Skull Session: The Ryan Day-Lou Holtz Saga Continues, Ohio State Ranks Fifth in FBS Stop Rate and Chip Trayanum is the "Buck of the Week"

By Chase Brown on September 27, 2023 at 5:00 am
Ryan Day
Matt Cashore-USA TODAY Sports

Welcome to the Skull Session.

Marvin Harrison Jr. is out of this world.

 THIS STORY IS TIRED. OK, after I heard Brady Quinn's comments about Ryan Day's comments about Lou Holtz's comments – and then (!) Holtz's newest comments on Day's comments on Holtz's comments – I am about to be ready to move past what the former Notre Dame head coach and national champion said about the Buckeyes.

Note: about to be

Second note: The word "comments" appeared in the opening paragraph six times.

Here are my comments on Quinn's comments on Day's comments on Holtz's comments: Mr. Quinn can get dumped.

And here are my comments on Holtz's comments on Day's comments on Holtz's comments: Mr. Holtz can get dumped.

Section "comments" tracker: 14

As I mentioned in the Monday Skull Session, the 86-year-old Holtz was an avatar that represented the countless people, including Ohio State fans, who have called out Day and the Buckeyes for their alleged lack of emotional, mental and physical toughness to beat Michigan, win Big Ten championships and win national titles.

Maybe Holtz and Co. are correct. Maybe Ohio State doesn't have what it takes to beat Michigan and win in the postseason when it matters. But here's a retort: We won't know until the Buckeyes reach that point in the season. 

We know now that Ohio State had the toughness required to beat a top-10 Notre Dame team in South Bend, Indiana, in front of 81,000 attendees and 10.5 million television viewers (14.2 million for the game-winning drive). Regardless of Quinn and Holtz's comments about the Irish, the Buckeyes were the better team on Saturday. That's all that mattered for Ohio State to improve its record to 4-0 and move on in the 2023 season.

Section "comments" tracker: 15

 THE SILVER BULLETS ARE... BACK? After four weeks of the 2023 college football season, Max Olson's "stop rate" assessment has returned. With a stop rate of 85.3% across three FBS matchups and 34 drives, THE World Famous Ohio State Buckeyes are the No. 5-ranked team in The Athletic's advanced metric for defenses.

From Olson's article:

What is stop rate? It’s a basic measurement of success: the percentage of a defense’s drives that end in punts, turnovers or a turnover on downs. This simple metric can offer a more accurate reflection of a defense’s effectiveness in today’s faster-tempo game than yards per game or points per game. We’ve been tracking this for each of the past five seasons (here are the final standings for 2022, 2021202020192018 and 2017) along with every defense's points per drive.

Note: only games against FBS opponents count toward the data.

With three Big Ten schools and one school each from the ACC, Big 12, SEC, Mountain West and MAC (Hello, Ohio), here are the top-10 teams in stop rate after four weeks:

1 Penn State 3 36 88.9% 0.78
2 Duke 3 35 88.6% 0.80
3 Michigan 4 41 87.8% 0.56
4 Oklahoma 4 49 85.7% 0.69
5 Ohio State 3 34 85.3% 0.79
6 Ohio 4 46 84.8% 0.80
7 UCLA 3 38 84.2% 0.79
T-8 Georgia 3 37 83.8% 1.03
T-8 Utah 3 37 83.8 0.84
10 Fresno State 3 34 82.4% 1.12

If Ohio State finished the season ranked No. 5 in stop rate, the Buckeyes would have recorded their third-best performance since 2017, as Ohio State's defense ranked No. 10 (2022), No. 22 (2021), No. 39 (2020), No. 1 (2019), No. 40 (2018) and No. 4 (2017) over the past six seasons.

Still, there's reason to believe Ohio State's defense can improve in 2023. The Buckeyes currently rank sixth nationally in total defense and second in scoring defense, allowing an average of 255.5 yards and 8.5 points per game. Those statistics came with an inconsistent pass rush and a run defense that looked vulnerable in Ohio State's top-10 matchup with Notre Dame.

If the Buckeyes can better themselves in those areas after the off week – and continue their solid performances elsewhere – the team will continue to climb the ranks. Should that happen, would we look back on this season and claim the Silver Bullets are... back?

 PLAYERS OF THE GAME. Each time Ohio State wins this season, Eleven Warriors will honor an offensive and defensive Buckeye with player of the game awards. After the Buckeyes' come-from-behind victory over Notre Dame, running back Chip Trayanum and safety Lathan Ransom received the accolades.

Ohio State also shared its selections for the Buckeyes' offensive, defensive and special teams players of the game on Saturday. While the team's coaches agreed with some of our picks from earlier this season, the staff went in a different direction in Week 4, selecting quarterback Kyle McCord, defensive tackle Tyleik Williams and punter Jesse Mirco as Ohio State's three honorees.

All three players were phenomenal in Ohio State's win over Notre Dame. McCord led the Buckeyes on their game-winning drive, completing clutch pass after clutch pass to set up Trayanum's touchdown. Williams built upon his incredible start to the season, collecting two tackles for loss from the interior defensive line. Mirco made the legendary Jim Tressel proud with three punts, landing two inside the Notre Dame 20-yard line.

Congratulations to McCord, Williams and Mirco.

I hope all three continue in excellence.

Ohio State will need them.

 BUCK OF THE WEEK. DeaMonte "Chip" Trayanum. Congratulations. YOU are the Buck of the Week – and deservedly so.

In the video, Trayanum was asked to describe what he remembers about his 1-yard touchdown with one second left, a score that pushed Ohio State past Notre Dame, 17-14, in a top-10 road matchup.

"It was definitely a weird moment," Trayanum said. "I remember being on the ground. My boy, Matt (Jones), was still on top of me. I couldn't even get up if I wanted to. I was across the goal line, and I remember staring at the ref with his arms up, signaling for a touchdown. It was a great feeling to be in there on the last play and get that yard. We preach one yard, one inch. That's what we needed to accomplish to get the game done and to walk out of South Bend with a victory."

I love Chip Trayanum. You love Chip Trayanum. We all love Chip Trayanum. Why do we all love him? Jim Knowles has the answer.

"You call on Chip, he's gonna make the play," Knowles said after the game. "I know that."

Who doesn't love a playmaker?

 SONG OF THE DAY. "I'm Gonna Miss Her" by Post Malone (Brad Paisley Cover).

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