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Mr. B Gets All Holy

HOLY BUCKEYE – THE SEQUEL!

I'm back, baby! Albeit briefly ...

WOW!! GUITON FOR HEISMAN!! MEYER FOR COACH OF THE MILLENIUM!!!

First, you found out how it feels for the whole season – no, life itself – to become meaningless. Then you know how it feels to experience unbounded euphoria. Well, there are some bounds depending on the healing and return of Braxton.

Yesterday’s game was a tale of three halves…

The First Half

The first half sucked, man…

Dee-fense:

The last time Purdue was in the Shoe two years back in the Tressel Era, we shut them out. Here, in the Post Traumatic Tress Era, it took just one play for the Broilers to score - as we watched Cloudy Klein lose his man and find himself located in an adjacent zip code to the receiver. That was a microcosm of the Silver Blanks defense for the year: our four-man rush gets zero pressure and allows their fullback to run a six-second wheel route to beat our MAC-caliber linebacker for 83 yards. Game-changer on the first play…

Special teams:

No, JT don’t live here no more. What we saw from a not-special teams’ effort was no kickoff coverage to allow a 102-yard return. Game changer. Then they gave up three yards to a guy that fakes a punt on every fourth down and Purdue then kept the ball for 10 minutes. Game changer. And then they let Purdue drop two punts and recovered neither. Game changers all…

Offense:

Other than one drive, the Buckeyes had 5-6 drives that gained a TOTAL of about 40 yards. Last two weeks? Purdue gave up 82 points and 800 yards at home! Our longest gainer in the last 20 minutes of the first half was a roughing the passer penalty. We had zero total yards of offense in the second quarter.

Yes, if broken plays didn’t count, we would have been up 7-0 at halftime. But they do, and we weren’t.

The Second Half

The defense came to play in the second half as the specter of unemployment seemed to rouse the firm of Fickell and Vrabel. Each team had a drive with us succumbing to 400 straight bubble screens (OK, maybe it just felt that way). Fickell and Vrabel didn’t have an answer for that one series and it surprised me that Purdue just didn’t keep running it right to the time to catch the bus. Down six, Brax finally got it in gear and put on his patented gallop to pay dirt only to get caught 37 yards downfield by the back of his jersey and smashed with a sickening thud. Ten minutes to get him to the sideline, carted to the locker room, taken by ambulance to the OSU Medical Center. Yes, we were a little worried. And as one star faded from view, another emerged from the horizon once Kenny Guiton took the controls.

We used two time outs and followed those with some inexplicable calls. So I wanted to take a time out here for some other inexplicable calls: getting homered by the refs while the fans hummed “Three Blind Mice.” Seriously, it is bad form to complain about officiating – especially after a win – but these guys need to look for new occupations. As the most objective reporter in America – our Dave Biddle – explained in his excellent “What We Learned” column after the game, it was an over-riding theme of incompetence as “objective” lost to “objectionable”:

“How about an obvious hold on Nate Williams that wasn’t called? How about a missed off-sides call on Purdue? How about a complete joke of a pass interference call against Brad Roby? And the killer was the atrocious “illegal block in the back” that resulted in the safety. Yes, Heuerman put his hand on the defender’s back, but the play had already passed them by and you never see that called in football. Well, except for today.”

Wait – Dave – you forgot the worst of the worst: Brax fumbles the ball and then cradles it on the ground with all limbs touching the surface. Play over, right? Wrong. A fat hairy Pur-doer jumps on him after the dead ball and takes it away. We all knew the “fumble!” call was wrong in real time but we were more incredulous that it wasn’t over-turned after the guys in the boot reviewed it over cocktails. It made me embarrassed for my species.

But worse than the worst of the worst? When Purdue coach Danny Hope was interviewed after the game, he said they would have won if Ohio State had been called for all the holds during the game. Hope lost more than the game with his final petty remarks and set up a campaign for when there won’t be any Hope soon in West Lafayette.

Meanwhile – back at the game – you’ve read by now about the incredible ending. Forty-seven seconds to go, 61 yards to go with no timeouts; a somnambulant offense; and a QB so little used he doesn’t even get mop-up time. Of all of the plays in the subsequent Guiton magic carpet drive, the one that impressed me the most was Urban’s called run on third down (for just a couple yards and with time ticking away) to get Kenny three shots at the end zone. If Hyde fell short there, well…we wouldn’t be writing the Cinderella story. As our Bucknuts guys later said, “Kenny, who seemed very calm, looked over at Urban who told him to get the team to the line and not clock it, and then Urban immediately pointed to the three signal play callers. Great calm and inspired true coaching.”

Everything fell together. Seldom-Used Guiton to Seldom-Used Chris Fields for six and then over to Seldom-Used Jeff Heuerman for the extra two that tied it up and had fans screaming some words seldom used in public.

Overtime!:

For the first time in this game, including prior to, I wasn’t nervous. We had already witnessed “a football miracle” and the CFB gods don’t have that kind of cruelty in them. Haven’t you read the Chip Hilton series?

Guiton’s 17-yard pass was terrific and at that point, I knew we would score. The defense?

After Purdue scored with 3:49 left in the third quarter, Ohio State allowed just two more first downs the last five possessions of the third and fourth quarters as well as overtime.

The last play of overtime reminded me of the final play for the national championship after the 2002 season when Ken Dorsey was getting nailed and just threw it up for grabs. This time, it was more a chuckle and a bemused sigh of relief rather than total euphoria. But it really felt pretty good, I gotta tell you.

So, now Ohio State became the first team in the country to go 8-0 (we played the early game). And Alabama at 11 straight wins has the longest streak in the country.

The Purdue game? It took two weeks for the Buckeye money-managers to officially announce the start time for the game yesterday – noon. We all wondered: well, what time will the defense show up? Ba dum bum. They actually put on a pretty good show. Let’s hope it’s the start of something big(ger).

Ohio State avoided losing to Purdue at home for the first time since 1988 and – more amazingly - have now started 8-0 for the third time in seven seasons (how quickly we forget…). It always seems to be a quirky game with the Broilers and the Bucks, at least from 2002 on after the original “Holy Buckeye” game back then in West Lafayette. Quirky, I tell you. Think not? Then think of these factoids:

1) As has likely been pointed out by now, last year we gave away the Purdue game there when we missed a PAT and they won the game that ended in OT. This year? Other way around. Quirky, eh?

2) Why do we fear the impotent B-Makers? Because they are the only team in the Big Ten with a two-game home winning streak against Ohio State. And they are the only team in the Big Ten to have beaten Ohio State twice in the last three years. The only team in the Big Ten to have beaten the Buckeyes more is Penn State!

3) Weirdly enough, until yesterday, Purdue had not scored a touchdown in Ohio Stadium since 2003. And Purdue hadn’t scored a touchdown through the air in Ohio Stadium since 1999 when quarterback Drew Brees threw a 12-yard scoring pass to Kevin Sutherland in the first quarter of a 25-22 OSU victory.

We clean up this game analysis with the one hangover thought: Braxton Miller. He has been hurt every year since his freshman season here in a Dayton high school. He has gotten knocked down but always returned until that rodeo tackle Saturday. All season, I’ve felt it was Brax against the world. That is, he had to beat the other team, beat the efforts of our defense and withstand our inconsistent special teams. Now that we are potentially Brax-less (our worst fear…), how do we respond? Does the defense suddenly gel? Does the axis of possibilities line up right for Urban?

Before Braxton got hurt, he quietly slipped by a guy named Herbstreit and another named Rex Kern for third all-time in passing yards at Ohio State. Think about that for his one-year+ appearances and being known as a running quarterback!

And finally: How many times can we dodge bullets this year with our “Silver Blanks” defense. Will our parachute be ready each time we leap out of the plane expecting the fates to be kind? The Zen masters tell us that you do not need a parachute to skydive. You only need a parachute to skydive twice.

We saw last year what a Tressel offense looked like without Tressel. This year, we have seen what a Heacock defense looks like without Jim Heacock! Luke has presided over a historically bad team followed by a historically bad D. And in my final notes, that bothers me.

You know, midway through the fourth quarter when it became “obvious” that we were going to lose and the slender thread of hope that this season still had redemptive qualities was gone, I started to think about all the projects around the house I needed to do and who I was going to give my Illinois tickets to and how I have neglected my kids all fall and…well, you know – my obsession with the Buckeyes has again taken over my life. It was almost a relied that they would be relegated to a lower priority and my life would assume some sane and reasonable balance once again.

But now? Kids be damned, the chores can wait and I will be there on the edge of my seat because even Illinois has a chance against these Bucks! And we are still “in it,” baby!

Get a little Bucknuts out there again, guy. Go Bucks!
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Long After the Game

Purdue game analysis by Duane Long
I don't know what it is. We always seem to catch Purdue’s best game. Every year it seems to find another level versus the Buckeyes.

The Buckeyes are not a heavily penalized team but it seems week-in and week-out, penalties are having an impact on the game. The refs made it that much worse today. I stopped keeping count of the number of bad calls in this game. From the terrible call on the fumble by Braxton Miller where he recovered the ball on the ground and was touched by a Purdue player while on the ground, to the phantom block in the back that gave Purdue the safety, I started wondering if the Big Ten decided to try replacement referees.

If there was any doubt that the offensive line was the key to being 7-0,that surely went away today. The offensive line did not have a bad game. They just didn't dominate the line of scrimmage like they did in the seven wins to start the season. Kawann Short is projected to go in the first round of the draft. He showed why today. His partner in there, Bruce Gaston, was just about as good. They did a really good job of shutting down the run. Between Miller being off, the receivers dropping some balls, the passing game was not in sync. We are getting nothing out of Jake Stoneburner. I don't know if that is scheme, Stoneburner or Miller not being on the same page. That Kenny Guiton found him in overtime makes me think the latter.

Obviously, we have a bigger issue right now. There was nothing good about the way Miller went down. From the moment he hit the ground I was ready for him not to get up. I do not think he was conscious for awhile. His body language was that of someone whose body was not responding to signals from his brain. I am very scared for him. Color me amazed if he is back next week. The way Guiton played I am still optimistic to run the table.
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Scout’s Edge

Breaking down the Buckeyes with ScoutingOhio.com’s Mark Porter
Let’s start at the end of this game and give credit where it’s due: Mickey Marotti. Yes, the conditioning and strength coach is the team MVP for the game. I have come to this conclusion after evaluating the talent on the field for the Buckeyes. After the game Urban Meyer even said it: "This is not a very good team" referring to the Buckeyes. So we have Purdue, not a very good team vs. the Buckeyes, not a very good team.

In my opinion as the fourth quarter wore on the Buckeyes had more "juice" left in the tank. Purdue was totally gassed from the fast pace of the Ohio State offense and their players could not make any plays when needed. When Kenny Guiton entered the game the pass rush from Purdue was "dull" at best and Carlos Hyde was running downhill into a soft defense. I was shocked Purdue did not call some timeouts or sub more to freshen up its team down the stretch.

When teams are equal and one of them gets tired, well … you saw what happened.

Again, after the game Meyer said of the Buckeyes: "This is not a very good team." I think he is incorrect. Ohio State has the makings of a "great team." It just doesn't have the talent Meyer wants yet. He is coaching Jim Tressel's guys for a Jim Bollman-run offense which is like sticking a square peg in a round hole. The big-time speed and explosion for a wide open offense is not on the team yet. This means Ohio State is searching for playmakers. Right now there are only three-to-six on the team. The rest of the team is not much different than the rest of the Big 10 talent-wise (and that proof is on the field in close results).

John Simon, Braxton Miller, Ryan Shazier would be my top three playmakers that seem to show up the most on game day. Johnathan Hankins is one of the best at his job, Carlos Hyde is really coming on strong and Devin Smith is flashing greatness but needs to be more consistent. Our corners deserve to be mentioned as playmakers but they can disappear from week to week.

Another thing to watch for is when other teams are "fresh" in the first or second quarter - or if the opponent is playing with emotion - the Buckeyes will struggle. Why? Because the Buckeyes are not "way better" than opponents. They have to withstand the early barrage from other teams. Ohio State relies on play makers to keep it in the games early and superior conditioning to wear on teams later in the game.

There are two things I came away from the game worried about: losing Miller and the linebackers. Ohio State is heavily relying on Miller to stay in games and if he is gone for any time this year or next, the next best quarterback is not even close, even against a worn out defense. When Storm Klein was brought back and entered the starting lineup that was a sign. Josh Perry playing was another. Moving Zach Boren to defense was a confirmation. Without picking on anyone (cough … Klein on first play of the game … cough) the linebackers are not making enough plays. The young Buck Ryan Shazier is the crown jewel of this group by a long shot right now.
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Spanning the College Football Globe: The Facts and the Pub

The Big Ten and National Scene review by Dan Rubin, Bucknuts Publisher

As always, a few quick Buckeye meanderings before we tackle the Big Ten and elsewhere.

Well, at least it’s exciting. At least it’s unpredictable. At least it always ends with the good guys on top. But this has got to be one of the screwiest campaigns any devoted fan base has been along for the ride on. If on Friday we had asked our loyal Bucknutters what the game-saving touchdown combination would be against Purdue, how many would have gone with the Kenny Guiton-Chris Fields tandem? Seriously. I don’t think the Guiton and Fields families would have nailed it.

Yet Kenny and Chris came through, which is really all that matters. I am trying so hard not to believe in Urban Magic (well, not that hard) but yesterday has me thinking there is something otherworldly going on here.

*We move on to the Big Ten but stay on the Buckeyes and unpredictability at the same time: Before the season, how many of you were legit worried about a trip to Happy Valley? Penn State has been a true surprise. That said, it’s fleeting. The Nittany Lions are succeeding based on the strength of their remaining veterans. But it’s the last hurrah for the Matt McGloins, Mike Mautis and Gerald Hodgeseses. Michael Robinson, LaVar Arrington and Navorro Bowman aren’t walking through that door. Not for a while.

As for next week? It certainly won’t be easy. Penn State has allowed 49 points in three conference games. The Buckeyes have allowed 125 in four. Two Big Ten mainstays in exile with a combined 7-0 conference record battling it out for the Bragging Rights Trophy. It’s a karmic clash between magic and redemption. But which is magic and which is redemption?
I need a nap.

*Could somebody please inform Mark Dantonio it takes points to actually win? Dude has choked on a pair of wish sandwiches the last two weeks. The Spartans beat the crap out of Denard for the third straight season and are really the only squad to consistently have his number. But they went conservative when they needed to pad the lead and it cost them.

It may have cost offensive coordinator Dan Roushar his job. Given the preseason expectations in East Lansing, the conference landscape ripe for a title run and the offensive output across the Big Ten shifting to a more spread-based approach, Sparty can’t cling to its current attack plan … which is severely light on the attack portion. Michigan State has the young receivers to make the shift. Does it have the vision?

*Northwestern is well-coached and gets as much out of its personnel as any team in the country. But it’s clear when the Wildcats face bigger, stronger outfits like Penn State and Nebraska (i.e. the last two weeks) they just can’t absorb the body blows for 15 rounds and stay on their feet. My question is when does Pat Fitzgerald grow tired of it … if ever? He would some make some traditional power very, very happy. But would that make him happy?
*Illinois looked better this weekend than it has all season.

And now, the national review …

*Another week, another showing by Alabama that leads me to believe Nick Saban is going to add another BCS title to his resume and use it to become the highest-paid NFL coach of all time. His age and background make it an almost now-or-never situation. I just can’t believe he can handle being thought of as a second-class citizen in a room where successful NFL coaches are present.

*I am about halfway to an apology for Will Muschamp. Yes, Urb left him some pretty sweet toys. But they look like a team that can win in a variety of ways. There is still some question about how the quarterback will fare when forced to pass. If Jeff Driskell can do that on a big stage, look out.

*Have you watched a Notre Dame game this season? Yes, the competition has been questionable at times – BYU is a solid squad, sure – but there is that vibe again. They aren’t hoping to win. They believe they will. Ol’ Kirkie said on SportsCenter the Fighting Irish could go undefeated and miss the BCS title game. Yes, that is mathematically possible. But if Notre Dame beats Oklahoma and USC on the road the campaign to get them in will dwarf anything Romney or Obama can put together. ESPN will devour the topic with a Tebow-like appetite. And Brian Kelly and Co. still might not make it, I get that. But you will be so sick of the subject/round-the-clock coverage at that point you’ll be pining for more Tebow updates.

*The following squads have once again shown they are made of counterfeit currency: West Virginia, South Carolina, Auburn, Virginia Tech and Cincinnati. See ya.

**So here is what I think the top 10 SHOULD BE now: 1. Alabama; 2. Oregon; 3. Florida; 4. Kansas State; 5. Notre Dame; 6. LSU; 7. Ohio State; 8. Oregon State; 9. Oklahoma; 10. USC.
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Bottom of the Bucket

Mr. B scrapes up some final thoughts …

We’re on the record… Bucknuts has been the favorite site for Buckeye Nation for almost 12 years now. We feel we accomplish that by never taking our fans – and beloved subscribers – for granted. Thus, our guys wanted to point out that we have broken our previous subscription record way ahead of “subscription season” and for many weeks running. Bucknuts is getting hundreds of new premium users and we want to say thank you and to reinforce our commitment to continued technical upgrades and better reporting and features that you have come to love.

Yes, we have to give a lot of the credit for this huge upsurge of new business to:

1) Urban being undefeated and fans raving about that.

2) Fickell running a dreadful defense and fans whining about it.

3) Our competition having myriad problems; we understand those frustrations and welcome you to Bucknuts.

It’s a great time to be a Buckeye and the best time ever to be a premium Bucknutter!

* * * *

I’m not saying we suck – but the other quarterbacks are making a statement…. That is, opposing quarterbacks make us realize that our pass defense has been sucking so far (you didn’t know that?) and we are transforming a few Joe Average’s into Tom Brady’s. We have faced Tom Brady in the past so we do know the difference!

Here’s an overly heavy-handed analysis prior to yesterday’s game:

1) Zac Dysert (Miami) was 31-53 for 303 yards. In his other six non-Buckeye games (Southern Illinois? UMass? Akron?), he has averaged 23 for 36 for 268 yards

2) Blake Bortles (UCF) was 25 for 41 against the Bucks for 249 yards. Against his other five opponents, he averaged 21 for 30 for 245 yards.

3) Zach Maynard (Cal) was 26 for 37 for 280 yards against OSU. His average against the other six teams he faced was 16 for 28 for 210 yards

4) Austin Brown and Jonathan Perry (UAB) combined for 28 of 46 for 259 yards. For the other five games they had played? 12-20-200 and 8-19-208.

5) Andrew Maxwell (Michigan State) was 22-42 for 269 yards against the Bucks. Against the other six opponents, he averaged 19-35 for 223

6) Taylor Martinez (Nebraska) was 15-25 for 214 yards (and he scored 3 TD’s). The average against everyone else was a not-so-robust 16-24 for 212

7) Cameron Coffman and Nate Sudfeld combined for 25-54-352 yards. Their combined average against everyone else was 17-25-160

The totals for this rather anonymous bunch were 25-43-275 against Ohio State versus 19-31-236 against their other opponents. The beat went on with Terbush yesterday

A bunch of key points can be made. Ergo verily:

1) We are not exactly talking Geno Smith and Andrew Luck here. Except for Zak Dysert, this is a below average group and the Indiana combo was actually their second and third string QB’s!

2) Teams are going to pass more against OSU because, well…they can. Kinda why a dog licks himself…

3) Look at the level of competition these teams have played while racking up LESSER numbers than against tOSU!

4) Some of this falls into the water-is-wet category of analysis but some of it just buttresses how truly awful our pass defense has been so far.

A final notion is that we seem to be playing a combination of different defenses and it is unattractive, except to our opposition. When the front four can’t get to the QB on their own (54 pass attempts by Indiana and no sacks!?!) and the corners play off the wide-receivers, even the worst quarterbacks can make that work.

As they have proven…

But, yes, the dream goes on forever. Think not? Check out our radio shows today and tomorrow and the cavalcade of articles starting this afternoon and leading us right into Happy Valley next Saturday night! You miss a day – you miss a lot…

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