Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Ohio State—Illinois: Week 5 Preview, History Lesson, and Prediction

Big Ten conference play begins this week as the No. 2 Buckeyes travel to Champaign to take on the Illinois Fighting Illini.

The Illini are 2-1 (2-0 at home) so far this season—their only loss to unbeaten, 4-0 Missouri—but their two wins have been against in-state directional schools, Northern and Southern Illinois.

Ron Zook's sitting on a white-hot hot seat and with four of Illinois' next six games against top 25 teams, the Zooker might find himself unemployed come early November.

Ohio State (4-0) is coming off a 73-20 domination of Eastern Michigan and are 19-point favorites this weekend.

Ohio State has proven they are loaded with talent on both sides of the football.

Illinois is not on the same level as the Buckeyes on paper, but they too have some talented key players to watch.

Illinois—By the Numbers

Quarterback Nathan Sheelhaase has passed for 380 yards with three touchdowns, three interceptions, and his current QB rating is 117.2. He has also rushed for 204 yards and a score.

Mikel Leshoure has rushed for 100-plus yards in his last four games. He is the leading rusher for the Illini with 398 yards on 58 carries for an average of 6.9 yards per carry and three rushing touchdowns. Stopping Leshoure and forcing Sheelhaase to throw should be the primary focus for the Buckeye defense.

Statistically, A.J. Jenkins is the only wide receiver worth mentioning. He has 12 receptions for 190 yards and two touchdowns. Every other Illini wideout has less than 50 yards receiving.

Overall, Illinois ranks 112th in passing yards per game (130.0), 18th in rushing yards per game (229.00), 70th in points scored per game (25.3), and 27th in points allowed per game (16.0).

Ohio State—By the Numbers

QB Terrelle Pryor has positioned himself at the top of most everyone's Heisman favorites list. Pryor has 939 passing yards, 10 touchdown passes to just two interceptions, 269 rushing yards and three rushing touchdowns. He also has a 20-yard touchdown reception. His QB rating is 167.2.

Pryor's current projected stats for the entire season are 2,817 passing yards, 807 rushing yards, 42 total touchdowns versus only six interceptions.

Although Pryor is the leading rusher for the Bucks, Dan Herron, Jaamal Berry, and Brandon Saine aren't too far behind.

Herron has gained 192 yards rushing with four touchdowns. He is averaging 4.6 yards per carry. He also has seven receptions for 109 yards.

Jaamal Berry has made the most of his limited opportunities. In addition to his kick return duties, he has carried the ball 15 times for 177 yards and has one touchdown. His impressive average of 11.8 yards per carry is definitely the main reason Buckeye fans are at a loss as to why he is not getting more touches out of the backfield.

Saine has 169 yards and two touchdowns. He is averaging 4.7 yards per carry and he also has eight catches for 67 yards with two touchdown receptions.

After his career day last week against the EMU Eagles, Dane Sanzenbacher is now the Buckeyes leading receiver with 20 catches for 316 yards and five touchdowns.

Devier Posey has 15 catches for 242 yards and two touchdowns.

Tight end Jake Stoneburner, who missed last weeks game with an ankle injury, has nine catches for 110 yards and a touchdown. Word is he may not play this week either.

As a team, Ohio State is 29th in passing yards per game (266.5), 14th in rushing yards per game (240.3), 3rd in points per game (49.3), and 19th in points allowed per game (14.5).

Ohio State—Illinois: History Lesson and Other Tidbits

• Ohio State leads the all-time head-to-head series 61-30-4.

• Ohio State has won the last seven meetings in Champaign, dating back to 1993.

• Ohio State is 22-2 against unranked conference opponents dating back to 2005.

• Ohio State is 28-8 since 2001 in conference road games under Jim Tressel.

• Ohio State is 5-2 overall and 3-0 on the road vs. Illinois under Jim Tressel.

• Ohio State coach Jim Tressel (98-21) is just two wins shy of his 100th at Ohio State.

• Ohio State's defense has not allowed a 100-yard rusher in their last 27 games.

• Ohio State boasts an all-time record of 151-22-5 in September games.

• Terrelle Pryor is now 23-3 as Ohio State's starting quarterback.

• The home team is just 2-8 in the last 10 meetings of the series.

• Illinois has scored 10 or less points in seven of the last 13 meetings.

• Illinois' last win over Ohio State was in 2007, a 28-21 win over the then-No. 1 ranked Buckeyes.

• Illinois coach and Ohio native Ron Zook is 23-40 overall at Illinois (2005-2010) and just 1-4 against Ohio State over that span.

• Zook has a 5-4 record vs. top 5 teams, however, he is only 9-28 overall against ranked opponents in his career.

Summary and Prediction

Ohio State should have little or no trouble in this game. Last year, the Buckeyes shutout Illinois 30-0. Ohio State is even better than they were last year.

Illinois, not so much.

Running back Mikel Leshoure is the best player the Illini have.

Contrarily, their passing game poses very little threat, although QB Sheelhasse has had some success running the ball, but, he hasn't faced a defense like OSU's either.

All that being said, let's keep this short and get to the key points.

Stop the run—force Illinois to pass—create turnovers—win the game.

The end.

(Modest) Final Score Prediction

Ohio State 45
Illinois 20

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Sunday, September 26, 2010

Hot off the Presses: The Top 25 and the Heisman Leaderboard for Week 4

Week 4 Top 25

1 - ALABAMA (4-0)

2 - OHIO STATE (4-0)

3 - OREGON (4-0)

4 - STANFORD (4-0)

5 - BOISE STATE (3-0)

6 - TCU (4-0)

7 - NEBRASKA (4-0)

8 - WISCONSIN (4-0)

9 - OKLAHOMA (4-0)

10 - FLORIDA (4-0)

11 - UTAH (4-0)

12 - ARIZONA (4-0)

13 - MICHIGAN (4-0)

14 - AUBURN (4-0)

15 - LSU (4-0)

16 - TEXAS A&M (3-0)

17 - ARKANSAS (3-1)

18 - IOWA (3-1)

19 - NEVADA (4-0)

20 - MISSOURI (4-0)




24 - MIAMI-FL (2-1)

25 - KANSAS STATE (4-0)

Top 5 Heisman Candidates






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Saturday, September 25, 2010

NOW LIVE - Ohio State vs. Eastern Michigan In-Game Blog Chat




The 73 points scored by Ohio State today are the most points scored by the Buckeyes since their 72-0 victory over Pitt in 1996 (and now you know why Pitt alum Mark May hates tOSU).

The last time the Buckeyes scored more points in a single game than they did today against EMU was a 1950 win over the Iowa Hawkeyes by a final score of 83-21.

The most points ever scored by an Ohio State team was 128 in a shutout-rout over Oberlin College in 1916.

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Friday, September 24, 2010

Ohio State vs. Eastern Michigan: Week 4 Preview, History Lesson, and Prediction

The No. 2 Buckeyes have another "scrimmage" this week as they welcome in the Eastern Michigan Eagles to Ohio Stadium.

Just like the Ohio Bobcats who Ohio State hosted (and defeated 43-7) one week ago, the Eagles will also receive a payment of $850,000 from Ohio State for their visit to Columbus.

Unlike their namesake, these Eagles have not been flying very high as of late if ever, and they aren't exactly going to be spreading their wings in this matchup with the No. 2 Buckeyes.

Ohio State (3-0) is the favorite to win the Big 10 and is considered a legitimate BCS national title contender, while EMU (0-3) just hopes to win more than three games.

There is no comparison between these two programs and their 2010 expectations, but we'll go ahead and do it anyway for the greater good, and stuff...

Eastern Michigan—By the Numbers

EMU has used two quarterbacks this season, Alex Gillett and Devontae Payne.

Gillett has thrown for 350 yards and four touchdowns, with three interceptions. He has also rushed for 172 yards and has a QB rating of 119.7.

Payne has 148 yards passing with an interception and no touchdowns for a QB rating of 90.5.

Running back Dwayne Priest has rushed for 199 yards (on 50 carries, a 4.0 yards per carry average) and has scored three touchdowns.

The Eagles leading receiver is Kinsman Thomas with six receptions for 197 yards and two scores.

Ben Thayer has caught 10 balls for 107 yards and a touchdown.

Donald Scott has 3 catches for 72 yards with a touchdown, and Josh LeDuc has made 9 receptions for 58 yards with one touchdown.

Overall, EMU ranks 86th in passing yards per game (189.9), 71st in rushing yards per game (142.00), 91st in points per game (21.0), and 108th in points allowed per game (37.0).

Ohio State—By the Numbers

Terrelle Pryor had his first two turnovers on the year last week vs. Ohio on two ill-advised passes. He forced the ball into coverage mainly because the game was never close, but he must not get used to having that luxury with Big Ten play looming.

This week, however, he has little to worry about against Eastern Michigan.

To date, Pryor has 715 passing yards, six touchdown passes, two interceptions, 165 rushing yards and two rushing touchdowns. His QB rating is 156.6.

Over 12 games, Pryor is projected for 2,860 passing yards, 660 rushing yards, 32 total touchdowns versus only eight interceptions.

Although Pryor is the leading rusher for the Bucks, Brandon Saine and Boom Herron are close behind.

Saine has 158 yards and two touchdowns. He is averaging 4.8 yards per carry and he also has five catches for 49 yards with two touchdown receptions.

Herron has gained 137 yards rushing with three touchdowns. He is averaging 4.6 yards per carry.

Jaamal Berry has seen limited action but that should change this week as the potential blowout ensues. So far, he has carried the ball 11 times for 103 yards. His average of 9.4 yards per carry is definitely the main reason Buckeye fans want to see him on the field more.

Devier Posey leads Ohio State with 13 catches for 208 yards and two touchdowns, followed by Dane Sanzenbacher with 11 catches also for 208 yards and one touchdown.

Tight end Jake Stoneburner has nine catches for 110 yards and a touchdown.

Dan Herron has four receptions for 79 yards.

As a team, Ohio State is 33rd in passing yards per game (254.3), 25th in rushing yards per game (206.3), 16th in points per game (41.3), and a still misleading 9th in points allowed per game (12.7) due to the three scores the Buckeyes special teams untits have allowed. Take away those 21 points and the Buckeyes are actually only allowing 5.7 points per contest.

Ohio State—Eastern Michigan: History Lesson and Other Tidbits

• This will be the first-ever meeting between Ohio State and Eastern Michigan.

• Ohio State is 38-8 overall vs. non-conference opponents under Jim Tressel.

• Ohio State is 51-2 in their last 53 non-conference home games.

• Ohio State is 59-7 at home overall since 2001.

• Ohio State has not allowed a 100-yard rusher in their last 24 games.

• Ohio State is 16-0 vs. current MAC teams since 1992.

• Ohio State has won 56 consecutive non-conference home games against unranked teams.

• Jim Tressel is 1-4 all-time vs. EMU as head coach at YSU.

• Eastern Michigan lost 16-0 to Ann Arbor High School in 1892.

• Eastern Michigan is coached by former Louisville and Michigan defensive coordinator Ron English.

• Eastern Michigan has never been ranked in a major college football poll.

• Eastern Michigan is currently on a 15-game losing streak, and their overall record since 2006 is 8-40.

• Eastern Michigan is 0-26 all-time against current Big Ten teams, losing by an average of 28 points.

• Eastern Michigan is 0-7 vs. ranked opponents since 1992, losing by an average of 42 points.

Summary and Prediction

What is there to summarize?

The Buckeyes should win and win big without so much as breaking a sweat.

This game really should be about sitting the starters after halftime and getting to see what some of the young guys can do in the second half as conference play is set to begin next weekend. It will be good to know which of them can be counted on if needed down the stretch.

This is yet another one of those games where no matter how bad coach Tressel tries to not run up the score, scoring at least 40-50 points is inevitable.

After just falling short late in the game last week, it would be a little surprising if the "D" doesn't finally pitch their first shutout of the year in this one.

Of course, that is once again assuming the special teams units don't blow it this week.

Final Score

Ohio State 55
Eastern Michigan 0

Ohio State vs. Eastern Michigan
Kickoff is Saturday 9/25 at 3:30PM

LIVE In-Game Blog Chat Starts at 3:15PM
Chat Here While You Watch the Game on ABC!

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Thursday, September 23, 2010

Big Ten Football: Power Ranking The Conference Running Backs Going Into Week 4

If QBs made the rankings, there is no doubt that UM's Denard Robinson and OSU's Terrelle Pryor would be in the top 10.

But since these are the best RBs in the Big Ten, they aren't eligible.

It is still worth mentioning that Robinson leads the conference with 559 rushing yards and Pryor is the leading rusher for the Buckeyes with 165.

No. 10 - Dan "Boom" Herron - Ohio State

Boom was the hot hand for the Buckeyes vs. the Miami Hurricanes in week 2, but overall, he and the rest of the Buckeye backs need to run the ball more effectively.

Quarterback Terrelle Pryor is always going to scramble and make plays when a play breaks down or he can't find an open receiver, but he should not be leading this team in rushing.

Herron earns the No. 10 ranking this week, but redshirt freshman Jaamal Berry has Buckeye fans clamoring to see more of him, which could mean less P.T. for Herron over the coming weeks.

Stay tuned.

No. 9 - Darius Willis - Indiana

The Hoosiers run a spread offense and they have an excellent QB in Ben Chappell, so they don't run the ball that much.

Despite that fact, Willis is a solid ball carrier that makes the most of the touches he does get.

Through week 3, he has scored two touchdowns and rushed 27 times for 132 yards.

The next two weeks, IU plays Akron and then Michigan.

Akron allowed almost 300 yards on the ground to Kentucky last week, and UMass gained over 200 yards rushing against Michigan.

Coach Bill Lynch should take advantage of these weak run defenses and let Willis carry the rock a lot in both games.

If he does, it's almost a guarantee that Willis will get near the century mark and score once or twice in both games.

No. 8 - Michael Shaw - Michigan

If Shoelace, aka Denard Robinson, is going to survive the season, especially once Big Ten play begins, he has to be able to rely on Shaw to step up more in the running game.

Last week Shaw finally showed up against UMass, but he has to be able to do the same against better competition for Robinson's sake and for the entire team's sake.

Through three games, Shaw has scored four touchdowns and accumulated 186 rushing yards on 32 carries for an average of 5.8 yards per carry.

Most of his numbers came in the UMass game. If he can't replicate that performance in-conference, Robinson and UM may be in big trouble, and soon.

No. 7 - Brandon Saine - Ohio State

Saine is definitely not your typical No. 1 back that Ohio State is used to having, i.e. a Beanie Wells / Eddie George type power back.

But what Saine is is a hybrid tailback / h-back / slot receiver and as that, he's one of the best in the league.

He can break a big run from time to time, be doesn't always seem to have the best vision moving down field.

He has 33 carries for 158 yards and two touchdowns. He has also caught five passes for 49 yards and two touchdowns.

What separates Saine from his teammate Herron is that Saine is faster and has great hands making him a near perfect threat in the slot or out of the backfield, while Herron seems to have better field vision when running the ball.

If there were such a place as Buckeye football Utopia, Saine would play almost exclusively at WR and Herron would be the No. 1 back, but superstar-in-the-making Jaamal Berry would share carries with Boom.

No. 6 - Duane Bennett - Minnesota

Running back Duane Bennett might just be the only bright spot in an otherwise dark and dismal season so far for the (1-2) Golden Gophers.

With a new stadium that just opened last season came higher expectations for this program, but so far the results have fallen far short of those.

Coach Tim Brewster is on a very hot seat and he might not make it through the season.

Bennett , however, is doing what he can to help the team win and save his coach from the axe.

He is averaging nearly 100 yards per game with 297 yards on 55 carries through the first three games. He has scored twice and is averaging 5.4 yards per rush.

Minnesota faces Northern Illinois on Saturday so expect another big day for Bennett.

He's on pace for close to 1,200 yards but it's unclear who might be the coach when and if he reaches that milestone late in the season.

No. 5 - Adam Robinson - Iowa

Last season, Adam Robinson became the Hawkeye's starter when Jewell Hampton was injured during the fall. It's deja vu all over again, kind of.

Robinson was already entrenched as the starter this season even though Hampton returned to the team healthy. News recently broke that Hampton now has a torn acl and will miss the remainder of this season.

Hampton was averaging close to 10 carries per game so it makes sense that Robinson's workload will increase going forward.

As of now, Robinson has 48 carries for 270 yards for an average of 5.6 yards per carry and he has scored four touchdowns.

This week Iowa hosts Ball State. Robinson is a safe bet to gain 100-plus yards and he should also find the endzone at least once or twice.

No. 4 - Mikel Leshoure - Illinois

Leshoure has been quite the surprise for the Illini so far this season.

Through his first three games, Leshoure has carried the ball 58 times for 398 yards for a 6.9 yards per carry average. He has gained more than 100 yards in every game so far and has scored three touchdowns.

If not for the fact that QB Nathan Scheelhaase has rushed 40 times for over 200 yards, Leshoure could possibly be leading the conference in rushing.

If coach Ron Zook is smart and hopes to have any chance at saving his job, he better hitch his wagon to Leshoure and ride him every week until the cows come home.

No. 3 - Le'Veon Bell - Michigan State

In the wake of recent events, it goes without mentioning that every college football fan should be hoping for a full and speedy recovery for MSU coach Mark Dantonio who suffered a heart attack after the Spartans pulled off that overtime thriller against Notre Dame. Get well soon Coach D!

One of the main reasons the Spartans are 3-0 is the play of freshman RB Le'Veon Bell.

Last week he gained over 100 yards with a touchdown against the Irish and on the year, he has 37 carries, 304 rushing yards, a hefty average of 8.2 yards per carry, and four touchdowns.

This week, MSU welcomes in Northern Colorado. Another 100-plus yards and a couple of scores can safely be expected.

No. 2 - John Clay - Wisconsin

Deciding on the top two places and whom to rank one and two was a tough decision. It was very close because the two players selected really are practically interchangeable.

In the end, John Clay, the reigning Big Ten POY, was ever-so-slightly edged out by the back that earned that top slot. It really was a coin flip, but the numbers never lie and that is why Clay lands at No. 2.

He's done as expected on the young season rushing for 383 yards on 62 carries for an average of 6.2 per, and has scored five touchdowns.

Despite his play, the Badgers have surprisingly struggled to their 3-0 record with unimpressive wins against UNLV and San Jose State, and a 1-point escape due a missed extra point try by Arizona State that would have forced overtime.

This week Austin Peay comes calling so expect a big game from Clay and everyone else from Wisconsin.

Of course, James Madison did beat a sluggish Virginia Tech two weeks ago, so we'll have to see which Badger team shows up.

No. 1 - Edwin Baker - Michigan State

Who?—you may be asking...

Well, if you haven't been paying attention to the stats, you might be surprised to see Baker at No. 1.

He's not a household name, but he should be, and probably will be soon if he continues to produce as he has been.

So far, Baker has carried the ball 46 times for 390 yards for a whopping 8.5 yards per carry, and he has scored four touchdowns.

When you look at the talent on this Michigan State team, it seems clear that the Spartans are underrated.

Kirk Cousins is one of the top QBs in the conference.

Keyshawn Martin, B.J Cunninghamm, and Mark Dell are probably the best trio of receivers on one team in the conference.

And then besides Baker, his backfield running mate, Le'Veon Bell made this list at No, 3, and in case you missed it, they are both averaging over eight yards per carry!

In the past, the higher the expectations, the more the Spartans seem to underachieve.

This could be the year they finally break through. They have the talent and a very good coach once he returns.

After hosting Northern Colorado this week, the following two weeks will validate or potentially expose MSU as they host No. 11 Wisconsin, then travel to Ann Arbor to play their in-state arch-rivals, No. 21 Michigan.

Go Sparty, go!

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Sunday, September 19, 2010

Michigan Football Impending Letdown: A Much-Needed Reality Check For UM Fans

In 2009, Michigan started the season 4-0 behind then flavor-of-the-week QB Tate Forcier, only to finish the season 1-7 for a final overall record of 5-7.

Fast-forward to 2010, and you'll find Forcier relegated to clipboard duty behind new flavor, Denard "Shoelace" Robinson, and freshman backup QB Devin Gardner.

Much like last season, Michigan fans have been quick to jump on their new quarterbacks bandwagon and spout off delusional thoughts about Michigan "being back" and other insane predictions of 10 or 11 wins and such.

"Tate Forcier for Heisman" popped up on the web last year and thanks to some irrational UM fan(s), I'm sure the "D-Rob for Heisman" sites are up-and-running now as well.

What, with UM's fast 3-0 start over two FBS teams with a combined record of 2-4 and their five-point escape over UMass of FCS fame.

[Sarcasm mode off].

Put on the brakes a little bit UM fans.

Robinson has played great and his numbers are fantastic through three games, but again, consider the opponents said stats were accumulated against before getting ahead of yourself on just how great Robinson, or as I like to call him, Denada (Spanish for nothing) really is.

I kid, but seriously, the end result of the 2010 season should be better for UM, but not that much better.

After all, it's not really hard to out-do that 1-7 finish.

Let's go ahead and assume Michigan will beat BGSU next week. That will be another 4-0 start just like last season. Then, Big Ten conference play begins.

Practically every team in the Big Ten is better than UConn, Notre Dame, and UMass, so this is where the wheels could potentially fall off.

If they do, hospitals in the Ann Arbor area will be on standby to help treat all the sprained ankles as UM "fans" jump off the bandwagon (again) at an alarming rate, but more on that later if [when] it actually happens.

Here is UM's conference slate and what the most likely result will be against each of their opponents.


@ Indiana - Win

vs. Michigan State - Loss

vs. Iowa - Loss

@Penn State - Loss

vs. Illinois - Win

@ Purdue - Win

vs. Wisconsin - Loss

@ Ohio State - Loss


That's how I see these games going, BUT I won't be surprised if Indiana or Purdue each win, just the same as I won't be surprised if UM beats Iowa, Penn State, or Wisconsin.

Either way, I think it will all balance out to 7-8 wins at the most. 9 wins [or more] would absolutely be shocking considering the Wolverweenies have a wet paper towel for a defense.

I'm sure any UM fan reading this is burning with anger and utter disdain for me while plotting my death, but instead of doing that, just embrace the truth, for the truth shall set you free.

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Just Spit-Ballin': How Ohio State Can Alleviate Their Most Pressing Concerns

Three weeks into the 2010 season finds Ohio State undefeated as expected, and for the most part, they have proven to be worthy of their No. 2 ranking, but they do have a few flaws.

There is always room for improvement and the Bucks can ill-afford to become complacent if they want to truly be a legitimate BCS title game contender.

First off, the disturbingly obvious inefficiencies on special teams are still a huge concern.

Through their first three games, OSU has allowed a blocked field goal, a blocked PAT, and one punt and two kickoff returns for touchdowns, one of which ultimately didn't count, but still.

DeVier Posey's older brother Julian returned a kickoff 99 yards for an apparent touchdown for OU before an illegal block penalty negated the return.

Sure it didn't count, but just the fact that the Bobcats technically were the third straight Buckeye opponent to score a special teams touchdown against OSU is very disconcerting.

It is even more concerning considering that fixing this problem had to be a primary focus over the past week or two.

It may be as simple as just a personnel issue, or something bigger. That's up to Tressel and his staff to figure out. The bottom line is it has to be fixed, whatever it is, and whatever it takes.

The other challenge facing Tressel and company is a two-headed monster.

First, they need to find a consistent No. 3 wide receiver threat to help free up Posey and Dane Sanzenbacher.

The play of tight end Jake Stoneburner has helped with that cause somewhat, but with Terrelle Pryor really coming into his own as a passing QB, a true third option at receiver would greatly benefit the Buckeye passing game.

The second part of this equation is finding a way to get sophomore Jordan Hall, and especially redshirt freshmen Jaamal Berry more touches out of the backfield. As of now, each have returned kicks and punts, but have seen little action at tailback.

The solution—move Saine to wide receiver. This would kill two birds with one stone.

Tressel is loyal to his upperclassmen, almost to a fault, so Dan Herron could still technically be the "starter", but everyone, including Tressel, knows that he's not a guy that can carry the ball 25-plus times a game.

Making this move would give the Buckeyes a legit No. 3 wideout, a veteran starter at running back, and it would then allow Hall and Berry more opportunities to carry the rock.

As mentioned, Pryor continues to prove he's more than just a scrambler and the defense appears to be one of the best Tressel has ever had, having only allowed 17 points over these first three weeks.

Kicker Devin Barclay has been solid as well.

The offense is close and the defense is there.

Figuring out the special teams situation and finding that reliable third receiver could mean the difference between a good year, or a legendary one for the Buckeyes.

Better protection and blocking in the middle on field goals and PATs, as well as improved kick and punt return coverage, in addition to shifting Saine to [more of] a receiver role and thus allowing an increased role for Hall and/or Berry will increase the odds for Ohio State to win all of their games, and further establish and solidify their position as one of the best teams in the nation.

You might also enjoy
Michigan Football Impending Letdown: A Much-Needed Reality Check For UM Fans

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Thursday, September 16, 2010

College Football Best of the Best: Week 3 Must See Matchups

These are the best week three games to watch, times and channel info included when available.

Friday 9/17

Nevada (2-0) vs. California (2-0) - 10PM - ESPN2/

Saturday 9/18

No. 2 Ohio State (2-0) vs. Ohio U (1-1) - Noon - Big Ten Network

No. 4 TCU (2-0) vs. Baylor (2-0) - 4:30PM - Versus

No. 6 Texas (2-0) @ Texas Tech (2-0) - 8:00PM - ABC

No. 7 Oklahoma (2-0) vs. Air Force (2-0) - 3:30PM - N/A

No. 8 Nebraska (2-0) @ Washington (1-1) - 3:30PM - ABC/

No. 9 Iowa (2-0) @ No. 24 Arizona (2-0) - 10:30Pm - ESPN/

No. 10 Florida (2-0) @ Tennessee (1-1) - 3:30Pm - CBS

No. 11 Wisconsin (2-0) vs. Arizona State (2-0) - 3:30PM - ABC

No. 16 Auburn (2-0) vs. Clemson (2-0) - 7PM - ESPN/

No. 19 Stanford (2-0) vs. Wake Forest (2-0) - 11:15PM - ESPN2/

No. 21 West Virgina (2-0) vs. Maryland (2-0) - Noon - ESPNU

Michigan State (2-0) vs. Notre Dame (1-1) - 8PM - ABC

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Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Ohio State-Ohio University: Week 3 Preview, History Lesson, and Prediction

After a week, and really an entire preseason, full of hype leading up to last Saturday's Ohio State-Miami game, the No. 2 Buckeyes have what many consider another "scrimmage" this week as they welcome in the Ohio University Bobcats to Ohio Stadium.

As one of the top grossing football programs in the country, the Buckeyes traditionally play two state schools as part of their four-game, out-of-conference schedule.

This permits Ohio State to play two additional home games in addition to their four annual Big Ten home games, while also allowing their opponent to literally "cash in" as a guest of the Buckeyes. This year for example, Ohio will receive a payment of $850,000 from Ohio State for their visit to Columbus.

In summation, it goes like this pretty much:

Hey Ohio, this is Ohio State calling. We were wondering if you would be interested in coming to Columbus and playing us in 2010. Playing in front of 105,000 fans in The Horseshoe will be an experience your players will never forget. It also provides another home date for us in which we will almost certainly pound your team into the ground in embarrassing fashion, but look at it this way—at least we'll pay you quite handsomely so it's totally worth it...

You may remember the Buckeyes getting caught looking ahead to their upcoming meeting with No.1 USC in Los Angeles back in 2008. The week before when they hosted the Bobcats, they trailed 14-12 with just 14 minutes left in the game. Thanks to a short touchdown run by Brandon Saine and a 69-yard punt return by Ray Small, the Buckeyes escaped with the 26-14 win.

Fast-forward back to 2010.

Ohio State (2-0) is the favorite to win the Big 10 and is considered a legitimate BCS national title contender, while Ohio (1-1) was picked to finish second in the MAC-East behind Temple.

There is really no comparison between these two programs and their 2010 expectations, but they are playing each other, so we'll go ahead do it anyway, just because.

Ohio University—By the Numbers

Quarterback Boo Jackson (no, not Bo) has had a rough start to the 2010 season. So far vs. Wofford and Toledo, he has only thrown for 234 yards with just one touchdown to four interceptions. He does have one rushing touchdown as well.

This is just a guess, but it is a fairly safe bet to assume that Jackson's touchdown total will remain the same, but the number of interceptions he has thrown will almost certainly increase against the very opportunistic Buckeye defense (just ask Jacory Harris).

Running backs Vince Davidson and Ryan Boykin have combined for 153 yards and one rushing touchdown—not exactly setting the world on fire either.

Continuing the trend of under-impressiveness is leading wide receiver Riley Dunlop, who has a whopping 57 yards receiving and one touchdown catch.

Overall, Ohio ranks 111th in passing yards per game (119.0), 79th in rushing yards per game (138.0), 85th in points per game (23.0), and 30th in points allowed per game (15.0).

Ohio State—By the Numbers

After two games, Terrelle Pryor has not been perfect, especially in the short-passing game, but he has amassed 480 passing yards, thrown four touchdown passes, rushed for 130 yards and a touchdown, and most importantly, has not turned the ball over even one time. He may or may not remain on that pace going forward, but just for the record, over 12 games that projects out to 2,880 passing yards, 780 rushing yards, and 30 total touchdowns.

Running backs Brandon Saine and Boom Herron have each gained 110 yards on the ground with Herron scoring once and Saine twice. Herron has 56 yards receiving and Saine has 36 receiving yards and a touchdown catch. Jordan Hall and Jaamal Berry each had big returns for the Buckeyes against the Hurricanes in an otherwise dismal special teams effort, and both should continue to return kicks and each should also see some time at tailback in the third or fourth quarters the next couple of weeks.

Wide receiver Dane Sanzenbacher leads the Buckeyes with 150 yards and a score, followed closely by DeVier Posey with 146 yards and two TD catches. Taurian Washington, who was supposed to be the third receiver, must have fell off the Earth. Outside of being a Spring football Legend the last couple of offseasons, he has not caught one meaningful pass in his entire Buckeye career. Hopefully Corey Brown or Chris Fields can get on the field in the next couple of games and show that they are ready to be the No. 3 man.

As a team, Ohio State is 45th in passing yards per game (241.0), 22nd in rushing yards per game (230.5), 22nd in points per game (40.5), and a very misleading 33rd in points allowed per game (15.5). Marshall scored one special teams touchdown and Miami scored twice on returns. Take away the 21 points the kicking teams allowed and the Buckeyes defense is actually only allowing five points per game.

The three special teams blunders have been the only real weakness this team has shown. Hopefully Coach Tressel and company have dedicated a significant portion of practice time to correcting those issues.

Ohio State—Ohio: History Lesson and Other Tidbits

• This will be the seventh meeting between Ohio State and Ohio.

• Ohio State is 6-0 all-time vs. Ohio, having outscored the Bobcats 161-30.

• Since 2001 under Jim Tressel, Ohio State is 37-8 vs. non-conference opponents.

• Overall since 2001, Ohio State is 58-7 at home.

• Ohio State has not allowed a 100-yard rusher in their last 23 games.

• Ohio State is 41-0-1 vs. instate schools since 1922.

• Ohio is coached by former Nebraska head coach Frank Solich, who has a 32-31 record at the school since taking over in 2005.

• Since 2005, Ohio is 0-3 under Solich against top 25 teams and just 2-9 overall vs. schools from a BCS conference.

Summary and Prediction

The Buckeyes won't overlook the Bobcats this year like they did in 2008. Next week is another "scrimmage" against Eastern Michigan in case you were wondering.

This game should again go the way of the Marshall game, meaning even despite the fact that Coach Tressel never runs up the score on lesser opponents for those so-called all-important style points, it's hard to imagine the Buckeyes won't score at least 40 points, while the "D" either pitches a shutout or only gives up one or two scores (via special teams?) at most.

Assuming the special teams units don't blow it this week, the verdict is in.

Final Score

Ohio State 42
Ohio 0

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Sunday, September 12, 2010

Week 2 College Football Rankings: BlockONation's Latest Top 25 Forecast

Many of you that follow the site know that I am a weekly top 25 voter in The Best Damn Poll In The Land.

It wasn't easy this week, but I basically all but ignored my preseason and week one rankings, instead preferring to rank the teams on my ballot this week from scratch, based on what I've seen so far through week two.

Here is what I came up with for my top 25 ballot this week.

1. ALABAMA - Here until they lose, or barely win really ugly vs. an inferior team

2. OHIO STATE - Proved they have a great overall team in win over Miami-FL

3. TCU - Best "mid-major", touting star QB Andy Dalton and a great "D"

4. NEBRASKA - Great defense, good QB and very good running back in Helu Jr

5. BOISE STATE - Still top 5 but the Va Tech loss to James Madison hurt them

6. IOWA - QB Stanzi and RB Robinson are playing great, plus still great on "D"

7. OREGON - Two great backs and even with slow start vs. Tenn, still blew them out

8. OKLAHOMA - Proved they were a top 10 team even though FSU was picked to upset them

9. WISCONSIN - Played down to the competition in week 2 but still worthy of this slot

10. TEXAS - UT won easily over a veteran Wyoming team and rounds out the top 10

11. STANFORD - Andrew Luck is one of the nation's best QB's and Stanford killed UCLA

12. ARKANSAS - Ryan Mallet has been lights out and Hogs might challenge Bama in SEC West

13. UTAH - Looking good at 2-0 but we will know more later when they face TCU and
Notre Dame

14. TEXAS A&M - Super tough schedule coming but looking good so far, especially QB Jerrod Johnson

15. MICHIGAN - QB Denard Robinson has UM at 2-0 with his nearly 900 yards of offense

16. FLORIDA - John Brantley is no Tim Tebow and UF is extremely fortunate to be 2-0

17. HOUSTON - Case Keenum was injured this past week but if he doesn't miss any games, Houston should remain in the top 25

18. SOUTH CAROLINA - The Gamecocks entered my top 25 after RB Marcus Lattimore emerged and their solid "D" helped them beat previously ranked Georgia

19. MISSOURI - The Tigers could challenge Nebraska in the Big 12, and QB Blaine
Gabbert is underrated

20. AUBURN - QB Cam Newton has nearly 600 total yards and has already scored seven TDs for the 2-0 Tigers

21. MARYLAND - They aren't flashy but I really like RB Davin Meggett and the 2-0 Terps have a pretty stingy defense

22. LSU - Last week I dropped the Tigers after their narrow win over a depleted UNC team, but not this week, only because there was really no one worth moving ahead of them

23. NEVADA - I don't care what anyone say, Wolfpack QB Colin Kaepernick is amazing and he alone is worth this ranking

24. CALIFORNIA - The Bears, who face Nevada next Friday in what could be a real dandy, are 2-0 and have emerging stars in both QB Kevin Riley and RB Shane Vereen

25. AIR FORCE - The Falcons just beat BYU to go 2-0, and are leading the nation with (and this is not a typo) over 420 rushing yards per game

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Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Ohio State-Miami: Week 2 Preview, History Lesson, and Prediction

The much-anticipated Ohio State-Miami (FL) rematch is nearly upon us.

The last meeting came in January, 2003 when the underdog Buckeyes outlasted the heavily favored Hurricanes 31-24 in double-overtime to capture the 2002 BCS title.

Both teams expect to challenge for their respective conference championships this season, but each also have their eye on another trip to Arizona and a BCS championship game berth.

As of right now, the No. 2 Buckeyes are in better position for the latter than are the No. 13 Hurricanes, but an upset win in Columbus this Saturday would legitimately catapult Miami into the top 10 or even the top five.

Of course, coming away with a win is going to be a huge challenge for Miami. Non-conference opponents don't usually fare too well against the Buckeyes in The Shoe.

Miami is a fast team with their fair share of talented players at most every position on both sides of the ball. Unfortunately for the Canes, so too are the Buckeyes—even more so actually..

There are two ways to look at recruiting rankings—quantity vs. quality.

For example, in 2008, Miami signed 33 players compared to Ohio State only signing 20. Both Scout and Rivals ranked the Miami class ahead of the Ohio State class even though the average star rating for Miami players was 3.33, while the average star rating for Ohio State per recruit was 3.9.

In this case, bigger recruiting classes clearly do not equal better recruiting classes.

Here are how the two schools stack up against each other in recruiting when the quality of class is measured as opposed to just the number of recruits that committed to each school.

Each team currently has players on their squads that were members of one of their classes between 2006 and 2010, so those are the years that will be used in the chart below.

Year OSU Class Rank Ave. * / Recruit MIA Class Rank Ave. * / Recruit
==== ============== ================ ============== ================

2006 7th 3.60 10th 3.41

2007 5th 3.73 7th 3.72

2008 2nd 3.90 17th 3.33

2009 4th 3.80 15th 3.37

2010 8th 3.47 30th 3.03

As you can see, Ohio State has out-recruited Miami in all five seasons. 2006 and especially 2007 were comparable, but the last three classes weren't very close, as all were significantly in favor of Ohio State.

Miami fans will want to point out that while recruiting numbers and rankings do matter, they are not everything since not all highly touted recruits live up to expectations, while less-heralded prospects sometimes prove to be diamonds in the rough.

Point taken.

So let's get down to it and look at what does, and will, matter most when these two titans clash this coming Saturday.

Here's a good place to start

Ohio State's Terrelle Pryor and Miami's Jacory Harris

Both Ohio State and Miami opened the 2010 season with decisive victories last Thursday night. The Buckeyes cruised to a 45-7 win over Marshall, while the Hurricanes shutout Florida A&M University, 45-0.

The stats each school has compiled so far are from one game vs. inferior opponents, so while they may or may not indicate what we could expect to see on 9/11, they're still worth mentioning.

Miami—By the Numbers

QB Jacory Harris showed no signs of any lingering issues from off-season thumb surgery. In just two quarters, he completed 12/15 passes (80%) for 210 yards and three touchdowns, for a QB rating of 263.6. Harris took care of business and could be poised to lead his team to the ACC title, and maybe more. If he can produce similar results against one of the nation's better defensive units, his name could start moving up closer to the top of the 2010 Heisman watch list.

Wide receiver Leonard Hankerson led Miami with six catches for 115 yards and two touchdowns. Only two other Miami receiver had more than 30 yards, but both had less than 45.

Running back Lamar Miller led the Canes in rushing with 65 yards on 11 carries and a touchdown. Damien Berry caught a 32-yard touchdown pass and had another 45 yards rushing. Mike James had six caries for 36 yards.

As a team, Miami totaled 405 yards, while holding A&M to 110 yards and just eight first downs the entire game. The shutout was the first by a Miami defense since 2006.

For the record, FAMU is a FCS school, so while Miami looked impressive, those individual and overall team statistics might not be very similar to their offensive and defensive totals when they meet the Buckeyes this weekend.

Ohio State—By the Numbers

Quarterback Terrelle Pryor continued to play as he did in the 2010 Rose bowl. In just a tad over three quarters of work, he completed 17/25 pass attempts (68%) for 247 yards and three touchdowns, for a QB rating of 190.59. The majority of his passes were perfectly on target and he seemed very comfortable not scrambling, but rather remaining in the pocket and finding his receivers.

Wide receiver Dane Sanzenbacher led the Buckeyes with three catches for 113 yards, including a 65-yard touchdown that was perfectly placed in stride by Pryor. Two of DeVier Posey's four receptions for 41 yards went for touchdowns. Tight end Jake Stoneburner caught three balls, also for 41 yards.

In only one half of play, running back Brandon Saine carried the ball nine times for 103 yards and found the endzone twice. Four backs in all averaged more than six yards per carry. Jaamal Berry had seven carries for 80 yards. Dan Herron rushed for 44 yards on seven carries and Jordan Hall added 32 yards on just five carries.

As a team, Ohio State totaled 529 yards, while holding Marshall to 199 yards and 11 first downs the entire game. The OSU defense pitched a shutout as well, but was charged with a special teams touchdown that Marshall scored after returning a blocked 53-yard field goal try.

Ohio State—Miami: History Lesson and Other Tidbits

• This will be only the fourth ever meeting between Ohio State and Miami.

• Ohio State is 2-1 all time vs. Miami with the lone defeat, a 23-12 loss coming in 1999, and the two wins coming in 1977, a 10-0 shutout, and in 2003, the classic 31-24 double-overtime thriller for the BCS title.

• Since 2001 under Jim Tressel, Ohio State is 36-8 vs. non-conference opponents.

• Overall since 2001, Ohio State is 57-7 at home.

• Ohio State has not allowed a 100-yard rusher over its past 22 games.

• Miami is 26-16 all-time vs. Big Ten opponents, but only 1-4 in road openers.

• Miami has improved every season under Randy Shannon, winning five games in 2007, seven games in 2008, and nine games in 2009.

• Since 2007 under Shannon, Miami is 4-6 against top 25 opponents, but only 1-5 against top 25 opponents on the road, having only defeated then-No. 18 FSU in Tallahassee in 2009.

Summary and Prediction

Miami is fast, but so is Ohio State.

Miami has recruited well, but Ohio State has recruited better.

Miami has a very good quarterback, but so does Ohio State and theirs can also hurt you running the ball.

Miami may just have the best group of receivers in the nation, but Ohio State's group isn't far behind, just younger and less experienced.

Miami has one of the best defensive fronts you will find, but Ohio State's might just be the best in the country.

Miami has a pretty good offensive line, but the Ohio State o-line is one of the top five lines in the nation.

Miami has one of the better secondaries in the country. Ohio State's secondary has a couple of new faces, but could still be one of the best when it's all said and done.

Miami finally has a good coach in Randy Shannon who has their program heading in the right direction. Ohio State has Jim Tressel, the best coach in the Big 10, who also happens to be one of the best six or seven coaches in all of college football.

It could be close, and a back-and-forth shootout, but this Buckeye squad will be fired up, and so will 105,000+ Buckeye fans. They will be too much for the Hurricanes in the second half and should win by at least two scores.

Final Score

Ohio State 30
Miami 14

After the ludicrous 9-3 W/L record for Ohio State prediction of yours, suck on that Brian Griese...

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Saturday, September 4, 2010

Florida, Ole Miss Prove Southeastern Conference Greatness is Exaggerated

For more than three quarters earlier today, Miami (Ohio) outplayed a sloppy Florida Gators team in the swamp. The Gators had less than 50 total yards on offense in the third quarter before finally waking up in the fourth.

Both teams finished with 212 total yards. In the end, UF won the game 34-12 despite their horrible showing. Lucky for them they weren't playing a team that had more than one win in 2009.

New quarterback John Brantley was overwhelmingly unimpressive and it was apparent that UF has virtually no weapons at wide receiver.

Even worse for SEC-ville was the embarrassing performance of the Ole Miss Rebels against the Jacksonville State Gamecocks of FCS fame.

Junior Marques Ivory and true freshmen quarterback Coty Blanchard outplayed both Nathan Stanley and Jeremiah Masoli as they combined to lead the Gamecocks to the huge win in double overtime.

Ivory tossed the first touchdown pass, a seven-yard score to Alan Bonner to put the Gamecocks ahead 41-34.

Brandon Bolden tied the game at 41 with a two yard touchdown run, then Ole Miss took the lead in the second overtime on a two yard touchdown run by Enrique Davis.

That's when the magic happened. Blanchard scrambling for his life, hit Kevyn Cooper in the back of the end zone for the 30 yard touchdown on 4th down and 15 from the 30 yard line.

After calling timeout, Jacksonville State decided to avoid a third overtime and go for the win.

On a bootleg right and just as he was nearly caught for a dream-crushing sack, Blanchard found his man at the goal line for the conversion, and the win.

Surely SEC fans who read this are going to post comments chock full of excuses and saying that Ole Miss sucks anyway, etc, etc.

Here's the problem with that just so you all know ahead of time.

You all claim each others wins and BCS titles as a conference so by God, you're going to own this loss by Ole Miss as a conference just the same.

P.S. There goes that whole "The SEC is the best conference top to bottom in the country" crap...

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