Stock Up/Stock Down: With Ohio State's Regular Season Over, Who is Trending Up, Down?

By Tim Shoemaker on November 29, 2016 at 10:10 am
Malik Hooker's stock has continued to rise all season.

As things stand right now, it's unknown when Ohio State will play its next game.

The Buckeyes' regular-season is over. They'll watch championship weekend at home.

But many feel that with an 11-1 record and wins over the current No. 3, 6, 8 and 16 teams in the College Football Playoff rankings (those will change with a new set released Tuesday), Ohio State has done enough to be one of the final four teams when things are all said and done despite the fact it will not win a conference title.

So as the Buckeyes await their fate, we're going to do things a bit differently this week with Stock Up/Stock Down. It's our final edition of the season, so we'll do an all-Ohio State version as we head into championship weekend.

Stock Up

Ohio State's linebackers

Michigan runs a pro style offense so the Buckeyes needed a big day from Raekwon McMillan, Jerome Baker and Chris Worley and they certainly got just that. The three starting linebackers for Ohio State combined to make 42 tackles in the 30-27 double-overtime victory. 

McMillan and Baker, in particular, were standouts. McMillan played arguably the best game of his career with a 16-tackle performance while Baker racked up 15 tackles of his own, a sack and an interception that set up a Buckeyes' touchdown.

Malik Hooker — Ohio State safety

To be honest, Hooker's stock has been rising all season as he entered the year a relatively unknown player and ended it as's Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year.

The official award will be handed out to someone Tuesday and Hooker is a strong candidate to win that. The redshirt sophomore leads the Big Ten with six interceptions and he has returned three of those for touchdowns. Hooker had a pick-six Saturday for the Buckeyes against Michigan.

Hooker essentially came out of nowhere this season and emerged as a potential first-round NFL Draft pick should he opt to declare. But Hooker told the Columbus Dispatch on Monday he intends to return to school next season. We'll see if that sticks, however.

Curtis Samuel — Ohio State wide receiver/running back

Another player who has been on a steady incline all season is Samuel, the talented do-it-all offensive dynamo for the Buckeyes.

Samuel didn't have a huge game against Michigan — 86 total yards on 11 touches — but in the fourth quarter and overtime he came alive and made big play after big play for Ohio State.

Of course, Samuel's 15-yard touchdown run will live on in Ohio State–Michigan lore, and if the Buckeyes are going to contend for a national title this year it's going to be because Samuel plays a big role. 

Stock Down

Ohio State's Pass Protection

The Buckeyes have a problem protecting J.T. Barrett when he drops back to pass. This seems to be the case against teams with above-average defenses, anyway.

Michigan had eight sacks against Ohio State on Saturday. Eight. That's nearly half as many as they had allowed all season, in 11 games, until that point. Taco Charlton and Co. had their way with the Buckeyes in passing situations. Similar things happened in parts of the Wisconsin and Penn State games, too. It's certainly a real issue at this point. 

Whomever Ohio State plays next will be an elite team. The Buckeyes have about a month to figure things out.

Passing Offense

It all starts with the pass protection, but that's not the only issue with Ohio State's passing struggles. The wide receivers are still having trouble separating from defenders at times and Barrett has been a bit inconsistent with some throws all season.

All three things have to be tied together and working in unison for this to work and it seems like that hasn't happened against top-level defenses. Again, Ohio State has a month to figure it all out.

Tyler Durbin — Ohio State kicker

A guy who came out of nowhere, Durbin had been one of the most pleasant surprises of this Ohio State season as he made 16-of-17 field goal tries prior to Saturday's game against Michigan.

Durbin missed his first two attempts against the Wolverines, however, one from 37 yards out and the other just from 20. For a long time it was looking like he could be the goat of this Ohio State–Michigan game.

But Durbin made the chip shot field goal at the end of regulation to send the game to overtime. Perhaps that will give him some confidence heading into postseason play, and perhaps Saturday's performance was just a bad game from a guy who has been really good all year long.

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