Skull Session: Ohio State Great Against the Spread, Ohio State's Looming Offensive Tackle Decision, and Jonathan Cooper Overlooked

By Kevin Harrish on July 31, 2018 at 4:59 am
Larry Johnson is good at coaching football.

Today, I purchased my first couch. I could have repurposed any number of perfectly salvageable sofas disposed near dumpsters in the campus area, but I purchased my own, because I am now an adult.


Word of the Day: Spurious.

 BET THE HOUSE ON OSU, AGAINST UM. In a shocking turn of events, 10-year trends indicate it's a bad idea to bet on Michigan, but quite a profitable decision to bet on Ohio State.

Using data from Phil Steele's college football preview, Penn Live compiled the top-10 best and worst teams against the spread over the past 10 years. The Buckeyes cracked the top-10 while the Wolverines were just a few spots from the bottom.


#7 Ohio State .575 (76-56-1)

Though they've not been anything special the past 3 years ATS, the Buckeyes have been a long-term Vegas winner both under Urban Meyer and Jim Tressel before him. OSU's positive record vs the spread a year ago (8-6) was, of course, pocked by the inexplicable 31-point loss at Iowa (+18) -- a 49-point miss on the line that ranks among the largest in Vegas in many years.

Then there's Michigan, coming in at 117 out of 120.

#117 Michigan .421 (52-72-2)

Jim Harbaugh was supposed to fix all this and he hasn't. For a solid decade under Rich Rodriguez, Brady Hoke and now Sharkface, Michigan football has consistently under-performed against the Vegas line. Last year was Harbaugh's worst of his three (5-8 ATS) including the 29-point beat-down at Penn State (-9) after climbing to within a point late in the first half, and that ugly come-from-ahead loss to South Carolina (+8) in the Outback Bowl.

If an enterprising Buckeye fan would have placed a $110 wager on the spread against Michigan and for Ohio State for every game of the past 10 years, it would have netted $2,920, a 10.25 percent return on your investment.

Folks, it's free money.

 LEFT, RIGHT, LEFT. We've known who Ohio State's offensive tackles would be for quite some time, but what we still don't know is who's going to play which side.

Early in the spring, Urban Meyer said Thayer Munford was "penciled in" as Ohio State's starting right tackle with Isaiah Prince moving over to the left. Meyer must have brought out the eraser because that's decidedly not what we saw during the team's spring game.

From Bill Landis of

Perhaps the biggest surprise of the year thus far was when Munford started the spring game at left tackle and Prince at right, deviating from what we saw at the start of spring practice and what we thought would be the plan. Urban Meyer wasn't ready to call that permanent then, and wasn't ready to call that permanent last week.


Trusting the mature senior over the green sophomore at that position would seem like sound judgement.

Then you remember the comfort Prince has built on the right side, and wonder if that should be taken into consideration more than having a potential team captain protecting quarterback Dwayne Haskins' blind side.

"It's a tough adjustment," Prince said. "I'm right hand and right foot dominant. It's just different. Your muscle memory is different, the way you think about things is backwards, the complete opposite. So it was a big adjustment."

If Meyer were to consult me, an Internet boy with an Arby's addiction, I would advise leaving Prince at right tackle.

After a rocky sophomore season, Prince played with a ton of confidence last season and was one of the most improved players in the country. Moving him to the left after he became comfortable on the right seems like a recipe for disaster.

Plus, I have all the faith in the world in Munford.

 DARRON LEE'S MOTIVATION. Darron Lee has a new source of inspiration in a young cancer survivor named Gio Toribio. The two met at a game last season and have been nearly inseparable ever since.

From Connor Hughes of The Athletic ($):

Of everything inside Toribio’s room, nothing makes his face light up like the mention of Darron Lee, the Jets’ third-year linebacker. The two met at a game in 2017 and their relationship has only strengthened since. The 23-year-old Lee calls Toribio his “little brother,” while Toribio considers Lee his “best friend.”

“My father always said, ‘When someone is in your life because they have to be in your life — someone tied to you by blood — that’s one thing,'” Lauren Toribio, Gio’s mother, said. “‘But when someone chooses to love you … that’s a special relationship.’

“Darron chose to be a part of Gio’s life. He didn’t have to be. He chose to accept him in his family. He genuinely loves him, and Gio loves him back. It’s amazing to watch. “


“It’s such an amazing feeling when someone so small can make you feel so strong and invincible,” Lee said. “He’s my hero. He and Brock are both my heroes. It’s just incredible the strength instilled in you by a kid. He doesn’t know. I don’t think he’ll ever know how much he means to me, or what he’s done for me.”

Lee talks to Gio regularly, as an older brother would. They talk shoes, sports, video games and he is constantly in the loop for medical updates. As much as it means to Gio and his family, it's clear it means even more to Lee.

 THE OTHER FIVE-STAR DEFENSIVE END. People forget Ohio State has a five-star defensive end not named Chase Young or Nick Bosa, and with the way the Buckeyes like to rotate defensive ends, there's a strong chance Jonathan Cooper will spend his Saturdays in the opposition's backfield as well.

From Alex Gleitman of

The 6-foot-4, 257-pounder, who arrived from local Gahanna (OH) Lincoln as a 5-star per 247Sports, has flashed when given the opportunity during the first half of his career in Scarlet and Gray, but he hasn't really had the chance to get extended or truly meaningful minutes thus far, with players like Sam Hubbard, Tyquan Lewis, Jalyn Holmes, and Nick Bosa ahead of him on the depth chart.

As a freshman in 2016, Cooper played in 6 games with 6 tackles, 1 tackle for loss, and 1 sack. Last year, he had 15 tackles, 3 tackles for loss, 2 sacks, 1 QB hit, and 1 fumble recovery in 14 games of action. In watching him, his quick first step, initial burst, and ability to get to the quarterback are apparent, and should be enough to get fans excited about what he could bring to the table as a full-time player in 2018.

But despite Hubbard, Holmes, and Lewis all leaving for the NFL, that's not exactly the case. With Bosa coming back, and a ton of excitement around Chase Young, who registered 19 tackles and 3.5 sacks as a true freshman in 2017, Cooper has become somewhat of an afterthought when fans, media members, and other analysts talk about the Buckeyes' defensive line this coming season.

It's true, I jumped aboard the Chase Young bandwagon as soon as I saw the 17-year-old in pads, but I wouldn't say I've forgotten about Cooper. He was one of the top pass rushers in the country coming out of high school and was nearly unblockable in a one-on-one.

A third-down package of Nick Bosa, Chase Young, Dre'Mont Jones and Jonathan Cooper honestly seems like a violation of NPT.

 DOLODALE FIGHTING FOR SECOND. Just over a year after he was traded to the Chargers, Cardale Jones is now in a battle for the team's backup quarterback spot behind Philip Rivers.

From Chargers Wire:

Jones has the biggest upside of the three quarterbacks. He has a rocket launcher attached to his right shoulder. Some of the throws Jones made at Ohio State were ridiculous. He’s not speedy by any means, but he’s shifty enough to make plays as a runner. He’s certainly powerful enough. If Jones is consistent with his accuracy and decision making, he should win the job.

Dolo should know more than anyone else what being a backup quarterback means – you're one play away from being thrust into the spotlight, where good things happen.

Cardale Jones.

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