Friday Skull Session

By poguemahone on November 19, 2010 at 6:00a

 So we meet, uh, for the first time. Iowa Hawkeye QB and Patriot Extraordinaire Ricky Stanzi is arguably the most accomplished signal caller Ohio State will face this season, writes Doug Lesmerises of the Cleveland Plain Dealer. Also, as Johnny told you yesterday, Stanzi is an Ohio kid, facing the only shot he has at taking down the home state team that overlooked him. Stanzi, like Terrelle Pryor, has evolved from a mercurial playmaker to a composed quarterback at the tail end of his collegiate career. However, also like TP, he's far from perfect. It was his late interception - when the Hawkeyes thought they had the game well in hand - that helped Northwestern rally for the upset in Evanston. Against Arizona, he started slow, tossing a Rick Six early in the game before finishing strong. Make "Stanziball" jokes all you want; the Buckeyes can't afford another slow start Saturday, as Stanzi and his talented WRs will surely make the Buckeye secondary pay in ways McGloin and PSU could not.

 So setting off a thermonuclear device on the 50-yard line of Michigan Stadium might be a little over the top? When both Penn State and Michigan looked to be terrible earlier in the season, I thought about penning a column-like substance about how the season had been turned on its head and Miami, Wisconsin and Iowa would end up being the pivotal games on the Ohio State schedule, not Wisconsin, PSU, Iowa and Michigan as first perceived. But that sounded an awful lot like work, and thus, it didn't get done. Fortunately so for my internet ego, too: it turns out that Miami stinks, Wisconsin had the Buckeyes' number, Penn State will indeed finish with a .500 or better record, and Michigan's offense is more or less legit, against both good and bad defenses. My prognosticating skills: bunk. But they would likely get me a sweet gig on Wall Street, no? Adam Rittenberg surveys the wreckage of a Big Ten season that looks nothing like I thought it might, and declares that Ohio State must root for the following

For Rose Bowl/Big Ten automatic BCS berth, the Buckeyes should root for ...

  • Wisconsin to lose to Michigan. As tough as it might be to pull for their archrival, the Buckeyes want a Michigan victory Saturday. Ohio State will lose a head-to-head tiebreaker with Wisconsin and likely will remain behind the Badgers in the BCS standings if both teams win out.
  • Michigan State to lose to Purdue, but only if Wisconsin also loses. Winning the Big Ten outright is the ideal outcome for Ohio State, which doesn't face Michigan State this season. But a Spartans loss only benefits Ohio State if Wisconsin also stumblesbecause Ohio State wants to avoid the two-way tie with the Badgers. A Michigan State win doesn't hurt too much as long as Ohio State also wins Saturday.
  • Miami to beat Virginia Tech. Ohio State wants its win against Miami to look as good as possible for its BCS profile.
  • Illinois to beat Northwestern. The Buckeyes want their road win against the Illini to look as good as possible. They don't face Northwestern, a team that has lost to Michigan State and visits Wisconsin next week.

So that's a lot of word vomit with a couple of basic points: Ohio State needs Wisconsin and Michigan State to lose. I find it highly unlikely that either team will lose at home on Senior Day to either Northwestern or Purdue, respectively. Thus, we need to root for Michigan to upset the Badgers this week, and for Penn State to pull a fast one on the Spartans next week.

If you can't bring yourself to root for either, we understand. But remember: the Rose Bowl may take one of the undefeated squads from a non-automatic qualifying conference, so you Boise and TCU haters may end up getting the opportunity to have the Buckeyes back up your claims.

 Hey, we know what that's like. Adrian Clayborn is a beast. But the stats don't quite show it, as Bill Rabinowitz of the Dispatch explains. 

A year ago, Clayborn was a scourge on the field, and it was reflected on the stat sheet. He had 70 tackles as a junior. Twenty were for loss, including 11 sacks. He was particularly dominating during a signature performance against Penn State when he blocked a punt and returned it for a pivotal touchdown.
This year, such moments have been rare. Entering a game Saturday against Ohio State, Clayborn has only 3 sacks, seven tackles for loss and 42 tackles.

Last year, I considered Clayborn to be a mirror image of our own Cameron Heyward, and sure enough, Heyward himself is going through a down year, with just one half of a sack, 7.5 tackles for loss and 34 total tackles on the season. Both players' struggles are only explained so much by a renewed focus on actually blocking him by opponents (i.e. frequent double teams, etc.), which makes their tribulations all the more puzzling. Even ignoring the statistics, I think both players' stock has taken a bit of a hit following their decision to return for their senior seasons. Stuff like this is the reason why Tressel actively encourages players to leave early if they get a good projection back from the draft committee. I'm sure neither player regrets his decision to return, and both can probably be saved by closing out the season strong and stellar combine performances. It'll be interesting to see when both come off the board in April; I wager they won't be taken more than a round apart.

 Snap judgments. Big Ten Network blogger Brent Yarina turns in an early evaluation of each Big Ten roundball squad. Some of the evaluations of interest: 

Michigan State

You could see it in the preseason, and the season opener was no different: Kalin Lucas has recovered quite well from last season's Achilles' injury. Lucas' stroke also has improved a lot, and when you add that to Durrell Summers' outside game and Draymond Green's improved range, the Spartans could be very dangerous inside and out.





To no surprise, Purdue's defense looks strong again, as it limited Howard to 40 points on 25 percent shooting in the opener. Stout defense is the norm for this program, though, but noticeable athleticism is not. New blood (Terone Johnson) and re-sculpted bodies (D.J. Byrd and Patrick Bade) should give the Boilermakers a new dynamic.





Jordan Taylor has a chance to finish the season as the Big Ten's best point guard. Yes, better than Demetri McCamey or Kalin Lucas. The conference's returning leader in assist-to-turnover ratio, Taylor figures to add an increased scoring role to his terrific distributing skills. He's off to a good start, too, tallying 20 points in the opener.




Ohio State

About that point guard, you ask? Freshman Aaron Craft dished out nine assists and had no turnovers in Ohio State's season opener against North Carolina A&T. The position is still a question mark, of course, but there's no doubting the Buckeyes' newest players. Craft, Jared Sullinger and Desean Thomas combined for 51 points, 22 rebounds and 12 assists, all while shooting 60 percent.

Other teams, like Iowa, Michigan, and Illinois are all variants of "need work", but for the Buckeyes, things are looking up: Wisconsin and Michigan State still look to provide the biggest tests, with Purdue lurking somewhat in the background without Robbie Hummel, but the Boilers remain a team that can and will beat the Buckeyes if Thad Matta's team doesn't bring its A-game. I'm not sure how accurate Tubby Smith's "best conference in the country" talk is, as I'm only peripherally aware of the quality of college basketball conferences, but I will say that a conference with such great depth is exactly what this Buckeye team needs if it wants to get past the Sweet Sixteen this year.


Comments Show All Comments

German Buckeye's picture

Poor Cam....might have dropped out of the 1st round with his performance this season. Still 2nd round isn't anything to snore about...who else will seriously be drafted, Chekwa, Holman, Dane?

iball's picture

I think Cam is athletic enough to garner first round attention should he attend the combine... which he should. Remember draft position has very little to do with actual on-field performance, unless your name is Tim Tebow.

Jermale Hines should go rather high, maybe not 1st round, but first day. If Posey elects to bolt, he should be another 1st day guy along with Saine.

I would say Sanzo will get interest as a slot guy(i.e.  Welker, Shipley), Chekwa has recieved so much hype by everyone except OSU fans, that he will get drafted also. Chimdi is another good combine guy. The verdict is out on Torrence. Homan should find a spot somewhere, actually could be a steal.

Boren and Browning are head scratcheers to me. Along with most OSU linemen in the past 10 years, they've shown great potential only to really never reach that potential. I think serious evaluation of Bollman is needed after this year. How can Tress not feel he has givin him every chance in the world?

Lastly, German Buckeye, thanks for everything you do. Hope you get to catch the game Saturday, you deserve it.

“There’s one thing I have learned through all my adventures and conquests - it’s that some people are just wired for success. I had no choice when it came to being great - I just am great.” – Kenny Powers

btalbert25's picture

I really don't think Posey has a shot at getting drafted in the first 2 of 3 rounds.  With his history of drops, and the overall disappointint season, I just don't think he would be one of the top 10 receivers taken this year.

ATL Buckeye's picture

If Tressel thinks we can go to Iowa City, and pound the ball to Boom 25-30 times out the power-I, we are in for a long game. Again Mr. vest, show that you have a scrotum and throw the ball on 1st down & 2nd down to keep that defense honest. Its not neurosurgery! Klug/Clayborn and underated linebacking crew know a little something about gap assignments. I like Boom, but we must throw the rock 30x to have a chance. Even Eddie George is picking against us...all of the sudden I'm VERY concerned.

iball's picture

After our first half performances vs. Wisco and PSU, we will be picked against heavily. I feel we will play an excellent game Saturday despite Iowas desperation for a win and payback for last year. Sometimes too much desire for retribution can stand in the way of executiion. James VandyCamp kept Iowa in the game last year by not trying to do too much. i think Stanzi will try to go for the homerun early given the state of our secondary and Tress Co. know it. I like the idea of Chekwa and Hines as safeties and Torrence and Howard at the corners. A 4-3 defense is a must as Iowa will run and try to attack our underbelly with crossing patterns. What scares me is that we have NOBODY who can cover McNutt one on one.

“There’s one thing I have learned through all my adventures and conquests - it’s that some people are just wired for success. I had no choice when it came to being great - I just am great.” – Kenny Powers

RBuck's picture

Yeah, McNutt at 6'4" scares me too. We've had trouble with tall WR's a lot this season. Hell, Maybe Matta can loan out Lighty or Buford for this game.

Long live the southend.

Denny's picture

McNutt 4 Heiz.


Buckeye in Athens's picture

Well think you'll get your wish- TP had already said that this is his favorite offensive game plan as a Buckeye- that likely means am aggressive pass heavy hurry up offense. But if you're iowa's d coordinator, then wouldn't you expect osu to attack in the same way that nw and Arizona did and then scheme to stop it? I wouldn't be surprised if they go heavy nickel to prevent against a spread PA attack. Therefore, the base plays - Boom runs of iso and Dave- have to be effective in order for any spread pass attack to be effective. I expect hurry up offense with a nice mix of the two styles- maybe more inverted veer mixed with traditional iso's, all in a hurry up set. Should be exciting.

Is it Saturday Yet's picture

Eddie picked against us?  What were his reasons?  I'm concerned about this game without all the "outside" factors.

I would like to see us run the ball and not move away from it completely if it doesn't work right away.  To me it seems as if Boom and the line get better and better as the game goes on and the more we run.

btalbert25's picture

Didn't we say the same thing last year though?  Then the guys went out and ran for over 200 on Iowa's D.  I'm not saying that's what's going to happen this year, but I do think it's fair to point out that's exactly how they won this same game last year.

poguemahone's picture

I was thinking the same thing. I think we can run on these guys. I'm hoping we try to establish a consistent ground game early, rather than this "spread 'em out and pass" crap we've been fetishizing so much lately.

Buckeye Black's picture

Illinois losing to Texas doesn't help the best conference argument, but I would put Mich. State and Ohio State up there with any top teams in the country, especially from the Big East.  Pitt has looked really beatable for a top 5 team.

Is it Saturday Yet's picture

I wouldn't rule Purdue out of that top tier just yet and Wisconsin could be a surprise. Illinois took Texas to OT on the road very early in the season and lost because they were too dependent on the three ball. No reason to write them off (yet) either.

btalbert25's picture

At this point in the season, when no one is really sure how good their team really is, can we really judge what conference is the best?  I mean the other night Florida didn't appear to be a top 10 team.  Butler didn't look like it deserved to be ranked either.  K-State, looked better than anyone in my opinion.  Seems like we need about a month to kind of guage where everyone is, and then we can start making these claims.

tomcollins's picture

You miss K-State's close game with Presbyterian?

Texas is a solid team.  Illinois going to overtime with them didn't show much.  Texas just is better than we may have thought.  Florida certainly isn't top 10, but they aren't outside of the top 25, and we went to their house and clown punched them.

It's early now, but I'm inclined to trust the computers who can sort out things with more data than the rest of us for now, and they really like us.  And this isn't just LOLRPI.

Big Ten has #2, #6, #8, #10, and #11.  That is pretty incredible.

btalbert25's picture

K-State's game with Presbyterian I equate to Syracuses' loss to Binghamton last year.  They destroyed a team that is believed to be the 2nd or 3rd best team in the ACC. 

tomcollins's picture

I'm not sure VT would even be considered to be in the top half of the ACC.  The ACC has Duke and UNC, then a big jumped mess of teams fighting in the middle, then a few bad teams at the bottom.  Florida State down to Boston College could go anywhere.  Only Virginia, GT, and Wake should be bad.

Syracuse losing to LeMoyne in the Exhibition?  It's a bit hard to compare an exhibition to a real game.  Syracuse was spreading the minutes around a ton that game, it wasn't a real game, etc...  Now every team will have a bad day against an inferior team every now and then.   So it could be KSt. is quite good and all that and just had a bad day.  But it's also possible they aren't quite as good as people thought.  They play Gonzaga, Florida, and UNLV coming up, so we shall know more about them soon. Until then, I'd have to say the Buckeyes look a lot better.  It's still very very early, of course.

btalbert25's picture

It's hard to guage how good teams are in November anyway, but I dont' see much of a difference between Va Tech and Florida.  Florida was definitely not a top 10 team.  Yet they keep getting ranked there preseason.  The buckeyes looked great in the 2nd half, and the team is exciting.  It was a good win on the road, but at the end of the day, I'm not sure it was a great team we beat.  May not be able to guage how good they are from that win either.  

OHIOST1087's picture

Stanzi's early "Rick Six" against 'Zona was not his fault, the receiver (McNutt?) channeled his inner "T-Wash" and had the ball go right into his hands and let it deflect off his hands and into the hands of the defensive back who returned it all the way back. Stanzi is vastly improved compared to previous seasons and hugely underrated in the national scope of senior QBs. Our defensive line and LB's are gonna have to pressure Stanzi b/c if not he is gonna have an easy time carving up our young secondary.

iball's picture

Well, time to get real, gun to your head, a year's salary on it, who ya takin Saturday?

“There’s one thing I have learned through all my adventures and conquests - it’s that some people are just wired for success. I had no choice when it came to being great - I just am great.” – Kenny Powers

Is it Saturday Yet's picture

Bucks but I'm sweatin' it.

original buckeye's picture

It kills me to say it, but I think I'd take Iowa--strong defense, senior leadership at QB, good WRs, and playing at home.  Damn, I hope I'm wrong.

Poe McKnoe's picture

I totally want to email you at bad@ss.

Is it Saturday Yet's picture

I have no idea why that turned into an email link......

Jason Priestas's picture

There is no questioning the powers of Drupal.  It just does. :)

ToledoBuckeye's picture

Did anyone see this?

This game is going to be a joke!

"Anything easy ain't worth a damn." - Woody Hayes

tomcollins's picture

I know, Northwestern and Illinois, lol programs playing each other.

Oh wait, you were talking about the venue.

Is it Saturday Yet's picture

What do they do if a pass is intercepted or they recover a fumble?  Do they just run the wrong way?  WTF! 

Bucksfan's picture

Weird that last year was a 10-2 year but was an outright BT title and a Rose Bowl.  This year, Bucks will probably be 11-1 and miss the Rose Bowl.  Althought 12-0 would have been a trip to Glendale anyway.

College Football is ridiculous.  Why do we love it so?

BigRedBuckeye's picture

Fox to broadcast Niners game in Ohio!!! Check out my blog post w link to map!

And we'll drink to old Ohio, 'Til we wobble in our shoes!