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Ohio State Buckeyes vs. Michigan State Spartans: Preview, Predictions & Prognostications



When: Sat. Nov. 19, 2016; Noon ET
Where: East Lansing, MI; Spartan Stadium (75,005)
All-Time Series: Ohio State leads 29-15
Last Meeting: Michigan Sate won last year 17-14. It hurt.
Line: Ohio State (-22)

Admit it. At the beginning of the season, this game was circled as a mile-marker in the chase for the College Football Playoff. There’s been one problem with that however. The Spartans have broken down on the side of the road with a flat tire. It’s been a disastrous season in East Lansing, and almost a throw-away year with just one Big Ten win to date.

Ohio State is a different story altogether. It seems to have arrived a year early despite being the least experienced team in all of the FBS. After a thrashing of Oklahoma in Norman, a tougher than nails win in Madison against Wisconsin, and numerous blowouts, the team seems to be on the fast track to the big time again.

There’s the one very costly loss in Happy Valley, but aside from that, Ohio State has looked every bit the part of a playoff team.

But then Mark Dantonio and the Spartans have been the one program that has stood toe-to-toe with Ohio State since Urban Meyer began calling the shots. Meyer is just 2-2 against the Spartans — losing two of the last three. It may be down, but Sparty would love nothing more than to ruin the hopes and dreams of all those with fondness of the colors scarlet and gray.

1 Burning Question: Can Michigan State rise up to dash the dreams of Ohio State again?

To say that it’s been a down year in East Lansing will be a gross understatement. Nobody saw this coming, not even Michigan Wolverine fans. Unbelievably, it took the Spartans until last week to get their first Big Ten win of the season. Even more unbelievably, there are only two Big Ten games left, and it’s becoming even more unlikely that Mark Dantonio and company will be going anywhere warm over the holiday season for a bowl game.

But the season’s not over. Far from it.

Over the last two weeks, the Spartans take on Ohio State, and then Penn State. One way or another, they will have a say in who goes to Indianapolis to play for the Big Ten Championship, and perhaps beyond.

But first things first, Michigan State must find a way to rise up, find its defense, find some consistent play at quarterback, and find the demons of recent years to make Ohio State earn its right to stay in the conversation for really, really big things.

It is, after all, November where many dreams go to die. Will this be that case, or will the Buckeyes keep rolling right into the annual grudge match against Darth Vader next week?

2 Key Stats:

— 6.  That’s the number of touchdowns the Ohio State defense has scored. Can you say ball-hawk? There’s only one team in the country that has scored more defensive touchdowns on the year, and it too sits in prime position (Alabama at nine). It’s hard enough to move the ball and score against the nation’s third ranked scoring defense, but when it’s also putting points on the board, it can be lights out for opponents.

— 7 and 46. That’s the amount of sacks and tackles for loss the Michigan State defense has this year. That’s No. 127 and 113 in total ranking in the country, and a far cry from what we have become accustomed to under Mark Dantonio. There’s a lot of cracks in the Green and White dam this year, but the poor play on defense might be the most shocking of them all. This team is just not getting push into the backfield of opposing offenses, meaning quarterbacks and running backs are able to find time and running and passing lanes with relative ease. Without any disruption on defense to make life difficult for the bad guys, the good guys just can’t keep up.

3 Key Players:

Curtis Samuel, Ohio State RB:

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Yeah. Technically Samuel is listed as a running back, but he’ll lineup in the backfield, in the slot, on the outside, and even in the wildcat formation. Urban Meyer will try to get him in mismatches and out in space to utilize his unique skill set to get the big-play machine going. The goal is for about 13 touches a game, and each time, opposing coaches are left holding their breath. Not since Percy Harvin has an Urban Meyer offense had a talent like Samuel. He’ll be featured in this one as well.

Malik McDowell, Michigan State DL: McDowell is the most imposing defensive player on the Michigan State defense. When he’s healthy and active, he can be a difference maker able to make momentum turning plays. However, he was unable to go last week because of injury and isn’t listed on the depth chart this week. Don’t be surprised it’s a bit of a gamesmanship from Dantonio. He has alluded to him being ready to go, but not quite 100 percent. He’ll need to find someway to be a force against an Ohio State defense that can put up points in bushels.

Tyler O’Connor, Michigan State QB: O’Connor was the fill-in starter in Columbus last year when these two last met. His numbers weren’t off the charts, but his moxie, timely quarterback runs, and leadership under duress carried the Spartans to a springboard victory towards a Big Ten Championship. Obviously the stakes are much, much different this year, but if he can find the same magic he was able to wrangle in 2015, things might get very, very interesting in East Lansing. Things haven’t gone according to plan this season for O’Connor, but here’s a big chance to right some of those wrongs.

 4 Staff Predictions:

Andy: Ohio State 48-10
Dave: Ohio State 35-20
Phil H.: Ohio State 34-21
Philip R.: Ohio State 42-17
Zach: Ohio State 42-17

Buckeyes Football

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

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Buckeyes Football

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. 

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Buckeyes Football

Report: OSU to suspend Urban Meyer



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.



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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