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4 Reasons Ohio State Buckeyes Win “The Game”

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Is this 2006 all over again or is this just fantasy? 

Big Ten title hopes on the line. National Championship hopes too.

The only difference is divisional play in the Big Ten and this newfangled College Football Playoff thingy.

But, beyond that we’ve got ourselves the potential for one of the most important regular season games in Big Ten history on our hands. So, how do the No. 3 Ohio State Buckeyes take down the No. 2 Michigan Wolverines.

We’ve got five reasons for that plan to take fold.

 

Ohio State Has Offensive Firepower In Spades

How do you combat a really good defense? By having a really good offense of course.

It just so happens that Ohio State happens to have one of those…at least when you look at the whole season. The Buckeyes currently lead the Big Ten in scoring offense (43.8 points per game), rushing offense (263.1 yards per game) and total offense (493.1 yards per game).

But, it has leaned heavily on playing some sub par defenses this season. Ohio State has struggled with teams not named Rutgers, Nebraska and Maryland and when you take those results away, the Buckeyes offense is averaging just 26 points, 215 rushing yards and 380.6 total yards of offense per game.

Something has to give, but at least the Buckeyes know they are capable of going off against just about anyone at any point in time. If ever there is a game for the offense to go off, it has to be this one against TSUN.

The question is, which version will show up. If it is the one from earlier this season then the Buckeyes are going to win easily. If it is the one we have seen against Penn State, Northwestern or Michigan State, it won’t be a happy day in Columbus, Ohio.

Turnovers are Ohio State’s Speciality

Winning games like this often come down to turnovers and the ability to take advantage of the opportunities given. It just so happens that there isn’t a better team in the Big Ten at creating turnovers and not giving them up than the Buckeyes.

Ohio State is No. 1 in the Big Ten in turnover margin (+14) and are one of just two teams in the conference with a double-digit turnover margin this season. Packed in that stat are the 22 turnovers Ohio State has created, which is second in the B1G to Minnesota’s 23, and the fewest turnovers allowed in just eight so far this season.

A big part of Ohio State’s success, even in close games, has been its ability to take care of the football. Quarterback J.T. Barrett has thrown just four interceptions in 314 attempts so far this year, but it has been a hallmark of his time as the starter for his entire career. Barrett has committed just 18 total interceptions, with 10 of them coming as a freshman back in 2014.

It is also remarkable to see Ohio State’s secondary coming through given all the replaced parts to that group thanks to graduation and early entry to the NFL. To put it in perspective, last season’s experienced and highly touted group had just 21 turnovers in 13 games.

Michigan has given up just eight turnovers as a team this year, so you can bet the turnover situation is one to watch.

J.T. Freaking Barrett

COLUMBUS, OH - OCTOBER 17:  Quarterback J.T. Barrett #16 of the Ohio State Buckeyes gains yardage in the fourth quarter as Carl Nassib #95 of the Penn State Nittany Lions moves in for the tackle at Ohio Stadium on October 17, 2015 in Columbus, Ohio. Ohio State defeated Penn State 38-10.  (Photo by Jamie Sabau/Getty Images)

COLUMBUS, OH – OCTOBER 17: Quarterback J.T. Barrett #16 of the Ohio State Buckeyes gains yardage in the fourth quarter as Carl Nassib #95 of the Penn State Nittany Lions moves in for the tackle at Ohio Stadium on October 17, 2015 in Columbus, Ohio. Ohio State defeated Penn State 38-10. (Photo by Jamie Sabau/Getty Images)

Few players in Big Ten history have done what Barrett has done in his career. Unfortunately he wasn’t around to actually play in the National Championship game two years ago, but you bet he was integral to getting the Buckeyes that far.

He just so happens to be the same for this year’s version of the Ohio State Buckeyes. Barrett hasn’t exactly been the reason for OSU’s struggles as of late, passing for over 200 yards in five of the last six games. What has been the issue is turning that yardage in to point production, as Barrett has had just two games of more than one touchdown in the last six games and outside of a four-touchdown day against Maryland, he has just five other touchdown passes.

Of course, the passing game is but just half of the equation with Barrett and if there is anything that this season has taught us about Michigan’s defense it is that they don’t like dual-threat quarterbacks. Colorado’s Sefo Liufau had the best passing day by any quarterback up until Michigan gave up 289 yards to Maryland two weekends ago.

That happened to occur in less than a full game, as Liufau was knocked out with an ankle injury in the third quarter. It’s no coincidence that his team went from leading to suddenly in trouble and ultimately down to defeat when he left the game.

Michigan hasn’t faced a quarterback with the chops of Barrett since that Colorado game and that is advantage OSU.

Home Cooking

So much is made out of home field advantage in pro football, but where the real home field advantage comes in to play is on the collegiate level. That has been the case for the Buckeyes under Urban Meyer to say the least.

Just take the month of November for instance — Meyer’s Buckeyes have lost just one game in the final month of the regular season since his arrival in 2012. That translates to an 18-1 record in November for OSU under Meyer.

As for this particular series? Michigan hasn’t won in Columbus since 2000 and you can bet the Buckeyes of 2016 know all about what is at stake in this game.

Interestingly enough, it hasn’t always been that way between the two as Ohio State owns just a 25-27-2 record at home all-time against Michigan.

These teams aren’t the old-school teams and you can bet these two teams have had the current 16-year streak drilled in to them. Will home cooking matter? If this game is close, you can bet the crowd is going to help the Buckeyes in a big way.

Don’t be surprised to see said crowd effect Michigan’s offense once or twice…or more and that would have a big effect on this game.

Andy Coppens is the Founder and Publisher of Talking10. He's a member of the Football Writers Association of America (FWAA) and has been covering college sports in some capacity since 2008. You can follow him on Twitter @AndyOnFootball

Buckeyes Football

Talking10 Podcast Episode 100: Something, something Urban Meyer

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Ohio State made its decision on Urban Meyer. Andy and Phil are here to break it all down for you and give you the truth in a hazy situation. What better way to celebrate episode 100 of the podcast than to spend 50 minutes breaking down a mess of a situation in Columbus, right?

We’ll talk our reactions to the press conference, break down the actual findings of OSU’s investigative report and we’ll even talk how the media-at-large and the OSU media handled the fallout from Wednesday night’s press conference.

Don’t forget you can listen to the podcast each week via Radio Public and other podcasting apps. 

Also, don’t forget to follow us on Instagram and Twitter @talkingB1G

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Urban Meyer and OSU AD put on suspension following investigation

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The media stakeout of the Ohio State Board of Trustee’s meeting can now end. It only took 12 hours or so, but answers finally came. 

According to multiple reports, including from the AP, OSU head coach Urban Meyer is suspended for the first three games of the season. In addition, athletic director Gene Smith will serve the same suspension from Aug. 31 to Sept. 16 — both will not receive pay during that time frame as well. 

Both came under fire as this story unfolded. It began just prior to the Big Ten media days in late July, the story that Zach Smith had been arrested for criminal trespassing in April of this year broke and Meyer fired Smith on Monday morning of the start of Big Ten media days.

Brett McMurphy then detailed in an exclusive report that Smith had previously been “arrested” back in 2015 for a second allegation of domestic abuse against his then-wife Courtney Smith. 

Meyer was questioned about that arrest and allegation from 2015 at media days and struck out against reporters repeated questioning. He would deny knowing of the arrest report back in 2015. 

However, further reporting by McMurphy put that denial in to further question and Ohio State decided to get to the bottom of it. 

Once Meyer was put on paid administrative leave, he would put a statement out admitting to knowing about the 2015 incident and alerting athletic administrators of the domestic abuse allegations. 

Meyer has stayed silent since that statement and awaited the outcome of the 14-day inquiry in to whom knew what and when and what action was taken. 

That investigation ended this past Sunday, with the committee verbally advising the Board of Trustees on Monday morning of its findings. Two days later, the Board of Trustees would come to meet publicly and then behind closed doors to discuss what would happen to Meyer and others involved in this situation. 

Meyer’s suspension is for the first three games, and on the field that is a big hit with three FBS games coming at the start of the season. OSU kicks off the year against Oregon State, plays a Big Ten contest against Rutgers and a massive game against TCU at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas. 

We will have more on this situation and the reaction to what Meyer and Smith had to say on the talking10 Podcast tomorrow. 

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Buckeyes Football

Report: OSU to suspend Urban Meyer

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The Ohio State University board of trustees have been verbally read in on the findings of a 14-day investigation in to the conduct of football head coach Urban Meyer. 

So, what will happen next? 

According to the Columbus Dispatch, it appears a suspension or even lighter punishment is coming for Meyer:

“Two sources connected to the investigation said the likely recommendation to university President Michael V. Drake is a suspension for Meyer. Drake and the board could also opt for a ‘time served’ punishment since Meyer has been removed from football activities for more than two weeks.”

Meyer has already been on suspension (or paid administrative leave) for the better part the month of August.

The meeting on Monday was able to take place because it was an “informational meeting” and no public business was conducted. However, there is a meeting scheduled for 9a.m. on Wednesday to discuss just what punishment would be recommended. 

Ultimately it will be the university president that makes the final decision, but the board of trustees will meet to send their recommendation to President Michael V. Drake, who is likely to adhere to the recommendation of the board. 

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Buckeyes Football

Ohio State wins Cotton Bowl Classic: The good, bad and what it means for 2018

Buckeyes defense dominates USC en route to Cotton Bowl Classic victory.

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Some may say that Ohio State had a real gripe about not being selected to the College Football Playoff this season. Whether the Buckeyes believed they were snubbed or not, they certainly took out any frustration on USC in the Cotton Bowl Classic.

Ohio State used a dominating night on defense and just enough offense to beat the Trojans 24-7. Four turnovers were forced by the Buckeyes defense, resulting in a pick six and a huge shift in momentum late in the game too.

The win sends quarterback J.T. Barrett out on a high note, but it wasn’t his best effort on the field. He had just 114 yards passing and no touchdowns, while also putting up a Buckeyes-best 66 yards on the ground as well.

Luckily those 66 yards were enough to find the end zone twice in the first half for OSU.

Barrett got the Buckeyes on the board on their first possession and then put the Buckeyes up 24-0 on a 28-yard run late in the second quarter. However, it appeared momentum was shifting late in the half as Ronald Jones II put the ball over the goal line with just 1:29 to play in the first half.

That was it for the scoring though and it was a massive defensive message to the critics of the Buckeyes.

It all added up to the Big Ten coming away from a loaded day of action with a 5-0 record. Not only did the Buckeyes win, but so did Northwestern to help the Big Ten continue its banner bowl game start.

The Good

J.T. Barrett Continued to be Legendary

Few players in the history of Ohio State football have had the career that quarterback J.T. Barrett has had. Yet, it feels strange to say his career has been legendary. Maybe its the fact that he missed out on a Big Ten and national championship in 2015? Maybe it’s the fact that it somehow took until his senior season to win a Big Ten title as the quarterback?

Whatever it was, Barrett’s career just seemed incomplete. But, on Friday night Barrett added to his collegiate legend, setting the Big Ten’s total yards record that was previously held by some guy named Drew Brees.

There’s little doubt that Barrett is going to be remembered in Columbus for some time. Most importantly, Barrett was able to complete a post-season with a Big Ten championship and a win in a New Year’s Six game.

Not a bad way to go out in your college career.

Defense Got Turnover Happy

Ohio State showed it had a really good defense down the stretch run of the regular season, but it seemed to finally all come together in the Cotton Bowl. The Buckeyes forced USC quarterback and talked-about No. 1 overall pick in the 2018 NFL draft, Sam Darnold, to look rather average at best.

Part of Darnold’s issue came in the form of turnovers. Well, Darnold and USC in general, as the Trojans gave up the ball via turnover a whopping four times.

The last of which came as Darnold got hit from behind and let the ball fall right in to the waiting arms of an OSU defensive lineman.

It all added up to a USC offense that came in averaging 35 points per game being completely shutdown.

Let’s just say it was a great time for OSU to give its best defensive performance of the season too.

The Bad

Ohio State’s Offensive Performance

While a 24-7 scoreline would seem flattering, Ohio State’s offense really did minimal work on Friday night.

The Buckeyes amassed just 277 yards on 55 plays in the game, including just 114 yards in the passing game. Barrett getting a win in his final game was nice, but his passing game wasn’t. Barrett finished the game 11 of 17 passing for just 114 yards and no touchdowns.

Even more telling? The dynamic duo of J.K. Dobbins and Mike Weber was held to just 57 yards combined.

Given the domination of the defense all of this seems to be a bit nit-picky, but it should also be worrisome because this offense was up and down all 2017.

What it Means for 2018

It’s hard to say that this one game was make or break for any Ohio State players and their NFL draft status, but that is really the key from this game. Did Sam Hubbard’s great night make his decision easier? How many other guys will take off after this game?

Ultimately that is what is going to matter most heading in to the 2018 offseason.

However, what we can take away from the Cotton Bowl is the fact that the Buckeyes need some real work on the offensive side of the ball. Some of it is just simply growing up for young players, but we also saw what we saw most of this year in the pass game for OSU — there aren’t a lot of receiving options.

That group has got to regroup in a major way or the Buckeyes won’t be going anywhere but backwards on offense in 2018.

Dwayne Haskins is a better pure passer than J.T. Barrett, but it may not matter if no one can get open. Sure, you can give credit to the Trojans secondary, but the Buckeyes receivers did nothing to help themselves either.

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