Mr. B Is In Love

I love this team.

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

I mean I LOVE this TEAM! How can you not love guys like John Simon and Big Hank and Ryan Shazier and Roby and Boren and Carlos and Philly and Brax? They have become like my kids all of a sudden. And like my kids, they can drive you crazy at times but you love them nonetheless.

We were all looking forward to Jim Tressel being back in Ohio Stadium next Saturday to commemorate the 2002 Ohio State national championship team. But it looked like he got to the team a week early as Urban played his best (?) Tressel-Ball in subduing a frisky but under-talented Badger outfit. It’s probably the first time this year that these Urban Bucks played down to their competition. Hey – both squads have had a year with inconsistent defenses and occasionally overwhelming offenses.

But Wisconsin’s best defensive player was down and they were starting a third-string QB and they only had one wide receiver and…AND we had Braxton and Urban’s high flying offensive circus. Where did they go for 60 minutes? A special edition of that investigation is underway.

Our defense was heroic as Evil Bret threw everything he had at them with unique shifts and weird alignments and clever plays never seen before on film. Montee Ball looked Heisman-esque for much of the game and our Buckeye D was out on the field for 58 of the 60 minutes (wait – I need to check my notes again; that’s how it seemed…)

But now – you check it out – Ohio State is one of just two undefeated teams in the nation. And Notre Dame doesn’t count because they are above all that BCS stuff, right? We won and are now the leader of The Leaders and no one can do anything about that. We beat the Fighting and Whining Bielemas at their place, where he had never lost in November and never lost on Senior Day. Get used to it Bret – there’s more hard rain a-coming from Columbus.

Everything we did wrong during the game (well-chronicled at this point), we did right in OT. The OSU offense awoke and blew the doors off the Badgers while the defense hitched their pants up and stopped them cold: four plays and out. Really – how good was this Wisconsin team? What was their 2012 pedigree? They were they living off the past IMO (I predicted 30-17, after all…) and hid behind the traditional Bielema swagger and pompous assholery. Yes, this is their fourth loss in a very-down Big Ten year. And, yes, their other three losses were close 3-point affairs. But this is a 7-4 team now, unranked, playing with a third-string QB and Minnesota (6-4) is the only team with a winning record that Bret’s Boys has managed to beat this year.

It’s not a stated fact but it’s not a secret either: Both Urb and the players hate these guys. Philly Brown nailed it when he said: “I don’t want to go on record saying that I hate Wisconsin more than Michigan, but I hate Wisconsin just as much as Michigan.”

And Bielema talks and looks big but his record is as sloppy against Ohio State as is his appearance. In his seventh season with the Badgers, he is 1-5 against Ohio State. Before becoming a head coach, Bielema faced the Buckeyes several times as a player and assistant and was 1-3 versus OSU as a player at Iowa from 1989-92 and then 0-6 as an assistant coach with the Hawkeyes from 1994-2001. Bielema was also 0-1 against Ohio State as an assistant coach at Kansas State (2002-03) so that makes him a cumulative 2-15 against the Buckeyes. Brave talk, Bucky.

It feels to me like the season is just getting started. Instead, it’s the earliest ending in the Modern Bowl times, as OSU went to a bowl game pretty much every year other than the Cooper Swan Song Era. In the new silly season created by B-10 brass, the Bucks aren’t going to the made-for-TV conference championship affair in the venerated Indy stadium but did win the Leaders Division unless some bureaucrat asks us to give it back later. Of course, Wisconsin will now “represent” the division in the “title game” and – are you confused yet? Do you care yet? Don’t we know the real truth about these things?

The Bucks are one of two undefeated Big Division schools out of 120. This is Urban’s third team (!) that started 11-0 at three different schools. Here’s a little delicious tidbit: Give Meyer extra time to prepare and, well…in games after open weeks (before bowls, first of the season, coming off a bye week), Urb is now 33-2. And he has thrown off the Wisky curse already. Under Brat Bielema, the Badgers were 6-0 on Senior Day. No more. It’s always tough to play at Camp Randall but Coach M figured out, you don’t have to play them at night in the dark with liquored up students throwing things at you. It had been since 2002 – that magical season – that we haven’t had to play Wisconsin at night in their rat-trap. That was also the last year that the Buckeyes finished undefeated, coincidentally.

Some sudden and sodden final thoughts in the random way they occur to me about yesterday’s too-close-for-comfort Badger dusting:

1) Have we become an easy team to scout on offense or what? Have a spy (or two!) on Braxton, dare him to run and, well…that’s about it as of yesterday’s game plan.

2) Was Montee Ball close to the all-time TD record? Man, the announcers should have mentioned that in an otherwise meaningless game, no?

3) I have cracked on Ben Buchanan’s uncanny ability to crack under pressure and he didn’t let down that analysis in Madison, shanking his last two punts and giving Wisconsin great field position when we needed him to come through with big kicks.

4) Tom Herman? He needs to return his Mensa certificate for a week and ask for re-admission. No adjustments, no plays to take advantage of the Braxton pressure. No first downs in the second half! He forgot about Carlos Hyde and almost every other offensive wrinkle that got us to 11-0. Overtime bailed him – and us – out yesterday…

5) One last coaching complaint: You have a third string novice QB back there with deer-in-the-headlights potential. Bring some pressure, man!
But that’s just me. Picky, picky, picky. With only one more game to stop my heart and make or break my season. I can’t end my reminiscence about kicking Badger ass without reminiscing about the great 2002 team. I bring this up because it is now officially MEEEECHIGAN WEEK. And because the 2002 team gets a cameo curtain call during the Michigan game on Saturday. I can feel the arrogance oozing south from the big stink-pot in Ann Arbor as I write this. Michigan’s mediocre season, we ask? They will answer that two of UM's losses will be to the #1 and #2 teams in America. They likely have already forgotten the Hail Mary mystical finish to beat Northwestern and save them from possibly going 7-5 after we take them down starting at noon in six days.

Yes, Michigan. For me – it’s the whole season. I do love these guys. But, Urban, make that love last all winter long.

Beat Michigan!!!

Long After the Game

Wisconsin game analysis by Duane Long
Just a few days ago I cautioned the Front Row message board about looking ahead to Michigan. There were too many threads about The Game. Overlooking Wisconsin was a mistake. No program has given the Buckeyes more trouble than Wisconsin over the last 10 years.

Bad things have happened over the years, especially in their joint. The Badgers came into this game playing well, averaging better than 36 points a game over their last five while winning four out of five after a rocky start.

They just scored 62 against Indiana. They came into this game sky high. Wisconsin is always going to be a problem because it plays a different game. It is smart football. The team is built around what talent they can bring in, which means we are looking at leather helmet football. They are going to line up behind a very big line and run the football. Ohio State’s defense is built to defend against 21st-century offenses and that is the right thing to do. Wisconsin is the only offense Ohio State will see that plays the game like when Leave it to Beaver was the nation’s No. 1-rated TV show.

You find a way to win games like this. The defense did. John Simon played like a man possessed, especially in the first half. Ryan Shazier played like a man possessed the entire game.

Who came up with this offensive game plan? I know Jim Tressel is due in next week but it sure looked like he was involved this week. How many plays were in the game plan this week - five, six - I am sure no more than seven? I do not get what we were trying to do on offense. Wisconsin seemed to be in our huddle. Of course, when the offense seems to be Braxton Miller left, Braxton Miller right and Braxton Miller up the middle - especially and frustratingly on third down - it is not hard to come up with a defensive game plan.

Why is Chris Fields back on punts sometimes when Philly Brown has shown he can change the game with one touch? With the plan on offense we can say Brown’s punt return was the difference in the game. Rod Smith was doing a great job returning kickoffs. I do not get why we changed returners.

Strange game as far as coaching is concerned. We played so conservatively. We made some changes that made no sense. Yet … we are 11-0 headed into the Michigan game. In the end, that is all that matters.

He’s Ba-a-ack: Ramzy

Game review from occasional, longtime Bucknuts contributor that is always original …

This schedule gave Ohio State’s coaching staff two weeks to prepare for two games: Wisconsin, whose playbook resembles the original four-play Tecmo Bowl menu (they do two of those plays really well) and Michigan, which ran absurd quadruple reverses and two-QB sets against Iowa yesterday that were seemingly designed only to force Ohio State’s coaches to prepare for them.

If the game in Madison is any indication, Braxton Miller either regressed or his engine cooled - possibly by design - over those two weeks. He lost his passing confidence and was often too frightened to even throw the ball away when no one was open (read: When he couldn’t see the open guy or guys).

Even worse, he lost his running confidence and rushed the ball without passion. Wisconsin wasn’t fooled by those empty backfield sets. Craig Krenzel’s designed runs were less obvious.

Carlos Hyde, who at this point is still ascending toward his Jonathan Wells-ish ceiling, was reliable in between the tackles, which leads me to believe Ohio State deliberately kept him as well as Miller from too much abuse in preparation for next week. The entire game was a study in hesitation, clenching and missed opportunities. Perhaps it was to avoid the kind of hits that Ryan Shazier was distributing.

You have to wonder what kind of trajectory the game would have taken had Jake Stoneburner held onto either of the two balls that hit him in the hands in the first quarter, because after that Miller stopped looking in his or any downfield TE’s direction. The result was a lot of awkward, pained passing plays where Miller had ample time to throw but...didn’t.
It was basically the 2011 season, except for the part where the Buckeyes actually won.

The Michigan game was Ohio State’s bowl-game-rivalry-game-super-combo the moment that postseason ban went public. It just became a play-in game to immortality with this 11-0 start. The Buckeyes had two weeks to think about what it might be like to play for an undefeated season against the Wolverines.

Now they have one. And then they won’t play another season like this one ever again.

Spanning the College Football Globe: The Facts and the Pub

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

What can I say about the Buckeyes that would be more clever and insightful than what Duane and Ramzy just laid out for you?

[… crickets … ]

I will, however, share more on the undefeated Ohio State football team than you probably need to hear in just a bit on our live weekly radio show – “The Bucknuts 90” – broadcast from 11 a.m.- 12:30 p.m. at the Rooster’s on North Main Street near downtown Dayton. Mr. B will join Mark Neal and me and you can listen live on WING-AM ESPN 1410 … or check out the podcast of the show that will go up this afternoon.

So here we go with our standard quick spin around the Big Ten and national football scene …

*If you really look at the Big Ten, it was a ho-hum weekend in terms of results. Nothing that happened changed much. That was not necessarily a good thing for all involved. Yes, that means you Mark Dantonio. If there was ever a year for Sparty to take control of the neutered Big Ten, this was it. Instead, Michigan State is a dismal 2-5 in conference and 5-6 overall coming off back-to-back 11-win seasons.

Northwestern held fourth quarter leads earlier this season against Nebraska, Michigan and Penn State … but wilted in the end against bigger, stronger teams. Not so yesterday. There is no question Sparty is bigger and stronger than Northwestern. But something is missing in East Lansing this season, whether it is underneath the chest protector or between the earholes. And the punishment is heading into the last weekend of the season aiming to get to Detroit or someplace similar for a bowl game. I can hear the Spartan fans lining up for bowl tickets now … or not.

*Yo, Dino, see what Bo Pelini did? He doesn’t have a great team – not even close. The Huskers loss at UCLA earlier this season doesn’t look so bad right now and a road loss against a better team in Ohio State was eminently predictable. Nebraska beat who it should have and lost on the road to the better teams on its schedule. Had you done that, Dino, you’d be sitting pretty. Losing at home to Iowa (?????) and Northwestern is really embarrassing considering the NFL-player laden defense you trot out there. The Huskers are by no means a great team but they are big and talented – anyone who saw them in person in The Shoe can attest to their airport test strength – and now have a nice finish to the season in their clutches.

*Purdue over host Illinois. Oy. Can we just trade them for Maryland and Rutgers?

*It’s now on the Buckeyes to end this Devin Gardner experience. The Hokester realized a game too late that starting a former high school all-American quarterback was the right move once Shoelaces was tied up.

But numbers posted against Iowa are like Warren Moon’s CFL stats – they count, sure, but does anyone really take them seriously?

And now, some national perspective …

*Yes, it does suck that Ohio State is going to miss out on a possible national championship the way things have played out. Still, if we had to go through all this for a decade or so run with Urb, count me in every freakin’ time. Every. Freakin’. Time.

*Maybe Notre Dame is not the best team in the country. But in this fabricated-we-won’t-find-out-because-there-is-no-real-playoff-system state of affairs, the Irish deserve to be atop the heap. And the Irish defense is arguably the nation’s best. Check the numbers. They match ‘Bama across the board which is amazing considering Notre Dame’s problem the last 20 years or so has been an inability to get it done on that side of the ball. And while the fabricated system does not produce a true champ in my opinion, it does create incredible drama. Notre Dame’s season came down to a Stanford junior from Austin, Texas making a clutch kick with the entire college football world watching. Jordan Williamson will never have to pay for a meal in South Bend. I’m sure he’s just thrilled about that.

*Got my first extended look at Kansas State last night. My thoughts? Baylor is pretty good. I was far more impressed with Art Briles and Co. Seriously. All this did was save Kansas State from embarrassment against [SEC team] or the Irish. Baylor would have scored 80 last night if the game was six quarters long.

*Lane Kiffin, dude? Are you serious? It took Jim Mora like six months to topple the supposed juggernaut that was USC and take over the L.A. market. Keep in mind there is nobody else for UCLA. Beating USC is it. The Trojans still have an amazing recruiting class booked for the Class of 2013. But would anyone be surprised to see it disintegrate in the next few months leading up to National Signing Day? Anyone?

Bueller … Bueller?

**So here is what I think the top 10 SHOULD BE now: 1. Notre Dame; 2. Ohio State; 3. Alabama; 4. Georgia; 5. Oregon; 6. Florida; 7. LSU; 8. Texas A&M; 9. South Carolina; 10. Florida State

Bottom of the Bucket

Mr. B scrapes up some final thoughts

The whole Kiffin Caboodle … Lane Kiffin is making a name for himself out on the Left Coast at USC, as he is trending from “boy genius” to “just plain weird.” Kiffin was the youngest head coach in NFL history when he was with the Raiders, and is currently the youngest head coach of a BCS Conference team in college football.

At age 32, he was named coach of the Oakland Raiders with no previous head coaching experience. Of course, that was under Al Davis who made a career out of “just plain weird.” Kiffin then went on to ruin the Tennessee program where he hiked up the SEC salary structure for assistants, trashed Volunteer traditions, wrecked their recruiting – and accomplished all that in just a year. Then it was back to Southern California where he inherited a talented-if-tainted Trojan bunch. He has them on track now to become the first pre-season No. 1-ranked team ever to not finish in the final Top 25. Insiders there insist it’s not just his under-performance on the field but also this sentiment: “Things have turned really bad for Lane. It’s not so much the wins or losses as the negative crap he brings to the school.” And that was before they blew it against crosstown hated rival UCLA yesterday.

During this past season, that negative crap included discrediting an AP journalist because he “revealed” a player injury, switching numbers at halftime between a quarterback and a kicker and – two weeks ago – not being responsible (?) for a student manager deflating footballs during the loss to Oregon. Just plain weird. To show how world-wide the Kiffin phenomena has become, just click here.

* * * *

Coaches we love to hate …While talking about Lane Kiffin and the up-and-down relationship he has with fans and foes alike, I thought of the other coaches we most love to hate. Out of sight and now out of mind were Bucket all-time faves like DickRod and Charlie Cheeseburger. The Dickster (aka Rich Rodriguez) is now plying his craft at Arizona and sporting a gaudy 7-4 record. Charley Chuckles (aka “Front Butt” or simply “Charlie Weis”) took his ample girth and equally inflated sense of self to Kansas, where football careers go to die. Thus far, he is amping that arc, being 1-10 and 111th in the nation in scoring offense.

So who moves into the new top spots on our Most Unwanted list of coaches? I would like to suggest – for your consideration – the following:

1) Fred Flintstone (Brady Hoke)

2) Bret Bielema

3) Nick Saban

4) Steve Spurrier

Hoke has the most inflated sense of self of the group and since we see him next week I will refrain from my usual refrain out of respect. Well, superstition, I guess. Wisconsin has the two most-hated major sports coaches in the twin tandem of Bret Bielema and basketball HC Bo Ryan. They are equally insufferable. Saban is just Saban and we have been rooting against him for so long it just seems natural. And Steve Superior? Really – does anyone like this guy?

Feel free to pick your own but we will pick on these guys for a while longer. They are not exactly a rogue’s gallery but also they’re not the pantheon of the greats who left us with legacy quotes, either. Their stuff is just so darn pedestrian. Can you imagine them saying things like they said them “back when”? To wit:

1) “Gentlemen, it is better to have died a small boy than to fumble this football” John Heisman

2) “I make my practices real hard because if a player is a quitter…I want him to quit in practice, and not in a game” Bear Bryant

3) “Motivation is simple. You eliminate those who are not motivated” Lou Holtz

4) “I don’t expect to win enough games to be put on NCAA probation. I just want to win enough to warrant an investigation” Bob Devaney

5) "They cut us up like boarding house pie.......And that's real small pieces." Darrell Royal

Rest in peace, Darrell. They just don’t make ‘em like they used to…

A Few Bullets at the Bottom

Quick hits, cheap shots and fill-in (the blanks)

Snappy answers to unasked questions…We are all aware – are we not? – that the new rules prohibiting contact with the long-snapper has changed the way at least he, well…looks at things. Bryce Haynes has been a pleasant surprise in our otherwise unpleasant surprises for kick coverage this year.

(Bryce has gotten down the field first and covered kicks himself – a huge and new advantage with this rule)

Another SEC investigation…Remember how the SEC always complains about how tough their schedules are? And how they won’t play a top non-conference team at their opponents’ ballpark? And – what? Their schedules yesterday? It was Georgia Southern AT Georgia, Wofford AT South Carolina, Alabama A&M AT Auburn (every game is tough for Auburn…), Sam Houston State AT Texas A&M, and (1-10) Western Carolina AT Alabama.

(They are not only playing cream puffs in the 11th week of the season, they want them at home to maximize the financial take and the media glory of “big” wins…)

It’s Michigan week!!! Bucknuts will have on new and different features every day during the week. You miss a day – you miss a lot! Go Bucks!

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