Countdown To THE GAME 2014

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Podcast info for Men of the Scarlet and Gray

I have been posting and writing for over the past year.  This season, we are branching into the wonderful world of podcasting.  Which means, if you are not annoyed at the sound of my voice, you can hear me pontificating about Ohio State football every Tues evening during football season.

Go Bucks!

Ranking The 2014 Ohio State Football Schedule (Part Two)

Part one reviewed the 2014 Ohio State football schedule, ranking games from easiest to more challenging, as I perceive them to be.  Part two will pick up from where we left off, reviewing the games I consider to be within the "Trap Games" category for Ohio State.

7.  @ Minnesota (11/15/2014 - kickoff and telecast TBD):  This game at Minnesota will be Ohio State's first game versus the Golden Gophers since the 2010 season,  a now-vacated 52-10 victory.  Why am I concerned about this game?  As in life, timing is everything.  Ohio State will be coming off a visit to East Lansing, MI, on 11/08.  Even if Ohio State wins versus Michigan State, will Ohio State head coach Urban Meyer be able to have the Buckeyes "up" for a game on the road, against an opponent that plays a physical style of offense, in what could be less than ideal weather conditions?  Perhaps I am giving Minnesota too much credit, but I believe this game could be closer than most Ohio State fans realize.

8.  @ Navy (08/30/2014 - 12pm EST kickoff, CBS Sports Network telecast):  In 2009, Navy came into Ohio Stadium, and nearly pulled off an upset, but were thwarted by former Buckeye linebacker Brian Rolle.  While Ohio State has far superior speed and athleticism than the Naval Academy, Navy's triple option offense will keep Ohio State's newly-revamped defense off balance all game.  For an Ohio State defense that has struggled the past two seasons, it is truly a baptism by fire for new Ohio State co-defensive coordinator Chris Ash.  Throw in the fact that the triple option offense is difficult for a scout team to adequately simulate, and you may understand why I am ranking this game so highly in terms of difficulty for Ohio State in the season opener.

9.  Cincinnati (09/27/2014 - 6pm EST kickoff, BTN telecast):  Ohio State has defeated Cincinnati in its previous visits to Ohio Stadium over the years (1999, 2004, 2006).  With Cincinnati head coach Tommy Tuberville at the helm, Cincinnati went 9-4 in 2013.  The old 2002 storylines will be in overdrive leading up to this game.  Be on the lookout for stories involving how Coach Tuberville has a winning record vs Coach Meyer, when both were in the SEC.  With a 6pm kickoff, this should be a good one.

10.  Virginia Tech (09/06/2014 - 8pm EST kickoff, ESPN telecast):  The 2014 home opener for Ohio State should be rocking.  Virginia Tech is the marquee non-conference opponent for Ohio State this season, and I expect Coach Meyer will try to use this game to highlight the program with recruits in attendance, as well as impress a national television audience.  Virginia Tech's defense, which ranked eleventh in the country in points allowed in 2013, may be disruptive to a still-developing Ohio State offensive line.  The special teams battles between both squads will also be something to watch.

III.  Rivalry Games:  Throw out the records in these contests.  Ohio State fans should not be surprised if these games come down to the final play, with Ohio State emerging as the victor or the victim.  (Note:  In fairness to Penn State, I believe the Nittany Lions will again be in this category for Ohio State, but not this season, with remaining NCAA sanctions against the program.)

11.  Michigan (11/29/2014 - kickoff and telecast TBD):  That Team Up North.  THE GAME.  In 2012, Ohio State rallied to win, 26-21.  In 2013, Ohio State survived on the road, 42-41.  With Michigan head coach Brady Hoke under fire to turn the Wolverines around from a disappointing 2013 season, does anyone doubt that this game will be lacking any suspense or intensity?  This could be a game that saves Coach Hoke's job, or seals his fate.  In addition, this could be a game that determines the representative from The B1G's East Division for its 2014 B1G Championship Game.

12.  @ Michigan State (11/08/2014 - 8pm kickoff, ABC telecast):  Here is the game that all Ohio State coaches, players, and fans have been looking toward since the Michigan State Spartans ruined Ohio State's chances to compete for the 2013 BCS Championship.  In 2012, Ohio State eked out a 17-16 victory in East Lansing.  With an 8pm kickoff, the coaches for both sides will have their hands full making sure their players are not too high for this game, after a full day of probable intensive media attention.  I doubt that there is anything that will be done to help the fans, who will have a full day to properly imbibe at tailgates and parties.

There you have it - my perspective on the 2014 Ohio State football schedule, from easiest to most difficult.  Let me know what you think.  The 2014 football season is just around the corner.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Ranking The 2014 Ohio State Football Schedule (Part One)

As Ohio State fans everywhere anxiously count down the days toward the start of a new football season, it is somewhat natural to review the schedule from start to finish.  Which game looks to be the easiest?  Which game may be the most difficult or challenging?  Which game could be a trap for the Buckeyes?

Over the period of two articles, I will give you my perspective on the 2014 Ohio State football schedule, ranking the games from the perceived easiest, through the games that could truly jeopardize Ohio State's goals of winning the B1G Championship in 2014.  Let us begin.

I.  Easiest:  By my definition, Ohio State should have this type of game well in hand by the end of the first half, and certainly by the end of the third quarter.  These are the type of games where it would truly serve Ohio State head coach Urban Meyer to play as many backup players as possible, for live game action and skill development.

1.  Kent State (09/13/2014 - 12pm EST kickoff, ABC/ESPN/ESPN2 telecast):  A sort of homecoming for former Ohio State assistant Paul Haynes and former Buckeye Najee Murray, this game might get out of hand in a hurry, if past games versus the Golden Flashes are any indication (2002 - Ohio State 51, Kent State 17.  2007 - Ohio State 48, Kent State 3).  Yes, I know that Kent State played well in 2012 (11-3 record), but I believe Kent State will be overwhelmed by the superior speed and athleticism of the Buckeyes in this one.

2.  Illinois (11/01/2014 - 8pm EST kickoff, ABC/ESPN/ESPN2):  Last season, Illinois played Ohio State tough until the fourth quarter before losing, 60-35.  Considering how Illinois head coach Tim Beckman is under fire to save his job, how Ohio State is looking at a challenging slate of November contests, and how this will be under the lights in Ohio Stadium for Halloween weekend, I see Coach Meyer wanting to send a message with this one. 

3.  Rutgers (10/18/2014 - 3:30pm EST kickoff, telecast TBD):  Rutgers' first visit to Ohio Stadium may not be an easy one.  Rutgers has a bye week before the contest with Ohio State.  Unfortunately for them, so do the Buckeyes.  This might be the game that spends Rutgers' first season in The B1G into a downward spiral.

4.  Indiana (11/22/2014 - kickoff and telecast TBD):  In 2013, Ohio State had this game well in hand 28-0 by the end of the first half.  Indiana did not score until late, losing 42-14.  While Indiana has probably made strides defensively, the fact that this game will serve as Ohio State's final home game of the 2014 season does not bode well for the Hoosiers. 

II.  Trap Games:  Any football coach worries about complacency and overlooking their opponents.  Several of these teams have the talent and coaching to stick with Ohio State, possibly until the end of the contest.

5.  @ Maryland (10/04/2014 - kickoff and telecast TBD):  Maybe I am giving the Terrapins too much credit, but I believe Byrd Stadium will be well-amped for the first B1G contest between Maryland and Ohio State.  Maryland WR Stefon Diggs was heavily coveted by Coach Meyer in 2012, and could play for any football team in the country.  Ohio State will win this game, but I look for this one to last until the end of the third quarter before the Buckeyes pull away.

6.  @ Penn State (10/25/2014 - 8pm EST kickoff, ABC/ESPN/ESPN2):  The designated "white out" game for the Nittany Lions, Penn State head coach James Franklin will do his best to have the fans and the players ready for this one.  Ohio State is familiar with the "white out" theme, having played at Penn State in 2012 in a similar theme.  Another bonus for Penn State is the Nittany Lions will have a bye week before this contest, while Ohio State will not.  Revenge will be a topic, as Penn State looks to avenge its 63-14 mauling by Ohio State from last season.  Look for a Buckeye victory, but for it not to be easy.

Part two will cover the remaining 2014 Ohio State contests, ranking the games in difficulty as I see them.  Hope to see you then.

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