What If……Ohio State Dominates ND

Posted by Buckeye D | Posted in Big Ten News, Buckeye News, College football news | Posted on 02-01-2016

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Found at ESPN:

GLENDALE, Ariz. — The Ohio State Buckeyes knew they had an early wake-up call on New Year’s Day, so they didn’t hit the town Thursday night. Instead, they turned on their TVs in the posh Princess Resort Hotel and watched Michigan State play Alabama in the College Football Playoff.

Ouch.

The Crimson Tide’s 38-to-bagel victory should have had an R-rating for the carnage wrought upon the Spartans, but for the Buckeyes, it was a tearjerker. Or something else.

“It made my stomach hurt,” Buckeyes running back Ezekiel Elliott said.

Elliott and his teammates got over it. That was clear during an impressive 44-28 win over No. 8 Notre Dame in the BattleFrog Fiesta Bowl. Elliott scored four touchdowns and rushed for 149 yards, capping a run of 10 TDs in his past three postseason games.

Of course, the previous two, one of which included a win over Alabama, brought the Buckeyes a 2014 national title. Ohio State, the preseason No. 1, was earmarked for a spot in the CFP for 12 weeks of the season, even when the selection committee demoted it from the top spot because of unimpressive victories. While the Buckeyes seemed to meander through a middling schedule, few doubted their talent.

In fact, few doubt it today.

But on Nov. 21, Michigan State beat the homesteading Buckeyes on a last-second field goal, and that lone blemish was enough to knock them out of the playoff.

To a man, the Buckeyes blame themselves for falling short and no excuses were forthcoming after the Fiesta Bowl. They own up that they “shot ourselves in the foot” — a phrase used by multiple players in the postgame locker room. They controlled their own destiny and faltered when the screws tightened. Michigan State didn’t.

“While I do believe we are the best team in the country, it was our own fault we weren’t in there,” senior offensive tackle Taylor Decker said.

When asked about the Michigan State-Alabama game, Decker said, “I’m not going to go there. I’m not going to go there at all.”

Others did. Junior safety Vonn Bell, one of several Buckeyes expected to enter the NFL draft early, said of the Spartans, “I knew they were going to get killed.”

Linebackers Darron Lee and Joshua Perry not only watched the game together, they also collaborated on Lee’s Twitter account during the game. One tweet read, “That loss hurts even more now [sad face emoji].” Another read, “He stiff armed a Defensive End. STOP THE FIGHT.”Notre Dame overcame injuries all season to reach the Fiesta Bowl. But against an elite Ohio State team, the bad luck finally caught up to the Irish.Behind a record-tying four rushing touchdowns by Ezekiel Elliott, Ohio State played up to its potential in cruising past Notre Dame in the BattleFrog Fiesta Bowl.

When asked about the game by his locker, a couple of teammates goaded Lee, “Tell him how you really feel!”

“It hurts because as a team we felt we should have been there,” Lee said, measuring his words. “It is what it is. [Michigan State] beat us that day. It just sucks they couldn’t score [vs. Alabama].”

Added Perry: “I wish Big Ten would have represented a little bit better than that. I thought it was going to be much closer.”

As for the Buckeyes’ loss to the Spartans, Perry, like many of his teammates, tried to keep his feelings in check by being philosophical, by leaning on his faith. Everything happens for a reason, he said. But when asked about lingering regrets, he admitted there are a few.

“There’s always going to be a ‘what if.’ That’s just human nature,” Perry said. “Guys are going to say, ‘What if? What if? What if?’ But guys are going to look back on the positive times we’ve had together. We’ve had a great ride.”

That great ride includes 50 wins over four years, two unbeaten seasons and a national title. Ohio State emerged from an NCAA scandal and is again a college football superpower. The so-called failure of 2015 includes a 12-1 record, almost-certain final top-5 ranking and back-to-back victories over Michigan and Notre Dame.

More than a few Buckeyes are about to become rich. Buckeyes are going to appear on NFL draft boards early and often this spring. But back inside the Horseshoe, the football is still going to be pretty salty in 2016. And beyond.

“I think a lot of people are going to expect less than what they are going to be able to produce,” Decker said. “There’s not going to be a huge drop-off. … There’s so many guys who haven’t played — that’s going to be a hungry football team. I think it will be a similar hunger to when we won it all.”

Diagnosing what went wrong for an obviously great team is one of the distractions of watching sports. Perhaps it was a lack of hunger. As good an explanation as any. But such speculation mostly takes place outside the locker room. Inside, they better understand the phrase first used by Raymond Chandler in “The Long Goodbye”: “You can’t win them all.”

At least not every season.

ICHIGAN gets trampled!

Posted by Buckeye D | Posted in Big Ten News, Buckeye News, College football news | Posted on 28-11-2015

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ANN ARBOR, Mich. — Ezekiel Elliott ran for 214 yards and two touchdowns to help No. 8 Ohio State rout Michigan (No. 10 CFP, No. 12 AP) 42-13 on Saturday. Ohio State used a steady running game to secure a rivalry win at Michigan and finish the regular season at 11-1.

The Buckeyes (11-1, 7-1 Big Ten) have won 11 of the past 12 games in what has become a lopsided series.

Elliott’s performance came a week after he was held to 33 yards on 12 carries against Michigan State and then criticized the team’s play calling and said he will skip his senior season to enter the NFL draft. He had a 5-yard run that put Ohio State up 14-3 in the second quarter, and a 10-yard run put the Buckeyes ahead 35-13 early in the fourth.

Elliott surpassed 1,500 rushing yards for the season, joining Archie Griffin as the only players in Ohio State history with multiple seasons of 1,500 yards. He matched another Ohio State with his fifth career 200-yard game, tying him with Eddie George for most by a Buckeye.

Even with the win, the Buckeyes need Penn State to beat Michigan State (No. 5 CFP, No. 6 AP) later in the day to reach the Big Ten championship game againstIowa. Their fans at the Big House knew it as they chanted: “Go Penn State! Go Pen State!”

The Wolverines (9-3, 6-2) simply could not stop their rival from running at will. They fell behind early, and quarterback Jake Rudock was knocked out of the game when he was sacked and slammed onto his left shoulder.

J.T. Barrett, who had 19 carries for a season-high 139 yards, started the scoring barrage with a 7-yard run late in the first quarter. His 13-yard run late in the third quarter gave the Buckeyes an 18-point cushion, and his 17-yard run midway through the fourth mercifully ended the scoring for Michigan.

As a team, Ohio State ran for 369 yards against a defense that entered the game fourth in the FBS against the run (100.2 YPG allowed).

Barrett was 9-of-15 — throwing fewer times than he ran — for 113 yards. A 25-yard touchdown pass to Jalin Marshall capped the first drive of the second half to give Ohio State a 21-10 lead.

Rudock was injured by former high school teammate Joey Bosa early in the fourth quarter and was replaced by Wilton Speight. Rudock and Bosa played together at St. Thomas Aquinas in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

Rudock was 19-of-32 for 263 yards and a touchdown. Unlike Ohio State, the Wolverines struggled to move the ball on the ground. Three-way player Jabrill Peppers had 29 yards rushing on seven carries, and No. 1 running back De’Veon Smith had 10 carries for just 23 yards.

Michigan kept the game competitive — in the first half.

Kenny Allen kicked a 25-yard field goal to pull the Wolverines within four points early in the second quarter. Rudock made a 5-yard touchdown pass to Jehu Chesson to cut Ohio State’s lead to 14-10 just before halftime.

The Wolverines never caught up. While coach Jim Harbaugh has generated a lot of hype this year for coming back to lead Michigan, where he was the starting quarterback two decades ago, he has to improve a program that is 0-4 against Buckeyes coach Urban Meyer.

This wasn’t the year for Michigan to gain an edge in The Game. In the fourth quarter, red-clad fans were easy to see in the emptying stadium and could be heard shouting, “OH-IO! OH-IO!” toward the end of another blowout.

Ohio State comes undone.

Posted by Buckeye D | Posted in College football news | Posted on 22-11-2015

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We need to collectively apologize to Baylor.

The Bears aren’t the most overrated team in the country. It’s actually defending national champion Ohio State, which lost to Michigan State 17-14 at home on Saturday.

Somehow, it took us 12 weeks to figure out the Buckeyes aren’t really that good. We weren’t the only ones hoodwinked, though. The College Football Playoff selection committee thought so much of the Buckeyes that it ranked them No. 3 in each of the first three top-25 rankings.

Even as Ohio State struggled to put away teams such as Northern Illinois,Indiana and Minnesota, we figured it would kick into gear once it played a game that really mattered. But the Buckeyes didn’t, and now it’s too late.

Hopefully, it’s a valuable lesson for all of us: Last season doesn’t (and shouldn’t) matter when it comes to picking the four best teams for this season’s playoff.

If Ohio State had played anyone of real consequence in the previous three months, we might have been exposed to the warts and boils that were festering behind the facade. What was supposed to be Urban Meyer’s next dynasty was dismantled in about four hours Saturday.

After losing to No. 9 Michigan State on Michael Geiger’s 41-yard field goal as time expired at the Horseshoe, it took the No. 3 Buckeyes about 30 minutes to completely implode.

Star tailback Ezekiel Elliott announced after the game that he would not return for his senior season in 2016. Backup quarterback Cardale Jones, the hero in OSU’s unlikely run to a national championship last season, announced on Twitter that he would not either.

At this point, I’m not even sure it’s fair to call the Buckeyes an actual team. They might be more of a loose collection of star players with one foot out the door to the NFL draft.

Don’t the Buckeyes have another important game to play next week, as well as a postseason bowl? Talk about slapping Ohio State’s biggest tradition right in the face. Elliott and Jones couldn’t have waited until after next week’s showdown at No. 12Michigan in “The Game” to announce their future plans? Legendary OSU coach Woody Hayes must be rolling in his grave.

If Michigan State loses to Penn Statenext week and Ohio State somehow recovers to beat Michigan, the Buckeyes would win the Big Ten East and play in the Big Ten championship game. Isn’t that worth playing for?

After losing for the first time in 23 games and suffering their first Big Ten regular-season defeat in Meyer’s four seasons at the school, the Buckeyes’ world seemed to come to a stunning end.

“It’s easy to lead when everything is going well, and you won a bunch of games in a row,” Meyer said. “That’s not how you judge a team. That’s not how you judge character. That’s not how you judge a leader. That’s how you judge a front-runner.”

The Buckeyes sure sounded like front-runners on Saturday. Elliott ripped Ohio State’s play calling against the Spartans. He carried the ball 12 times for 33 yards with one touchdown, which were three fewer rushing attempts than quarterbackJ.T. Barrett had.

“What happened today, it was kind of like a bad, bad dream,” Elliott said. “Offense had a rough day, and I’m disappointed. I’m disappointed in the play calling, I’m disappointed in the situations we were put in, and I wish it all played out differently.

“I deserve more than [12] carries. I really do. I can’t speak for the playcaller. I don’t know what was going on.”

Elliott certainly has reason to be frustrated, but voicing his frustrations publicly wasn’t the smartest thing to do. On a cold, rainy day in Columbus, the Spartans had to figure the Buckeyes would try to hop on Elliott’s back and ride to a victory, as they did at the end of last season. Instead, Elliott seemed to be more of an afterthought in the offense.

The Buckeyes also failed to take many chances in the passing game, as Barrett finished 9-of-16 passing for 46 yards with one touchdown. OSU finished with only 132 yards of offense, the lowest-ever total by a Meyer-coached team, with only five first downs.

How conservative was the play calling? Rarely has a Meyer-coached team taken so few chances on such a big stage.

“No, I was not content,” Meyer told reporters postgame when asked about the play calling. “I call a lot of plays anyway, so finger will be pointed right here. And I have to do better. We didn’t — it was very conservative.”

There’s no question the Buckeyes are only a shell of the team that steamrolled Wisconsin, Alabama and Oregon in its final three games of 2014 en route to a national championship. In hindsight, the loss of offensive coordinator Tom Herman, who left to become Houston’s head coach, seems to be the biggest blow. The OSU offense has sputtered under the direction of co-offensive coordinators Tim Beck and Ed Warinner.

Coming into this season, the Buckeyes easily looked like the most talented team in the country. They had a handful of All-Americans on both lines, one of the country’s best tailbacks and two quarterbacks who could seemingly start anywhere. It seemed the only way they wouldn’t make the playoff was if the quarterback battle became a full-blown controversy.

The Buckeyes seemed too good to not have a legitimate chance of repeating. They looked so loaded at quarterback that two-time Big Ten Offensive Player of the Year Braxton Miller moved to wide receiver in the offseason. Meyer chose to start Jones at the beginning of the season, but then turned to Barrett in midseason after Jones failed to rekindle the magic he had during the 2014 finish.

However, Barrett couldn’t get anything going against Michigan State, a 13-point underdog playing without injured star quarterback Connor Cook.

“For the most part, it was tough sledding throwing the ball,” Meyer said. “And it hasn’t been a smooth run, really, most of the year.”

Now, the Buckeyes look like they’re out of the playoff. They’ll have to hope the Spartans lose to Penn State and they beat Michigan to have a chance of winning the Big Ten and playing in the Rose Bowl.

“We’ve just been hit right in the gut,” Meyer said.

Some of Ohio State’s best players sounded like they were knocked out for good.