The last Saturday in September is a little less than 48 hours away. Doesn't it seem as though Ohio State and Navy were shaking hands just yesterday? And those of the opinion that there shouldn't be any sort of college football polls until the 4th week have finally reached the time where what we thought we knew runs dab smack into what we think we know about things we realistically have no idea about.
We - the royal we, as in the entire college football establishment (yes, I have the authority to speak for them) - think Miami is a top 10 ball club. Though should the spokes fall off Miami's momentum wagon on the road in always hostile Blacksburg, and Sam Bradford look anything remotely like his 2008 self a week later, we're all of the sudden looking at a team ranked somewhere in the low-to-mid 20's.
Case in point: take what you think you know, contrast it what you think you will know, then humbled, sit back, reach for another Yuengling, and get ready to have your world view blown to smithereens a fourth time in as as many weeks.
#8 Mississippi at South Carolina 7:30PM Thursday - ESPN
Arguably the most hot button issue around the 11W water cooler (besides of course whether or not to bankroll The Rapping Bum's screenplay for a Hip-hopera) is the legitimacy of the Ole Miss Rebels. After laying an egg for three and a half quarters against Memphis, Houston Nutt's bunch seemed to find some semblance of stability against stalwart Southern Louisiana. Facing Steve Spurrier and zen-master Stephen Garcia on the ever trap-tastic Thursday night in-conference road game, we should be able to finally get a solid grasp on whether Ole Miss is more paper tiger or sleeping giant.
Arkansas at #2 Alabama 3:30PM - CBS
Put down the pitchforks; this isn't your slightly older brother's ESSSS-EEEEE-CCEEEEE snoozer. For Hurricane Rod evacuee Ryan Mallet - he of 717 yards, six touchdowns, and zero interceptions in his first two games - and Razorbacks coach Bobby Petrino, this game could serve as a huge stepping stone in the rebirth of the Arkansas football program. Nick Saban and co., on the other hand, seek another chance in front of a national audience to remind everyone why they're early front runners for one of the BCS' top spots.
#4 California at Oregon 3:30PM - ABC (Regional)
Chip Kelly's extreme realness aside (brought to you by Orson Swindle aka Spencer Hall, proprietor of everydayshouldbesaturday.com; WAS THAT REALLY SO HARD NATIONAL MEDIA?!), the rebounding Ducks host Jeff Tedford and Jahvid's Best best coast assault. Cal survived a plucky Golden Gopher Crew (TRY! POWER! FOOTBALL! WIN) at the gorgeous new TCF Bank Stadium last weekend in Minneapolis. While likely restricted in viewership to the fortunate few with ESPN GamePlan and a small, likely brain chemistry enhanced west coast viewership, the second straight stacked 3:30 slate of games makes a trip to your local sports bar well worthwhile.
#7 Miami at #12 Virginia Tech 3:30PM - ABC/ESPN (Regional)
America's buzz team and surprise early Heisman candidate Jacory Harris travel to the not-so-cozy confines of Lane Stadium to do it up with sadly unsurprising Reggie Ball Memorial Trophy candidate Tyrod Taylor. This one should have serious ACC Championship implications, and could either further establish the re-emergence of the Miami football program (and just in time for their first trip to Columbus since a fairly unforgettable night in early 2003) or help elevate the Hokies back into the top 10 debate.
Texas Tech at #16 Houston 9:15PM - ESPN2
The twelve hundred yards of total offense barrier seems very much in jeopardy as national passing leader Taylor Potts and Cap'n Leach's Red Raiders venture southeast to Houston to square off with Kevin Sumlin and Case Keenem's Cougars (no seriously, honey, Courtney Cox is in this one!). Houston's already entered into the national discussion after taking down Oklahoma State. Should they manage to hand Texas Tech their second straight victory, they could find themselves readily in line for a possible BCS spot. The college football blogosphere's resident professor Chris Brown has the X's and O's preview over at the TEDSBSWL.
Big Ten Games
Michigan State at Wisconsin 12:00PM - ESPN
The suddenly losers of two straight Spartans travel to Madison to open Big Ten conference play with Bucky Badger. Call this a classic "show me something" game, as neither of these teams have particularly compelling contests under their belts up to this point. While Sparty is just 5 points from an unscathed record, Wisconsin could be in line for Top 25 consideration with a fourth straight win on Saturday. However, should the Badgers' game plan comes up just short, Coach Bielema can always blame a little birdie on his shoulder.
Minnesota at Northwestern 12:00PM - Big Ten Network
In another game that could serve as a chance to elbow for future bowl positioning, Minnesota looks to bounce back from a frustrating home loss to Cal by traveling to Evanston to take on the fightin' Fitzgeralds. Northwestern is looking for redemption of their own after dropping one on the road to Syracuse, but could gut their season back on track by taking down Brewster's bunch. On the plus: we don't have to risk blindness while viewing this week.
Iowa at #5 Penn State 8:00PM - ABC
The early intra-conference game of the season, Penn State hosts Iowa with revenge on their mind. After spoiling Penn State's national title hopes last season in Iowa City, Ferentz' group look to carry their momentum from last week's victory over Arizona into this one. Daryl Clark and Evan Royster look to make a potential statement to the rest of the country that this team has the kind of personnel necessary to make a deep run at the shiny crystal football.
Notre Dame at Purdue 8:00PM - ESPN
Notre Dame continues their unofficial conference slate, while you continue your all too official stretch of rooting like hell for the Irish to drop one to Big Ten opponent after Big Ten opponent. Jimmy Claussen's yet to toss an INT all season, though with Michael Floyd missing the remainder of the season with a broken collarbone, it feels as though the Irish may be playing the 2009 season on borrowed time. Danny Hope seeks a program defining victory and looks to atone for last week's meltdown against Northern Illinois.
Tim May of the Dispatch with some potentially positive news:
There were times last Saturday when it appeared Ohio State assistant head coach Darrell Hazell was calling the offensive plays instead of head coach Jim Tressel during the Buckeyes’ 38-0 win over Toledo.
When asked after practice today whether it was true, Hazell paused.
“I don’t know, I’m not sure,” he finally said, then offered no further clarity.
Tim notes that at times when Pryor was confused about a call, he would seek out Hazell instead of Tressel. This might go a long way towards explaining the aggressive game called against the Rockets.
Have you peeked at the schedule lately? The young offense of your favorite team that's looking to build some momentum is getting six setup games before the tilt with Penn State. Topping things off is the potential to close with games against three ranked opponents.
Upcoming defenses: Illinois (102nd), Indiana (40th), Wisconsin (55th), Purdue (105th), Minnesota (68th) and New Mexico State (47th). Just two against top 50 defenses and those two being the juggernauts of Indiana and New Mexico State.
The group on the whole is allowing 24.5 points per game and outside of Illinois' opener against Missouri and Minnesota's loss to Cal, there just aren't any high-powered offenses contributing to that average. I don't know about you, but if the Buckeyes can get 24 or so points on these teams, I feel pretty good about the defense taking care of business. It also doesn't hurt that Heacock's boys will be getting the two toughest outs on that stretch at home.
Maybe I'm getting a little ahead of myself. There's no question that Illinois, Wisconsin and maybe, maybe Purdue and Minnesota could trip up the Buckeyes, but for all we whine about with Jim Tressel and his big game shortcomings, these next six are what he does best.
For Pryor, this could be huge. He can make the throws. All that's left for him is taking care of what's in his head. This includes reads and firming up when to take off running or take a sack. That should come during this stretch (we'll appropriately recalibrate if that proves not to be the case). He should continue building rapport with his talented wideouts, the line will solidify (bonus if the Brew Crew comes of age) and the defense will continue to do it's thing (which largely consists of the front seven destroying fools).
What will be interesting is to see what direction the running game goes. If I were at the Xbox controls, we'd probably see a lot less power I and better utilization of the backs alongside Pryor as a running threat. Whether this means more running out of shotgun, passes to backs or whatever, Herron and Saine aren't cut from the Beanie mold and should be used in a manner that suits them. Even just doing more of what we saw against Toledo when the passing game was used to setup the rushing attack would be a good direction to go.
The offense will most certainly need to progress because when they head to Happy Valley in early November, they could very well be squaring off with an undefeated team ranked in the top two or three in the country. It's not inconceivable that Ohio State could be 8-1 and ranked within the top six or so themselves.
The following weekend, they welcome an Iowa team that should be ranked and then they close with what's looking to be the most meaningful Michigan game in the last three years.
Before the season, many of us thought a win in the Rose Bowl as a springboard to a big time run in 2010 would be ideal (if not completely perfect). Not only is that still in the cards, but the schedule has taken the form of an aircraft carrier catapult.
The students are back on campus and that time of the year means the Big Ten season is now the focus of the football season. Navy, USC, and Toledo are in the rearview mirror and the Buckeyes look to capture their 5th straight (outright or shared) conference title and salvage an early season loss en route to a possible 5th straight BCS bowl.
Jim Tressel addressed the media today at his weekly press luncheon at the Jack Nicklaus museum and discussed last week's game against Toledo and the upcoming conference opener against Illinois. Obviously a big topic this week was the memory of 2007's loss to Illinois and how/if the team would use that game for motivation. When asked about the motivation tactics of using that game to pump the players up for this week, Tressel said:
I think for the people that were a part of it, it's relevant, and for the people that weren't a part of it, if you bring it up, they might not have even known it happened. So I'm sure some of the guys that were a part of that game, like the coaches that were here and which is, I guess, all of us, and some of those kids, that will be a reminder, but I don't know what it will do for us. I mean, we've got to go out and do the things we have to do and get focused in on what we have to do against their current personnel. But it's real, and so if it's real, then you better consider it.
No matter what Tressel says, this game has to be in the back of the players' minds. Seeing the Illinois players stomp on the Block-O at midfield is an image that still haunts my dreams and although things worked out and the Bucks made the National Championship that season, the loss still hurt, as Illinois has won 7 of the last 10 games at Ohio Stadium. Tressel was asked about that streak as well and said:
Well, these guys were in third grade in 1999 or whatever. It's brought up in all the releases and all the stuff that they are privy to as well, but, no, I haven't mentioned to them, hey, did you guys know, we have talked about the fact that it's a long rivalry, it's for the Illibuck, the last 18 meetings, each team's won nine, I mean, it's a long standing rivalry, but I haven't really brought that one up about the stadium.
While it is true that many of the current players in the Battle For Illibuck game were young for most of those seven victories, it is an interesting statistic. Out of all the Big Ten teams I feel that Illinois is at the top in terms of confidence coming into Ohio Stadium and Juice Williams and the other members of the Fighting Illini that were on the 2007 team carry a lot of that confidence into this year's game. Illinois clearly has a history of playing the Buckeyes tough, splitting the last 18 games in the series and even though they have been nursing some injuries early in the season, expect them to go on all cylinders on Saturday after having a bye last week.
After playing three games and getting ready to head into conference play the coaches have had a chance to evaluate the returning players and get a better look at some of the newer players that have broken onto the scene thus far. Two of the freshmen that have impressed people early are John Simon and Jordan Hall. Simon has played consistently throughout the season, seizing the most of his opportunity to rotate on the defensive line, while Hall was impressive in his debut last week, rushing for 44 yards on 7 carries in the win against Toledo. Tressel talked about the freshmen's play today, highlighting Simon and Hall especially:
You know, Jordan's been impressive since he's been here. He's a hard-nosed kid, studies the game, has done well running the football every chance he's gotten, so now that we've seen him in a game, obviously it makes it easier to put him into a game, but, no, he's going to be a good player. He's a tough oh he's a tough kid.
John Simon is a great player, active guy, first guy into the meeting room, first guy into the weight room, he's going to be a good football player. He really enjoys it. You can tell the guys, you see the Homan brothers in the weight room and you see Simon in the weight room and you've got to throw them out -- Spitler, you've got to throw those guys out. John Simon -- John Simon loves it.
It's good to hear that players like Simon and Hall have taken the bull by the horns in terms of getting in and working hard at getting on the field early. Their work has paid off thus far and it shows as they both have been effective in their game play. Simon will continue to be a big player in the defense and Hall should take on a larger role in the running game, especially with the production of Brandon Saine and Boom Herron not meeting expectations, at least through the first three games. Tressel was asked about the running game so far and tells fans they shouldn't worry too much:
I think Boom had a couple chances last week where he just got shoestringed and you could see where he might pop it and all you need is to pop it and all your yards per carry is totally skewed. I haven't seen his grade and so forth as being anything less than excellent. He's where he's supposed to be. He has been called upon at times when it was loaded up in there, but he's not unlike someone asked, well, was that good for Terrelle to pop that long one to start the game Saturday, that's what a running back needs is, go hit one for about 27 and all of a sudden, you get a little bit of that momentum going. No, Boom will be fine.
Tressel doesn't seem to be too worried just yet about Herron, but I think most fans would agree that they want to see a little bit more of Brandon Saine in the game plan. Herron thrived last year during conference play and I expect him to have some big games this fall, but Saine seems to have his burst back and is running well so far this season. Add in Jordan Hall's potential to be effective as a third back and you may just see Boom's carries decrease if he proves he cannot produce to the level that is expected of him. Don't forget Jaamal Berry either, who is still in the mix to play, and Tressel still maintains that once he returns from a sore hamstring that he will not red shirt.
FInally, Tressel addressed the play of Terrelle Pryor. Pryor was criticized for his play after the loss to USC, but came back to have a strong game against the Rockets. TP threw for a career high in yards and added three scores through the air, as well as one with his legs. Tressel was asked about Pryor's game last week, as well as if he feels his development could be similar of Troy Smith's in the 2005 season and said:
I thought he played a little more relaxed and I think getting that momentum helps that. You hit a homerun right off the bat and the next few at-bats you have a little confidence about you. I don't think it was perfect and that's the thing that when the game ends and it was 38-0 and statistically 500 some yards and all this and that, when you go back to watch the film, there are still a number of things we have to get a lot better at and we understand we're entering the league and the difficulty ratchets up when you're playing against people that you play every year that know what you do and how you do it and so forth, but I thought it was a good step, I really did.
Well, the '05 situation was, you know, after about five games we had lost a couple tough ones, hadn't really gotten going on all cylinders consistently. When we lost to Texas and we came back against Iowa, I think it was, maybe, and played really, really well and we go to Penn State and didn't play as well, it wasn't until significantly into that season that we really started doing what we needed to do, so I'm not sure we're far enough along. Hopefully we'll get consistent more quickly this time.
When looking at last week's game, I am certainly pleased with some things Pryor did, but the two interceptions do not make me feel as comfortable as I would like to. I feel on of Pryor's issues is that he is trying to prove to everyone that he is a passer first and not only a runner and when he has to make a decision to throw the ball away or make a pass down field, he is choosing the latter more often than he should. It is good that TP is looking to keep plays alive once he is rushed out of the pocket, but he needs to learn when he should make the throw and when he should eat the play.
Taking a glance at the 2005 season, I think Tressel hit the nail on the head when talking about consistency. Early in that year Tressel was flip-flopping Smith and Justin Zwick and because of that the offense wasn't flowing as it should have when the team traveled to Happy Valley to play Penn State. This year the offense has not found it's identity yet and until that happens, the team will struggle to put points on the board. The good news for OSU is that the next six games (Illiois, @ Indiana, Wisconsin, @ Purdue, Minnesota, New Mexico State) allows for the offense to get going before they face a rough November slate against Penn State, Iowa, and Michigan. If Pryor can get the ball rolling by that game in State College than I feel confident with the way the season will go. If he can't, it's going to be a long year for the young Buckeyes and all of the fans who has such high expectations for this group of players in 2009.
The first segment of the presser is below. To see the rest, head over to our YouTube page.
Recently, I noticed that the invaluable Buckeye Game Watch website appears to no longer be with us. The site, which served to chronicle locations outside of Ohio to gather and watch football games, was linked to from day one of this blog. Living outside the motherland, myself, I quickly relied on it to find like minds to share religious Saturdays with.
I've been unable to get into contact with the site's proprietor (the email address I had for him was paired to the expired domain), but until we hear otherwise, we thought we could do our part to making sure this resource lives on in some form.
The map after the jump will live on this site here, also conveniently accessed from the Resources pod on the sidebar. If you know of a spot that should be listed, let us know via this form or by emailing one of us and we'll get it in there.
The Houndie is an award formerly known as the Buckeye NFLer of the Week. After 2 years of existence, we searched for a catchier name, so with the help of a well placed typo and the ensuing 11W comments, the current title was created.
Santonio Holmes backed up his Houndie win of week one, with 5 catches for 83 yards, but let a TD slip through his hands late in the fourth. His stats didn't help my fantasy team that much, but I took great satisfaction in watching my Bears take down the Steelers. After 2 weeks, Holmes is leading the league in receiving with 214 yards, as it is clear the Steelers have intentions of passing more this season.
Staying with the receivers, we knew Ted Ginn was going to play this year, but Brian Hartline is also making some waves down in Miami. He caught 2 balls early for 23 yards, but didn't make any plays beyond that, although he lined up with Teddy numerous times and was the target on the final play. I had to come back and rewrite my entry for Ted Ginn, after he posted a career high 11 catches for 108 yards in Miami's ball control, horrible 2 minute drill offense. Ginn did drop a couple of potential touchdowns, including one in the final minute, but Ginn looks much improved in his route running and Pennington is staring him down frequently.
Michael Jenkins caught just 3 balls for 33 yards, as Tony Gonzalez has taken some of his targets, however Atlanta is off to a 2-0 start and look forward to a matchup at New England on Sunday, where he will face Joey Galloway, who caught 5 for 53 in NE's loss.
Beanie Wells has shown some flashes in Arizona through 2 games, tallying 44 yards on 7 carries Sunday, including this 17 yard burst. But he laid the ball down twice (losing one) and will have to hold on to the football if he wants more chances to increase his 5.2 YPC.
With no TD's to speak of on the offensive side, a few guys on the defensive side seized their opportunity for the Houndie. Nate Clements was one of them, posting 5 solo tackles and an assist in the 49ers 23-10 win over Seattle. Clements sealed the win when he knocked away a pass intended for TJ Houndmanzadeh in the end zone with just over 2:00 left.
Malcolm Jenkins helped jump start the Saints by forcing a fumble on the second half kickoff. The Saints recovered at the 22 yard line and punched it in 3 plays later to increase their lead to 24-13. Jenkins recorded 3 tackles on the day, continuing to back up Jabari Greer and seeing most of his action on special teams. Another rookie, James Laurinaitis recorded 6 solo tackles and 2 assists in the Rams 9-7 loss in Washington. Little Animal ranks fourth in tackles with 22, as St. Louis is off to an 0-2 start.
Antione Winfield made a strong push with 8 tackles (7 solo) in Minnesota's 27-13 win over Detroit. For me, he was the lone bright spot in a lame game that was force fed to us in central Ohio. And even though Ted Ginn made me reconsider, I'm sticking with Donte Whitner, who made 5 solo tackles, 3 assists and returned an interception 76 yards in Buffalo's 33-20 win over Tampa. Whitner has had a good start to the season, on the field, ranking 12th in the league with 18 stops. Hopefully the pride of winning the Houndie will take away some of the sting for Donte, who had $400,000 worth of bling lifted from his house after the game.
No, it's not the collective anger of those rushing to Blogspot to spew irrational, ill-construed hate speech towards the Vest-in-Chief (respect the office, y'all). Simply put: Storm Klein cometh. The true freshman (redshirt be damned) slides in as the backup middle linebacker on the newest depth chart, replacing Tony Jackson as the Buckeyes get ready for Mass Zookery.
Klein, the first of a number of noted changes in this week's depth chart, joins our very own phoenix from the ashes, Rob Rose, who ascends to backup Doug Worthington. Garrett Goebel slides below Rose to 3rd in the pecking order. Johnny Simon checks in behind Todd Denlinger and Dexter Larrimore for a second straight week. However, after providing the first legit push from the interior line in nearly a half decade, it's probably safe to say we continue to see the talented true freshman's role in the defense begin to increase exponentially in the week's to come.
The other notable move on the d-line comes with the emergence of sophomore Solomon Thomas, who checks in behind bringer of pain Nathan Williams. Thomas had been slotted behind Lawrence Wilson at the other defensive end spot prior. Cam Heyward and Thad Gibson are back again in their familiar starting roles, if nothing else to provide deadline strapped writers with easy "making Juice" metaphors.
Despite slipping under the depth chart radar last weekend, Devon Torrence returns to reprise his role as the #2 corner this weekend. After his attention grabbing breakout performance against USC, Torrence was a surprise last second recipient of his first career start. Chimdi Chekwa, Andre Amos, and Travis Howard will also see action as dictated by the formations the Illini bring to the table. Kurt Coleman and the people's champion, Jermale Hines, are your starting strong and free safeties respectively.
Ray Small is back in The Vest's good graces, as #82 is now listed officially backing up TP safety blanket Dane Sanzenbacher. Taurian Washington and Lamaar Thomas are no longer formally cracking the listed rotation, though it wouldn't exactly come as a surprise to see either or both continue to see meaningful game action going forward.
The offensive line this weeks sees perhaps the most significant shakeup. Most notably, in lieu of Jim Cordle's nursing of last week's unfortunate injury, J.B. Shugarts will return to start at right tackle. Despite Shugarts seemingly serving as a perpetual false start machine last weekend, given another week of practice (and unquestionably some extra stairsteps) we should see once highly heralded recruit begin to really grow into his new role.
Arguably the real movement on the line come in the listed backups. Tressel's not-so-secret intent to redshirt Jack Mewhort, Corey Linsley, and Marcus Hall have become painstakingly obvious as the latter two are no longer even mentioned on the two deep, and Mewhort's been relegated to emergency third string behind veteran Andrew Moses. Moses and Bryant Browning turn into venerable jacks of all trades, with Moses listed as both the backup center and right guard, while Browning replaces Hall as Shugart's primary backup. Andrew Miller also looks to double dip with the triumphant return of Mike Adams. It's not out of the question in the least we see Adams at left tackle this week and Miller potentially spelling Justin Boren at left guard.
Linebacker Ross Homan was the Buckeyes’ defensive player of the week, with six tackles and a fumble recovery. Punter Ben Buchanan was the player of the week on the special units. Wide receiver Dane Sanzenbacher, with five catches for 126 yards and two scores, was the offensive player of the week.
Scout team champions were: Offense: Chris Fields; Defense: Jordan Whiting; Special Units: Tony Harlamert.
The “Attack Force” award went to defensive lineman Cameron Heyward. Bryant Browning was the Jim Parker lineman of the week. The Jack Tatum Big Hit of the week was not awarded.
Props to Browning and it sounds like Fields and Whiting are doing work in practice.
For those of us who are old enough to remember reading "Peanuts" cartoons in the Sunday funnies section of the newspaper, the gag about Charlie Brown trying to kick the football while Lucy holds it is as familiar as the arrival of fall in Columbus. Of course, no matter how much Charlie Brown convinces himself that this time, he's going to kick that thing to kingdom come, the result is predictable. If you have ever felt that kind of frustration, then you know what it was like to be an Ohio State fan when your favorite team lined up to play Illinois in the late 80's and early 90's.
Most OSU fans from that period can readily recite Coach John H. Cooper's record against Michigan, but they might have forgotten the difficulties he had with the Illini in his early years. Coach Cooper lost his first 5 games against Illinois, and 6 out of the first 7. Of course, after that the Buckeyes took out several pounds of flesh from the Illini during a 4-game winning streak from 1995-1998, a span in which they outscored Illinois 171-9. But during that initial 5-game losing streak, Illinois annually played the role of Lucy to OSU's Charlie Brown.
Ohio State had reason to be optimistic going into the 1993 season, despite losing some key players. Star running back Robert Smith and starting safety Roger Harper left early to jump to the NFL, and QB Kirk Herbstreit and WR Brian Stablein had used up their eligibility. But Raymont Harris was a talented and experienced RB and the coaches had high hopes that former St. Henry high school phenom Bobby Hoying would seize the QB job and excel at the position. There was also huge untapped potential with young receivers Chris Sanders, Buster Tillman, and Terry Glenn. Former starting WR Joey Galloway returned after losing most of the 1992 season to a leg injury, and he appeared to be even faster than before. The defense was anchored by DE Jason Simmons and LB's Lorenzo Styles and Craig Powell.
OSU approached their road game against the Illini with considerable confidence. Surely this would be the year they broke the losing streak. They had already laid a 63-28 road whipping on the Pitt Panthers and had vanquished the visiting Washington Huskies 21-12 in a nationally televised night game. They also spanked Rice 34-7 and crushed Northwestern 51-3. The team was 4-0 and on a roll. Harris had gotten off to a great start running the football, and Galloway was making big plays and scoring touchdowns left and right. Hoying was effective as the starting QB, and he was supplemented by senior transfer Bret Powers in a sort of QB platoon. On the other hand, Illinois was struggling to find an offensive identity with new QB starter Johnny Johnson and appeared more vulnerable than they had been for years.
OSU got off to a quick start as Johnson fumbled the ball away on Illinois' very first offensive play. Three plays later, Hoying hit Galloway on a 14-yard slant for a quick touchdown and a 7-0 lead. Later, the defense forced the Illini to punt deep in their own territory. Coach Cooper smelled blood and he sent kick-blocking specialist Tito Paul on an aggressive rush for the block. As the punter saw Paul approaching him, he rushed to try to get the punt off. But as he reached the ball out it slipped from his hand and Paul slammed into him, knocking the ball into the end zone. Reserve WR Terry Glenn recovered it for his first collegiate touchdown (but not his last, see below). Tim Williams added a field goal for Ohio State and the Buckeyes led 17-3 at the half.
Unfortunately for OSU fans, the offense did very little other than take advantage of Illinois turnovers. But Illinois hardly fared better. At their home field in Memorial Stadium, the wind is often fierce and unpredictable. On this day, it was such a factor that the two teams eschewed the passing game for the most part when moving against it. OSU's offense struggled going against the wind in the 3rd quarter and frequently gave the Illini excellent field position. On one such occasion Illinois got the ball in Ohio State territory but had to settle for a field goal. On the ensuing kick-off, Glenn fumbled the ball away to the Illini, but the defense held and forced another field goal.
In the 4th quarter, OSU had the wind at their backs, but still Coach Cooper did not trust his young QB to make first downs through the air. So they ran the ball repeatedly and were forced into 3-and-outs on almost every drive. But they finally broke through to kick a field goal and go up 20-12. Illinois mounted one more threat, and even appeared to score a touchdown on a 33-yard pass from Johnson to TE Ken Dilger. But they were called for Ineligible Man Downfield on the play, and OSU dodged the bullet a few plays later when safety Tim Patillo sealed the game with an interception.
After the game, Cooper repeated again and again that "a win is a win", and after 5 years of futility against the Illini most OSU fans were willing to settle for that. But there was an uneasy feeling about shutting down the offense for almost the entire second half, and it seemed as if the lack of aggressiveness on offense had affected the team as a whole. Still, they had forged a tough victory on the road in the Big Ten, which is something to be cherished in any season even if the opposition is not exactly formidable.
Ohio State would finish the season 10-1-1, defeating BYU in a tougher-than-it-should-have-been Holiday Bowl game 28-21. OSU led 21-7 early in the 2nd quarter but the offense seemed to mostly shut down after that and they were once again forced to hold on for dear life as BYU got closer and closer before failing to crack the end zone on multiple tries at the end. Coach Cooper had "guaranteed" victory prior to the game, and so the win was a vindication of sorts. However, that victory only partially relieved the sting from a 28-0 beating the team had received at the hands of a mediocre Michigan team in the season finale. OSU looked as if they had "mailed it in", despite entering the game undefeated (having tied Wisconsin in Madison) and ranked in the top 5. Now that we are in the Tressel era, the idea of Ohio State not showing up against the boys in blue is unthinkable, but such strange events were commonplace in the Cooper era.
Raymont Harris rushed for 235 yards against BYU, the 5th highest single-game total in school history. For the season, he finished with 1344 yards on 273 carries, putting him in the top ten all-time in career rushing yards at OSU. Harris was voted team MVP, and OSU linemen Dan Wilkinson and Korey Stringer were selected as All-Americans. Galloway would play one more (scandal-tainted) season at OSU before beginning his long and successful career in the NFL. Hoying would have an excellent career as a Buckeye, ultimately finishing 2nd all-time in career passing yards. Terry Glenn got his big opportunity in 1995, and made the most of it by hauling in 64 passes for 1411 yards and a school-record 17 TD's, winning the Fred Biletnikoff award in the process. As for Cooper, the 1993 season was a turning point for the better as OSU mostly dominated the Big Ten (if not their arch-rival) for the rest of the 90's.
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