Sunday, June 27, 2010

Breaking Down Ohio State's 2010 Offense

By Eli Kalika—Featured Contributor


This is not your typical picture of the Vest.

Then again, this year's squad doesn't have your typical offense either.

Calm, and composed, the Ohio State offense is classic, aged, and time-tested.

In recent years, it has been characterized as being overrated.

This year it will not be.

Conservative? A little less so.

One of (if not) the best in college football? Most likely.

Quarterbacks

Terrelle Pryor—the one man offense.

This kid can gun it. At 6-6, 233 lbs, and with a menacing stiffarm, he's almost impossible to bring down.

What makes it even more difficult for defenses is the fact that, at his size with his amazing 4.33 40-yard-dash speed, Terrelle Pryor can evade tackles as well as some of the best backs in the NFL.

Entering his third year, he is now the unquestioned leader of the team.

He hasn't been perfect but he has played hurt and he is quite simply what every coach wishes they had at his position.

His two bugaboos, if you will, are his lower than desired completion percentage and his untimely knack for turning the ball over.

Solving those issues will all but ensure that Pryor will be a definite Heisman candidate over the next two seasons, assuming of course that he doesn't declare for early entry into the NFL after the 2010 campaign.

Just below Big P on the depth chart is redshirt junior Joe Bauserman.

While he doesn't have the size of Pryor, his arm strength is in fact better. He used to be a minor league pitcher for the Pittsburgh Pirates actually. Additionally, he has a quick release, and is a sufficient backup overall.

This year, Tressel is expected to open the playbook up a bit more for Pryor. He is bound is give him the opportunity to be spectacular, and we can only expect Big P to love every moment of it.

And don't sleep on spring-game-star Kenny Guiton, the redshirt freshman from Texas, who led the gray team to a 17-10 victory over Pryor and his scarlet squad teammates.

Running Backs

Usually the classic workhorses of the offense, the RB's haven't gotten much hype as of late with Pryor being the most dangerous running weapon in the backfield.

That said, that doesn't mean these running backs aren't a headline waiting to happen.

At the top of the depth chart rests Brandon Saine. At 6'1" and 219 lbs, he has great size to be a power back, but he's also fast—He runs a 4.35 40.

An athletic freak like that of USC's Taylor Mays, this kid can do it all. The only thing holding Saine back is his frequent inability to remain healthy.

Last year, Saine rushed 739 yards, with a 5.1 YPC. However, he only rushed for four touchdowns.

In addition to carries, Saine picked up 17 receptions for 224 and two scores. This year should be the year Saine puts it all together and simply blows up—if he stays healthy.

Let's call Saine 1-A, meaning Dan "Boom" Herron is 1-B. Spectacular in his own right, Herron lives up to his name in the red zone.

Having rushed for over 600 yards and 11 touchdowns despite missing a several games mid-season, it is clear Herron will have the specified role of wearing down offensive lines with his power running style and scoring chances close to the goal line.

Other backs of note in Ohio State's stable who could see time in the backfield, especially if Saine and/or Herron miss any time due to injury include: Jaamal Berry, Jordan Hall, and Carlos Hyde.

Wide Receivers

Going back as far as the early 1990's, Ohio State has sent many wideouts to the NFL, so it's no wonder why they never seem to have a problem replacing their star WR's year in and year out through recruiting.

Steadily improving since first arriving on campus in 2008, not only is the No. 1 receiver DeVier Posey good enough to be a first round draft pick next year—he's good enough to be a No. 1 guy at the next level if he continues to improve at the same pace there that he has as a Buckeye.

At 6'2" and 213 lbs, a 33-inch vertical, and a 21.5 200, Posey has all the physical tools to get the job done.

Not only that, but Posey is a smart player as well. He can change a game around and he's versatile too.

On a called WR end-around reverse last year vs. New Mexico State, he threw a perfect pass for a touchdown to his good pal Dane Sanzenbacher.

Don't be surprised to see him named as a finalist for the 2010 Fred Biletnikoff Award, given annually to the nations' top receiver.

While Posey garnered most of the attention, Sanzenbacher still managed to amass 36 catches for 570 yards, six touchdowns, and a 15.8 YPC.

While undersized, he runs sharp routes and is shifty. He will continue to produce, and can be be considered as steady a receiver as any.

The third wide receiver slot is up-for-grabs, especially now that Duron Carter has withdrawn from Ohio State.

Taurian Washington is considered by some as the favorite, but it could be a race this fall with Chris Fields, James Jackson, Corey Brown, and depending on if they redshirt or not, James Louis and Tyrone Williams.

The biggest surprise player this year will be a different kind of receiver.

Jake Stoneburner, a TE in a WR's body, has great size at 6'5" and 245 lbs and will definitely become a much larger part of the offense. He has steady hands and can create match-up problems for for any linebackers or defensive backs assigned to cover him.

The O-Line

The evolution of this line last year was a key cog to the turnaround last season, post-Purdue, that helped the Buckeyes make it to, and win, the Rose Bowl.

Now, the line returns all but one starter (Jim Cordle). Led by Justin Boren and Mike Brewster, they are experienced and will own the trenches.

There will not be many pass rushing problems, and the holes should be gaping for Saine and Herron.

If this line stays healthy, they will easily be one of the best in all of college football, period.

Overall

Returning nine starters from an offense that seemed unstoppable at the end of the season has led to some very lofty expectations as we inch closer to the start of the 2010 season.

As always, Tressel will place an emphasis on ball security, control, field position, and simply moving the chains, but as he proved in last seasons Rose Bowl, he and the coaching staff have also realized just what an amazing talent and dangerous weapon they have in QB Terrelle Pryor.

While the team finished 68th in total yards and 49th in scoring last year, this offense returns too much talent and will be undoubtedly better.

With Pryor's metamorphoses into an elite QB finally nearing its' completion, look for him to continue to thrive under coach Tressel just as Troy Smith did in 2006.

There are lots of "if's" but if Pryor continues to blossom, and if co-starters Saine and Herron can remain healthy, and if Posey and the receiving corp play to their potential, and lastly, if the O-Line doesn't underachieve, then it's safe to say that the 2010 season could be a hugely successful year for the Buckeyes—as in BCS title level successful.


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Saturday, June 26, 2010

Great Expectations: Can Terrelle Pryor Win the Heisman and Lead Ohio State to the BCS Championship This Year?

By Kyle Strittholt—Featured Contributor


Terrelle Pryor has been hyped since he was in high school because of how much of an amazing athlete he was. There is still no question about it.

He's one of the best athletes in college football, but can he finally put it all together for his team this season and be an effective quarterback?

He did so against a very good Oregon Ducks defense in the Rose Bowl on New Year's Day. In that game, Pryor had his best performance in college, throwing 266 yards through the air and 76 yards on the ground. He had two passing touchdowns and a 62.2 completion percentage.

This showed that he had it in him to become a great quarterback, but he has to carry it into this season.

Had he played as he did on that day during the whole season, there's no doubt the Buckeyes would have been undefeated.

This season, Pryor is considered by some to be a Heisman front runner in large part because of his performance in Pasadena.

I feel that Pryor has a great supporting cast in the receiving corp, as well as depth at the running back position. The Buckeyes' offense will look better this season, and they're returning the lump sum of their defense.

The Buckeyes are ranked second in most every preseason poll. With a friendly schedule other than games vs. Miami-FL, Iowa, and Wisconsin, it would seem as though the Bucks have a better than decent shot at returning to the National Championship game for the third time in five years.

The Hurricanes have a very good squad this season, and they'll be pumped up to play the team that devastated them in the 2002 National Title game. It was a completely different team, but I'm sure the coaches will keep that in their minds.

I look for this to perhaps be the game of the week, and I also expect the Buckeyes to win. They will be focused on the goal ahead, and the rust should be shaken off by this game.

The Buckeyes have the advantage of playing a rebuilding Penn State team and a Michigan team that's still on the rocks. Without Michigan State on the schedule, the games at Wisconsin and at Iowa are the only ones I see as possible potential obstacles.

The key to running the table is Pryor. He's has to show maturity and be the leader.

It's going to take him developing into an effective passer, which will open holes in the running game. He doesn't have to become a pure or perfect passer. He just needs to more efficient and better in his decision making.

The biggest difference between Pryor and Troy Smith is not the size or style of play. It's the way Smith secured the ball. He never seemed to have ill-timed turnovers.

I didn't cringe when Smith chucked a ball down field, but I do every time Pryor goes to launch it. Smith could make that play with limited turnovers, but that is something Pryor hasn't figured out yet.

Smith had 13 interceptions in his career at Ohio State, Pryor has 14 after his second season (11 interceptions this past year).

Whoever wins the turnover battle usually wins the game, and Pryor needs to make sure he uses better judgment and throws the ball away instead of giving it away when there's nothing there.

It's not as simple as it seems, but if he can be effective, the Buckeyes will win the close games and perhaps make it to the National Championship.

There are a lot of great players in college football, but as of late, the Heisman has been given to the players that take their team far, and it will take a trip to the title game in order for Pryor to win.

This is Pryor's junior season, so if he doesn't win it this season, he still has a definite shot next season.

Some may think the Buckeyes are overrated, but they have the firepower this season to make a lot of noise across the college football landscape this fall.


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Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Ohio State Football: Jermil Martin and More Bad News Regarding Personnel



Yes, it is true.

Unfortunately, more bad news hit the Ohio State University football program today.

On the heels of the news that both WR Duron Carter and DE Keith Wells have withdrawn from the school, now the long-rumored transfer of RB/FB Jermil Martin appears to have come to fruition as well.

Although he is currently enrolled for the summer quarter at OSU, he could plan to withdraw soon, and the word on the street is that he's headed to Youngstown State—stay tuned.

At best, Martin was projected as the fourth or fifth option in the 2010 Buckeye backfield—behind co-starters Brandon Saine and Dan Herron, and he would have been jockeying for playing time with Jamaal Berry, Jordan Hall, and Carlos Hyde.

The other bit of bad news as of now is that RB Roderick Smith, one of the top recruits in the 2010 class, is the only player from his class not signed up for summer quarter classes, and has not been in contact with the team in regards to his status for the upcoming season.

Apparently, there are some academic concerns that may prevent him from enrolling in time for the 2010 season.

It won't set the Buckeye coaching staff into panic mode if Smith doesn't make it for the 2010 season (see Carlos Hyde, 2009), but if for some reason he doesn't ever make it on campus, that will be a potentially huge blow to the RB depth starting in 2011.

I will update this article as needed if I hear any further information on Smith.


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Monday, June 21, 2010

BREAKING NEWS: WR Duron Carter, DE Keith Wells Are Both Now FORMER Buckeyes

Grant Freking—Featured Contributor


After a tumultuous first season in Columbus, Ohio State sophomore-to-be wide receiver Duron Carter has withdrawn from OSU, according to Bill Greene of Scout.com.

Carter has reportedly enrolled at Coffeyville (KS) Community College. He is expected to spend one year there to improve his grades and then he will be eligible to play Division-I football again.

After earning a starting spot in 2009 and catching 13 passes for 179 yards during the regular season, Carter was ruled academically ineligible for the Rose Bowl and missed spring practice for academic reasons.

At Coffeyville, Carter will attempt to improve his academic status in addition to playing football, and will seek to transfer to a Division-I school in June of 2011. He will then have three years of eligibility remaining.

It’s been a rough day for Jim Tressel and Ohio State football.

Sophomore defensive end Keith Wells has also decided to leave the program, according to a university release and Jeff Svoboda of BuckeyeSports.com.

Wells saw limited action in 2008 as a true freshman, and redshirted last season after an offseason injury. Wells would have been a backup defensive end in 2010, behind starters Cameron Heyward and Nathan Williams.

He took part in spring drills but would have been fighting for playing time with redshirt freshman Melvin Fellows and junior Soloman Thomas.


6/23/10 - UPDATE


According to an article by Tim May of the Columbus Dispatch, Cris Carter says the plan is for his son Duron to get his academics in order so he may re-enroll at Ohio State next June.


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Ohio State Class of 2011 Recruiting Update



Here is the current, up-to-date list of recruits that have verbally committed to play for Ohio State starting in 2011.

The class size is expected to be right around 20, and with 15 recruits already on board, there are precious few spots left.

Coach Tressel and his staff have once again assembled a talented and highly-rated ensemble, headlined by top QB Braxton Miller (pictured at right), that should easily push this class into the nations' top five when the final rankings are released, after NSD arrives next February.





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Screen image of recruiting class via Scout.com

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Ohio State: My Team's OOC Schedule Can Beat Up Your Team's OOC Schedule



I'm guessing you figured out the title of this piece is a play-on-words taken from the old "My Dad can beat up your Dad," argument.

I know in the past, the Buckeyes have, and still continue to work hard at scheduling out of conference games verses other quality BCS teams.

And sure, they also have played some cupcakes along the way—But who hasn't?

The bottom line however here is that I dare any fan of any other program to provide me with evidence that would suggest that their team has scheduled, and played in as many big-time OOC games as my team, The Ohio State Buckeyes.

Here is every OOC game Ohio State has played since 2000, as well as the OOC games from 2009 and those that have been scheduled so far, all the way through 2019. That's a span of 20 years.

Bowl game opponents (**) are also noted, and included.



2000—Fresno State, Arizona, Miami (OH), **South Carolina

2001—Akron, UCLA, San Diego State, **South Carolina

2002—Texas Tech, Washington State, Cincinnati, San Jose State, **Miami (FL)

2003—Washington, San Diego State, NC State, BGSU, **Kansas State

2004—Cincinnati, Marshall, NC State, **Oklahoma State

2005—Miami (OH), Texas, San Diego State, **Notre Dame

2006—Northern Illinois, Texas, Cincinnati, BGSU, **Florida

2007—YSU, Akron, Washington, Kent State, **LSU

2008—YSU, Ohio, USC, Troy, **Texas

2009—Navy, USC, Toledo, New Mexico State, **Oregon

2010—Marshall, Miami (FL), Ohio, Eastern Michigan

2011—Akron, Toledo, Miami (FL), fourth OOC game still TBD

2012—Miami (OH), Cincinnati, California, UAB

2013—California, three OOC games still TBD

2014—Navy, Cincinnati, Virginia Tech, Kent State

2015—Virginia Tech, three OOC games still TBD

2016—Oklahoma, three OOC games still TBD

2017—Oklahoma, three OOC games still TBD

2018—Tennessee, three OOC games still TBD

2019—Tennessee, three OOC games still TBD



Now, I know Ohio State hasn't won every one of these OOC games, nor will they win all of those yet to be played.

That is not the point here. The point is they are scheduling big games verses top notch opponents like no other school in the country and have been for a very long time.

There have been rumors the Ohio State has been trying to schedule home and home two-game series with other SEC opponents such as Georgia, Alabama, Florida, and LSU but I have no confirmation as of yet.

I had actually heard that the home and home in 2018 and 2019 with Tennessee was supposed to be Georgia, but UGA didn't want to play in Columbus.

If you wish to dispute me on this, that's fine, but you better bring an arsenal of knowledge with you and plenty of big time OOC games for any team you claim is doing a better job at going out and playing other top-level teams.


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Friday, June 18, 2010

Ohio States' No. 3 Wide Receiver in 2010: Taurian Washington or Duron Carter?

By Will Frasure—Featured Contributor


With the third receiver spot open this fall, the two players battling for it took vastly different paths to get there.

On one side of the coin, senior Taurian Washington has waited four long years for a chance to crack the lineup, and even contemplated transferring because of it.

The Orchard Lake, Mich., native has consistently performed during the spring and had 88 yards and a game-winning touchdown in this year's spring game.

Flip the coin over and you'll see a different story.

Sophomore Duron Carter is arguably the second-most talented Buckeye wide receiver behind DeVier Posey.

A tall, athletic receiver who runs great routes, Carter has the ability to be a big-time threat for the Buckeyes.

While he can excel on the field, the young receiver can't get it done in the classroom.

When Ohio State was throwing all over Oregon in the Rose Bowl, Carter could have made a major impact.

But due to academic problems, Carter was thousands of miles away, watching the game from his sofa in Florida after being ruled ineligible for the game.

He said he would get his stuff together going into spring camp, but once again was on the sidelines when March came around.

While he was out, Washington excelled in the spring and capped it off with a great performance for the Gray team during the spring game.

With Posey and Dane Sanzenbacher securing the first two spots, Jim Tressel faces a tough decision when fall opens.

Does he reward the kid who has paid his dues during his years as a Buckeye?

Or does he choose the talented but undisciplined Carter, who undoubtedly would be a threat in the Buckeye passing game.

Although Carter's talent might be intriguing, I believe Tressel has to give Washington the leg up.

It's still up in the air whether Carter will even be able to play this fall. With all the headaches he's caused, Tressel can send the youngster a message by sitting him if he's eligible.

Washington deserves the chance to play, too. Although he may have blown his chance with a few drops in the Navy game last season, the senior has earned the right to play.

Lamaar Thomas and Washington debated transferring all last season as the season dragged on without them seeing the field. When Thomas bolted for New Mexico, Washington decided to stick it out for the Buckeyes.

If I'm Tressel, I reward the guy for sticking it out. I also use his progression as a lesson to Carter, who has been handed everything but taken it all for granted.

Yeah, Carter might be much more talented and a better threat in the Buckeye offense, but he has to be taught a lesson. If he gets his act together and performs well in the fall, he can break his way into the lineup late in the season.

But when fall camp rolls around, I hope Tressel makes the right decision. Go with the kid who's done everything right to earn the spot, not the one who's done the exact opposite.


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Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Conference Expansion: Why Big Ten Commissioner Jim Delany is an Evil Genius

Tim Bielik—Featured Contributor


Throughout the process of expansion in college sports, it's pretty clear who has been pulling all of the strings and beginning the wildest shift in decades.

Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany began the process of evaluating expansion shortly after the 2009 regular season, stating that there would be a 12-18 month timetable.

But six months later, we stand on the precipice of the greatest shift in college football and the Big Ten has been the catalyst.

The Big Ten has been the biggest player mostly because they have the biggest weapon in the expansion wars: the Big Ten Network.

Perceived as a failure in the early stages, the Big Ten Network provides all the member schools with tremendous revenue as it broadcasts all sports from all member schools.

The package of high revenues combined with national exposure was what convinced the biggest domino of expansion, Nebraska, to jump ship from the Big 12 to join the Big Ten beginning in 2011.

While the Big Ten has been very calculated and making this into a process, the conference in turn has forced the hand of other conferences like the Pac-10 and turned a suddenly fragile Big 12 into a land-grab that threatened to destroy the conference.

But as time goes on, it seems more and more likely that the Big 12 will survive, which would be a huge loss for the Pac-10, which acquired Colorado beginning in 2012.

As for the Big Ten, the process worked in a very efficient manner, allowing the conference to make the smart decisions and make sure that what they are doing is for the benefit of the conference.

And those benefits could be sky-high

1. Greater viewership thanks to the loyal following Nebraska has.

2. Keeping the famous rivalries (OSU-Michigan) intact, while adding potentially great ones (Nebraska-Iowa).

3. And most importantly, a conference championship game that can be held at sites such as Indianapolis, Chicago, Detroit, or Cleveland.

The fact that the Big Ten is so far the winner of the expansion talks comes as a surprise to those who consider it an outdated conference.

For example, the conference schedule used to end two weeks before the end of the season, and there are no November games that kickoff before 3:30 p.m.

But the conference made sure the season extended a week further beginning in 2010, and adding that 12th team in Nebraska helped to try to take the Big Ten into the 21st century.

Now all of a sudden, when people have criticized the Big Ten as weak and unworthy of an automatic BCS bid, when it comes to expansion, the conference has emerged the biggest player.

And although Delany has said the Big Ten will pause the expansion process, they may get the last laugh in expansion.

While the Big Ten may not look like the best conference on paper, they are no doubt a much better conference for having a quality growing program like Nebraska in the fold.

And if Nebraska and Michigan return to their old selves from the 1990s, the Big Ten could give the SEC a run for its money.


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Saturday, June 12, 2010

BlockONation's Response to the Typical SEC Fan's Superiority Complex



In the wake of conference realignment, Johnathan Fravel, a featured columnist for Alabama football over at BleacherReport.com recently posted an article entitled SEC Conference Realignment: No Talk Of Expansion When You Have a Dynasty claiming that the SEC isn't looking to, not does it need to, consider expansion because they have a dynasty in college football that I guess he, like most SEC fans, believes is never going to end.

The only things that SEC fans have a Dynasty on is sporting mullets, making and drinking moonshine, watching "Trashcar", believing that wrestling is real, making love to their cousins, and wearing jorts.

Here is my reply to his article, and his, and every SEC fan's, wake up call, compliments of BlockONation.

Actually, the SEC is trying to expand as well, and whether they do or not, anyone with half a brain knows this is cyclical and the SEC's reign at the top is nearing an end, especially with conference realignment.

The Big Ten, Mountain West, and the Pac-10 will all be more competitive than the SEC, possibly as soon as 2010.

Sorry but you don't have the rest of us fooled SEC fans -- It's not really hard for Bama or Florida to go undefeated through the regular season when they are the only good teams in that vastly overrated conference.

Then Bama BARELY beat Texas w/o Colt McCoy, but instead with a freshmen QB in Garret Gilbert, so let's not act like they were great....They were the best team from an overrated, overhyped conference, who was fortunate to face Texas without McCoy for the BCS title, period.

Whether you agree or not, the SEC conference was not very good last year "top to bottom" and that has been SEC fans claim to fame so to speak, but it is clearly just not true!.

Bama and Florida were good, but then LSU was the next best team and they were very very average, as was the rest of the entire conference.

Ole Miss flopped after being hyped up last year heading into the season, and Georgia who was No. 1 in the 2008 preseason poll was pretty horrible in 2009 too...

So as you see, they might have a good team or two, but the SEC as a whole is on the way down FAST!



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Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Best of the Vest: The 10 Greatest Wins of the Jim Tressel Era, Part II



I brought you part one (numbers six-through-10) of my top 10 best wins of the Jim Tressel era nearly four weeks ago.

It has admittedly taken me longer than I anticipated to find the time to bring you the top five, so without further ado, here they are. I hope you find this climax to the series worth the wait.




Number Five


In 2005, Ohio State may have been a Ryan Hamby dropped touchdown catch away from putting the nail in the Texas coffin and knocking off Vince Young and the eventual national champion Longhorns.

The Buckeyes led 19-16 halfway through the third period when Justin Zwick's pass bounced off of a wide open Hamby, then up in the air, and just as Hamby was about to have a second opportunity to potentially seal the win, a Texas defender knocked Hamby and the ball harmlessly to the endzone turf.

The Buckeyes instead had to settle for a field goal, and the rest is history, as Texas went on to win the game, 25-22.

A year later, No. 1 Ohio State traveled to Austin to complete the home-and-home series, seeking revenge against No. 2 Texas and new starting quarterback Colt McCoy.

Despite their top-ranking, not every expert believed that Ohio State would win in Austin. After all, they could not defend their own home turf the previous year—not to mention, Ohio State QB Troy Smith was recruited as an athlete, not as a QB, and was not as highly-coveted coming out of high school as McCoy was.

It was Smith who was poised and precise, outshining McCoy on that day however, passing for 269 yards and two scores in the Buckeyes 24-7 win.

McCoy and the Texas offensive line had no answer for the Buckeyes' defense, which had replaced nine starters from the previous season.

Led by All-American linebacker James Laurinaitis, they held a Texas team that had scored at least 40 points in 12 consecutive games to a single touchdown and McCoy to only 154 yards passing with one touchdown and an interception.

The Buckeyes went on to finish the 2006 season a perfect 12-0 before their sad effort and poor showing against Florida in the BCS title game. The 41-14 loss was surely one of the poorest Ohio State efforts under the vest (one we all want to forget), but that is another article altogether.



Number Four


No regular season game had more meaning during the 2009 season for the Buckeyes than the Iowa game.

No. 11 Ohio State (8-2) hosted No. 10 Iowa (9-1) with at least a share of the Big Ten championship and a potential BCS berth on the line for both teams.

The game plan for the Buckeyes would be no great secret.

Tressel and company stuck to their bread and butter—playing great defense, winning the field position battle, and running the football—and in the end, it paid off.

It also didn't hurt their chances when Iowa lost starting quarterback Ricky Stanzi one week earlier in their stunning upset loss to Northwestern, meaning redshirt freshman James Vandenburg would have the daunting task of making his first career start against one of the best defensive units in the nation.

Surprisingly, Vandenburg played beyond the expectations of Buckeye fans as he passed for over 200 yards with a couple of touchdowns. Fortunately for Ohio State, he also threw three interceptions that would prove costly for Iowa.

He did however help lead the Hawkeyes back from a 24-10 deficit in the fourth quarter, throwing a touchdown pass to Derrell Johnson-Koulianos with under three minutes left to tie the game at 24 apiece.

That would be the score at the end of regulation, and the game went to overtime.

Iowa had the ball first and on first down, Vandenburg threw an incompletion. On second down, freshman running back Adam Robinson was thrown for a 6-yard loss by Austin Spitler, and Doug Worthington sacked Vandenberg for a 10-yard loss on third down. Now out of field goal range on fourth-and-26, Vandenberg lofted a long pass into the end zone that was picked off by Anderson Russell.

The Buckeyes then "Tressel-balled" their way from the 25 yard line to the 23 yard line on three straight short-gain carries. On fourth and 8, on came kicker Devin Barclay, who had only taken over the kicking duties after starter Aaron Pettrey injured a knee a few weeks earlier.

The oldest player on the Buckeye roster, the 26-year-old Barclay, a former soccer player, nailed the 39 yard game-winning field goal in overtime to seal the win, and send Ohio State to college football's oldest bowl game—the granddaddy of them all—the Rose Bowl.



Number Three


"Tressel-ball" doesn't always sit well with fans. Some fans were calling for Tressel to be fired, believing the home loss to USC in 2009 was a direct result of his ultra-conservative game planning and play calling.

Those critics felt justified after the shocking week seven loss to Purdue last season, but from that point on were quieted by the genius that is Tressel.

Coming off the worst performance of his career to date as the starting quarterback for the Buckeyes, Tressel tightened the leash on Terrelle Pryor, instead opting for his textbook style and approach, aka "Tressel-ball".

In the final five games of the season, the coach relied on his defense, special teams, and the running game. The defense allowed only 48 total points over that span, and the Buckeyes averaged more than 200 rushing yards per game in finishing off the season 5-0, earning their trip to the 2010 Rose Bowl to face the high-flying Oregon Ducks potent spread offense.

The Ducks plan was to stop the run and force Terrelle Pryor to throw the ball. Little did they know, this played right into the hands of the vest.

After his mid-season handcuffing of Pryor, Tressel had decided it was time to unleash Terrelle and for Pryor to step up and become what he came to Ohio State to become—a real quarterback.

That being said, Pryor did have 20 carries for 72 yards, but he wasn't specifically looking to run first as he did when he first came to Columbus.

He had his best passing day to date, throwing for 266 yards and two touchdowns. He did throw one interception in the third quarter, but the defense held Oregon to two yards on the series, forcing a punt.

In fact, the defense held Oregon down practically the entire game—considering that the Ducks had scored 37 or more points in nine of their 12 games during the regular season. They had beaten USC, a team the Ohio State lost to at home by a score of 18-15, by a final of 47-20.

Quarterback Jeremiah Masoli was held to just 9/20 passing for 81 yards and an interception, while tailback LaMichael James was limited to 70 yards rushing on 15 carries.

Ohio State outgained Oregon in total yardage 419 to 260 and in time of possession with a 41:37 to 18:23 advantage, and most importantly on the scoreboard, 26-17.

Tressel knew the timing was right, and that Oregon, and the nation would be blind-sided by Pryor's emergence as an efficient and effective pass-first quarterback.

His Rose Bowl performance earned him the bowl MVP and was dubbed Terrelle Pryor's coming out party. Tressel finally had the same faith in Pryor that he had had in Troy Smith back in 2006.

If Pryor can continue to build off of his bowl performance and validate what the coach sees in him, 2010 could potentially culminate as a championship season for the Buckeyes.



Number Two


Every Ohio State-Michigan game matters. Throw out the records, because it is pure passion and hatred personified.

No meeting was ever more important or hyped than the 2006 contest when No. 1 Ohio State hosted No. 2 Michigan with the Big Ten title and a trip to the BCS title game on the line.

It marked the fourth time in the 100+ year history of "The Game" that the teams would play when both were undefeated, but the first time they were ranked No. 1 and No. 2 respectively.

The game was played just one day after the death of former Michigan head coach (and Ohio State assistant coach under Woody Hayes) Bo Schembechler. The teams couldn't have honored his memory with a better game, although it certainly wasn't the brand of football he and Woody coached when they battled one another for the decade now referred to as "The 10 Year War".

"There were a lot of good playmakers out there today," Ohio State Coach Jim Tressel said afterwards. "It was a fast-break game the whole way."

For two teams each allowing less than 20 points per game on the season, defense went out the window as each team struggled to stop the other all night long, with the offensive units combining for 900 total yards.

Michigan was led by QB Chad Henne's 267 yards and two touchdown tosses and RB Mike Hart's 142 yards and three scores.

Not to be outdone, Ohio State QB Troy Smith passed for 316 yards and threw four touchdowns, while RB Antonio Pittman rushed for 139 yards and a touchdown.

Both teams put on a show for the nation and proved why this is the best rivalry in all of sports. Ohio State poured on all the offense they had, and Michigan stayed right on their heels the entire game.

Ultimately, it was the Buckeyes who played their way into the national title game with a dazzling 42-39 win over the Wolverines (pushing Tressel's win/loss record to 5-1 in the series) in what was one of the best college football games ever played, and certainly the best-ever game in the storied rivalry.



Number One


The 2006 Ohio State-Michigan game almost earned the top spot, so you know that No. 1 has to be a pretty big deal to have outranked that one.

I'm pretty sure by now most of you know that my No. 1 greatest win of the Jim Tressel era is the 2003 Fiesta Bowl game against the "unbeatable" and No. 1 ranked Miami Hurricanes for the BCS championship.

The double-overtime battle became in instant classic and is still considered the best championship game of the BCS era.

The game outcome was not without controversy, although Dennis Dodd, who is generally no friend to the Ohio State program, eventually came to the defense of official Terry Porter, who had made the late, controversial pass interference call that allowed the Buckeyes to eventually force the overtime periods.

At the end of the fourth quarter, the game was tied 17-17.

"It was just like two great heavyweights slugging it out," winning coach Jim Tressel said.

There was no quit in either team—no one wanted to finish second.

With the 31-24 victory, the second-ranked Buckeyes, 11½-point underdogs entering the game, ended the Hurricanes' try for a second straight title and their winning streak at 34.

Hurricane QB Ken Dorsey passed for 296 yards and two touchdowns, but also had two interceptions. Before suffering a gruesome knee injury, Miami RB Willis McGahee scored one touchdown and rushed for 67 yards.

In the first overtime period, Kellen Winslow caught a 17-yard pass from Dorsey to put Miami up 24-17.

Buckeye QB Craig Krenzel answered back for Ohio State with a one-yard dive into the endzone to keep Ohio State's hopes alive.

In the second OT, Maurice Clarett scored on a five-yard rush to give the Buckeyes a 31-24 lead.

The championship all came down to one of the best defensive stands in college football history.

Miami had the ball 1st and goal at the two yard line. Jared Payton, son of the late-great Walter Payton, ran up the middle on first down for a minimal gain.

On second down, Dorsey's pass to his practically wide open TE sailed wide at the goal line.

On 3rd and goal, a fullback trap up-the-gut pushed the ball just inside the one, bringing up fourth and goal.

This was it—one last play for the game and the championship.

At the snap, Dorsey found himself under immediate and heavy in-your-face pressure from the Buckeye blitzing defense, and as he was nearly dragged to the ground, he had no choice but to throw a misdirected prayer into the heart of the Buckeye defense, where it was harmlessly knocked to the turf.

The Buckeyes had clinched their first national championship in 34 long years and the vest had become a legend in only his second season on the job.



In closing


It's no secret that Tressel has owned Michigan (8-1) which also boosts his legacy, but if he is to have a chance at passing Woody Hayes as the greatest coach in Buckeye history, he would help that cause immensely by adding a couple more national titles, hopefully starting in 2010.

Let's hope that I have to revisit this series in a few years and update my top 10 after the vest delivers at least a couple more national titles to the Buckeye Nation.

Thanks for reading and for visiting Block-O-Nation.


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Thursday, June 3, 2010

Ohio State QB Kenny Guiton Goes "Around The Block" With Block-O-Nation



One of the biggest questions facing Oho State as the 2010 season approaches is what happens to the team, and the season, should Terrelle Pryor get hurt?

Who, if anyone, could step in and take over for him, and would they be able to lead the team in his stead until his return, or would all hopes of another conference championship and possible BCS title run be lost?

Well, if you didn't watch the 2010 Scarlet and Gray game, and/or didn't see any highlights from the game, you may just have missed the answer to that very question.

Enter Kenny Guiton.

The redshirt freshmen from Houston was the last player to join the 2009 recruiting class, after Buckeye targets Tajh Boyd and Kevin Newsome instead signed to play at Clemson and Penn State respectively.

In front of more than 65,000 fans in The Horseshoe, Guiton lead the Gray team to a 17-10 win over the Scarlet team in the final seconds. He completed 11-of-21 passes for 167 yards and two scores, both to Taurian Washington.

In the Clemson Orange and White game this Spring, Boyd went 8-for-25, passing for 132 yards. He struggled to read the defense at times, repeatedly throwing into double and triple coverage.

In the Penn State Blue and White game, Newsome was 5-for-12 for 50 yards and was sacked three times. It was assumed that Newsome would take over for the departed Daryll Clark, but after his Spring game performance, the door is still open for Matt McGloin, Paul Jones and Robert Bolden.

Although it is still early in the careers of Guiton, Boyd, and Newsome, it seems to me Boyd and Newsome going elsewhere may have been a blessing in disguise for the Buckeyes.

I recently caught up with the Buckeye Spring game standout for this, the latest edition of my interview series, "Around the Block".

Q: Kenny, you played very well this Spring in the Scarlet and Gray game and Buckeye fans took notice that you appear very capable of stepping in if Terrelle should miss any time. So, ease our minds—How's the ankle/lower leg doing?

A: Thanks a lot, that is good to know. The leg is doing great. I'm not feeling any pain at all. We have great trainers which helped me out a lot and I am feeling great.

Q: What is your favorite kind of music, and who is your favorite artist(s) or band(s)?

A: Rap is my favorite genre and my favorite rapper is Lil Wayne.

Q: What is your favorite NFL team? Who is your favorite NFL player of all-time?

A: My favorite team is the Dallas Cowboys and favorite player is Vince Young.

Q: Being from Texas, what college team were you a fan of before coming to Ohio State?

A: I was always a UT fan (University of Texas). I grew up watching Vince Young and he was always my favorite player so I loved UT.

Q: Before Ohio State offered you your scholarship last year, were they even on your radar, and did you know you were on theirs?

A: No not at all, I didn't know much about Ohio State at all. I didn't have them on my radar and had no idea that I would end up on their radar.

Q: Did your family move up here with you or did they stay in Texas? Do they come to the games?

A: My family stayed in Texas. They come up whenever they get a chance to watch various games. They were in attendance for the spring game which brought me great joy.

Q: What is your Win/Loss record as a starting QB from your H.S. days?

A: This is a hard one, I believe in high school on the varsity level my record was 18-10.

Q: What are you majoring in?

A: I am undecided right now. Looking to go into some type of business such as finance or accounting.

Q: What are you personal goals for this coming season?

A: My personal goals are to keep competing for the second string spot and if something happens where I have to play, I want to be able to lead this team to big accomplishments.

Q: Are there any current or former NFL QB's that you have been compared to by other people, or that you feel like you compare with?

A: I have been compared to Dennis Dixon a lot. His build and the way he plays.

Q: Which game or games are you most looking forward to this season?

A: I am looking forward to Miami, traveling to Wisconsin and Iowa, and I always look forward to playing that team up north.

Q: Do you ever visit any of the numerous Ohio State message boards or blogs on the Internet to see what fans are saying or do you try to avoid them? If you do, which one(s)?

A: No I don't look at those things at all.

Q: Lastly, is there anything you'd like to say about the upcoming season in your own words directly to OSU fans and the readers of Block-O-Nation?

A: I would like to say I will keep working hard to be the best quarterback that I can be and I hope everything works out because I feel I can be the ultimate QB on and off the field.

I want to thank Kenny Guiton again for taking time out of his schedule to spend a few minutes allowing the fans of Buckeye Nation and the readers of Block-O-Nation to get to know a little more about him, on and off the field.

I'm sure I speak for us all when I say we look forward to seeing his collegiate career unfold in the coming years and wish him all the best!


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Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Ohio State Top-Target Braxton Miller Set to Announce College Choice on Thursday



The Ohio State recruiting class of 2011, which already appears to potentially be a top 10 group, could get an enormous ratings boost Thursday (June 3) around 12:00 noon.

Wayne (Ohio) quarterback Braxton Miller, considered the top prospect in the nation according to Scout.com, will either confirm what every Buckeye fan has hoped for and suspected for nearly two years and choose Ohio State, or he could break our hearts and select from his other finalists—among them, Alabama, Florida, and USC.

Unconfirmed reports are saying that a source close to Wayne head coach Jay Minton has indicated Miller will indeed announce that he has chosen the Buckeyes.


A few things working in favor of the Buckeyes

  • Even though 2010 will be starter Greg McElroy's last at Alabama, Tuscaloosa is very far from home, plus Tide coach Nick Saban might bolt for another job at any time after swearing on your life that he's not going anywhere.


  • If you've ever heard of Tim Tebow (or Chris Leak, or Jesse Palmer, or Danny Wuerffel...), then you know that Florida doesn't exactly develop or prepare quarterbacks for the next level very well.


  • I think it's safe to say that USC can be eliminated, considering the NCAA is set to announce possible serious sanctions against the Trojans on Friday, the day after Braxton will make his announcement.

Miller hasn't taken an official visit to any of his other suitors listed above, so perhaps that too bodes well for Ohio State.

They say to never count your chickens before they hatch, but what about your quarterbacks? Is it too soon to count Miller in?

Maybe, but it sure sounds like he will end up as a Buckeye, and from what we've been hearing ever since Ohio State told Braxton that they wanted him to be Terrelle Pryor's successor, he will confirm that he is going to be—and always was—a Buckeye.



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