When: Sat. Sept. 17, 2016; 7:30 pm ET
Where: Norman, OK; Oklahoma Memorial Stadium (84,000)
All-Time Series: Tied 1-1
Last Meeting: Ohio State won 24-14 (in 1983)
Line: Ohio State -2
Ohio State has scheduled some great home-and-home series over the past decade, but this one has the most hype since the Texas series a decade ago. The Sooners and the Buckeyes have been two of the most consistent forces in college football in the BCS and Playoff era, and both programs lead the pack in AP Poll #1 rankings all-time. Indeed, when these programs last played a series, coaches like Woody Hayes and Barry Switzer roamed the sidelines.
All the history aside, this game has already changed in perception thanks to OSU’s fast start to the season and Oklahoma’s stumble out of the gates against Houston opening weekend. All of a sudden, the Buckeyes are a road favorite in this game rather than this being an underdog. Oklahoma may need this game just to stay alive in the race for the College Football Playoff.
Both teams have the talent and aspirations for another playoff run, but only one will walk out of Norman with one of the best wins (on paper) for the 2016 season.
1 Burning Question: How will both teams handle adversity?
This question is inherently more directed towards the Buckeyes, who strolled through two fairly easy victories (even though the first half against Tulsa was not great). The young Buckeyes have not really faced a tough situation to prove they can respond, let alone in a hostile road environment. There’s a lot to be said for youth and exuberance, but J.T. Barrett and Raekwon McMillan aside, this set of OSU players has not proven the toughness and clutch instincts that championship teams need to show in the biggest moments and games. Those leaders will be critical when adversity strikes in this game, which is most certainly will with an opponent of this caliber.
However, the question also applies to Oklahoma, which was not able to overcome adversity and respond with a big play when Houston took a touchdown lead thanks to the field goal return play two weeks ago. For a team which set the Big 12 on fire with 530 yards per game and 43.5 points per game in 2015, being held under 400 yards and 25 points by the Cougars was not a good response to a first taste of adversity. Nevertheless, that was an opening week game and one would figure the Sooners will be much better when adversity strikes in this game and future games.
Hopefully both teams handle the bad moments well and we end up with a close game, decided by the best efforts of the Heisman candidate quarterbacks and by innovative play calls from these two stacked coaching staffs.
2 Key Stats:
— 100+. That’s the amount of yards Oklahoma has rushed for in every victory of 2015-16 (12 wins), while being 0-3 when not reaching this mark. With Lincoln Riley’s spread attack from his days at Texas Tech led by an experience quarterback in Baker Mayfield, the Sooners have consistently achieved 200-500 yards in the passing game each week since the beginning of last season. But the stat which proves most telling in the Sooner losses is rushing (only 67 yards against Texas and Clemson last year, only 70 against Houston this season), as Oklahoma does not win unless they go for 100 or more yards. Thus, a clear key to stopping Oklahoma is making them one-dimensional enough to be predictable. OSU has held its first two opponents under 100 rushing, but can the feat be achieved against the likes of Samaje Perine, Mayfield, and Joe Mixon?
— 7. That’s the number of interceptions the Buckeyes already have in 2016 (as well as the total for Baker Mayfield since the beginning of 2015). One key to making sure a pass-happy offense works is avoiding mistakes like interceptions, especially ones that turn into points. The Buckeyes have generated 7 interceptions and returned 3 for touchdowns already this season, blowing open a close Tulsa first half thanks to these big plays. With Mayfield having not made any mistakes of this sort yet this year, expect this to be a key indicator of whether Oklahoma can maintain control and produce big results against this talented and apparently ball-hawking OSU secondary.
3 Key Players:
Mike Weber, Ohio State RB: Although the carries have been spread out to include significant contributions from hybrid back Curtis Samuel as well as quarterback J.T. Barrett, Weber is the new workhorse of this team. His ability to plow through and push back defenders has been clear in the first two weeks, as he is cut from a similar mold as prior backs Carlos Hyde and Ezekiel Elliott. In order to keep Oklahoma from wearing out the Buckeye defense, Weber will need to have another effective day against the Sooners. Anything less than 100 yards and 20+ carries will probably be unacceptable if the Buckeyes want to escape with the road win.
Baker Mayfield, Oklahoma QB: It may be obvious, but Mayfield is the best weapon and leader Oklahoma will bring to the field on Saturday night, and he will have to play well to earn a victory. Mayfield can burn defenses with his legs at times, but OSU’s defense should be accustomed to this type of threat, going against J.T. Barrett in practice each week. More importantly, he may be the first quarterback who can effectively see what flaws and breaks are present in the coverage of a young Buckeye defense, and if he exploits those weaknesses for big plays, that could be the deciding factor. If Mayfield wants a chance at a Heisman or another playoff run, he needs to go out there and win this game.
Malik Hooker, Ohio State S: Much was made of how Ohio State’s inexperience in the secondary could be an Achilles heel in 2016. However, Hooker has provided tons of big plays roaming about the field as a safety, including 3 interceptions and 4 other pass break-ups.
Along with fellow sophomore Marshon Lattimore, Hooker has made the air a dangerous place to play for Buckeye opponents. If he can continue to show the ability to sniff out plays against a savvy quarterback and offensive coordinator, the potential is there for Hooker to make a game-saving or game-winning play on defense. The Sooners would best beware making things too obvious for talents like this one.
4 Bold Prognostications:
— Mayfield and Barrett each throw at least one interception. Although the discussion above of Ohio State’s secondary and interceptions has been in depth, one should not overlook the Oklahoma secondary, which is the best in the Big 12. Led by CB Jordan Thomas and S Ahmad Thomas, the Sooners will have enough experience to force J.T. Barrett into making better decisions than he’s made on a few occasions in the first two weeks of 2016. This is strength on strength for both sides of the ball, and I believe both defenses will make at least one big play against the opposing star quarterback on Saturday night.
— Both offensive coordinators bust out a couple ridiculous trick plays. One one side, you have Lincoln Riley and his spread passing offense. On the other, you have Urban Meyer counseling his two coordinators Tim Beck and Ed Warinner. Ironically, you also have Warinner’s football player son on a recruiting visit to Oklahoma this weekend, but that’s another story. The stage does not get much bigger for both teams, so expect the coaching staffs to have a couple special looks in place to bust out and try to sneak a big play through, while also generating tape for conference rials to fret over as well in the coming weeks.
— Both offenses generate over 450 yards of offense. Despite both defenses being strong enough to slow down most teams on the schedule, this early-season game likely favors the more potent offenses to come out on top. Expect both teams to move the ball effectively at times throughout the game, which means that red zone opportunities and effectiveness could very well decide this match up. With so many weapons and play makers on both teams, it is nearly impossible to guess which player will make the scores to decide the game, and that also makes it unlikely either defense will have an A+ day in this game.
— The battle of the bands will be almost as good as the battle on the football field. Oklahoma has one of the loudest (and some would argue most obnoxious) bands in college football, blaring out that fight song at every opportunity. Ohio State will be bringing their famed “TBDBITL” to Norman as well, and the Buckeye band can hold its own in the fight song and Hang On Sloopy department. Those who attend the game will be treated to quite the shows from both bands, both at halftime and also when they compete for decibel levels during the game. Expect both to motivate these football teams to play up to the competition and keep the game close deep into the fourth quarter, where the game will be decided (likely by something silly like a special teams play or a Hail Mary pass)
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5 Staff Predictions:
Andy: Oklahoma 37-31
Dave: Oklahoma 41-38
Phil H.: Oklahoma 27-24
Philip R.: Ohio State 35-24
Zach: Ohio State 34-24
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.