Friday, April 16, 2010

Navigating Towards a Title: Buckeyes' GPS System Set For Glendale

By most accounts, the 2010 Ohio State Buckeyes will begin the season ranked in the top five of the national polls.

Some of the Spring, preseason hype placed upon the Bucks stems from how they performed in their 2010 Rose Bowl victory over then-No. 7 Oregon last January, but most of it is tied to quarterback Terrelle Pryor.

Fair or not to Pryor, the comparisons to Vince Young and former Buckeye and Heisman winner Troy Smith have been made.

In their third seasons, both Young and Smith made huge strides as quarterbacks and leaders for their teams—Young leading Texas to the 2005 BCS title, and Smith winning the Heisman while leading Ohio State to the 2007 BCS title game.

Without question, Pryor is the centerpiece and face of the Buckeyes, but he won't have to do it all by himself. The Buckeyes are loaded with talent on both offense and defense.

Wide receivers DeVier Posey and Dane Sanzenbacher bring back images of Ted Ginn and Anthony Gonzalez, while many other talented wide outs including Taurian Washington, Duron Carter, James Jackson, Chris Fields, James Louis, and Tyrone Williams will be fighting for playing time in the third and fourth spots. TE Jake Stoneburner should also figure into the mix as a TE/WR hybrid.

Anchored by Michael Brewster and Justin Boren, the O-line, which has consistently underperformed in recent years, should be one of the best in the nation.

That bodes well for both Pryor and for the running backs. J.B Shugarts, Mike Adams, Marcus Hall, Jack Mewhort, Sam Longo and Corey Linsley are a few other names you should familiarize yourself with.

The Buckeyes will field a deep and formidable stable of talented backs in 2010, led by senior Brandon Saine and junior Dan Herron. Sophomores Jamaal Berry, Jordan Hall, Jermil Martin, and freshmen Carlos Hyde and Roderick Smith will also all be looking to impress the coaching staff this Spring and once Fall camp begins.

Depending on how everything shakes out in the running backs competition, there may be a couple players who redshirt, and rumor has it, even a potential transfer, although hopefully those rumors are just that.

In years past, there have been big shoes to fill and many question marks as to who might be the next star running back, wide receiver, or linebacker.

In 2010, replacing Thad Gibson and Kurt Coleman on defense is key, but that may not be that difficult to do as in previous years—and not because Gibson or Coleman weren't great, but rather, Ohio State has stocked the cupboards with plenty of young and highly-rated potential replacements.

John Simon, Cameron Heyward, Nathan Williams, and Dexter Larimore are the likely starting foursome on the defensive front. Adam Bellamy, Garrett Goebel, Melvin Fellows, and Solomon Thomas will also see the field as the second unit.

The linebackers are solid as usual. Ross Homan, Brian Rolle and Etienne Sabino comprise the first team, and they are backed up by Andrew Sweat, Storm Klein, and Dorian Bell.

Cornerback Chimdi Chekwa decided to delay entry into the NFL draft and instead return for his final year. He will be joined by Devon Torrence in the defensive secondary, while Orhian Johnson and Jermale Hines will start at free safety and strong safety respectively.

In no particular order, others of note who will see time in the defensive backfield include Travis Howard, Jamie Wood, Corey Brown, Dominic Clarke, and Tyler Moeller (if healthy).

The time for falling short is over. No more excuses.

The pieces are undeniably in place, the goal has been established, and the GPS coordinates have been entered.

Now the coaches and players just need to put it all on the line and punch that ticket to Glendale—It's time to bring the crystal back to Columbus!


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Sunday, April 11, 2010

Ohio State Football 2010 Season Forecast: Sunny And Successful, Part I

Since I've explored and correctly projected a high likelihood of failure at Michigan over the last couple of seasons, I suppose it's finally time for me to write and post this three-part companion series.

Although, Michigan fans really aren't going to like this one either, especially my projected outcome for The Game this-coming November 27th.

More on that later, but let's just say (cough, hint, spoiler alert) I see a certain recent trend, established in 2001, continuing this year—and in the foreseeable future—but for now, I digress...

Certainly we Buckeye fans have very high expectations for our team this year (just like every other year), and rightfully so—but, will our expectations ultimately meet reality?

There's only one way to know for sure, but since it's only April and the games won't actually be played for several months, you'll have to settle for some of my best educated guesswork instead...

Game One vs. Marshall—September 2, 2010

At the risk of sounding unintentionally disrespectful to Marshall, now that running back Darius Marshall has left for the NFL, I can't name one player of note that remains on their roster other than LB Kellen Harris, and he can't beat the Buckeyes alone.

This game will be played on Thursday night where highly ranked teams seem to lose quite often, but again to sound probably somewhat unintentionally disrespectful, Marshall has ZERO chance of coming into the Horseshoe and even keeping it close, let alone winning this game.

Win (1-0)

Game Two vs. Miami-FL—September 11, 2010

Following their usual tradition, the Buckeyes scheduled another home-and-home series with one of college football's all-time elite programs, this time with the Miami Hurricanes.

Coach Randy Shannon led the 'Canes to an unexpected 9-4 season in 2009, and with the athletes he has the cupboards stocked with, led by junior QB Jacory Harris, expectations, much like those in Columbus, are very high in South Florida.

This game is one of several that will be billed as the game of the week, with both teams projected to be ranked in the top 10. Harris and Terrelle Pryor are very similar in their abilities and I expect a great game between these two Goliath's.

Miami, which lost 20-14 to Wisconsin (yes, the same Wisconsin that Ohio State defeated 31-13) in the Champs Sports Bowl, will be improved squad over last year's team, but so will the Buckeyes.

In the end, experience and an ever-so-slight advantage in talent (even if not speed), along with the home field advantage will be enough for the Buckeyes to win what I expect to be a closely contested game.

Win (2-0)

Game Three vs. Ohio—September 18, 2010

The last time the Bobcats came to Columbus back in 2008, they put a scare into the Buckeyes for sure. I'm not trying to take anything away from Ohio U. in that game because they played very well and they nearly pulled off a huge upset, but the Buckeyes were absolutely looking ahead to their week three showdown in Los Angeles vs. USC. Plus, almost only counts in hand grenades and horseshoes, but not in The Horseshoe.

Without cheating, I can't name one single player from the 2010 Bobcats, although I do know their coach is still Frank Solich if that counts for anything. Eastern Michigan comes to Columbus the following week and unfortunately for Ohio, Ohio State won't be looking ahead to a team that lost badly a year ago to lowly Michigan. (See, I told you UM fans would hate this article, and I'm just warming up!)

Win (3-0)

Game Four vs. Eastern Michigan—September 25, 2010

Other than Miami, I admit this OOC schedule is very light, but if it's good enough for teams from the SEC to play four cupcakes (often including a team from the FCS) out of conference EVERY year and still be given the opportunity to play in the BCS title game, then surely it's good enough for the Buckeyes to play three (all FBS mind you) Hostess-like opponents as well then, no?

Again as was the case above with Marshall (other than Kellen Harris) and Ohio, no disrespect intended, but I can't name one single player on the 2010 Eastern Michigan roster without cheating. Wait, does Charlie Batch count?

There's not much else to say about this game really. Think Ohio State vs. New Mexico State from last season. Tressel doesn't run up the score for those ever-coveted "style points" that pollsters love, but in-spite of "Tressel-ball" it just can't be prevented that the Buckeyes will defeat EMU by a significant margin.

Win (4-0)

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Thursday, April 8, 2010

Michigan Football Forecast 2010: Mostly Cloudy With a Chance of Failure...AGAIN

It never gets old ripping on MichiCAN'T, so I thought I'd repost this for those who may have missed it!

Before the 2009 season, I wrote an article entitled Michigan Football Forecast 2009: Mostly Cloudy With a Chance of Failure, that was met with much resistance and venom from Michigan fans.

I also met the same fate with my Michigan's Tate Forcier: Lofty Expectations Will Lead to Major Letdown article.

I was called idiot, moron, and hater, and those are just the names I can repeat. There were plenty of "R" rated terms tossed my way that are not safe for reposting.

In the Forecast article, I predicted that Michigan would win four games in 2009. In all honesty, I really thought they might win six and maybe even seven games, but as it turned out, they only won five.

They beat a couple teams that I thought they would lose to and they lost to a few teams I thought they could, or would beat, but in the end, my 4-8 prediction was almost exact.

Not to gloat, but who looks like idiots and morons now UM fans? I digress.

Since the Wolverines 2009 season is over and they are not playing in a bowl game for the second straight year, I thought I'd get an early jump on what 2010 will hold for them.

These predictions assume that RichRod will return as head coach, no current players file transfer papers, and that none of the 2010 UM recruits decommit before signing day.

Nothing is written in stone up North and you know what they say happens when you assume too much, so stay tuned...

Game One vs. UCONN

I actually believe UCONN could win this game, but I will give the talent edge to UM and it is in Ann Arbor so for those reasons, I have to go with Michigan in this one, but I do think it will be closer than most UM fans will expect it to be.

Win (1-0)

Game Two @ Notre Dame

I'm sure Charlie Weis, Jimmy Clausen, and Golden Tate will all be gone, but not all is lost at Notre Dame. There's speculation that ND wants to land Brian Kelly, Bob Stoops, Pat Fitzgerald, or Urban Meyer. I think Kelly is the most likely get, but in my opinion any of these coaches might consider taking the job, and any one of them would be able to coach the Irish to a win over UM. The cupboard isn't exactly bare in South Bend either. Dayne Crist was one of the nations' top QB recruits in 2008 and star-sophomore WR Michael Floyd returns to South Bend as well.

Loss (1-1)

Game Three vs. UMASS

No disrespect meant, but UMASS is an FCS team, and they are no Richmond or Appalachian State. This game should be a lead-pipe lock for the Wolverines. Think Delaware State from this past year. UM won that game 63-6.

Win (2-1)

Game Four vs. BGSU

Lucky for Michigan that QB Tyler Sheehan and WR Freddie Barnes are both Seniors and won't be on the field for BG in this game. Otherwise, they may have been headed for another loss to a MAC team (see Toledo 2008). Without those two guys, I don't see UM having too much trouble vs. the Falcons.

Win (3-1)

Game Five @ Indiana

The Hoosiers gave UM all they could handle back in September when the Wolverines escaped with a 36-33 home win after a controversial interception call that went against IU. QB Ben Chappell, RB Darius Willis, and WR's Tandon Doss and Damarlo Belcher, all starters, will each return for Indiana in 2010. This game could go either way, and in toss up games, I almost always go with the home team.

Loss (3-2)

Game Six vs. Michigan State

The Spartans have won the last two meetings and return one of the best starting QB's in the Big Ten in Kirk Cousins, starting RB Larry Caper, and top WR's B.J. Cunningham and Mark Dell. Coach Mark Dantonio is 2-1 overall vs. Michigan and 2-0 vs. RichRod. I won't be in shock if Michigan wins, and I believe this one could be close, and a borderline toss up, but I'm taking the Spartans to win their third straight over UM.

Loss (3-3)

Game Seven vs. Iowa

I don't see Kirk Ferentz leaving Iowa City and the Hawkeyes will return QB Ricky Stanzi, RB's Adam Robinson and the 2009 projected starter (before missing the season due to injury) Jewell Hampton, and top wide outs Derrell Johnson-Koulianos and Marvin McNutt, in addition to another solid defensive unit. I just can't see UM winning this game if Iowa comes into Ann Arbor with all these guys healthy.

Loss (3-4)

Game Eight @ Penn State

Daryll Clark will be gone, but the Big Ten's second leading rusher Evan Royster will likely return. Sophomore QB Kevin Newsome will take over for the Nittany Lions. He has been favorably compared to OSU's Terrelle Pryor. He is also a former 2009 UM commit that decommitted and chose PSU over the Wolverines. He sounds more and more like Pryor, who shunned UM for Ohio State, and is now 2-0 vs. his former suitors. I expect Penn State, led by Newsome, to win their third straight over the Wolverines.

Loss (3-5)

Game Nine vs. Illinois

If a coach's seat was ever hotter than that of Charlie Weis, it would have to be Ron Zook's. I don't think Zook will be back in 2010, and neither will QB Juice Williams. The cupboard is looking bare in Champaign and Illinois could be the worst team in the Big Ten next season. In my estimation, Michigan should win this game easily.

Win (4-5)

Game 10 @ Purdue

Purdue has beaten Michigan in the last two meetings and they have hope, as in Coach Danny Hope, of doing it again in 2010. If they can find a QB to replace Senior Joey Elliott, they just might do it. RB Ralph Boldin returns after a solid year in which he was only out-gained on the ground by PSU's Evan Royster and Wisconsin's John Clay. This game falls under my toss up rule so I am going with the home team Purdue, but Michigan certainly has a shot at winning.

Loss (4-6)

Game 11 vs. Wisconsin

Badger RB John Clay led the Big Ten in rushing in 2009 as a sophomore and will have a legit chance to repeat that feat in 2010. Also returning will be starting QB Scott Tolzien and top WR Nick Toon. UW has won two of the last three vs. UM, and I see that trend continuing in 2010.

Loss (4-7)

Game 12 @ Ohio State

I really don't think I need to say much else here other than Ohio State has now won six in a row over UM, Tressel is 8-1, and Terrelle is 2-0. I know Michigan fans that think UM is getting better believe that UM will start beating the Buckeyes again sooner than later, but I say to them, even if UM gets better, it's not like OSU is getting worse. In terms of quality over quantity, the Bucks are recruiting as well or better than Michigan and the running backs that the Buckeyes are going to have in Pryor's final two years makes USC's recent "stable" of backs look like a bunch of old gray mares. The Buckeyes will make it seven in a row and nine of 10. After their third straight losing season, and assuming RichRod wasn't already fired earlier in the 2010 season, there will be little doubt that his fate is sealed after going 0-3 in THE GAME.

Loss (4-8)

Now, having said everything I said above, there are those three toss up games that I consider swing games (Indiana, Michigan State, Purdue) so ultimately with some lucky breaks going their way, or if UM somehow improves more than I expect, or if a couple of the teams I picked to beat them regress, then Michigan could probably win as many as seven games or eight games, but eight is really super-optimistic.

Let's assume they do win seven games next year.

Will 7-5 be enough to satisfy UM fans, alums, and the new AD?

Will it keep RichRod from losing his job, despite his third loss to the Buckeyes in three attempts?

Even though I feel fairly confident in my projections, these questions really cannot be definitively answered until sometime during the 2010 season so I'll just say it again—stay tuned.

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Thursday, April 1, 2010

Around The Big Ten: Michigan Stadium Turf Hit by Vandals

A section of the block "M" logo was removed from the turf by unknown suspects over the weekend. The incident is under investigation and U of M police are asking that anyone with information come forward.

The stadium, which is undergoing significant renovation, is closed and locked on weekends during the off season so it may have been an inside job.

I can't help but wonder though—who in their right minds would actually want that?

Personally, I'd rather shoot myself in the face at point blank range with a sawed off shotgun than to possess the block "M" from UM's field, but to each their own.

Maybe those responsible could auction off the section of turf they stole on eBay.

Given the economy in Michigan these days, and the low level at which their football program has performed recently, they should easily be able to cash in.

Let's start the bidding at say, two bits...


Anybody willing to bid two bits?

OK, how about a small stash of pocket lint instead...?


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