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
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.
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.
Greg Schiano out at Ohio State, Michigan’s Mattison reportedly in
In terms of rivalries, there is no more intense in the Big Ten than Michigan an Ohio State. It’s one that lives on in the fans, players and coaches for 365 days a year.
On Jan. 7, 2019 things got a whole lot more interesting for the next 365 days that’s for sure.
First, news broke that defensive coordinator Greg Schiano will not be back with the Buckeyes under new head coach Ryan Day. Many believed this past season wasn’t up to par for the Buckeyes and Schiano seemed likely to take the fall for that.
OSU finished this season ranked 72nd in total defense after back-to-back seasons in the top 10 of that category nationwide. The Buckeyes gave up over 400 yards of total offense this year as well.
So, who will replace Schiano? In a really interesting twist, multiple reports have come out stating that Day has his replacement ready — in the form of Michigan defensive line coach Greg Mattison.
According to Mike Sullivan of 97.1 The Ticket, Mattison’s contact with Michigan was about to be up and that Harbaugh chose not to renew his deal.
Thus, he is a free agent and Day has chosen to scoop him up.
Mattison is very familiar with this rivalry, having served as Michigan’s defensive coordinator under Brady Hoke (2011-2014) and then accepting just the defensive line coaching position on Jim Harbaugh’s staff.
His defenses were very consistent in his four seasons as defensive coordinator. Michigan was never worse than 31st in the country in total defense and peaked at No. 6 in his final season at the helm of the Wolverines defense.
Coaches plying their trade on both sides of the rivalry is nothing new, but it is a rarity overall.
BREAKING: Urban Meyer announces retirement
Last week, FootballScoop.com reported that Ohio State Buckeyes head coach Urban Meyer would be stepping down by the end of the 2019 season and likely by the end of this season.
They also reported that Ryan Day would take over as the new head coach once that happened.
After a weekend in which the rest of the media attempted to discredit the report, it is now exactly what is happening.
Doug Lesmerises of Cleveland.com broke the news early this morning. In the report, Lesmerises notes that Meyer is being forced to step down due to complications from a cyst on his brain.
The Rose Bowl game against Pac-12 champion Washington will be the final game he will coach at Ohio State.
Additionally, Ryan Day, who replaced Meyer as interim head coach while he was serving a three-game suspension to start the year will take over as the full-time head coach starting next season.
More information will be made available at a news conference scheduled for 2pm ET.
Meyer has had one of the most successful tenures as a head coach in Buckeyes history. He’ll retire having never lost to Michigan (7-0), won three Big Ten championships and with an 82-9 overall record at the helm of the Scarlet and Gray.
OSU athletic director Gene Smith is the one who decided Day would get the job on a permanent basis, seeing what the Buckeyes did under his leadership in that three-game stint earlier this year and hoping to ride the wave of young coaches making big splashes.
His rise up the coaching ranks comes just as the Buckeyes are putting up some of the most dynamic numbers in the pass game that college football has ever seen.
Star quarterback Dwayne Haskins could potentially top the 5,000-yard and 50 touchdown marks in the upcoming Rose Bowl game.
Talking10 Podcast Episode 100: Something, something Urban Meyer
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
Urban Meyer and OSU AD put on suspension following investigation
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.