August 12, 2008

2008: Grading the non-conference schedules


We've created a vicious cycle in college football. Sure we all love the fact that just about every game is on TV nowadays. And because coaches and athletic directors want their teams to look good on TV, so they schedule a lot of limp fish opponents. Because wins beget bowl games. Bowl games begets job security. Job security begets more money. Thus, more money is insured by wins. You spin me right round baby right round, like a record.

No longer do college football teams across the country take chances. Or, well, rarely do they. Have you noticed how boring Septembers have become, except for the occasional Appy State upset of Michigan or Ohio State showdown with Texas?

Continue reading "2008: Grading the non-conference schedules" »

January 09, 2008

BCS Championship game: In Pictures

In a season that seemed to make little sense, it seemed only fitting that a two-loss team would win the national championship. Hell, why not? Just like everything else in this four-month stretch of pigskin madness, we weren't supposed to make sense of it. But in the end, it all added up for LSU.

Here's a photo montage of the 38-24 victory over Ohio State that gave the Tigers another national title flag to run up the flag pole.

(Though showing its age a little bit, the Grand Ole Lady on the River was all gussied up to host another big game in the Big Easy.)

(You sure you want first row, 50-yard line seats? One of the big complaints I've always had of the Superdome's layout is the fact that the stands are so far away from the field. For tonight's game, there were rows of temporary seats laid down on the floor for a bunch of bands and officials to sit in. Given that the teams will be standing in front of them, it made these seats useless to watch the game in.)

(Brutus the Buckeye gets a photo op with a purple-clad LSU fan. He's got all the luck I tell ya'.)

(Archie Manning stalks the sidelines before the game. And it also appears as if he has grown a second head on his shoulders. Eerie.)

(The Buckeyes gather in the end zone after their pre-game warm-ups. Their helmets resembling a bunch of giant bouncing bee-bees.)

(What would an LSU game be without the Golden Girls doing their thing? They always enhance the atmosphere of game day for Tiger fans.)

(Beanie Wells gets some props as he walks to the sidelines after busting a long touchdown run and giving OSU a quick 7-0 lead. Craig Steltz busted a read on the play and that allowed Wells to run 60-plus yards for first points of the game.)

(The Buckeye cheerleaders pair up and do some kind of booty bumping thing after a touchdown. Later on in their lives, we're going to show their children video clips of this.)

(Early in the game the Buckeye O-line gave Todd Boeckman good protection, helping lead OSU to a 10-0 lead after just nine offensive plays.)

(One of the biggest Buckeye faux pas in the game came when Austin Spitler roughed LSU punter Patrick Fisher. This allowed LSU to maintain its opening drive of the second half, essentially putting the game away a few plays later with a TD pass from Matt Flynn to Early Doucet, giving LSU a 31-10 lead.)

(In the end, the LSU O-line deserved to celebrate, being the main difference in the game, knocking back the talented Buckeye D-line for most of the game.)

(ESPN's Shelley Smith is in the starting blocks, about to rush the field for interviews after the final gun goes off. Hi Shelley.)

(Long time LSU assistant coach/recruiting coordinator/administrator Sam Nadar gets a photo op with a few fans holding one of those pre-printed "LSU wins" newspapers.)

(After I took this picture of James Laurinaitis I realized "Oops, he doesn't look like he wants his picture taken." Luckily I got away without him putting me in some kind of wrestling submission hold.)

(Apparenlty LSU hoss lineman Carnell Stewart decided to field post-game questions by literally sitting on the field.)

(You gotta dig Ali HIghsmith's post-season beard. It's as if Barry White himself came back and put on an LSU uniform.)

(Have you guys noticed how the coach that wins the title game is instantly outfitted with a black leather jacket with the school name embossed on it? Urban Meyer wore one last year on the post-game podium as well. Is this in their contract or something? Because it sure wasn't cold enough for a heavy leather jacket after the game was over.)

(Yes, the horribly contrived confetti shower begins automatically once the trophy is given to the head coach. Won't someone please make this stop?)

(Not surprisingly, Coach Tressel wasn't in the mood to answer more questions about his team coming up short on the game's biggest stage.)

(The biggest disappointment of the the whole BCS title game experience was the fact that the OSU punk band The Bastard Sons of Woody Hayes - formerly known as the Dead Schembechlers - didn't make the trip down to New Orleans and play at Tipitina's. I dig those guys.)

January 08, 2008

BCS Championship Game: LSU 38 - OSU 24.

NEW ORLEANS, La.-- In a season that made no sense, it makes a lot of sense that 12-2 LSU climbs back to be the kings of the college football world after tonight's 38-24 win over Ohio State.

They weren't the best team all season, they didn't dominate anyone past week two, they may not have even been the best two-loss team. But just like they did all season long, they won when they had to. And tonight they won impressively with a total team effort. No stars. No dominant stats. Just a team victory through and through.

(Richard Dickson, seemingly open all night, scored the final touchdown for LSU on a 15-yard catch with 3:53 left.)

(LSU's only point of embarrassment came when its kicker - Sean Gaudet - attempted to make a tackle on the final kickoff and got injured. Nothing's worse than a kicker that gets hurt on one of his only five plays of the night.)

(LSU players - like this clean-uniformed scrub - started displaying "LSU No. 1" newspapers as the clock wound down. I always thought this was one of the more contrived things about championship games.)

(Glen Dorsey gets a post-game interview from another blonde bombshell sideline reporter.)

(Matt Flynn, the Offensive Player of the Game, displays the fruits of championship crystal.)

(D-Tackle Ricky Jean-Francois, who didn't play this season until the SEC Championship game, got voted the Defensive Player of the Game.)

(The two leading tacklers of the game, LSU's Ali Highsmith and OSU's James Laurinaitis, gave each other props in the post-game melee. Because LSU's total team effort, I actually thought that Laurinaitis should've been named the Defensive Player of the Game with his 18 tackles... which seemed more like 30 to me.)

BCS Championship Game: It's LSU!

NEW ORLEANS, La.-- The Tigers hold off Ohio State and complete the win for their second BCS championship in five years with the 38-24 win.

Congrats Tigers.

More to follow.

January 07, 2008

BCS Championship Game: Highsmith Hijacking

NEW ORLEANS, La.-- On 4th and 8, Todd Boeckman got this rude awakening from LSU's Ali Highsmith:
(Ali Highsmith says "hi" to Boeckman to provide the biggest play of the game so far)

With just over nine minutes remaining, OSU better come up with some big time magic.

LSU has just stayed within itself and relied on its defense, which has made some big plays to make the difference in this game.

I'm about to go down for what should be a purple and gold celebration... unless that magic thing works out for the Bucks.

BCS Championship Game: LSU takes lead into 4th

NEW ORLEANS, La.-- LSU should be careful. Despite my previous post, this game is NOT over.

And I'll give block of granite James Laurinaitis a whole mess of credit. Right before Malcom Jenkins' interception, when Fox was taking another 10-minute commercial block, he went up to each and every defender, patted them on the helmet and tried to light a fire under their ass:

(Laurinaitis has been all over the field tonight, including in his teammates heads)

Next play, boom! Jenkins pick leads to Brian Robiskie's 4-yard touchdown catch.

It's now 31-17, but OSU just stopped the Tigers again and have a chance to make this a game again.

BCS Championship Game: OSU decides to shoot its foot again

NEW ORLEANS, La.-- Ballgame?

Well mark this play down for sure, OSU's Austin Spitler committed the mortal sin of roughing the kicker after the Buckeyes had stoned LSU on its first drive of the second half:
(This roughing of LSU's Patrick Fisher may have been the turning point)

After that, another personal foul penalty moved LSU into scoring range and Early Doucet caught a 4-yard pass from Matt Flynn to put LSU up 31-10.

At the half you could just FEEL the wind coming out of the Buckeye fans that were walking around the concourse with frustrated looks on their faces. I had a feeling if LSU scored on its opening possession of the second half, it could be all over. Well, here we are...

(oh, sorry for no halftime updates. See the Superdome only has a few outlets to charge your computer and mine was nearly on the blink. So I plugged it into a bathroom outlet during the break. No, I'm not kidding)

BCS Championship Game: LSU lookin' good, OSU not so.

NEW ORLEANS, La.-- Another pick, another touchdown for LSU. The purple and gold are now up 24-10 with just under a minute to go before halftime.

This time it was Jacob Hester cramming himself across the goal line, as you can see from this pile of humanity and LSU's players celebrations:
(it wasn't pretty, but Hester TDs never are)

OSU seems to be the one shooting themselves in the foot now with dumb penalties and a pair of crushing interceptions. Look for Bo Pelini to pin his D-boys ears back and get after Boeckman big time now.

BCS Championship Game: Jean-Francois blocks, LaFell converts

NEW ORLEANS, La.-- The Tigers didn't need any help that time.

After Ricky Jean-Francois blocked Ryan Pretorious' 38-yard field goal attempt, LSU drove the length of the field to take a 17-10 lead. Ole "Mo" is wearing Tiger white now.

The Drive:
10 plays, 66 yards
10-yard pass from Flynn to Brandon LaFell

Since the first two drives, LSU has figured out the Buckeye D and moved seamlessly down the field to take the 7-point lead. And LaFell, who has had a case of butter-fingers this season, held on to the pass this time.

BCS Championship Game: Okay, that was easy too

NEW ORLEANS, La.-- Slicker than a mayonaisse sandwich, LSU goes 84 yards to the tying score, a 14-yard touchdown from Matt Flynn to Richard Dickson. Tigers made it look easy. OSU helped them out with a pair of 15-yard penalties.

Usually it has been LSU guilty of penalties left and right as the Tigers are the second-most penalized team in Division I.

Whole new ballgame now. The early jitters for LSU appear to be over.

BCS Championship Game: End of one, 10-3 OSU

NEW ORLEANS, La.-- It's the end of one. Surprised?

I have to admit, I'm not too shocked yet. Judging by how the Big 10 has done vs. the SEC in bowl games so far, Wisconsin nearly beating Tennessee and Michigan beating Florida, this is only a mild surprise.

Strange stat. That fumbled punt return by LSU is the 17th fumble the Tigers have committed this year, but have still only lost three all season. Three! Wow.

The matchup with Laurinaitis and Hester has been a beauty so far. And it seems like Laurinaitis has been in on every tackle for the Bucks. LSU has been a little predictabale with Hester so far. Then again, it hasn't hurt them either.

total yards:
OSU- 127
LSU- 57

BCS Championship Game: Okay, that's 10 points in 9 plays

NEW ORLEANS, La.-- Ryan Pretorious puts OSU up 10-0 with just under six minutes gone in the game. The Bucks have run a total of nine offensive plays so far.


And give an "atta-boy" to OSU kick-off man Aaron Pettrey who has kept Trindon Holliday and Keiland Williams from returning any kickoffs. That's a valuable weapon.

BCS Championship Game: Beanie Bounds, OSU up quick

NEW ORLEANS, La.-- Okay, that was fast.

(Beanie Wells getting congratulated in the end zone)

... then again, I remember seeing Ted Ginn score fast on Florida last year too. So let's not jump to conclusions here.

(then again, part II... OSU didn't stop Florida on a three-and-out last year immediately afterward either)

BCS Championship Game: The best national anthem performance since Jimi Hendrix at Woodstock

NEW ORLEANS, La.-- I'm sure you at home saw it, but the Preservation Hall Jazz Band performed the national anthem tonight.

That's pretty cool.

And didn't the singer look like Dickie Barrett of the Mighty Mighty Bosstones?

BCS Championship Game: Two best traditions in college football.

NEW ORLEANS, La.-- The two best band traditions in the country... easily. The script "Ohio": (though they should have done one big Ohio instead of two small ones.)

... and the hotness that is the LSU Golden Girls:

By the way, they just introduced the president of the BSC and the president of Allstate Insurance. (Inject sound effect of crickets chirping here).

Then they introduced the president of Ohio State and the president of LSU to thunderous applause.

Considering Katrina's plentiful victims, you can understand the silence for Allstate. And considering the plentiful victims of college football's post-season, ditto for the pres of the BCS.

15 minutes before kickoff.

BCS Championship Game: Already loud, 60 minutes before kickoff

NEW ORLEANS, La.-- Just as Ohio State was gathering at midfield and jumping up and down like a bunch of silver bee-bees:

... LSU's remaining linemen and linebackers came storming out of the tunnel. So both fan bases were going nuts and the sound level was at near Who-concert loud. And that was with half the crowd still being patted down outside.

(Oh, in case I didn't tell you, yes, you had to be patted down by security to get into the Superdome. And no, my security guard wasn't a beautiful girl patting me down)

BCS Championship Game: 10 Reasons Fox Shouldn't Broadcast Bowl Games

NEW ORLEANS, La. -- Here's 10 reasons why Fox shouldn't be broadcasting bowl games... or college football in general:

1- Who are all these NFL guys trying to talk college football?
In the BCS Selection Show we were subjected to Jimmy Johnson, Barry Switzer and Fox talking head Chris Rose. These guys know nothing about college ball... at least not during the course of THIS season.
2- Fox is sensationalist journalism.
Did you notice that the announcement show started at 10 before the hour, but the actual unveiling of the title game opponents didn't happen until over 35 minutes later.
3- Watching Barry Switzer and Jimmy Johnson playing journalist and conducting interviews is just plain painful.
4- This network obviously isn't used to working college games. That's why we got phrases like Jimmy Johnson saying "you have to think these two are probably two of the best in the country" and whoever was announcing the Sugar Bowl blurted this gem: "First down Gators" when Georgia was about to snap the ball vs. Hawaii.
5- "The Bowl Bash on Fox"? That kind of name for the BCS bowls is soooooo freakin' high school sounding.
6- They are pulling that damn pro football thing where after a touchdown, there are a block of four commercials, then they come back for kickoff, then there is another block of four commercials. Make it stop!
7- Speaking of long commercial breaks, what's the average length of these damn BCS games, 4 hours, 15 minutes or so?
8- Waaaaaaay too many FOX programming promos. I can only see the trailer to Prison Break so many times.
9- The Sugar Bowl halftime feature about the 1951 Univ. of San Francisco team was the worst I've ever seen. They never gave the teams won-loss mark, the teams they beat and - most egregiously - they didn't name the bowl that wouldn't allow the team to play in their game unless they kept their two black players at home. HORRRRRRIBLE!!
10- Chris Meyers as the sideline reporter? Puh-leeeeze give me back my Erin Andrews.

BCS Championship Game: Two quick "Did You Knows"

NEW ORLEANS, La.-- Bet you didn't know that LSU won the Boxing national championship in 1949:

... and since the NCAA doesn't sponsor the Division I post-season, beer is able to be sold at bowl games:

It's an hour twenty before kickoff and LSU's special teams guys just entered the playing field to a rousing applause by their fans.

BCS Championship Game: What OSU is trying to avoid


Last year, at the BCS title game in Glendale, I was walking around the stadium about two hours after the game was over and came upon four or five of these t-shirts left behind on seat backs in the Ohio State cheering section:

I'm sure their fans are hoping not to repeat the mistake of making a shirt like this for this year's game. Or better yet, winning the game so that a shirt like this won't hurt any longer. That's part of what I think will motivate this OSU squad to have a better showing.

It's about six hours before game time and as I write this the Ohio State band is practicing their script "Ohio" on the field. The Superdome peeps are also firing off some of the pyrotechnics to practice for the pre-game and halftime show.

More later.

January 06, 2008

BCS Championship Game: The Day Before Preview


It's the vest...

Versus the hat...

This is like a science experiment. What happens when you combine a a group of 18-22 year olds, 364 days of long memories and a whole state-full of pressure?

That's what Jim Tressel and his Ohio State Buckeyes face on Monday night in what will be a de facto home game for LSU in the Superdome.

Continue reading "BCS Championship Game: The Day Before Preview" »

November 17, 2007

Michigan-OSU: wrap up

ANN ARBOR, Mich- And the game ends where I last left it, 14-3. Ohio State actually ended up kneeling inside Michigan's 5-yard line to end the game, so it could have been worse.

Ohio State clinches the Big Ten Championship and a berth to the Rose Bowl, while Michigan is likely destined for a trip to Florida for either the Capital One Bowl or Outback Bowl.

Continue reading "Michigan-OSU: wrap up" »

Heading to the field...

ANN ARBOR, Mich- I'm headed to the field for the end of the game. Check back later for a wrap-up. Right now Ohio State leads 14-3 with 7:30 remaining.

Willis Reed revisited?

ANN ARBOR, Mich- Chad Henne has reemerged from the locker room.

As Ohio State challenges a spot on a punt return that Michigan's Greg Mathews took all the way back to the Ohio State 34, Henne ran back out onto the field. All indications are that he'll lead the team on the next drive, no matter where it starts from.

The Buckeyes' review proved to be fruitful. Michigan will start the drive from the Ohio State 46, which is still great field position.

Henne out

ANN ARBOR, Mich- Chad Henne is jogging to the locker room to receive treatment on his shoulder, which has obviously hindered his ability to throw the ball today. Ryan Mallett has come into the game (still 14-3 Ohio State with 3:30 remaining) in relief of Henne.

Continue reading "Henne out" »

Doing it twice

ANN ARBOR, Mich- Zoltan Mesko boomed a 52-yard punt that Ray Small took back for a score. However, an illegal block in the back on Brian Rolle negated the touchdown and eased Michigan fans' worries ... for about 11 seconds. On Ohio State's first play of the drive on its own 38-yard line, Beanie wells broke a 62-yard run for a Buckeye touchdown - and this one counted.

Ohio State now leads 14-3 early in the second half, and the fans' mood is matching the weather: cold and goomy.

Opportunity lost

ANN ARBOR, Mich- After flipping around the field-position game it was losing, Michigan failed to take advantage of a great chance.

Punter Zoltan Mesko boomed a 68-yarder to Ohio State's 4-yard line. Ohio State had to punt, and the Wolverines got the ball at midfield for their next possession. But two Mario Manningham drops halted any hopes of Michigan putting some points on the board, and Michigan had to punt.

The snail's-pace game is still 7-3 with under a minute left in the first half.

Buckeyes pull ahead

ANN ARBOR, Mich- Chris Wells' 1-yard touchdown run just put the Buckeyes on top, 7-3.

Ohio State received great field position after stopping Michigan deep in its own zone on the Wolverines' last drive. The Buckeyes began their scoring drive on Michigan's 44 and took advantage of the great field position. The eight-play scoring drive mostly featured brusing runs by Wells.

Boeckman shaky

ANN ARBOR, Mich- Ohio State quarterback Todd Boeckman just fumbled for the second time of the game on the first quarter's last play. The Buckeyes will punt to start the second quarter.

That's just the latest in a pretty shaky performance so far for Boeckman, who is playing in his first installment of The Game. He has slipped and fell a couple times to go with his fumbles, which Ohio State recovered both times. Ohio State has just 23 total yards so far, 14 of which are through the air.

Blue on the board

ANN ARBOR, Mich - Michigan leads 3-0 after a 33-yard field goal by K.C. Lopata.

The Wolverines drove down the field thanks to some courageous runs by a hobbled Mike Hart. The drive ultimately stalled when Chad Henne was sacked on a 2nd-and-11 inside the red zone.

Old school ball

ANN ARBOR, Mich- The two teams are playing Bo and Woody ball. Ten minutes into the game, it's turned into a battle of field position. Three drives, three punts. Michigan is beginning its second drive at its own 35 after forcing Ohio State to three straight losses on running plays. The Wolverines' first drive was a three-and-out, though.

Chad Henne and Mike Hart both started. Henne is 0-2 throwing and is wearing a glove on his throwing hand. He usually doesn't do that, but he usually doesn't play in these cold conditions, either.

Tensions already high

ANN ARBOR, Mich- It's still 40 minutes before kickoff, but there's already some drama.

The Michigan football team just ran out of the tunnel for warmups, and after taking its half-field warmup lap, it ran to the 'M' at midfield. Ohio State was on the other side, and the two teams starting jumping up and down firing each other up.

The jumps turned to jawing, and the teams had to be separated. Mike Hart broke through the huddle and got right in the faces of a few Ohio State players. The excitement level is through the roof - well, if stadiums had roofs. I've never heard a crowd so hyped this much before a game in my four years here at Michigan.

The Game: A preview

ANN ARBOR, Mich- Does this game really need me hyping it up? Sure, it's not a No. 1 vs. No. 2 matchup like last season, but it's still college football's biggest rivalry - or, as Michigan coach Lloyd Carr calls it, the best rivalry in all of sports.

Continue reading "The Game: A preview" »

November 10, 2007

Illinois has all the "Juice", upsets #1 Ohio State 28-21

COLUMBUS, Ohio - The Fairy Tale ride is over. After dominating opponents all season, the Buckeyes finally met their match in an Illinois squad led by quaterback Juice Williams. Behind his 140 passing yards and four touchdown passes, the Illini added Ohio State to the long list of top ranked teams who were upset this season.

Continue reading "Illinois has all the "Juice", upsets #1 Ohio State 28-21" »

Boeckman throws third interception

COLUMBUS, Ohio - After a huge defensive stop by the Buckeyes handed them the ball back with a chance to tie the game, Boeckman once again negated the defense's work in tossing another interception with less than eight minutes left in the game.

Continue reading "Boeckman throws third interception" »

No mistakes this time, Wells pounds way into endzone

COLUMBUS, Ohio - Beanie Wells wasn't about to let Boeckman mess this one up. Down 28-14 and the crowd gasping for the slightest bit of hope, Wells delivered by breaking off a 17-yard touchdown run as he has done so many time before. The fifth largest crowd in Ohio Stadium history, meanwhile, is on its feet and louder than ever.

Continue reading "No mistakes this time, Wells pounds way into endzone" »

Illini turn another Boeckman interception into 7 points

COLUMBUS, Ohio - They marched closer and closer and closer, but 12 plays and 34 yards later, the Buckeyes turned a potential touchdown into yet another turnover, as Boeckman was intercepted for the second time. This one, however, was pulled in by an Illini cornerback in the endzone.

Continue reading "Illini turn another Boeckman interception into 7 points" »

Williams connects on third touchdown pass, takes 21-14 lead at halftime

COLUMBUS, Ohio - For the second week in a row, Ohio State heads into the lockerroom at halftime with its undefeated season much in the air. Last week, the Buckeyes went into the half with a slim 10-3 lead over Wisconsin and later saw that lead dwindle away to a seven point deficit. Today, they find themeslves down 21-14 after Williams' third touchdown pass in the game with just 14 seconds left.

Continue reading "Williams connects on third touchdown pass, takes 21-14 lead at halftime" »

Offenses hit speed bump

COLUMBUS, Ohio - After a 28-point first quarter, it appears the defenses have finally stepped up while the offenses regress. The two Big Ten rivals combined for nearly 350 yards of offense in the opening stanza, but neither team has been able to mount anything offensivley since Illinois' last score at the four minute mark in the first.

Continue reading "Offenses hit speed bump" »

National Guard honored at end of quarter

COLUMBUS, Ohio - I just wanted to point out something few would have been able to see as the first quarter came to a close. In the intermission, members of the National Guard were brought out to the south endzone and were recognized for their service. The crowd of 105,000-plus all rose to their feet and gave them a standing ovation, much to the surprise of the Guard service men and women. It was quite a scene to witness.

Illinois turns interception into 7 points

COLUMBUS, Ohio - The Illini were the first team to punt today, but regained control of the ball on the next possession when Boeckman threw a rare interception on the Buckeyes ensuing drive. It was Boeckman's ninth of the season, which isn't bad for a guy who ranks sixth in the nation in pass efficiency. Williams took advantage of the turnover a few plays later, connecting with Jacob Willis for a 33-yard touchdown pass.

Continue reading "Illinois turns interception into 7 points" »

Three drives, three touchdowns

COLUMBUS, Ohio - Just as predicted, the Buckeyes once again worked their way into the endzone, stringing together a methodical 9 play, 76 yard touchdown drive. Ohio State backup tailback Maurice Wells handed his team its second touchdown on a 19-yard scamper into the endzone.

Continue reading "Three drives, three touchdowns" »

Illinois responds to Ohio State's quick touchdown with one of their own

COLUMBUS, Ohio - Well folks, looks like we have a shootout here. Just two plays after Ohio State took a 7-0 lead, the Illini responded with an 80-yard run from Daniel Dufrene that setup a touchdown pass from Williams. Both teams have now combined for 14 points in just over a minute of play.

Continue reading "Illinois responds to Ohio State's quick touchdown with one of their own" »

Bucks waste no time, score on game's first two plays

COLUMBUS, Ohio - It took just 23 seconds for Ohio State to prove why it is the No.1 team in the country, as quarterback Todd Boeckman hooked up with Brian Hartline for a 65-yard bomb on the first play of the game and Chris Wells took the next handoff 11 yards into the endzone to go up 7-0.

Continue reading "Bucks waste no time, score on game's first two plays" »

Ohio State looks to avoid upset against Illinois

COLUMBUS, Ohio - One week from today the Buckeyes will take on their toughest opponent of the season in Michigan. But first, they must get past a Fighting Illini squad that ranks third in the Big Ten. Illinois enters the contest ranked last in the conference in passing, which means its more than like going to have rely on tailback Rashard Mendenhall and its ground game. This could spell trouble for the Illini, however, since the Buckeyes enter with the nation's No.1 rush defense.

Continue reading "Ohio State looks to avoid upset against Illinois" »

November 03, 2007

Ohio State overcomes late scare to defeat Badgers 38-17

COLUMBUS, Ohio - No Block O shuffle for Wisconsin today. Nope, today it was the Buckeyes dancing their way to its biggest win of the season as they came from behind to defeat the Badgers 38-17 Saturday afternoon.

Ohio State overcame its toughest challenge of the season behind the play of tailback Chris Wells and quarterback Todd Boeckman. Down 17-10 late in the third quarter, Wells broke off touchdown runs of 31 and 30 yards on consecutive drives to pull his Buckeyes ahead 24-17. Boeckman than added a touchdown pass two drives later to move ahead comfortably 31-17. And just for good measure, Wells punched in his third touchdown of the contest on a 23-yard sprint to the endzone to seal the 38-17 victory.

"We knew it would be a battle and it was just that," said Ohio State coach Jim Tressel. “Anything that came our way in terms of adversity our guys handled. We are awfully proud of the way we got after it. I don’t know if it was our greatest performance, but we ended up winning and we have a chance to fight another round.”

Wisconsin quarterback Tyler Donovan had a strong first half performance to keep the Badgers close, as he constantly picked apart the Buckeye secondary. He finished the game 17-of-29 for 239 yards and a pair of touchdowns. Boeckman, meanwhile, completed 17-of-28 passes for 166 yards and two touchdowns as well.

Both defenses were solid most of the game until the Buckeyes broke it open late in the third quarter. The No. 1 ranked Ohio State defense finished with 10 sacks, four of which were by Vernon Gholston, and hauled in a pair of loose fumbles.

Continue reading "Ohio State overcomes late scare to defeat Badgers 38-17" »

Ooops, he did it again - Wells breaks off another 30-yard touchdown run

COLUMBUS, Ohio - After a three-and-out forced the Badgers to punt out of their own redzone, the Buckeyes proceeded to ride the shoulders of Beanie Wells all the way down the field and into the endzone following another 30-yard touchdown run from Wells. Ohio State now leads 24-17.

Continue reading "Ooops, he did it again - Wells breaks off another 30-yard touchdown run" »

Wells gives crowd of 105,000-plus new life, ties game at 17-17

COLUMBUS, Ohio - Just when it seemed like things were starting to fall apart for the Buckeyes, Chris "Beanie" Wells brought a desperate crowd to its feet when he broke off a 31-yard touchdown run to tie the game up at 17-17. Now, it's up to the Buckeye defense to elevate its game. A juggled return on the kickoff and an illegal block in the back has the Badgers backed up inside its own 10. The crowd, meanwhile, is doing everything it can to disrupt Donovan's communication abilities. The roar inside the press box windows is deafening.

Donovan continues to pick apart Buckeye secondary, Badgers jump to 17-10 lead

COLUMBUS, Ohio - Memories of recent years are beginning to swirl around Ohio Stadium. The cold and bitter winds have brought an erie feeling back to the Horseshoe for the first time all season. The generator of those winds: Tyler Donovan.

Continue reading "Donovan continues to pick apart Buckeye secondary, Badgers jump to 17-10 lead" »

Donovan connects on 50-yard pass, then 28-yard TD to tie game

COLUMBUS, Ohio - It didn't take long for Wisconsin to knot this game up at 10-10, as they strung together three plays of over 20 yards. The first game on the opening handoff when Brown raced for a 22-yarder before being tripped up at his 24. Donovan then hooked up with Paul Hubbard on a 3rd-and-3 play for 50 yards to take the ball to the Buckeyes' 13-yard line. A chop block sent the Badgers back 15 yards and onto the Buckeyes' 28 yard, but it proved to make little difference since Donovan connected yet again on the very next play with Beckum for a 28-yard touchdown pass.

Continue reading "Donovan connects on 50-yard pass, then 28-yard TD to tie game" »

Halftime: Ohio State 10, Wisconsin 3

COLUMBUS, Ohio - Ohio State kicker Ryan Prettorious' 27-yard field goal with 14 seconds left in the quarter capped off a defensive dominated half. Look for the second to remain much the same.

Continue reading "Halftime: Ohio State 10, Wisconsin 3" »

Defenses settle down, both teams start punting

COLUMBUS, Ohio - After both teams put points on the board in each of their opening drives, its been nothing but defense and speical teams through the midway point of the second quarter.

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Boeckman completes pass to himself, Bucks forced to punt

COLUMBUS, Ohio - Boeckman appears to be making a strong case for possible Heisman attention, as he just proved he can do anything for the Buckeyes. On their last play, he not only threw for another completion, but also hauled in the pass for a catch. Unfortuantely, his pass attempt was deflected by the front line and returned right back to him where he brought in the errant pass for a loss of 13-yards.

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Badger fake punt on fourth-and-14 leads to field goal

COLUMBUS, Ohio - Badger quarterback Tyler Donovan appears to be struggling with his passing game, but it makes no difference. Punter Ken DeBauche threw a 31-yard rope to a streaking Paul Standring down the sideline on a fourth-and-14 play. Wisconsin marched the ball all the way down inside the Buckeyes 5-yard line, but was forced to settle for a field goal after Brown was shut down by Buckeye safety Anderson Russell trying to get around the corner.

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Boeckman comes out of opening drive throwing, connects with Robiskie on 30-yard touchdown

COLUMBUS, Ohio - I said in the pregame notes that the key to the game for the Buckeyes was scoring on the first drive. Well, Boeckman and Co. delivered to jump out to an early 7-0 lead. It took less than three minutes.

Continue reading "Boeckman comes out of opening drive throwing, connects with Robiskie on 30-yard touchdown" »

Hill out for game

COLUMBUS, Ohio - Sophomore sensation P.J. Hill will not be suiting up for the Badgers today as he continues to nurse as sore Achilles tendon. Hill is standing on the sidelines with a boot on his leg, which is bad news for Wisconsin. Freshman Zach Brown will fill in at tailback. Ohio State will receive the opening kick off as the game gets underway.

Buckeyes look to avenge Badger's "Block O" shuffle

COLUMBUS, Ohio - If there was any team that could say it has Ohio State's number these past five years, none could make more of a case than Wisconson. The Badgers have won three of its last four games against the Buckeyes, all of which have come in Ohio Stadium. None proved to be more taunting than their last meeting however, as the Badgers followed up their 24-13 upset win in 2004 by dancing all over the Buckeye's Block O at midfield. Now, Ohio State is eager more than over to add its Big Ten rival to its long list of victims.

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October 27, 2007

Statement game

STATE COLLEGE, Pa. - Ohio State solidifies No. 1 ranking by dominating Penn State at Beaver Stadium on Saturday night.

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STATE COLLEGE, Pa. - Malcom Jenkins picked off Anthony Morelli and returned it 24 yards for a touchdown to push the Ohio State lead to 34-10 with 9:36 left in the game.

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Not much going on

STATE COLLEGE, Pa. - The teams exchanged field goals as Ohio State takes a 27-10 lead with 9:52 left in the game.

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Making a White Out Blue

STATE COLLEGE, Pa. - Todd Boeckman and the Ohio State offense are doing whatever they want to the Penn State defense. The Buckeyes drove 87 yards on their first drive of the second half to open up a 24-7 lead on the Nittany Lions.

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Can't be denied

STATE COLLEGE, Pa. - The Ohio State offensive line is exerting control as the Buckeyes put together a 91-yard touchdown drive to take a 17-7 lead in the second quarter.

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I need a rest

STATE COLLEGE, Pa. - An expected defensive battle is turning into a shootout at Beaver Stadium.

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Quick Response

STATE COLLEGE, Pa. - Penn State answered Ohio State's field goal with a two-yard touchdown run by Rodney Kinlaw with 8:25 left in the first quarter.

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First blood

STATE COLLEGE, Pa. - No. 1 Ohio State takes an early 3-0 lead on Penn State.

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Already rocking

STATE COLLEGE, Pa. - Beaver Stadium is already rocking more than 45 minutes before kickoff.

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STATE COLLEGE, Pa. - With two of the best defenses in the country clashing tonight at Beaver Stadium, offense will be at a premium when No. 1 Ohio State faces No. 25 Penn State in a key Big Ten clash.

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October 20, 2007

Wells carries Bucks to 24-17 win

COLUMBUS, Ohio - It was truly a tale of two halves in today's Big Ten clash between Ohio State and Michigan St. The first saw complete dominance by the Buckeyes as they racked up nearly 250 yards of offense and jumped to a 17-0 lead. But the second was full of mistake after mistake for the No. 1 team in the nation.

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Ohio State falling apart, up just 24-14

COLUMBUS, Ohio - Fans at Ohio Stadium were lulled to sleep in the first half after the Buckeyes stormed to a 24-0 lead, but costly turnovers have awaken all 105, 287 screaming voices. With its National Championship trip now in jeapordy, this stunned crowd is on its feat and rattling the press box windows.

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Boeckman INT returnd for TD, so is his fumble

COLUMBUS, Ohio - Boeckman made his first mistake of the day, as an errant pass hit Spartan defender Otis Wiley right in the chest. Wiley returned the interception 54-yards for his team's first score of the game. Too bad the score hurts the Buckeyes' average of less than 7-points surrendered a game, especially since the defense wasn't even on the field. On the flip side, the Spartan deffense has outscored its offense 7-0, check that, 14-0...

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Spartan defense settles down, Hoyer starts to roll...Hold on, scratch that...

COLUMBUS, Ohio - It's hard to tell if Ohio State is just struggling offensivley, or if the Spartans are actually playing better on the defensive side. In either case, Michigan St. appears to be moving the ball a bit more efficently through its first two drives of the second half.

Continue reading "Spartan defense settles down, Hoyer starts to roll...Hold on, scratch that..." »

Halftime Report: OSU 17, MSU 0

COLUMBUS, Ohio - It looks like for atleast one week this season, there won't be an upset at No. 1. The Buckeyes have dominated the Spartans in virtually every facit of the game and have showed no letup defensivley heading into halftime. Offensivley, however, is a different story.

Continue reading "Halftime Report: OSU 17, MSU 0" »

Spartan defense finally slows Buckeyes, head into halftime down 17-0

COLUMBUS, Ohio - Michigan St. refuses to abandon its run game, as they come right out of their timeout running the ball over and over again. They catch a huge break on a second down rush, as Ringer fumbled the ball over but was ruled down. Hoyer than hooked up with Devin Thomas for a 10-yard pass to get a first down. Three plays later, they are forced to punt once again.

Continue reading "Spartan defense finally slows Buckeyes, head into halftime down 17-0" »

Boeckman and Wells continue to impress

COLUMBUS, Ohio - 10 passing attempts, 10 completions. If you're a Buckeye fan, you have to love the way Boeckman has stepped in for Heisman winner Troy Smith. Add in Well's 104 rushing yards in 10 attempts and there is little doubt why Ohio State is ranked No.1 in the nation.

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Buckeyes contine to run over Spartan's, up 17-0 in second

COLUMBUS, Ohio - The Spartans continue to pound the ball on the game, but have had very little succss. You have to wonder if Hoyer is going to start throwing the ball a bit more to try and open the ground game. Michigan St. has 35 rushing yards on nine carries, while Hoyer is 1-of-5 passing.

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Bucks settle for field goal, up 10-0

COLUMBUS, OH - Despite two big plays, Ohio State was forced to settle for a field goal after the offense sputtered near the Spartan 20. A penalty set them back 5-yards and a pair of short passes by Boeckman resulted in Ryan Pretorius' 42-yard field goal.

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Spartans march down field, forced to punt

COLUMBUS, OH - This game appears to have all the makings of a shootout, as the Spartans rushing attack has them marching their way down the field yard-by-yard. A key third down stopped on 3rd-and-short forced a Spartan punt by freshman Aaron Bates, who sent a booming kick to pin the Buckeyes on their own 1-yard line. The Buckeyes have had poor field postion all game, starting on both their seven yard line and one.

Just as a type that, Boeckman hooks up with Robiskie for a 42-yard bomb and Beanie follows with a 25-yard rush. Ohio State on the Spartan 26.

Buckeyes take opening drive 93 yards for touchdown

COLUMBUS, OH - A personal foul on the opening kickoff forced the Buckeyes to start on its own three yard line, but a 47-yard run by Beanie Wells helped jump start a 93-yard scoring drive to go up 7-0 on the Spartans. Well's ankle doesn't seem to be slowing him down at all thus far.

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Buckeyes to Defend No.1 Ranking For First Time

COLUMBUS, OH - Today's big Ten clash between No. 1 Ohio State and Michigan St. will pit the conference's best defense against the Spartan's high powered offense. Michigan St. enters the contest as the Big Ten's top rated offense, racking up 467 total yards per game and 36.9 points. The Buckeyes, meanwhile, have held opponents to less than a touchdown in its seven wins this season.

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October 07, 2007

Purdue-Ohio St wrap

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. - There's an old baseball adage that says good pitching beats good hitting. The opposite is true in football.

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October 06, 2007

Adding injury to insult

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. - One of the guys Purdue can ill afford to is DE Cliff Avril, but he just had to be helped off the field with 5:30 to play.

I'm headed for the field. More after the game and press conferences.

Boo birds out

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. - Purdue had fourth and eight at their own 45 and elected to punt, which brought a chorus of boos from the Purdue portion of the crowd.

Certainly, there's no harm in going for it. What's the worst that can happen?

Oh, we just saw that two plays ago, when Buckeye safety Anderson Russell dropped yet another potential interception for the Buckeyes. By my count, that's the fifth time today a Buckeye defender had both hands on the ball and managed not to catch it. I guess if you need a completed pass to make 4th-and-8 and your quarterback is having a rough day (to be generous), maybe you just punt.

Boeckman picked again

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. - You know, going into the half, you would think that if Purdue's defense could get a few turnovers, they might have a chance.


Torri Williams picked off Todd Boeckman, which is Boeckman's third interception of the half. Unfortunately for Purdue, like the last one, it came at the Purdue two-yard line, so the Boilers have to go 98 yards to get a TD. Since they only have 140 for the entire game, it's not likely to happen.

Stealing from Wisconsin

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. - Purdue, apparently unhappy with its own traditions, has decided to steal one from Wisconsin. After the third quarter, they play "Shout!" over the PA and attempt to get everyone to, I don't know, dance, I guess. it's a lame and blatant rip-off of Wisconsin's jump around, and, needless to say, not as successful.

I suppose next we'll see the band do a script "Boilers," complete with the big bass drum dotting the i.

Another reversal of fortune

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. - Just when it looked like Purdue would get its best field position of the day after a Boeckman fumble at the Ohio St 20, the replay official reversed the play and ruled it an incomplete pass.

Like the earlier reversal, the call looked correct to me.

Press takes a T.O.

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. - Everyone in the press box at Purdue has stopped watching the game in front of us to follow the USC-Stanford game on our computers. As far as we know, Ohio St is still winning. We will rejoin our game, already in progress, shortly.

That's why they play defense

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. - Ohio State's Marcus Freeman just dropped another sure interception, the fourth time that the Buckeyes have done that today. That's just to let you know that this game isn't as close as the score would indicate.

Purdue creating turnovers, but can't capitalize

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. - Purdue's David Pender intercepted Todd Boeckman at the Purdue 2-yard line, which was the second straight Buckeye series to end with a pick. Once again, though, Purdue could not get a first down and was forced to punt from its own end zone. That left Ohio St a short field, which they converted into a field goal to make the score 20-0.

Curtis Painter isn't even close on most of his throws downfield. In fact, he's struggling on short balls too. He's feeling the pressure of the defense, sometimes when there isn't any, and rushing his throws.

With half of the third quarter left, Purdue still has time to come back, but they've barely been across midfield today, so there really isn't any reason for that kind of optimism.

Keller giveth, Keller taketh away

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. - Purdue TE Dustin Keller has been the one bright spot on the offense today. He had another big gain after the turnover that put the ball in Ohio St territory. On third and ten though, he missed his block and Painter was sacked, killing another drive.

Meanwhile, Dorien Bryant finally got on the stat sheet. He had his first reception, but it came on a screen pass that wasn't blocked, so he lost four yards. Ohio St has totally taken him away.

The Purdue defense is asked to step up again.

After further review...

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. - Purdue looked like it had its first turnover of the game on defense after Brandon King intercepted Todd Boeckman downfield, but the ref ruled he was out of bounds.

After further review, the replay official reversed the call on the field and Purdue takes over on their own 27.

The Boilers need to make something of this.

Buckeyes channel Purdue at end of half

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. - Ohio State played a near perfect half until the very end, when Todd Boeckman was penalized for intentional grounding and fumbled the snap on consecutive plays.

Otherwise, the Buckeyes are having their way with the Boilers as they lead 17-0 at the half.

Some telling halftime stats:

Purdue 9 carries, 7 yards rushing.
Painter 11-23, 83 yards, no TDs or INTs, but Ohio St dropped three potential interceptions. Painter was also sacked once, which was only the fifth allowed by Purdue this year.

Ohio St, on the other hand, has 87 yards rushing and 132 through the air. Roy Small has played big with 6 catches for 74 yards and a score.

Purdue's defense settled down after giving up TDs on the first two possessions and has done all it can to keep the Boilers in the game, but if the offense doesn't find a rhythm pretty soon, the defense will wear down, and this will get ugly.

Purdue is doing something right, though. The band show is entertaining.

Fourth and nothing

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. - Purdue, desperately seeking to keep a decent drive moving, went for it on fourth and one from the Ohio St 40, and in doing so, exposed one of the flaws of this offense.

Instead of lining up under center and sneaking the ball with Painter, who is about as big and strong as you get in a quarterback, they lined up in their typical shotgun and tried a screen pass that never had a chance.

Purdue's defense has stepped up the last couple of times it has been on the field, and it has to again to keep the Boilers in it.

Big Stage Fright

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. - Joe Tiller talked before the game about his team being ready for the Big Stage.

Um, no.

After the defense finally made a couple of plays, forcing Ohio St to settle for a 44-yard field goal, Dorien Bryant fumbled the ensuing kick straight up in the air, where it landed in the arms of the Buckeyes' Aaron Gant, who was laying on the ground after being pancaked.

OSU is threatening to shut this one down early.

Third and long

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. - With one quarter in the books, everything is going Ohio State's way as the Buckeyes lead 14-0.

Even though they were finally forced to punt on the last possession, Trapasso boomed a fifty yarder that put Purdue back on its own 20. The Buckeyes are barely even having to face third downs. They are 1-2, with the conversion coming on the first touchdown.

Meanwhile, Purdue is facing an average of almost 10 yards to go on third downs. Ohio St is held the Boilers to 8 yards rushing on 6 carries, which is exactly what they needed to do. They are also getting good pressure on Painter. He's been hit as he has thrown twice.

Purdue was held scoreless in a quarter for the first time all year.

No huddle - sort of

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. - Ohio St has a strange way of huddling up to call the play. The receivers are in no-huddle mode, but the linemen and backs huddle about five yards behind the line. It's working just fine. The Buckeyes marched right down the field again and lead 14-0.

Nothing special about the special teams

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. - Purdue's special teams was supposed to be the one area where they had an edge over the Buckeyes. The Boilers are among the nation's leaders in kick returns, but so far, AJ Trapasso has boomed both kickoffs through the end zone to negate that.

Meanwhile, Purdue P Jared Armstrong has shanked both of his punts. He got lucky with a good bounce on his first one, but the second one bounced backwards and set the Buckeyes up at the Purdue 43.

I know it's early, but this is a key defensive series for Purdue coming up.

Wells limps off

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. - Chris Wells limped off the field after a big gain. He was replaced by Maurice Wells, who promptly had a big gain of his own.

Chris Wells is standing on the sideline next to to the coaches, so I think we can expect him to return. However, that will have to wait until Ohio St gets the ball back because Todd Boeckman just hit Roy Small for a 26-yard TD pass to put the Buckeyes up 7-0.

That was the third time they sent a receiver streaking down the left side. The first time resulted in pass interference, and the second was overthrown. Obviously, Ohio St sees that as a play they can exploit. Purdue sure didn't show any sign that they could stop it.

Simple mistake kills drive

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. - Purdue had a little bit of a drive going with two first downs, but a false start put the Boilers behind the sticks and they never recovered. A bad punt with a good bounce sets up Ohio St inside their own 20.

Stupid penalties like that false start are the kinds of things Purdue needs to avoid if it hopes to win today.

Purdue wants the ball

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. - Purdue won the toss and elected to take the ball. Apparently coach Joe Tiller doesn't think much of conventional wisdom, which says to defer the choice to the second half.

With this offense, I'd want the ball too.

Purdue-Ohio St preview and notes

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. - Today's loss by Wisconsin upped the stakes for the Boilers and Buckeyes in tonight's game at Ross-Ade Stadium. The winner will be the lone remaining undefeated team in the Big Ten.

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September 15, 2007

Tressel gets 200 wins, OSU beats up on UW

SEATTLE - Jim Tressel prefers Diet Pepsi.

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Ohio State is going to win this game

SEATTLE - This is pretty much over.

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OSU increases lead

SEATTLE - The Buckeyes just kicked a FG after UW broke up their last pass attempt ... they now lead 20-7 with 13:57 to play in the fourth. There have been some really exciting plays on both sides, but most of it was happening when Ohio State went on it's little 14-0 run. Since then, it's been a little blah. And the people dressed in purple are kinda quiet right now. At least they're not booing their QB for throwing 2 INTs like at SOME Pac-10 schools.

Not a freshman?

SEATTLE - I want to see Locker's birth certificate to prove he's just a redshirt freshman. This kid can PLAY.

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It's amazing how quickly momentum can shift.

Continue reading "Yikes" »

Buckeyes score

And just like that, Ohio State takes the lead with a beautiful 68-yard pass from Boeckman (who doesn't seem so rattled in his first road start) to give the Buckeyes the edge. They made the extra point, too, and now lead 10-7 with 9:36 to go in the game.

Stat time

A little stat info while we wait for the measure guy to come out and decide if UIW really did get that first down.

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Huskies lead

Wahoo, we're back! Our internet troubles are over ... for the time being.

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Purple and Gold everywhere

SEATTLE -- Traffic sucked.

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