I regret to inform you that game day Skull Sessions are back (unless you are intentionally seeking fumbling prose and egregious typos, in which case you've come to the right place).
Our national nightmare is over – it's game day.
As is custom, we will begin the fertile season with a ritualistic sacrifice of an innocent and overmatched opponent who has already accepted death. Folks, we're mere hours away from the very public execution of Lane Kiffin in the concrete cathedral on the banks of the Olentangy.
To be honest, I don't know how to talk trash about a guy that so clearly has absolutely no intention of ever even competing in this football game. I've never in my life encountered a coach that so candidly regrets that his team even has to play the particular team on the schedule, openly blaming the athletic department for all-but handing him an L.
It's incredible, but you know what, I understand.
The last time Mr. Freshwater faced a Buckeye team, he was a coordinator for the No. 1 team in the country as he watched an opposing wide receiver throw a prettier pass than his quarterback threw all season, a third-string quarterback truck one of his linebackers out of the game, a wide receiver take out two dudes with a single block, and a running back become the first ever to rush for over 200 yards against a Nick Saban 'Bama team (he bleeds!).
That shit has to change you. I would never want to see that team ever again. I mean, the guy was so rattled, he was accidentally celebrating Buckeye interceptions:
But don't confuse my understanding for sympathy, because Kiffin is getting absolutely ROCKED today – and this time it won't even take a wide receiver reverse pass to do it (though I certainly wouldn't object to the play call, just to remind him who daddy is).
Beyond FAU's nooneral, we've got ourselves a pretty standard opening-season slate.
|12:00||FLORIDA ATLANTIC @ #5 OHIO STATE||OSU (-27.5)||FOX|
|12:00||BOISE STATE VS. FLORIDA STATE||FSU (-6.5)||ESPN|
|12:00||INDIANA @ BALL STATE||IU (-17)||CBSS|
|12:00||TOLEDO @ KENTUCKY||UK (-11)||SECN|
|3:30||DUKE VS #2 ALABAMA||BAMA (-34.5)||ABC|
|3:30||SOUTH CAROLINA @ NORTH CAROLINA||SC (-10.5)||ESPN|
|4:00||VIRGINIA TECH @ BOSTON COLLEGE||VT (-4)||ACCN|
|4:00||NORTHWESTERN @ #25 STANFORD||STAN (-6.5)||ESPN|
|7:30||VIRGINIA @ PITT||VA (-2.5)||ACCB|
|7:30||#11 OREGON VS. #16 AUBURN||(AUB -3.5)||ABC|
|7:30||#3 GEORGIA @ VANDERBILT||UGA (-22)||SECN|
|7:30||MIDDLE TENNESSEE STATE @ #7 MICHIGAN||MICH (-34.5)||BTN|
|10:30||FRESNO STATE @ USC||USC (-13.5)||ESPN|
Word of the Day: Maim.
THAT 11W PREGAME FIX.
- Five things to know.
- Depth chart
- Status Report
- Round table
- Game poster.
- Game trailer
- Across the Field
- 10 reasons to hate
- The situational
- Ryan Day is fired up
- Ohio State's new look defense.
- Our picks against the spread
- Confidence in Wyatt Davis and Josh Myers
- Branden Bowen is grateful to be starting again.
BRANDEN BOWEN BACK. Big Branden Bowen is back as a Buckeye blocker, and I couldn't be more stoked about it.
These are just the guys you love to root for.
I'll tell you what, if I broke multiple bones in my leg doing something, you bet your ass I would never do that thing ever again – especially if my recovery didn't go swell the first time. But Bowen ain't a quitter, and now he's a starter again.
MEANWHILE, AN ACTUAL OFFENSIVE GENIUS. It's hilarious to me that Lane Kiffin is seen as such an offensive genius whose squad is going to test this revamped Buckeye defense when in reality, he won't even be the best offensive mind in the stadium.
That honor will go to the new Buckeye head coach, who will still be calling the plays.
From Doug Lesmerises of Cleveland.com:
“My wife would tell you, I do this all the time,” Day told me in his office during spring football. “I could be on the phone, and to this day, I still do it.”
At this point, Day got up and started walking around the office, searching for and finding examples. On the back of this sheet of paper. In this notebook.
“I just think I’ve done it for years,” Day said. “I’m not even thinking about what the play is. I’m just drawing it. That’s the way I’ve always been.
“This is what I do.”
Smith said the same thing appealed to him when he hired Meyer, an offensive schemer during the spread revolution who over time developed into a culture coach. But Meyer and Day both started by dialing up offenses and delegating defensive duties to assistants. That’s why Smith strongly agrees with Day’s plan to retain his play-calling duties this season.
“Ryan, don’t walk away from your strength,” Smith told him. “Maybe in year two or year three, but this is what you’re good at. In year one, as a leader, you need to make sure you bring what you can. And in year two or year three, you might be in a different spot.”
There's a narrative out there that Ohio State's going to struggle this season with a new head coach and a new quarterback and I absolutely cannot wait for Day and Justin Fields to nuke the absolute hell out of FAU in game one, and let everyone know what they're dealing with.
I'M TRYING MY BEST. Last year was bad! I don't even know what my record was, but I do know I was well, well below .500. We're talking Miami Marlins below .500. I'd like to tell you it's going to be better this year, but realistically, it won't. This year is also going to be bad!
But hey, that ain't stopping me from trying, and dragging y'all along for the ride.
Ohio State -27.5 against FAU
I'm sorry I jinxed it, but I promise this isn't even a completely homer pick. I just think this line is extremely off for a few (mostly understandable) reasons. Ohio State has a new head coach, a new starting quarterback and was unbelievably terrible on defense last year, and they're playing a team led by Lane Kiffin that most expect to be very good on offense. I think folks are underestimating Ryan Day, Justin Fields, and Ohio State's defense while overrating the name brand of Lane Kiffin. Ohio State cruises.
Illinois -18 against Akron
Ain't this ambitious, rolling the dice with Illinois of all teams to start the season? Well, nowhere near as ambitious as the three separate $55,000 bets placed on the Illini, but I still like it. Mostly, I think Illinois is not as terrible as people expect, especially against a MAC team that I do believe actually is pretty terrible. That's it. That's the only analysis I have for this one. Take it or leave it.
Northwestern +6.5 against Stanford
I think the wrong team is favored here. We still don't know who Northwestern's starting quarterback is, but both options seem fine and they return enough – including starting running back Isaiah Bowser – that I'm not terribly concerned about it. The defense will be stout and the offense will do enough. This is going to be a low scoring game, and I'll gladly take who I believe to be the better team plus almost a touchdown.
Boise State vs. Florida State Under 55
This is just too many points. I honestly think this total is about 10 points too high. Boise State has to replace a good portion of its offense this season, including its starting quarterback, and Florida State hasn't exactly been the poster child for efficient offense. And now you're going to move the game, at the last minute, guaranteeing a stale environment? Yeah, give me the under.
USC -13.5 against Fresno State
I'm basically picking against two different overreactions here. First off, this is not the same 12-win Fresno State team from last season. They return just nine starters, and they ain't the most vital ones from last season. Second, USC is not that bad. Folks have already fired Clay Helton in their minds before the damn season even starts, but the reality is that even though they had a bad, bad season in 2018, they will still be the more talented team by far on Saturday night.
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