Saturday, September 29, 2012

Week Five: Ohio State at Michigan State—LIVE Blog, History Lesson and Prediction

By HD HandshoeBlockONation.com Founder

      




Ohio State—Michigan State History Lesson And Trends

• Ohio State leads the all-time series vs. MSU, 27-13.

• Ohio State is 13-5 all-time vs. MSU in East Lansing.

• Ohio State is 70-24-4 all-time in B1G confer. openers.

• Ohio State has won 7 of the last 8 meetings with MSU.

• Urban Meyer coached teams are 38-4 overall in September.

• Meyer is 10-0 in conference openers in his coaching career.

• Meyer can become just the 3rd OSU coach to start 5-0 in his 1st year.

• Ohio State's defense has held opponents to 10 points or less 37 times since 2006.

• Ohio State's defense has allowed only 10 100-yard rushers in their last 53 games.

• Ohio State has held 70 opponents to 21 points or less since the start of the 2005 season.

• Ohio State is 19-10 in games that ESPN's College Gameday originates from—Michigan State is just 2-3.

• Michigan State last beat ohio State in back-to-back seasons in 1998/1999.

• Michigan State is just 7-14 under coach Mark Dantonio against Top 25 opponents.

• Under coach Dantonio (2007-2011), Michigan State is 27-14 vs. Big Ten conference opponents.

Final Thoughts and Score Prediction

Everyone is expecting a defensive battle and a low-scoring game, much like the meeting in Columbus last year.

I won't be surprised a bit if that is exactly what happens, but I also won't be shocked if the opposite occurs, as both teams are capable of wearing down a defense and punching it into the endzone.

The key for Ohio State on defense is obviously to play man-to-man on the outside and load up the box in hopes of containing MSU star-tailback, Le'Veon Bell.

On offense, they must have balance between the passing and running game, and QB Braxton Miller is going to have to make plays with his legs to help open up the passing game. Jordan Hall, Corey Brown, Jake Stoneburner and Devin Smith all need to step up for Miller today.

Ohio State has owned Michigan State overall and in East Lansing, and the Spartans never seem to perform well in national spotlight games, so for those reasons, I'm going with the Buckeyes in a closely-contested, relatively low-scoring battle.

Ohio State 27
Michigan State 20


"To be a champion, you have to believe in yourself when no one else will" - Sugar Ray Robinson




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Sunday, September 23, 2012

College Gameday Heading To East Lansing For No. 14 Ohio State At No. 21 Michigan State

By HD HandshoeBlockONation.com Founder

I'm not sure if this game is actually being considered worthy of having the Gameday crew on-site or if it's just the best of the weak, week five matchups...


Whatever led to the decision, this obviously puts the national spotlight on both teams and the Big Ten, not that I care about the conference's image, because I don't—most likely because I don't live down south and piggyback the success of every team in the conference like SEC fans, but I digress.

The Spartans and the Buckeyes kick off at 3:30Pm on ABC to open conference play. Michigan State is 2-3 in games that Gameday has come to town for. Ohio State has won seven of the last eight meetings with MSU and has not lost in East Lansing since 1999.

The trends don't guarantee anything, but they do bode well for the Bucks, should they hold up.

— HD




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Plenty Of Movement In The New Week 4 AP College Football Poll

By HD HandshoeBlockONation.com Founder

Week four had a little taste of everything for college football fans.

Some teams like my Buckeyes struggled but still won, while others like Oklahoma were blindsided and upset.

Others still—to borrow a line from former Arizona Cardinals coach Dennis Green, "Were who we thought they were,"—and they dropped out of the poll completely after another early season loss—*cough, Michigan, cough*.

The new rankings reflect all of the goings-on from this past week in college football.



1 Alabama(59) 4-0

2 Oregon 4-0

3 LSU (1) 4-0

4 Florida State 4-0

5 Georgia 4-0

6 South Carolina 4-0

7 Kansas State 4-0

8 Stanford 3-0

9 West Virginia 3-0

10 Notre Dame 4-0

11 Florida 4-0

12 Texas 3-0

13 USC 3-1

14 Ohio State 4-0

15 TCU 3-0

16 Oklahoma 2-1

17 Clemson 3-1

18 Oregon State 2-0

19 Louisville 4-0

20 Michigan State 3-1

21 Mississippi State 4-0

22 Nebraska 3-1

23 Rutgers 4-0

24 Boise State 2-1

25 Baylor 3-0

I was a bit surprised (4-0) Northwestern is still missing from the rankings. For whatever it's worth, I would have the Wildcats in at 24 or 25 and Boise State unranked on my ballot.

— HD




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Saturday, September 22, 2012

Week Four: Ohio State vs. UAB—Quick-Hit Preview, History Lesson And Prediction

By HD HandshoeBlockONation.com Founder

Ohio State/UAB—A Few Opening Thoughts...

No. 16 Ohio State may on the verge of starting 4-0 this season—thanks mostly to the exceptional play of sophomore quarterback and Heisman Trophy contender, Braxton Miller—but last weeks shaky defensive performance against California has coach Urban Meyer shaking his head.

The Buckeyes gave up several big plays of 15 or more yards—including an 82-yard-touchdown-run, the longest by an opponent in Ohio Stadium history—to Cal in their come-from-behind, 35-28 win.

"That is the most alarming thing," Meyer said on Monday. "I've watched Ohio State's defense for a long time, and I can't remember a defense I've been around that's given up this many (big plays). We've got to stop or we'll lose a game."

The cure that ails you for the Buckeyes, at least for this week, comes in the form of the 0-2 UAB Blazers.

UAB fell on the road to the old ball coach and No. 7 South Carolina last week, 49-6. With the odds makers having Ohio State listed as 36-point favorites, surely coach Meyer will expect a similar, and perhaps even more dominating, result for his Buckeyes against the Blazers this weekend.

Here are where Ohio State and UAB currently rank and compare statistically on offense to date:



The Buckeyes are 66th in total defense and 36th in scoring defense, allowing 18 points per game.

UAB is 104th in total defense and 120th in scoring defense, allowing 44 points per game.

You can get an expanded game preview via ESPN by clicking here.


Ohio State—UAB History Lesson And Trends

• Ohio State is 60-7 in Ohio Stadium since the 2002 season.

• This is the first-ever meeting between Ohio State and UAB.

• Urban Meyer coached teams are 37-4 in the month of September.

• Ohio State is 20-1 in first-ever meetings with an opponent in Ohio Stadium.

• Ohio State's defense has held opponents to 10 points or less 37 times since 2006.

• Ohio State's defense has allowed only 10 100-yard rushers in their last 52 games.

• Ohio State has held 69 opponents to 21 points or less since the start of the 2005 season.

• Ohio State is 44-7 overall vs. non-conference opponents since the start of the 2002 season.

• Ohio State has won 60 consecutive regular season non-conference home games vs. unranked opponents.

• Ohio State is seeking win No. 400 in Ohio Stadium. Their overall W/L/T record in The Shoe is 399-109-20 (1922-2012).

• UAB is 3-33 all-time vs. teams from a BCS conference.

• UAB is 3-19 overall vs. ranked opponents and 0-19 vs. ranked opponents from a BCS conference.

Final Thoughts and Score Prediction

The biggest offensive threat for the Blazers is QB Jonathan Perry who is averaging nearly 270 passing yards per game, but has also been picked off once and sacked five times in UAB's two games.

The Buckeye defense must play better against the pass and overall honestly, and I believe they will. If I'm wrong and they don't, a few players, and eventually a coach or two, could be out of a job.

UAB's defense is ripe for the picking here. They can't stop the run, and that is Ohio State's biggest strength, and they are dead last in scoring defense in the FBS.

This feels like the perfect time for the Buckeyes to hang half-a-hundred and then some offensively, and to get their defense back on track before league play begins in East Lansing next week.

Ohio State 66
UAB 9


"To be a champion, you have to believe in yourself when no one else will" - Sugar Ray Robinson




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Thursday, September 20, 2012

Can Urban Meyer And Ohio State Debunk The Big Ten Stereotype?

By Tim BielikBlockONation.com Featured Contributor

No conference has undergone as much scrutiny and criticism in the past few years as the Big Ten has.

And most of it has been deserved.

The Big Ten has a reputation for being a slow, plodding conference full of conservative coaches who don't pull in big-time athletes.

Ohio State, one of the few Big Ten schools that can pull in those kinds of athletes, is largely to blame for the stereotype of the Big Ten after back-to-back national championship game losses. Ironically enough, the coach who dealt OSU its first title game loss is now standing on the Buckeyes' sideline: Urban Meyer.

The typical Urban Meyer team that we saw at Florida was almost the antithesis of Big Ten squad, full of speedsters and a very aggressive, opportunistic mentality on both sides of the ball.

The Buckeyes do have the ability to be that kind of team, even within a year or two, simply because of Meyer's national reputation and the reputation of the program itself. And he has the right quarterback to help him as well, in one Braxton Miller.

The sophomore is the prototypical dual-threat quarterback. He has already put together a strong start to his sophomore season—one that has generated early Heisman talks. With his ability to run and his potential as a passer, Miller has already shown that he's a perfect fit for Meyer's spread offense.

It's early, but thus far coach and quarterback seem to be an ideal match. They will have possibly two years together and will set their sights on winning conference titles and possibly a national championship.

But the biggest thing that might change in the Big Ten is that other teams in the conference will need to play catchup with the Buckeyes. Ohio State could be embarking on a run of conference dominance similar to that enjoyed at the end of the Jim Tressel era, when the Buckeyes won five straight Big Ten titles (the 2010 title was vacated, of course).

If they can win a national championship or two, that will force the other top teams in the conference like Michigan, Michigan State, Nebraska and Wisconsin to really step up their recruiting efforts and make sure they can compete with Ohio State.

First things first though, OSU has to be able to win a Big Ten championship, which they still have to wait a year for due to NCAA sanctions.

But in a way, it's better for Meyer and Miller to have that year because the first three games showed that—while they're good—they're not great...yet.

The mental lapses the defense had all last year have already created a few red flags, and the offense, though they are putting up nice numbers, struggles from a lack of consistency and too few playmakers.

Luckily, those are things that can be corrected and fixed in a year or two, probably sooner if you bring in the right players.

Meyer can do that.

And for the offense to continue to improve, Miller will need to continue to be the guy until he gets a stable of playmakers outside of the three he has right now: Corey Brown, Jake Stoneburner and Devin Smith.

There are no burners in the backfield, yet. But they are coming.

Meyer is already sending a message that his SEC way of doing things—in terms of what types of players he wants and what style he is going to coach—is coming to the Big Ten; other teams will either rise up to the challenge or sink to the back of the pack.

It's the foundation for a new era, and the Big Ten may never be the same again.

Urban Meyer and Braxton Miller won't let it.




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@Bielik_Tim




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Sunday, September 16, 2012

Top 25 Recap: Ohio State, Others (Excluding USC, Virginia Tech) Survive Upset Bids

By HD HandshoeBlockONation.com Founder

Braxton Miller had the best game of his Buckeye career as the No. 12 Buckeyes (3-0) were fortunate enough to avoid the upset bug Saturday.

After leading 20-7 at the half, the OSU defense gave up a ton of yards and 21 second-half points, in what is one of their worst performances in years.

With the score tied at 28, Miller found a wide-open Devin Smith for a 72-yard-touchdown to put the Buckeyes up 35-28.

On their ensuing drive, Cal QB Zach Maynard overthrew his intended receiver and cornerback Christian Bryant intercepted the pass with under a minute and a half left to seal the win.

Miller finished the day 16 of 30 for 249 yards and four touchdown passes with one interception and had 12 carries for 75 yards and one rushing touchdown. The defense MUST improve, but as long as Miller is healthy, he is a Heisman front-runner and the Buckeyes will have a great chance to win every game.

The Top 10

No. 1 Alabama has no trouble steamrolling Arkansas 52-0. No. 2 USC did not fare so well—dropping their fourth straight to the Stanford Cardinal.

No. 3 LSU and No. 4 Oregon both cruised to 63-14 wins over Idaho and Tennessee Tech, respectively. No. 5 Florida State shutout Wake Forest, 52-0.

No. 7 Georgia blasted Florida Atlantic by a final of 56-20.

No. 8 South Carolina routed UAB (Ohio State's week four opponent), 49-6.

No. 9 West Virginia coasted to a 42-12 win over James Madison.

No. 20 Notre Dame suffocated No. 10 Michigan State in East Lansing, 20-3.

11-25 Notable Games

No. 14 Virginia Tech did what they pretty much always do every year and laid an egg vs. an inferior opponent, losing 35-17 to previously winless Pittsburgh.

No. 23 Tennessee led No. 18 Florida at the half, but the Gator defense was too much for the Vols in the second half and Florida remained undefeated with a 37-20 victory.

No. 19 Louisville held a 39-14 lead over UNC early in the fourth quarter, but had to withstand a late charge by the Tarheels and held on for a 39-34 win.

What these Top 25 results mean for Ohio State

USC will likely drop down to the 13-15 range and Michigan State might stay in the top 25, or drop out altogether. The teams that beat each of them, Stanford and Notre Dame, could both jump up near the top 10.

It looks like the best case for Ohio State is they move up to No. 10 ahead of USC and MSU. The worst case is they move up to No. 11. I don't think ND jumps OSU, but the voters could definitely and deservedly reward Stanford with a top 10 slot.

It wasn't pretty, but a win is a win. And while many of the experts and our own fans will be down on the Buckeyes after this, I, for one, believe winning a close game like this can be very beneficial as the season plays out.

— HD




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Friday, September 14, 2012

Week Three: Ohio State vs. California—History Lesson And Prediction

By HD HandshoeBlockONation.com Founder

Ohio State/Cal—A Few Opening Thoughts...

In their third straight home game to start the season, the (2-0) Buckeyes will play host to the (1-1) California Golden Bears in a non-conference tilt Saturday at Noon on ABC.

Ohio State easily disposed on Miami-OH, 56-10, to open the season, then defeated a talented and feisty UCF team in week two, 31-16.

In the win, starting tailback Carlos Hyde suffered a sprained MCL and could miss at least a game or two, meaning freshman Bri'onte Dunn and senior Jordan Hall, who is expected to return this week following off-season foot surgery, will share some of the load out of the backfield, along with QB Braxton Miller.

Cal somewhat-unexpectedly opened the season with a 31-24 home loss to Nevada, but then rebounded a week later by defeating Southern Utah at home, 50-31.

The prospect of starting 1-3 is very real for the Bears as they play in the L.A. Coliseum against No. 2 USC next week after facing the No. 12 Buckeyes in Columbus tomorrow—possibly the toughest back-to-back road game slate that any team will face all season.

Through two weeks, here are where Ohio State and Cal rank and compare statistically on offense:



The Buckeyes are 45th in total defense and 25th in scoring defense, allowing 13 points per game. Cal is 76th in total defense and 92nd in scoring defense, allowing 31 points per game.

You can get a full game preview via ESPN by clicking here.


Ohio State—California History Lesson And Trends

• Urban Meyer coached teams are 36-4 in the month of September.

• Ohio State is 59-7 in Ohio Stadium since the start of the 2002 season.

• Ohio State is 7-3 in its last 10 games vs. Pac-12 teams, dating back to 1997.

• Ohio State's defense has held opponents to 10 points or less 37 times since 2006.

• Ohio State's defense has allowed just nine 100-yard rushers in their last 51 games.

• Ohio State has held 69 opponents to 21 points or less since the start of the 2005 season.

• This is the seventh meeting between Ohio State and Cal. Ohio State leads the series 5-1.

• Ohio State has won 59 consecutive regular season non-conference home games vs. unranked opponents.

• Cal is 13-19 (.406) vs. top 25 opponents since 2001.

• This is just Cal's 3rd trip east of the Mississippi since 2003.

• Cal is 14-5 vs. BCS opponents under coach Jeff Tedford (2001-2011).

• Cal is 5-2 in non-conference away games vs. BCS opponents since 2002.

Final Thoughts and Score Prediction

With Cal losing at home to Nevada, it's clear Ohio State is the better team. That being said, Cal isn't going to lay down and die on their own. But they may with some help from the Buckeye offense and especially the Buckeye defense.

So far, Ohio State has not been dominant up front or gotten to the QB as much as expected and coach Meyer was visually displeased on the sideline with the defensive effort against UCF last weekend, so one has to believe there was a ton of emphasis put into pressuring the opposing QB this week at practice.

I might be a little concerned if this game was being played at Berkeley, but since it's not, I'm not very concerned at all. That doesn't mean I expect a blowout, but a double-digit win to atone for a somewhat lackluster win last week should be in the cards for the Bucks.

Ohio State 45
Cal 21


"To be a champion, you have to believe in yourself when no one else will" - Sugar Ray Robinson




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Friday, September 7, 2012

Week Two: Ohio State vs. Central Florida—History Lesson And Prediction

By HD HandshoeBlockONation.com Founder

Ohio State/UCF—A Few Opening Thoughts...

Last week after an unexpected slow start which saw Ohio State trail Miami-Ohio 3-0 at the end of the first quarter, Devin Smith ignited the home crowd and the offense with the catch of the year, and the Buckeyes never looked back en route to a 56-10 blowout.

This week, Ohio State faces a much stiffer test as they host the UCF Knights. UCF also scored 56 points and opened the season with a win in the state of Ohio with their week one victory over the Akron Zips.



Given that my schedule did not permit me to post a full preview this week, you can get a full game preview via ESPN by clicking here.

Ohio State—UCF History Lesson And Trends

• This is the first-ever football meeting between Ohio State and UCF.

• Ohio State is 58-7 in Ohio Stadium since the start of the 2002 season.

• Ohio State's defense has allowed just nine 100-yard rushers in their last 50 games.

• Ohio State's defense has held opponents to fewer than 10 points 31 times since 2006.

• Ohio State has held 68 opponents to 21 points or less since the start of the 2005 season.

• Ohio State has won 58 consecutive regular season non-conference home games vs. unranked opponents.

• UCF is 0-6 all-time vs. Big Ten opponents.

• UCF has never beaten a ranked, non-conference opponent.

• UCF is 6-7 in games played in Ohio and 13-14 overall vs. teams from Ohio.

Final Thoughts and Score Prediction

Ohio State is the better team on paper and that should be obvious on the field late in the first half or early in the second. That being said, UCF is a good team capable of hanging with the Buckeyes in this game if they start like they did last week.

They say teams make the biggest leap from game one to game two. Assuming that holds true, we should see Ohio State come out firing on all cylinders early and often on Saturday.

I respect where the UCF program is after only 34 years of existence and I won't be shocked at all if they finish the season with 10 wins. To be honest, I fully expect 10 wins from them this season. Unfortunately, one of those 10 wins I foresee won't come Saturday in Columbus.

Ohio State 38
UCF 13


"To be a champion, you have to believe in yourself when no one else will" - Sugar Ray Robinson




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Saturday, September 1, 2012

Video: Did Ohio State WR Devin Smith Make The Greatest Catch We'll See All Year?

By HD HandshoeBlockONation.com Founder

I have to assume almost everyone has seen this by now, but I am posting it because it doesn't get old watching it over and over!

What an unbelievable and spectacular grab by Devin Smith this was. It might never be topped by anyone this entire season.






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