Wednesday Skull Session

By Sarah Hardy on September 28, 2011 at 6:00 am

Good day, readers, even if your Wednesday morning paper didn't come. For those of you who still read the paper, that is. I hope everyone is enjoying Fall and getting ready for the Big Ten season to start. Somehow, it's the end of September and I only believe it because the foliage is quickly losing its chlorophyll and my DVR is overheating.

Over the weekend, I went to the Bears-Packers game and saw Dane Sanzenbacher score a touchdown basically right in front of me. At one point or another, I informed everyone in the Chicago area who wasn't yet aware of it that Sanzenbacher is a national treasure. I tried my best to prove that for the most part, while a passionate and sometimes nutty fanbase, Buckeyes are not obnoxious.

After the game, a total stranger bear hugged me, and it was long enough to go from weird to awkward to uncomfortable to kinda hilarious and all the way back around again. But if anyone attending Eat Too, Brutus does the same, he or she better donate generously to the Stefanie Spielman Fund1

 HIGHWAY TO HALL. Already calling it "one of my greatest memories at Ohio State", Jordan Hall is one of three captains for this Saturday's matchup with Michigan State. The two-game suspension earlier this month was tough on him as because he had to watch at home and was unable to help the team. Immediately upon his return, he has contributed significantly on the field, including the over 200 all-purpose yards he racked up against Colorado, but his leadership off the field has also gotten the attention of Coach Fickell:

“He’s a leader in our locker room,” Fickell said of Hall. “He’s handled everything we’ve asked him to handle with class and dignity. He has not batted an eye at it with all the situations."

Hall wants to show that he's deserving of being a captain, and his best effort will be needed against a Michigan State defense that ranks first in yards allowed and ninth in rushing defense. The other two captains will be seniors Nate Oliver and Nate Ebner, who will be serving a second stint. If anyone was wondering whether Boom, Posey, Adams, or Thomas would ever be named captain for a game later this season, then this is a good indication that it'll happen. 

 FOUR GAMES IN OCTOBER. The Michigan State game kicks off a month of the most difficult part of Ohio State's schedule. After Saturday, they will face Nebraska, Illinois, and Wisconsin. As of right now, those four teams have a combined record of 15-1, and all four are ranked in the top 25. It won't be long until we find out just how well these Buckeyes stack up against the rest of the conference. Still, Fickell points out that this is a young team and "our focus is on getting better". If any of Tressel's November mojo remains, then count on that happening. 

Spotted: the rare, elusive creature that is a Dantonio smileCouldn't beat his mentor. What about his student?

IS THIS THE REAL LIFE? IS THIS JUST FANTASY? Speaking earlier of the top-ranked Michigan State defense, both the Lansing State Journal and the Detroit Free Press analyze how legit it really is. Three of their four games were against hapless opponents (Youngstown State, FAU, Central Michigan), and they lost to Notre Dame, the only one of the four with a pulse. However, despite scoring 31 points, the Irish totaled just 275 yards. Of course at this point in the season, most teams have played cupcakey schedules. Michigan State probably doesn't have the best defense in the country, but they do have a respectable one. 

Sparty is surrending a mere 101.3 passing yards per game, and unless Bollman is suddenly replaced with Houston offensive coordinator Jason Phillips, they won't face much of an air attack from Ohio State, whose passing offense ranks 110th in the nation. What they will have to deal with for the first time this season is a dual-threat quarterback. Braxton Miller will be the warm-up to a slate of five straight games where MSU will line up against running QBs.

THAT'S WHY YOU'RE MICHIGAN STATE. While Mark Dantonio has done many positive things for the MSU program, one thing he has not been able to do yet is beat Ohio State, the only B1G team he hasn't in his tenure. They'll be seeking their first victory in the series since 1999 and their first in Columbus since 19982. A win against OSU, even one that has been dealing with a lot of problems, would be huge for the Spartans, their Ohio-born coach, and the 24 Ohioans on their roster. 

Trying to describe his team was a bit of a challenge for Dantonio:

"Do we have an identity? I think we've got toughness, I think we've got mental toughness, and I think we'll play hard. But do we have an identity? It's tough for me to say at this point."

Does that sound like another coach, and another team, we know? 

CHECKING IN WITH THE BIG TEN. Saturday's Nebraska-Wisconsin matchup is one many are anticipating, especially the players. It'll be a night game, College GameDay will be there, it's the first B1G contest for NU, and the last time Wisconsin hosted a game between two top-10 teams was 1962. The Badgers are expecting an atmosphere like when they hosted Ohio State last season. As someone who attended that game, let me just say, good luck visiting Nebraska fans.

Five Big Ten teams, none of them named Ohio State, have question marks about who their starting quarterbacks are, including Northwestern who will finally welcome the return of Dan Persa on Saturday against llinois. Kain Colter claims he's ready to give the job back to him.  

Meanwhile, the Wolverines promise that they're not relishing in their 4-0 record because they've been there before and it hasn't ended well. This season, they are seeking a better conference record, which means defeating a non-pathetic B1G team for the first time in eons. Their next opponent is Minnesota, so we'll have to wait a little longer to see if this is the year. 

PLAY LIKE CONNOR TODAY. Ten years ago, Ohio State soccer player Connor Senn died during a game against Akron. A hard worker who earned his way on the team as a walk-on and became a starter, Senn was 18 years old, suffering a sudden cardiac death (SCD). Dr. Peter Mohler, a researcher at Ohio State Medical Center's Dorothy M. Davis Heart and Lung Research Institute, is attempting to bring more awareness to SCD, which has caused the death of many young athletes. According to Mohler, they've come a long way since Connor's death and while there are screening tests that can identify who is at risk for these heart problems, they are still not very common.

Connor's father Lance says that on top of raising more money, the goal is to "bring more researchers in and be a source of information for everyone". In May, the soccer team plays the Connor Senn Memorial match, which both raises funds for the research and for a scholarship in Connor's name. Coach John Bluem makes sure that every recruit knows who he was and why the team's motto is the same as it's been for a decade: play like Connor today. 

LINKS FOR HIGH JINKS. Agonis Club/Ohio State Men's Basketball Tip-Off will be held November 1... Twin Peaks as an Atari Game, cherry pie not included... Stephen King is writing a sequel to The Shining, apparently less about REDRUM and more about vampires... The sweetest picture of Kermit the Frog you'll ever see... Community characters as planets in the solar system... Mad Men's greatest scene reworked to include Facebook's new Timeline... Number one threat to America, grown Care Bears?... Bacon strips for the literal-minded. 

  • 1 I would actually prefer it if you would donate generously without hugging me. Unlike refs who allow Jared Sullinger to get groped, I will call "foul!" 
  • 2 Just typing that made me vomit. 
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