Sloppy playground football, cheesecloth defense, shaky special teams, dropped touchdown passes, strange play-calling, undisciplined players and we lost every play “under review.” In other words:
GREAT GAME, Bucknutters!
We won, and as Urban would say, the best thing about being 7-0 is that you get a chance to go 8-0. Deserving or not. I am getting used to this winning-ugly thing and prefer it immensely to last year’s losing-courageously thing.
For the second straight game, there was a total of over 100 points scored. Ohio State football? Uh, not exactly. And let’s not forget that we were playing the second-string IU quarterback and making him look like Geno Smith. And – after all - that was INDI-FREAKIN-ANA!!!
We gave up the most points ever to Indiana in the longest rivalry (86 years – with 69 wins now) opponent we have ever faced. We are now 25-2-1 in Memorial Stadium (Ohio Stadium West) with nine straight wins in Bloomington and have a remarkable 18-game winning streak against the usually-accommodating Hoosiers.
OK, let’s vent and whine and kvetch and complain and get it over with:
1) Paging our linebackers and safeties. Please report to the team ASAP as we seem to be missing ]all of you! What does it say for the future of Curtis Grant (or some of the freshmen) when Etienne Sabino breaks his leg, Klein just can’t play and they ask the fullback to convert to linebacker? Whew.
2) Devin (The Devil) Smith is back at it again, turning something into nothing and nothing into something. Just catch the damn ball, man.
3) This is Ohio State defense? Luke Fickell has a better chance calling that pizza delivery boy back than calling a game. And there are no answers in either event. It’s painful to watch. Have you ever see so many big plays given up in this break-but-don’t bend defense? It’s got to stop. Seriously – it’s got to stop SOMEONE. This is embarrassing for Buckeye tradition. A curious combination of no-rush and no-coverage. What could possibly go wrong? The vaunted OSU defense is now in the bottom half of the nation in total defense and only 17 teams out of 120 are worse than we are at defending the pass
4) Special teams are also deploying the break-but-don’t-bend philosophy. Equally painful to watch as they tend to break at the worst possible times.
Now, let’s cast aside the cynicism and disappointment and talk about the good-to-great stuff:
1) Its Dr. Braxton and Mr. Hyde! It’s Braxman and Carload - the dynamic duo! Three-hundred rushing yards in the last two games for Carlos, a guy that was straining hard just to be in the two-deep during the spring. And Brax? Miller already has more yards rushing (with more TD's) and more passing yards than last season. For the season, he now has 1,271 passing yards with 11 touchdowns and four interceptions. He also has a whopping 912 rushing yards (7 yards per carry) and 10 scores. It’s almost incomprehensible that he has 2,183 yards from scrimmage and 21 total touchdowns with five games remaining in the season. Incidentally, he is 7th nationally in rushing. And he’s still just learning to read defenses…
2) The offensive line – once again – came to play and performed admirably despite being left on the field just four minutes from “forever.” There is a reason why the 2012 Buckeyes are eighth in the nation in rushing offense.
3) We rediscovered Jake Stoneburner for a play or two as he emerged from witness protection for one night, long enough to snag some passes.
4) We won. Let’s put that into perspective: it’s infinitely better than losing!
The corn is now husked and we have settled the question of Hoosier Daddy. We are halfway home in deciding the state of Indiana championship – what with a rapidly deteriorating Purdue coming to Columbus next week and with Ball State and Notre Dame refusing to schedule the Buckeyes. And we are still poll climbing, despite the BCS and NCAA attempts to ignore OSU.
And that (shhh) national picture? With South Carolina losing yesterday and their nation’s longest winning streak going down (at only “10”), our 7-0 stands up even if it doesn’t stand out. We were 6-7 over an entire season last year. We are 7-0 in about half that many games this year! In a season where you can’t measure our defense against Michigan State (its offense sucks, man) and you can’t measure our offense against the performance of Nebraska (yeah, their defense sucks bad…); and on a day when 6-1 Northwestern became bowl eligible but 7-0 Ohio State is not ***, life is not so hateful…
The inclination of a long-time Buckeye fan is to compare this team to the magical team of 10 years ago - the 2002 perfect season. That team won a batch of close games with defense and special teams. This 2012 version wins close games despite BAD defense and BAD special teams. Quite the formula.
All I can say – and really, I’ll stop now – is that it’s been a helluva fun run and an incredible year despite the level of play and the level of competition. Really – if you can’t enjoy being 7-0 and a chance to run the table, you need to become more Zen and just absorb the moment, live the day-to-day and the game-to-game and bask in the glory, however weird and wild, of your undefeated Buckeyes. Hey – Ohio State and Ohio University are the only two teams in the country that are 7-0 (that must really confuse Brady Hoax…). Style points notwithstanding, we are Buck-ing a trend and I continue to say:
*** WARNING: We are professional analysts. This is a trick question. DO NOT attempt to answer this at home. Here come the interlude interlopers …
Long After the Game
Indiana game analysis by Duane Long
Ohio State is a very good offensive team. One of the best in the country. This is not a very good defensive team. Last night, it was not a very good special teams performance, either.
Last week, the offense scored 63 points. That is a good thing since the Buckeyes needed 39 of those to win the game. Last night, the offense scored 52 points. It needed 50 to win. Indiana racked up 481 yards while scoring those 49 points. We have to accept reality about the defense. We have seen it rise to the occasion in several games but more often than not we are seeing a defense that is vulnerable, one that is missing too many parts.
Despite scoring at least 50 points for the third time in seven games, there are still some kinks to iron out in the passing game. Getting back to catching the ball would be a great help. Devin Smith caught two touchdown passes. He dropped two others. The drop early in the game, who knows what happens if he catches that one? I think there is a possibility it could have changed the dynamic of the game. I have been in Smith’s corner. A couple of weeks ago I said I could live with his drops because of the plays he makes. That was when he was making more catches than drops. You can't have spectacular if you don't first catch the ball. He has to find the way toward consistency. It could greatly impact the fortunes of this team and it could impact Smith personally. The NFL will pay big dollars for someone who can do what Smith did on those touchdown passes. The spread is here, it is the future, but for the time being this is still a power-running team. The Buckeyes do that quite well; good, old-fashioned, between-the-tackles, smashmouth-with-a-big-back carrying the ball. We really should do more of it.
Special teams had been so solid. Last night it was not. Thirteen of Indiana’s points can be directly credited to the special teams. The touchdown after the blocked punt is on the special teams. The missed field goal cost the Buckeyes three points. The long kickoff return, because of a missed tackle, resulted in three for Indiana. I won't throw in the block in the back on Philly Brown’s long punt return as it sure looked like a bad call but that possession was likely points on the board if the offense got the ball where Brown was finally run out of bounds.
He’s Ba-a-ack: Ramzy
Game review from occasional, longtime Bucknuts contributor that is always original
The last time Ohio State played at IU under the lights Duron Carter caught a touchdown pass. He wasn't so much "eligible" as he was in the process of squandering his eligibility as part of what became a nationwide tour of various programs attracted more to his DNA and medical chart than his reality.
That's the essence of what Bloomington trips are, really. Little staccato memories that are pleasant, but not too pleasant. Duron actually playing football. Lydell Ross rushing for a whole bunch of yards. Ted Ginn, Jr. on skates. Joey Galloway faking a bunch of Hoosiers out of their clothing.
Wins, generally. As long as all of the current players have been alive, anyway.
Yes, Matt Finkes helped seal John Cooper's second career Pasadena trip in Bloomington, but the calamity of what happened the following week in 1996 sort of overshadows that fun evening of vandalism. The Buckeyes also rolled Indiana in 1998 the week before coming home to play Michigan Staaaa....[faints]
Bloomington, at least until the orange sphere hits the hardwood, is Columbus West™. You make the trip out there to have what Pitbull generally refers to as a Real Good Time. It's not a business trip; it's a pleasure cruise.
So the Buckeyes delivered another one of those typically pleasant, but not too pleasant Bloomington performances. All of the Braxton Miller and Carlos Hyde domination can't stop the creeping death of Ohio State's defense from giving you the shakes. Between bad angles, missed tackles and no motherloving linebackers it's the queasiest 7-0 you've swallowed since 2002 when nothing came easy.
The state of the defense makes Devin Smith refusing to catch perfectly-thrown touchdown passes in-between manufacturing touchdown amazing passes more entertaining than frustrating. It still smells like Walrus in the WHAC despite Jim Bollman's departure. We're not entitled yet with this new exploding scoreboard thing, but we had no idea the defense would have to be bartered to make it happen.
By the second half it was evident that Indiana had brought too many field goals to what Urban Meyer is always going to make a touchdown fight. Even with Smith dropping six-point gifts, Ohio State consistently in position to allow dropped TDs to happen is a poor indicator for a competitive game, even with that drama at the end.
And that's fine, because that's not the essence of what Bloomington trips are, anyway. You shouldn't sweat too much on a pleasure cruise. If you've never been to Bloomington, you should go next time. Hell, even Duron's been there.
Spanning the College Football Globe: The Facts and the Pub
The Big Ten and National Scene review by Dan Rubin, Bucknuts Publisher
My little Bucket deal really isn’t supposed to feature Buckeye commentary. That’s been covered and covered well. But allow me few paragraphs for therapeutic purposes. Here goes …
You tell me. I want to agree with Urb. I want to think it is revolutionary offense that is stumping our defense. I really, really do. It would make this undefeated (so far) campaign far more digestible. And yes, I realize that makes no sense. But then again, neither does the Ohio State defense (I’ll be here all week).
Let’s not hide behind a talent/recruiting/injury collection of excuses. That premise may be valid against some opponents. Some would not include Indiana. Know this: Indiana lost at home to Ball State ... and the Fighting Keith Wennings only allowed 39 points. So let’s table that B.S.
Thankfully, Brax is a member of the Legion of Superheroes. The offensive line is fantastic and getting better. Carlos Hyde has many beastlike qualities. Devin Smith looks like an NFL standout on some plays (more XFL on others). Philly Brown is playing with so much more confidence than in the past and it shows. So far, it’s been enough.
Ok, thanks for that. On to our weekly impressions of the Big Ten and beyond …
*We appear headed for a Wisky-TSUN title game. I’m sure that will be an enjoyable watch. Sounds like date night, to me.
*And how about ol’ Mark Dantonio. I got a text from Steve Helwagen after Michigan State’s home loss to a team that lost at home to Central Michigan (otherwise known as Iowa) that pretty much summed it up: “Dino Tresseled that one away.” Bingo. If we have learned anything from the defense-phobic, offense-amped state of college football, it’s this: 16 points ain’t gonna cut it … for a half, much less a game. That’s two plays, two conversions and about 30 seconds these days. Way to capitalize on the last season Ohio State doesn’t win the Big Ten until Urb’s young son graduates college. You go, Sparty.
*Illinois is approaching epic levels of ineptitude. Not sure I’ve seen a team quit this bad. Ever.
*Remind me never to listen to anyone who says this is Purdue’s year blah, blah, blah. It’s not. It won’t be. Ever.
And now, for some national sunshine …
*Anyone NOT think this is Alabama’s to lose?
*Thank you, South Carolina, for being South Carolina. Big game, chance to really advance the program and … not so much.
*Thank you, West Virginia, for being West Virginia. Big game, chance to really advance the program and … not so much.
*Sorry, and yes it is a tad painful to share, but I am really impressed with Notre Dame. Despite his bloodrush antics, this appears to be very mentally strong outfit. Still leery about the offense. But there is a “we-expect-to-win-this-game-regardless” quality developing. And just like when the Irish was good (gather round for an old yern, kids), the refs feel the same. Color me shocked.
*Who knew the Big 12 would install a rule prohibiting defenses from using more than nine players? That is just not fair. I am all for advancing the game but this strikes at the fabric of competition.
*I had to look this up but the coach of Louisiana Tech is a guy named Sonny Dykes (… of course it is. Say it out loud a few times in a southern accent. It’s fun.). Athletic directors, start your checkbooks. The Fighting Karl Malones trailed Texas A&M 27-0 and fought ALL the way back to lose, 59-57, on a failed two-point conversion. Here are La Tech’s scoring outputs thus far this season: 59, 56, 52, 44, 58, 57. I’m sure in the spread-obsessed evolution that Sonny D will be white hot. And by the way, his team plays in the WAC (who knew?). Their next opponent: Idaho. You want to talk about Vandal-ism …
*So here is what I think the top 10 SHOULD BE now: 1. Alabama; 2. Oregon; 3. Florida; 4. Notre Dame; 5. Kansas State; 6. Ohio State; 7. LSU; 8. Oregon State; 9. South Carolina; 10. USC.
*By the way, the Buckeyes are undefeated and [should be] No. 6 in a transitional season played under sanctions with fullbacks that moonlight at linebacker and lead the team in tackles? My guess is going forward one of three male babies born in the Buckeye State now is named Urban. I’m not kidding. Admit it, if you and the Mrs. were expecting, you’d consider it.
Bottom of the Bucket
Mr. B scrapes up some final thoughts:
Fox giveth and Fox taketh away…After Fox got done wrecking the Scout site for Ohio State fans last week, they turned around and offered Buckeye Nation a olive branch (albeit a crooked one…) by running a Wall Street Journal feature on the Bucks, calling us “college football’s anti-hero” and talking about the swagger being back in the program. And, yes, Fox owns both Scout and the Wall Street Journal, only one of which has become a wasting asset (an accounting term, there…)
Here’s how the WSJ assessed college football’s elite – in VERY short form:
1) Alabama – No fun, plays like the NFL, cold calculating coach
2) Oregon – Too trendy
3) West Virginia – An affront to anyone who appreciates defense
4) South Carolina – They will let you down (118 years and one conference championship)
5) Notre Dame – Come on now!
But they didn’t stop there (the Wall Street credo: too much is never enough). Here’s their unique perspective about college football (in general) and Ohio State (specifically):
"If any team ought to be elected the homecoming king of this cockeyed sport, it's the scarlet and gray. Now, granted, there isn't much chance of Ohio State winding up No. 1. The Buckeyes are ineligible for the postseason because of the improper-benefits scandal last year that cost Coach Jim Tressel his job. Ohio State thus can't play in the Bowl Championship Series national-title game or the Big Ten Conference's title game.
In a sense, Ohio State is this year's "BCS buster"—the outsider team that could gum up the title-deciding system by having a claim to the top ranking. Besides scheduling a future series against TCU, Ohio State athletic director Gene Smith said last week that his goal from 2018 onward is to schedule only major-conference opponents. If other schools would follow Ohio State's lead, college football may only be a few years away from escaping its current scheduling doldrums. As things currently stand, it takes a whole month for the interesting games to start. This is a team you can get behind—a team for college football today."
Hey – we are behind the Bucks already, fellows. Always have been. Always will be. But thanks for letting the rest of the nation in on our little secret: The Bucks are back.
* * * *
Oh-Oh Nine – The class that got away…We all have 20-20 hindsight (well, except for the Board of Trustees in the case of Gene Smith). But less on that later. I am talking here about recruiting, the grist for the Bucknuts mill. And I am talking about the recruiting class of 2009. There were 25 newbies that year which means that at least 12-15 should be strong contributors by their fourth year, right? Wrong-o. Rhymes with Longo and stands for, well…an underperforming class. Let’s break this group down by their “star” rankings at the time and see what happened:
1) Melvin Fellows – Left for various medical reasons; never contributed
2) Dorian Bell – Transferred to Duquesne
3) John Simon – Some doubted he deserved that fifth star. He has left no doubt. Arguably the guy who was rated the highest and performed the best.
4) Marcus Hall – Will start for much of three years and became a solid contributor
5) Jaamal Berry – The “next great running back”; transferred to Murray State after serial troubles
6) Jonathan Newsome – Where to begin? Transferred to Ball State; Newsome was arrested and charged with possession of marijuana and arrested again from a shoplifting incident when he attempted to steal the male enhancement drug Extenze. Keeping alive a wide perception of Glenville being an incubator for troubled youth…
7) Corey (Pittsburgh) Brown – After an injury, he is in the two-deep and a contributor
8) Carlos Hyde – Carlos is becoming “The Man” and a huge part of this team and this class
9) Duron Carter – Insert punch line here. Duron has been tossed out of three other schools AFTER getting tossed by the Bucks. Actually, it was Coffeyville and Alabama and is now sitting out a year hoping to play at FAU
10) Dominic Clarke – Transferred to Illinois State
11) Reid Fragel – A good-to-average tight end is now an above-average tackle
12) James Jackson – Transferred to Wayne State
13) Corey Linsley– A stalwart on the offensive line
14) Jamie Wood – Medical issues that will likely end football career
15) CJ Barnett – Despite injuries, he would be starting on this team (when healthy)
16) Jack Mewhort – See “Linsley” – a stalwart
17) Storm Klein – Playing by default, based on linebackers either leaving or hurt; a two-deep kind of guy
18) Kenny Guiton – As designed when recruited, a solid, long-term backup QB
19) Sam Longo- Transferred to Cincinnati
20) Adam Bellamy – Left for various personal reasons
21) Zach Boren – A great fullback in a spread offense; long-time starter
22) Jordan Hall – Could have been a great one; would start if healthy
23) Chris Fields – Not working out; probably on his way out
24) Adam Homan – Long-time backup to Boren at fullback
25) Jordan Whiting – Transferred to Louisville
So, wow – what a class! Seventeen players ranked as four stars or better! Twenty-five total recruits, the legal limit (well, that is, above the Mason-Dixon Line). And out of 25 players, in which 70% were four-star or better? Only nine that are still around that start and – worse yet – just 12 that actually contributed even in the two-deep. Coulda, shoulda, woulda – this is a class that missed and one that had star quality writ large across it. Maybe now we know why the talent pool seems drained this season…
A Few Bullets at the Bottom
Quick hits, cheap shots and fill-in (the blanks)
Winning bucks because of winning Bucks?... The old bromide that the football team generates donations for the university has been turned on its head during our last dismal 18 months or so as Ohio State got commitments of $365 million from 211,000 donors the past two years – both records.
(OSU is ranked 10th nationally for total private support among public universities, which may/may not justify E. Gordon being the highest paid president amongst ALL universities…)
He’s back…Perhaps the most unusual school among the remaining unbeatens (before Saturday) is UTSA, aka the University of Texas at San Antonio. The Roadrunners are only in their second season of existence, going 4-6 last year and playing as an independent at the Football Championship Subdivision level. This year, UTSA moved up to FBS as a member of the WAC and the school is already one win away from becoming bowl-eligible. The Cinderella coach was pulled over last night by Rice but the story continues…
(Not a bad comeback for head coach Larry Coker, who was dumped by Miami (Coral Gables) in 2006 and wasn’t coaching for three years until UTSA hired him in March 2009.)