Sunday, December 19, 2010

Buckeyes get last shot at Mallett

Another year, another BCS bowl trip for the Ohio State Buckeyes.

Their record run will continue as the Buckeyes are headed back to where their BCS legend all started in 1999, the Sugar Bowl against Arkansas.

"The Buckeyes are excited to be going to the Sugar Bowl," coach Jim Tressel said. "The things I remember the most about the Sugar Bowl are the people [of New Orleans] and how excited they are to host the game, and the great pride they have in their city and in the history of the Sugar Bowl. When you think of the games that have been played in the Sugar Bowl, it's neat to be a part of this long history."

It will be only the Buckeyes second trip to the Sugar Bowl but the third time New Orleans has been their bowl destination since the BCS started.

While OSU won only its Sugar Bowl appearance in 1999 against Texas A&M, the Buckeyes beaten by LSU in the Superdome in the 2008 BCS National Championship game.

No championship will be on the line come January 4th but the Buckeyes can look at this game as a chance for redemption.

Beaten the last two times they have taken on the SEC in bowl games (both the 07’ and 08’ title games) one of the most famous stats used to insult the Buckeyes is 0-8.

Ohio State’s shocking record vs. SEC teams in bowl games.

It is something OSU definitely isn’t proud of and should be one of its biggest motivations heading into the contest.

For Arkansas, and more importantly its star quarterback, it is another shot to beat the Buckeyes.

In 2007 Ryan Mallett was getting reps in the Michigan offense behind fourth year starter Chad Henne. Henne was playing injured against OSU and Henne even got some snaps against the hated rival.

Since then, for Mallett and Michigan, things haven’t gone as planned.

A new coach and scheme lead the highly touted Mallett to transfer and he has never seen the Buckeyes again.

Even though he is no longer a Wolverine, their must still be some Buckeye hatred that Mallett has held inside over the years.

"It's going to be a fun game," Mallett said. "It's two great teams. Obviously, I had the traditional rivalry hatred (at Michigan). I've still got a little Michigan in me from that. I've never really been a big fan (of Ohio State)."

Mallett didn’t hold back, when asked how much he disliked OSU.

"I don't know if it's something you can say on air or in the paper," Mallett said.

You can be sure the Buckeyes will have some added incentive in sending their former rival QB to the NFL with a loss.

It should be an interesting matchup between two of the countries better quarterbacks.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Buckeyes Whoop Wolverines...Seven Years Running

For yet another 365 days, the Buckeyes own the Wolverines.

After a contested, scoreless first quarter, Ohio State opened the flood gates on Michigan the final three quarters, winning 37-7, over the hated Wolverines and extending their record to nine and one under coach Jim Tressel including seven straight victories.

“We can talk about key plays or whatever, but our guys fought all day long.” coach Jim Tressel said of his players efforts. “I thought that kickoff return after they had scored and, boom, all of a sudden it's back to 10 points was a key factor, but our kids prepared very hard and played hard and they deserve everything they have coming to them.”

It was a day filled with big plays on both offense and defense.

The Buckeyes forced several turnovers, including a fumble early in the first to keep the game scoreless.  After feeling out the Wolverines in the first quarter, the Buckeyes blew the game open before halftime with 24 points, including several that will go in the all-time Michigan highlight real.

Pryor found senior captain Dane Sanzenbacher on a precision throw for a seven-yard touchdown.  The ball was perfectly fit into a tight window to give the Buckeyes a 10-0 lead.

After a successful drive for a touchdown by the Wolverines, the Buckeyes answered the best way they knew how.

With one dramatic play.

Jordan Hall, who would have made past legends happy with how he represented the famed #7 jersey in “The Game”, exploded up the middle of the field and broke several on an 85-yard kickoff return.

“I don't know about turning point, but that was a critical point, because they worked very hard to go down and get their touchdown, and all of a sudden it took us 20 seconds to answer, and Jordan Hall is a great football player.” Tressel said.  “I wish there were more opportunities for him to have the ball in his hands because, man, he can play, and we love him as a punt returner”

It was the turning point of the game for the Buckeyes and after another thrilling 33-yard, diving score by Devier Posey, the Buckeyes blew the game open.

The one thing that might have been most impressive is the Buckeyes defense. Forcing several turnovers and holding the Wolverines high powered offense to only seven points.

“our kids get a feel for things and they learn on the job very well and they can run and they hold a lot of people under their average when they're playing,” Tressel said of his defense.

“So I think the combination of those defensive guys learning and adapting and getting a feel and mounting pressure on both quarterbacks. You know, Forcier played -- Denard threw it 18 times and Forcier 15, so they played almost equal, and our guys just keep coming and that's why they're a good defense.”

Senior Class Strikes Gold

One of the biggest senior classes in recent memory said goodbye to the Horseshoe on Saturday.

It was emotional to say the least but those Buckeyes are going out in style.

One of the most successful classes in OSU history, the seniors will be taking (depending on redshirt status) four or five Big Ten rings with them.

More importantly, they will take the same number of golden pants with them.

“I think first and foremost, it's important to never lose to Michigan as a Buckeye, which is unusual, and to end up with five rings from championships is another accolade,” Senior captain Ross Homan said. “I'm so blessed with these guys, these seniors, these coaches, this whole team. It's a dream come true.”

To be successful every season in not only winning the Big Ten but also not dropping a game in the biggest rivalry in college football, the seniors can finally show how proud they are of their accomplishments.

“It's incredible. It's obviously a goal you have coming in and you never want to be on the other side or the losing side of this rivalry,” Sanzenbacher said. “Especially [being] from Toledo, since we're a town with a large amount of Ohio State and Michigan fans, it's always been a huge game for me and I'm proud to say I'm leaving here never losing to them.”

For the six senior captains and the several other seniors who suited up for the last time and won at Ohio Stadium, the feeling might not have set in.

They still have one game remaining but their legacy is pretty set.

“"I hope we leave a legacy of great leadership. I feel that guys in this class held themselves accountable as well as held each other accountable.” Sanzenbacher said. To be with these other five captains, it's an honor to be a part of this class."

Officials and Nike? What’s the deal?

The Buckeyes sure looked different on Saturday, for better or worse.

For the second season in a row the Buckeyes put on throwback jerseys to play “The Game”.

Honoring past National Championship teams, Ohio State must do their best to represent those who were winners before them.

The officiating crew and Nike, however, couldn’t agree on how exactly to do that.

While the look of the uniforms is technically “a throwback” the style of the uniforms in nothing but futuristic.

The Nike Pro Combat Uniforms supposedly make playing the game easier but for Ohio State, their flashy new gear got them a lot of yellow.

The Buckeyes were flagged twice on Saturday for supposed “hand gestures” which according to Big Ten officials is excessive celebration.

The hand gestures were made by the Buckeyes to show off their “super cool” Nike Vapor Jet gloves, which when placed together in a diamond shape, formed a block “O” on the palm and fingers.

It’s a pretty awesome concept and actually looked quit cool whenever the other 11 teams including Alabama, who took part in the Nike project, had thrown up their symbols in the past.

The officials in Saturday’s game, however, weren’t hip to the idea.

At first many thought the excessive celebration came on Posey’s beautiful dive into the endzone but a frustrated Tressel set the record straight.

“Well, you know, excessive celebration. No, it was not the dive. I can't answer that.” Tressel said, rejecting to answer on the gloves in question.

When the captains were asked about the situation, Sanzenbacher, who also threw up the block “O” symbol went further.

“I think they said that was what it was,” He said. “They didn't want any hand gestures or anything like that and just celebrate with your teammates. So I think it's safe to say we will never wear gloves with anything on them again.”

To say that was the only head-scratching call by the officials on Saturday would be an understatement.
Boom Herron, who had a monster day against Michigan (22 carries for 175), had a record 98-yard run taken away from him just yards short of the endzone. Sanzenbacher was called for a phantom holding call which turned Herron’s run, instead into a record tying 89-yarder.

“"I didn't think it was a penalty but I don't make the calls,” Sanzebacher said. “I wouldn't change what I did if I could do the play again if that makes it any better. Sorry to Boom to steal his touchdown. I was just trying to help clear the way for him to get into the end zone."

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Heartstopper Against the Hawkeyes

The mark of any great team is one who can overcome adversity and still reach its ultimate goal. 
If that is truly the case, then The Buckeyes performance on Saturday against Iowa can put them into consideration. 
More penalties, mistakes and dropped passes than anyone can remember but luckily for OSU their attempt at a sixth straight Big Ten title is still intact after a heart stopping, 20 -17, win over the Hawkeyes. 
Back and forth the Buckeyes and Hawkeyes exchanged blows before the game came down to a critical fourth quarter drive. 
The mistakes by OSU mounted on the last drive when Devier Posey dropped a 50 yard touchdown pass on 3rd and 10. 
Just when all hope was lost, Pryor bailed the Buckeyes out from their toughest situation of the season. 
Pryor went back to pass but pulled the ball down and got 14 yards on 4th and 10 to help the Buckeyes stay alive. 
After a long pass down inside the five to Sanzenbacher, the Buckeyes pounded it in and took their final lead of the game. 

"I was going to run the whole time," Pryor said of his big play. "I found running room, had some good blocking. I just cut it up and went and got the first."
All season people have wondered why Pryor seems hesitant to run when he has opportunities. They were happy to find out that with a game on the line, Pryor is more than willing to get the job done with either his arm or his legs. 
"It was huge and gave us that momentum," Tressel said of the play. "I was afraid he was messing around and wasn't going to get the first, but he made it."
The Buckeyes defense sealed the game with a key stop of Stanzi and a sack by senior leader Cameron Hayward. 
"We felt like it was going to be a four-quarter heavyweight bout. Iowa's never going to stop fighting," Tressel said. "Our guys never stop."

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Chomp Chomp? Gators Stomped

Since 2007, Buckeyes and Gators aren’t exactly friendly.

In fact, behind Michigan and Penn State, Florida might be the next most hated opponent the Buckeyes can line up against.

After the double-dose of National Title heartbreak due to the Gators, OSU made up for it slighty, 93-75, on national television in Gainesville.

The most “highly anticipated” matchup of ESPN’s marathon run of over 25 hours of straight basketball and the only game pitting two top ten teams ended with one team being completely over matched.

"Ohio State has a better chance of being a better team this year than they did a year ago," Florida coach Billy Donovan said. "Evan Turner's a great player, the player of the year in the country and they won 29 games and did a great job.

"But when you have that kind of player, you really kind of become a little more one-dimensional. They are a complete team that probably has a chance to do a little more this season because there's going to be a lot more balance to their team."

The game was close at halftime before David Lighty and Jared Sullinger took over in the second half.

Sullinger put up one of the best freshman road performances in some time with 26 points and 10 rebounds, his second double-double of his career.

"He had a great demeanor coming in here," Matta said of Sullinger. "He knew he was going to have to play well for us to have a chance to win."

Lighty, five years older than the freshman behemoth, also added 26 points and always brings his stellar defense. It looks as if the game has really slowed down for Lighty, the only player on the Buckeyes who was in uniform for the Buckeyes two losses to Florida with  Oden and company.

Fellow veteran William Buford added great play with 16 points, eight assists and three steals and played mostly mistake free basketball with only one turnover. Jon Diebler also added 14.

The Buckeyes have two more non-conference games that could be challenging, including South Carolina and Florida State in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Tale of Two Halves for OSU

Its hard to believe that the team in Scarlet and Gray after the clock ran out was the same lowly bunch that wore those uniforms in the first half.

The Buckeyes were down 11 at halftime before exploding in the second half to win, 38-14, over Penn State.

“Our guys went out the second half and took over, but I think it was fueled by how hard that defense fought in that last series that they had to stop them,” coach Jim Tressel said.  “We weren't a great first-half team. That's the facts.”

The fact is now, however, that regardless of their lackluster first half, Ohio State is two wins away from breaking a Big Ten record and winning their sixth conference title.

As Penn State drove late in the second quarter, up already 14-3 it looked as if the Buckeyes were headed for another “Wisconsin-like” hole.

On 4th and one from the 17 yard-line, however, Jermile Hines burst across the line and knocked the ball carrier backward. Ohrian Johnson helped clean up the play and the Buckeyes got themselves out of monumental trouble.

“We talked at halftime about the fact that the turning point in the game was when we stopped them on fourth down in the second quarter and that all the stories were going to be written as that being a turning point,” Tressel said.

Apparently even after the stop the Buckeyes got a wake up call at halftime.

Ohio State’s usually calm, even keeled coach was no where to be found at halftime. Tressel channeled his inner “Woody” and supposedly laid into his team about their weak first half performance.

“The halftime locker room was not a fun place,” Tressel said. “But it was not a place that looked like there was any quit in anybody.”

Tressel’s players described his demeanor at halftime as unlike anything they had ever seen.

Quarterback Terrelle Pryor said he thought Tressel was yelling “at the top of his lungs” and other players said they couldn’t even remember what he was saying but that just seeing him like that was extremely motivating.

“He loves seeing us drive down the field. At halftime he made sure we knew what to do in the second half,” Tackle Mike Adams said. “We didn't want to let him down and we didn't.”

After a 98 yard drive capped by a touchdown run by Boom Herron the Buckeyes sealed the win with back-to-back interception returns for scores.

Devon Torrence, who was picked on mercilessly in the first half, put the Buckeyes up, 17-14, and after another pick-six by Travis Howard the Buckeyes were clearly in control.

"We've been there before with Wisconsin and we didn't get the outcome we wanted,” captain Cameron Heyward said. “Since then we have assessed how we can come back and really applied it tonight. We picked it up and got the game rolling in our favor."

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Freshman Shine in Buckeyes First Win

No Evan Turner?

No Problem.

The Ohio State Buckeyes started the 2010-2011 Basketball season will a bang, winning 102-61, over a beleaguered North Carolina A&T.

It was all about the freshman and even though most believed it would be consensus high school All-American Jared Sullinger who would shine, it was another highly-touted rookie who had the crowd at Value City Arena buzzing.

Deshaun Thomas, the 6-7 220 pound forward, had a remarkable debut for the Buckeyes scoring 24 points on 10-of-16 shooting and 2-of-3 from behind the three point line.

While it was a blowout victory, the perfectionist in Thad Matta was quick to point out the things his team didn’t do well, even though they won by over 40 points.

“I think there were a couple main things about tonight. We didn't guard as well as we need. They had amazing quickness and explosion tonight,” Matta said. “We committed 22 fouls which is not something we can do. We need to fix this fast. The rebounding tonight made the difference in the game."

With probably their toughest non-conference test of the season on Tuesday at Florida, it is easy to see why Matta was looking at what needs to be improved before the Buckeyes head into battle with the Gators.

For one night, however, it was about the freshman and their chance to finally shine on a meaningful stage.

"We had a great couple of practices after the Walsh game and we felt really comfortable and relaxed heading in,” Thomas said after the game. “It was nice to finally get out there and play a game that counted."

Going into the game, most expected Sullinger to have the night that most would talk about and while some of his steam was taken by Thomas, the Naismith high school Player of the Year had a game for the record books.

With 19 points and 14 rebounds, Sullinger became the first freshman to debut with a double-double for Ohio State since Herb Williams in 1977.

"Coach told us before the game we can either start out 0-1 or 1-0 and he put the game in our hands,” Sullinger said. “We just went out and handled our business."

Senior Dallas Lauderdale gave OSU another double-double with 12 points, 13 rebounds and was two blocks short of  an illustrious triple-double.
Possibly the best sign of the night was the emergence of Aaron Craft. The freshman point guard had nine assists and eight points.

He has been talked about as a possible answer to OSU’s lack of a traditional point guard and while he might not be as starter this season, it is clear he will be able to facilitate for the Buckeyes.

Now with their first “official” game behind them, the Buckeyes hope they can get even more from the freshman on Tuesday night in Gainesville.

"We try to help them with their nerves by how we practice,” Matta said of preparing his freshman. “We take out thinking and go fast and furious for two hours in practice. We make them function while breathing hard and being tired. I thought all six had great demeanor tonight."