Skull Session: Buckeyes Jump to No. 1 in S&P+, What Ben Victor Did to Play, and Ohio State Raises $3 Billion

By D.J. Byrnes on October 3, 2016 at 4:59 am
Demario McCall touches the paint for the October 3rd 2016 Skull Session

Condolences to Rutgers fans. As a Browns fan, I know what it's like sitting idly by while strange men rummage through your team's lifeless carcass that lies bloated in a ditch off an interstate Sunoco.

Maybe one day the Scarlet Knights will be good, but Urban Meyer sent a clear message to the top New Jersey recruits: Play for the Buckeyes or lose to the Buckeyes. 

And specific shoutout to the village of Minster and its Oktoberfest. Jovial and peaceful atmosphere, great food, and you can drink beer out of a half gallon jug while standing in the streets. I now understand why Munich swaggerjacked the idea.

 MONDAY MATH. Say, folks, how about the local team? Not many people thought Ohio State stood much of a chance against Rutgers—but not me. I thought the Buckeyes would win, and Meyer's team once again vindicated me.

Sure, Ohio State looks like the best team in the country. But I'm a homer. What do the cool and good numbers say?


The S&P+ Ratings are a college football ratings system derived from the play-by-play and drive data of all 800+ of a season’s FBS college football games (and 140,000+ plays).” From there, the ranking adjusts for what football reporter Bill Connelly calls the “Five Factors of college football”: efficiency, explosiveness, field position, finishing drives and turnovers.

The numbers say Ohio State, based on games played, is the best team in the country by a wide margin.

Here's how it stacks up vs the Top 5 and future 2016 opponents:

2 ALABAMA 26.0
4 CLEMSON 22.4
23 NEBRASKA 12.2
49 INDIANA 6.3

Go ahed and crown their asses, right? If only.

Of that list, Alabama is the only one I consider in Ohio State's league. (Nick Saban will be relieved to read that, I know.) I don't view the Tide as a Death Star, though.

Clemson and Louisville could maybe possibly beat the Buckeyes, too, but it would require a whistle-to-whistle blinder.

I'm not sold on Michigan yet. Its defense is solid, but it's going to need more than 14 points to not get smoked in Columbus.

 BEN VICTOR EARNED HIS SHOT. Urban Meyer did it. After years of telling us "we don't redshirt at Ohio State" before redshirting a majority of his recruiting classes, he's finally playing some blue chips early.

And why not? His team maybe young but it's too talented for a majority of its roster to stick around for five years. Blood the young guys.

Wide receiver Ben Victor made his debut Saturday after Meyer said he wanted to play him earlier in the week.


"Over the last two weeks, when you have a bye week, you rest some of your horses who get a lot of touches and a lot of reps in practice," Ohio State offensive coordinator Ed Warinner said. "Ben got more and more reps in the two weeks leading up to this game, and each rep, each day he kept getting better and better. 

"You could just see a sense, so we thought it was time, we thought he had earned the right and we thought he was ready to help us." 

(Full freshman tracker, over here.)

Victor is going to be a problem for defenses, especially once he undergoes a full year of Mickey Marotti training. But it was easy to see why he hadn't played yet. Though his body lends him unique weapons, his routes weren't as crisp as we'd expect from other Zone 6 members.

Still, it's valuable experience. And with Ohio State having to fill its No. 2 WR role by committee, getting him that experience will only help down the road.

 WOULD YOU LIKE TO DONATE TO OHIO STATE? Ohio State does this cool thing where it charges you for an education, and when the student loan bills come due, it hits you up for more money.

But business seems to be booming for alums as it is for the #brand. The latest fundraising campaign smashed its goal by $500 million dollars.


COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) - A fundraising campaign at Ohio State University has ended with a tally of more than $3 billion.

The Columbus Dispatch ( ) reports University President Dr. Michael Drake recently announced to key donors the total amount raised in the "But For Ohio State" campaign.

The campaign had already exceeded its goal of $2.5 billion in December.

Good to see the university already preparing the war chest to dynamite MENSA founder Tom Herman from Texas here in a few years. Truly an amazing time to be a Buckeye fan.

 OHIO WATCHES MICHIGAN ESCAPE. I watched Michigan beat Wisconsin under a tent in Minster. Judging by the reaction of the handful of Blue noses, you would've thought the Wolverines won the Super Bowl.

Turns out Wisconsin–Michigan was quite the draw in Ohio.


The ABC game, won by Michigan 14-7, produced strong TV ratings for the 3:30 p.m. slot, with a 4.5 overnight national rating, the second-highest among all weekend games, trailing the primetime Clemson/Louisville showdown (6.0) that followed on ABC. ESPN announced the ratings in a press release today.


Milwaukee was the highest-rated market with a 22.1 total and Detroit was second at 21.6.

But third (Columbus, 19.0), fourth (Dayton, 11.1) and fifth (Cleveland-Akron, 9.3), clearly surpassed the home-team markets.

Yeah, you could say we do that college football thing here.

 MEANWHILE... As any child of the 1990s (the height of civilization, by the way) can attest: There was a time when Toys 'R' Us was an empyreal emporium.

Now, it's a house of horrors CEO'd by a grandpa who should be at home drawing a retirement check but is instead stocking Chewbacca and Pokémon toys in Cedar Rapids.

A legend like Dave Brandon deserves better than this, damnit!!!


In the Star Wars section nearby, a Chewbacca chair has tumbled over into the aisle. The 64-year-old CEO grabs it and turns it right-side up. Dressed in black pants and a blue long-sleeve shirt -- a deliberate attempt to connect with store workers by wearing their uniform -- Brandon then walks through a display of Pokemon toys, snapping pictures of empty shelves with his iPhone that he’ll send to one of his executives. It’s Friday afternoon before the crucial weekend rush.

“This doesn’t make me happy,” says Brandon, who estimates that he’s been to 200 stores since taking the reins in July 2015.

There hasn’t been much to smile about at Toys “R” Us Inc. More than a decade after a $7.5 billion leveraged buyout by Bain Capital, KKR & Co. and Vornado Realty Trust, the retailer remains saddled with annual interest payments of more than $400 million and no clear path for its owners to exit the investment. The company registered for an initial public offering in 2010, only to withdraw it a few years later. Since the buyout,, which once ran the Toys “R” Us website, has become a powerful competitor. And shoppers are abandoning the suburban malls that helped make the big-box pioneer one of the most dominant retailers of the 1980s and 1990s.

Perhaps when Oregon fires Brady Hoke, his old boss can hire him at Toys 'R' Us. Hoke just might be the cashier needed to resurrect the #brand from the buyout junkyard of history.

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