fast (4.5 40-yard dash) and elusive between-the-tackles runner.

He was ranked the No. 7 recruit in Ohio and the No. 27 running back in the nation in 2007 as a first-team All-Ohio selection that year.

He led Harding High to a 9-4 record and a berth in the regional semi-finals as a senior and totaled 1,434 yards and 18 touchdowns that season.

He also rushed for over 1,500 yards and 18 touchdowns as a junior, earning all-conference, all-district and honorable mention All-Ohio honors and as a sophomore, he ran for 900 yards.

I'm not sure he was expected to see as much action for Ohio State in 2008 as he did, but overall he performed well for the Bucks while filling in for Beanie Wells.

His lack of experience however, did put Ohio State at an immediate disadvantage in week two, where the Buckeyes narrowly escaped with a hard-fought victory in what was expected to be an easy win over the Ohio Bobcats, and again in week three when the then No. 5 Buckeyes traveled to L.A. to face the then No. 1 USC Trojans in the Coliseum. I'm sure a reminder of that games' final score is not needed.

Over the course of the season, Herron impressed the coaches and earned playing time even after Wells returned. He showed on several occasions that he belonged on the field.

His biggest game of the year fittingly came vs. Michigan at the Shoe. He rushed for 80 yards and two touchdowns as Ohio State crushed UM 42-7.

For the season, he ended up with 439 yards rushing on 89 carries for a 4.9 ypc average and he found the endzone six times.

Heading into the 2009 season, with Chris Wells opting to leave a year early for the NFL, Herron is thought to be the front-runner to take over as the No. 1 back, followed closely by Saine.

In fact, OSU may actually employ a similar model to that of USC with dual-threat QB Terrelle Pryor, Herron, Saine and possibly highly-touted new-comers Jaamal Berry and Carlos Hyde all in the mix to see action in tOSU backfield.

Just as I said in Part I of this series about Saine, Herron too will make it easier for Buckeye fans to transition and sleep at night.

While we won't ever forget Beanie, we won't miss him as much as we were first thinking we would when he announced he was leaving early.

Thanks for reading—Please add your comments!

Part III coming soon!


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Sunday, May 3, 2009

The Way Too Early 2009 Heisman Watch—Ten Names To Know: Part I

by HD Handshoe
Founder
BlockONation.com




The following are the first five of ten players I feel have the most legitimate chance to win the 2009 Heisman Trophy if they each meet expectations and live up to their full potential in the coming season!



Jevan Snead, QB, Ole Miss

Ole Miss should win a lot of games and will likely be high in the rankings all year long. Snead emerged out of nowhere after leading the Rebels to their huge upset win over the Florida Gators in the swamp.

He threw 13 interceptions a year ago, but with a favorable 2009 schedule (Memphis, SE Louisiana, at South Carolina, at Vanderbilt, Alabama, UAB, Arkansas, at Auburn (who’s still reloading), Northern Arizona, Tennessee, LSU, and Mississippi State), Snead's stats should resemble those of the top three vote-getters of last year's Heisman voting.

Almost all of Mississippi's tough games are at home, and there will be just enough nationally televised moments for Snead to shine.



Todd Reesing, QB, Kansas


The Big 12 North division’s spotlight game will be Nebraska at Kansas on Nov. 14. By then, Todd Reesing and the Jayhawks will have already played Oklahoma at home and will have gone on the road to face Texas Tech, and there will still be games against Texas and Missouri to follow.

There won't be a shortage of moments where Reesing will have the opportunity to make a Heisman statement and put up the big numbers needed to get in the race.

With Dezmon Briscoe and Kerry Meier returning after combining for 189 catches for 2,452 yards and 23 touchdowns, this should be a huge year for the KU passing game.

They have a killer schedule and I'm not sure they'll win enough of those games for Reesing to be a serious contender, but that's probably why he's going to put up the big numbers in the first place—by playing catch-up!


Jimmy Clausen, QB, Notre Dame


Clausen will have the Notre Dame spotlight and a decent receiving corps to put up the numbers and the wins to be in the hunt for the big prize.

He ended the 2008 season on a high note with his 22-of-26, 401-yard, five-touchdown performance in the win over Hawaii in the Hawaii Bowl.

To have a real chance of being in the Heisman hunt, he must become the leader and Notre Dame will need a big day at Michigan, a home victory over Michigan State, and most importantly, a tremendous performance against USC on Oct. 17.

Last year, Clausen completed just 11-of-22 passes for 41 yards with two interceptions in the embarrassing loss to the Trojans.

In addition to making the early Heisman contender list, Clausen is the key to the immediate future of Notre Dame football and the job security of Charlie Weis.


Tim Tebow, QB, Florida


Tebow, by many accounts might be the odds on favorite to give his 2007 Heisman a 2009 twin, but he's not the only one who might accomplish that feat.

Personally, I'm not a huge fan of Tebow's, but I'll give him his due. His stats over the past two seasons have been downright amazing and ridiculous. Maybe it's the system, but stats are stats.

With Florida's cupcake 2009 schedule, UF will almost undoubtedly go undefeated in the regular season and Tebow should once again be the media darling and put up more outrageous numbers.

I have no doubt in my mind, barring injury, that he will be in New York as a finalist, come December.


Sam Bradford, QB, Oklahoma


Speaking of ridiculous stats, Bradford, the 2008 Heisman winner, set the bar extremely high for himself, as he threw for over 4,700 yards and 50 touchdowns to only eight interceptions, and rushed for five more scores while posting a QB Rating of nearly 181.

With Chris Brown and Demarco Murray, each 1000+ yard rushers a year ago, who combined for 34 touchdowns, both returning, and with the loss of top receiver Juaquin Iglesias and even with the surprising return of star tight end Jermaine Gresham, Bradford will be hard-pressed to duplicate the numbers he put up a year ago.

Then again, if he could get close to two-thirds of that production, he's a no-brainer to be invited to New York for a chance at his second Heisman.



As a Buckeye fan, it's hard to accept that both Tebow and Bradford could definitely win the 2009 Heisman because as of right now, there is only one two-time winner and I'd prefer it remain as such.

Archie Griffin won the Heisman while playing at Ohio State in 1974 and 1975 and even if Tebow or Bradford should win a second Heisman, Archie will always be the first to have done it, and I bet Archie can live with that, so I can too!


Five down, five to go—Part II coming soon—Stay tuned!

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BlockONation's Expanding Web Presence

6/05/2009

Numerous BlockONation articles have been posted on or linked to from some very well known, high-volume sports websites.

We'd like to take a moment to both acknowledge and thank those sites for their support in helping make BlockONation one of the most popular new Ohio State Football blogs on the web!

In no particular order:

CBSSports.com

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TheClevelandFan.com


Again, thanks so very much to those sites for all their support and also, a huge thank you to the fans who have visited the site to date!

I'd also like to personally thank all those individuals who have contributed to the success of the site! I wouldn't be here without your help over the last year and a half. You all know who you are!

It is our mission here at BlockONation.com to continue to provide top-notch, fresh content for our readers and we will always do everything possible to meet your expectations!

Honestly, I really can't thank you all enough....

HD Handshoe
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