Monday, December 15, 2008
Friday, October 17, 2008
Preview: #11 Buckeyes visit #15 Sparty
Well, after over a year of wanting to actually write a preview here I am, finally doing so, and I am a twitter with excitement. No doubt, so are you. For this, and all other posts for the rest of the year, I will be using the BCS rankings. The AP's long history is nice and all but the BCS is the one that counts. The BCS has yet to release their rankings but the numbers and formula are well known, HERE is a simulation of what would be this weeks BCS.
Has there ever been a time when Buckeye nation felt this down and full of gloom when Ohio State was 6-1, ranked #11 and controlled their own destiny in getting the Big10 Championship and a trip to the Rose Bowl? I'm pretty sure the answer has to be no. After last weeks poor showing by the offense, a poor showing that included awful line play, a group made up of the walking wounded at running back and a QB that played like a true freshman many Buckeye faithful are bracing themselves for a defeat in East Lansing.
In order to win...
Michigan State's offense needs to give the ball to Javon Ringer more than 30 times with him averaging more than 6 YPC. Since Ringer is almost certain to get the ball more than 30 times it's up to Sparty's O-line to see that there is space for him to run in.
Ohio State's offense needs to open up the offense. The Buckeyes need to show a willingness to throw the ball more than 15 yards deep or the MSU secondary will spend all day cheating up and closing running lanes. The O-line needs to not play like girls.
The Sparty D meanwhile needs to put pressure on Pryor as early and as often as they can. Pryor seemed to regress a bit against Purdue and I imagine the MSU D-line wants their piece of the freshman "phenom". If they can get this pressure they will have put themselves in a position to slowdown the Buckeye running game, which could make for a long afternoon.
Ohio State's defense needs to keep on, keeping on. Lost in all the gloom from the Purdue... victory? was the fact that the defense played quite well. MSU lacks any real big play threats and Hoyer at QB is not scaring anyone. The defense needs to stick with an aggressive Man coverage that allows 8 Silver Bullets to keep Ringer penned in. If the running game isn't going and Hoyer has to throw the ball, things could go very well for the Buckeyes.
My crystal ball says:
Ringer is going to get around 110 yards, which is low for him, and he'll need about 42 carries to get it. That means the MSU offense is going to be bogged down all game. Ohio State's offense will look better, but not all that good. Ohio State will try to go down field with the ball but the receivers will drop the passes. However the Buckeye defense will get a couple turnover's in great field position and the offense will be able to capitalize.
Ohio State 24 - Michigan State 17
Then begins a week of gloom over playing Penn State.
Monday, October 13, 2008
Ohio State 16 - Purdue 3
I stopped at my regular deli here in Croton-On-Hudson this morning for a breakfast sandwich and the friendly deli man asked me how the Buckeye’s did this weekend. He had to ask because he’s a New Yorker, which means he knows very little about college football, it’s just not a NY thing. I answered by telling him that it turns out that our phenom true Freshman QB is fully capable of playing like a true Freshman and the O-line is more porous than cheesecloth. That sums up my feelings on the game.
Now I know that the Buckeye defense did a fine job and Malcolm Jenkins is the man but are the defense and special teams going to be able to single handedly win games @ Michigan St, @ Illinois and against high power Penn St even though it’s at home?
It is safe to say that I have never felt this poorly about a 6-1, #12 ranked team.
Second quarter Buckeye update
After the 1st quarter update I was greatly concerned about the year that the 2008 Buckeye’s would have. Now, at the 2nd quarter update Ohio State has put up 3 wins, to move from 2-1 to 5-1 and things seem to be, after changes in QB and on the O-line, moving in the right direction. I am feeling hopeful.
Ohio State 28 – Troy 10
The future is now. In Pryor’s first start the Buckeye looked to put the ass beating by USC behind them and for the most part was successful in doing so. The defense was able to handle one of the hottest offensive teams in America and the O-line, with the true Freshman Brewster at center seemed to make gains.
Ohio State 34 – Minnesota 21
The Gophers came into this game undefeated with absurd delusions of grandeur. The defense wasn’t superb, but capable and the offense made growth and made Buckeye fans a little more hopeful before heading into Camp Randall for a night game.
Ohio State 20 – Wisconsin 17
Wow. The game was hard hitting and the defense again delivered a solid, if not stellar performance. The offense was fully contained in the 2nd and 3rd quarters but that game ending drive with Pryor marching the Buckeye’s down the field for a go-ahead TD with 1:08 left was beautiful.
Tuesday, September 16, 2008
First Quarter Buckeye Update
I’ve never been a fan of the preseason ranking. It exists, so even I do it, but without a few games to gauge how the teams are actually performing it’s just a crap shoot. With that thought in mind I decided that I would wait for the first three games to be completed before I began doing any game reviews and previews.
I would say that my plan has paid in spades as I have a much better idea of who the 2008 Buckeyes are than I did in late August. Sadly, this is not a good thing. So, here is the 1st quarter update.
Ohio State 42 – Youngstown 0
A pyrrhic victory that saw entirely too many field goals (what? YSU’s D is too strong to get a TD on?) and the loss of Beanie to the still undiagnosed foot/toe problem. Looking back, the writing was on the wall with this game.
Ohio State 26 – Ohio 14
Without Beanie playing the Buckeye’s looked like shit on offense. What did they have? 6? 7? Three and outs! The defense wasn’t awful, only allowing 7 points (remember a Becker’s fumble in the endzone gave Ohio their other score) but showed an inability to finish on tackles. Buckeye nation consoled themselves with the thought that the team had been looking ahead and that Beanie would be back.
USC 35 – Ohio State 3
Looks like the Buckeyes hadn’t actually been looking ahead. Soft zone defense scheming, questionable offensive play calling and more craptastic play from ol’ Beckers (2 INT, 1 fumble, 0 TD) lead to a smack down. I know many want to look at the play of Boom, Pryor vs Beckers and a few other items as something to build on but the reality is that very little positive can be taken from this game.
Now looking at the quarterly round up you have to ask yourself, if the first ranking ballot came out this week, would Ohio State be in the top 25? I think the answer is no. After 3 games I don’t feel we have a 2007 Michigan style collapse on our hands but I feel talk of 11-1 is misplaced if the Buckeyes don’t turn it around in the next 2 games.
Monday, August 11, 2008
Big Ten 2008: Top 3
#1 Ohio State Buckeyes
I could almost cut and paste my write up for Michigan last year into this post. A very good season last year that could have been great if not for 2 late season loses? Check. Widely believed to be the most talented team in the Big Ten? Check. A team loaded with seniors that shunned the NFL for one more shot? Check. Preseason top 5 ranking? Check. Opening the season with a 2A(FPS) squad? Check. Talk of being a legit national title contender? Check.
Now I don’t say these things because I think the wheels are going to come off OSU this year but… they could. We have the same team back as we had last year, and they lost a BIG game and a game they should not have (shit non calls from the refs that have now been fired aside). And this is something all the Buckeye faithful that have dreams of Beanie running over Georgia defenders need to keep in mind.
Prediction: 10-2 (7-1) Close loses @USC and @Illinois but winning the Big Ten thanks to head-to-head over Wisconsin puts Ohio State into the Rose Bowl where they spank ASU as Tressle gets his mojo back.
Best Case: 12-0 (8-0) And an undefeated Pitt team as an opponent.
Worst Case: 8-4 (5-3) Loses @USC, @ Wisconsin, @ Illinois and at home to a wide open RichRod lead Michigan team leads spoiled Buckeye fans to register firetressle.com
#2 Wisconsin Badgers
Bucky Badger fans have the feeling that they are the most BSC snubbed team in the land. This year coach Brett Bielema has one of the most loaded teams to ever suit up at Camp Randell, sadly for Badger fans they are not going to be getting over the BCS hump this year.
The defense is a solid and capable unit – I wouldn’t be surprised to see a few shutouts – and the offense is built to play the power game in a way most teams simply won’t be able to handle. This years Badgers will be favorites in every game they play, except one. And it is this one that will keep the BCS door closed for yet another season, because the one team that can handle their power game is the one team in the Big Ten with even more talent. Oh how ol’ Wiscy will hate the Buckeye.
Prediction: 11-1 (7-1) 11 wins and the CapitolOne Bowl, sucks to be you.
Best Case: 12-0 (8-0) Handle Ohio State and you can make the BCS promised land, but may be shut out of the NC game by a 2 lose SEC team.
Worst Case: 8-4 (5-3) If unproven QB Allan Evridge turns out to be a dud this could be a long season of mediocrity.
#3 Penn State Nittany Lions
The only thing around Penn State football that is older than legendary coach Joe Paterno is jokes about Joe Pa’s age. However, as Paterno enters his 456th year at Penn State I’m happy to poke fun. What won’t be fun for most of the Big Ten is playing the 2008 addition of the Nittany Lions as the Morelli era is over and PSU looks to be heading back to the spread offense that Michael Robinson ran to a 12-1 record, BCS victory and #3 finish in 2005. The only real question facing the offense is can Daryll Clark be as productive as Robinson was. On the defensive side of the ball things stack up to be as good, or even better than last years impressive unit.
But a black cloud hangs over Happy Valley and that black cloud wears a police badge. The Lions have had an off season so fraught with legal and other “team rule” issues that even as a Buckeye fan I have begun to feel sorry for them. Have the issues and player suspensions taken the teeth from a potential monster? Or is this team going to fail to come together and create greatness? I’m leaning towards the latter.
Prediction: 10-2 (6-2) Congrats on 10 wins, but don’t even dream of a BCS bid.
Best Case: 11-1 (7-1) @ Ohio State will keep the Lions from threatening a NC game spot.
Worst Case: 8-4 (4-4) The Michigans may make this team an afterthought.
Big Ten 2008: Middling 4
#4 Illinois Fighting Illini
Illinois was the feel good Big Ten team last year. No one saw them beating #1 Ohio State in the Shoe or getting a BCS bid. However, everyone saw them get spanked by USC. The lesson is that all feel good stories come back down to Earth at the end and the end was back in January.
Zook was able to build Illinois from cellar dweller to threat with great recruiting that hinged on the ability to offer highly rated HS players the chance to start as a freshman. For example, Juice went with the Zooker over Tressle because he could play from day one in Champaign vs. red shirting behind Troy Smith. The flaw with this recruiting method is that after the first few years there are no more spots to give way to youngsters that want to play form day one.
This is the wall that Illinois has hit. Zook has turned the Illini into a team that can threaten to win the Big Ten, which isn’t quite the same thing as being a team that can win the Big Ten. Add into the mix a tough schedule and the Illini might be hard put to get the 9 wins I am predicting.
Prediction: 9-3 (6-2) @ Mizzou, @ Penn State and @ Wisconsin leads to a second 9-3 season.
Best Case: 10-2 (7-1) Seriously, the Illini aren’t getting away with fewer than 2 loses from the above 3 games.
Worst Case: 7-5 (4-4) The lose of players like Leman and Mendenhall might hurt more than the Illini faithful are hoping.
#5 Michigan State Spartans
‘Lil brother looks to claim coup over the big bad Wolverines this year as Coach Mark Dantonio enters his second year at the helm of the Spartans with a full cupboard (for MSU anyway). With players like Hoyer and Ringer on offense and a solid linebacker core this is a MSU squad that is looking to make a lot a noise and finally put the late season collapsitis behind them.
With a lot of talent, a good coach and a very nice schedule this is a Michigan state team that has the chance to swell Spartan nation with great pride. If Dantonio can play power ball in their opener at Cal and beat a flaky Bear team then Sparty may be setup for a great year.
Prediction: 9-3 (5-3) Yes, the schedule is that easy.
Best Case: 10-2 (6-2) Yes, this could be a 10 win team.
Worst Case: 6-6 (3-5) Yes, this could be the Michigan State we have all come to know and love.
#6 Michigan Wolverines
Before the season started last year Michigan was considered to be a legitimate contender for the national title. Wolverine fans had their hopes crushed right out of the gate and then watched as one of their most talented teams ever wandered through a season of mediocrity. Michigan fans this year can relax without any fear of having their hopes dashed again, as there is little hope for this team, at least not by Michigan standards.
RichRod (Michigan’s 3rd choice for coach) enters his first season in Ann Arbor after an embarrassing departure from WVU and a massive defection of players who knew they didn’t want to be part of the new régime. We are 19 days away from Michigan’s opening game with Utah and no one has any idea who will be standing in the QB slot wearing Maize and Blue. What we do know is that they will be true freshman green, have questionable skills, may not fit in well with RichRod’s offensive scheme and be surrounded equally unproven skill players. Jr RB Brandon Minor is the only bright spot.
Meanwhile things aren’t so bad on defense, except for the fact that last year Michigan’s defense wasn’t all that good. All these negatives aside Michigan will still be heading to a bowl game, after all, a bad year for Michigan is still better than most.
Prediction: 7-5 (3-5)
Best Case: 9-3 (5-3) If RichRod is the wizard Michigan hopes they have purchased then he might be able to out coach and out fox his young guys into a great opening year finishing with a win over the Buckeyes leading Michigan fans to say, “Lloyd who?”
Worst Case: 4-8 (2-6) Yes kids, the concerns at Michigan are this big. If things don’t jell and opposing teams smell blood then this year could see the end of Michigan’s winning season and bowl appearance streaks.
#7 Northwestern Wildcats
As coach Pat Fitzgerald enters his 3rd year with the Wildcats the long shadow left form Randy Walker’s death is finally fading. This is the year when Fitzgerald will be looking to fully begin his era and put his influence into the team. That influence begins and ends with QB CJ Bacher and RB Tyrell Sutton. Both are veterans and both have the ability to put up all Big Ten numbers. This will be the key to the team’s success this year and where Bacher and Sutton lead the Cats will follow.
Combine this potential with a favorable schedule that misses both Wisconsin and Penn State and you should get a season that will put Fitzgerald into his first bowl game. That said I wouldn’t be fully shocked if the wheels fall off as this is still Northwestern and their coach has yet to prove he can win.
Prediction: 7-5 (3-5)
Best Case: 9-3 (5-3) If Bacher and Sutton have superb seasons and the defense tightens up this could be a shocker top 25 team at the end of the season.
Worst Case: 5-7 (2-6) If there is no improvement over last year this is more likely to be the outcome.
Big Ten 2008: Bottom 4
#8 Purdue Boilermakers
In Joe Tiller’s previous 11 seasons at Purdue he has built some solid top shelf teams and brought a lot of excitement to the Big Ten and this, his 12th season, will be his last. Purdue has been a regular in the bowls under Tiller and I’d like to think that his boys will be playing extra hard to see that their coach goes out on a high note. But.
Beyond QB Curtis Painter there are too many weakness, too many questions and too pours a defense for me to be bullish on the Boilers. I feel that Purdue has been slowly slipping for years now and I think that slipping will continue this year and into Danny Hope era that begins at the end of this season. The talent is just not there.
Prediction: 5-7 (3-5)
Best Case: 8-4 (5-3) If the Boilers win all the games they are capable of coach Tiller will be out on a high note.
Worst Case: 3-9 (1-7) If the Boilers lose all the games they are capable of new head coach Hope won’t have to worry much about Tiller’s “shadow”.
#9 Indiana Hoosiers
Of all my predictions form last year Indiana was the one I nailed. Well, almost. I had them winning their first bowl game in 15 years. Anyway, as nuts as it was to say IU was bowl bound last year I’m going on a limb again and saying they are headed to a bowl again. Indiana bowling 2 years in a row? Yup.
But don’t get too excited my Hoosier pals, this isn’t the result of Indiana having turned the corner and building into an emerging power. No, it’s merely the result of a very favorable schedule. And to illustrate the point you can see that Purdue, with a worse overall record outranks IU with a better conference record. Indiana should handle Western Kentucky, Murry State, Ball State and Central Michigan. After that they only need to pick up 2 from conference play and with Minnesota and Iowa on the slate, they will. So enjoy your 2nd bowl game in as many years, but don’t get comfortable.
Prediction: 6-6 (2-6)
Best Case: 8-4 (4-4) If improvements to Indiana’s defense take root and they get good QB play this lofty record is attainable.
Worst Case: 4-8 (1-7) If those improvements fail then this more traditional IU record is also attainable.
#10 Minnesota Golden Gophers
Last year everyone and their idiot brother had the Gophers in last place, unfortunately for the Gophers, everyone was right. After an awful 1-11 season coach Mike Brewster has his entire young team from last year back along with a top 25 recruiting class. So with more experience and better incoming talent the big question on everyone mind is can Brewster translate that into success. Maybe.
After last year getting to a bowl would be a big step in the right direction and get Gopher nation feeling positive. However this team still has a way to go and the schedule isn’t all that kind (@ Wisconsin, @Illinois and @Ohio State). The Gophers will be better, but they won’t be good.
Prediction: 4-8 (1-7)
Best Case: 6-6 (3-5) On paper this can happen and how Gopher fans will be praying that it does.
Worst Case: 2-10 (0-8) On paper this can happen and how Gopher fans will be praying that it does not.
#11 Iowa Hawkeyes
For the last three years Iowa has made everyone predicting them to do well (including myself last year) look bad by playing like shit. Now gentlemen, it’s time for us to make you look bad. Iowa does have good talent on the team but with proven underperformance, horrible off field issues (14 players arrested this summer) and a coach that instills less faith than the UN my gut tells me this is a cellar dweller of a team even if my brain says middle of the pack.
That talent the Hawks have has some people saying that this could be a 10 win team with a schedule that misses Michigan and Ohio State. Sadly, those people are simply fooling themselves. This team is going nowhere. Fast.
Prediction: 3-9 (1-7)
Best Case: 9-3 (5-3) This happens if Iowa plays up to their talent potential. They won’t.
Worst Case: 2-10 (0-8) Iowa has too much skill to possibly be this bad you exclaim? Right. 5 will get you 10 coach Ferentz already knows who he will be using to list his home for sale.
Sunday, August 10, 2008
This year the US Men's basketball team competing in China have the same standard of success as the Buckeyes do. Win it all or fail.
While the Buckeyes have a few weeks till they begin towards possible redemption, the US Mens team has started well with a 101-70 route of host China. Go get'em boys!