Welcome to the Skull Session.
Ohio State is 9-0.
Full stop — I have A LOT to cover in the Skull Session but little space to cover it. There's Ohio State's win over Rutgers, Purdue Pete's shenanigans vs. Michigan, C.J. Stroud's incredible performance for the Houston Texans, the Ohio State men's and women's basketball teams' season openers vs. Oakland and USC, Ohio State football Players of the Game, a word from one of our Eleven Dubgate sponsors and some other lulz.
Talk about #content.
Let's dive in.
Have a good Monday.
"THIS TEAM FINDS A WAY." Ohio State defeated Rutgers 35-16 – and covered the spread (!) – on Saturday to improve to 9-0 on the season. Here are some thoughts on some individual and team performances in the matchup:
HENDERSON, HUMAN HIGHLIGHT REEL
In the last two weeks, TreVeyon Henderson has been as valuable to the Buckeyes' offense as Marvin Harrison Jr., a Heisman Trophy contender in 2023. Indeed, after a 28-touch, 207-yard, one-touchdown performance vs. Wisconsin on Oct. 28, Henderson had a 27-touch, 208-yard, one-touchdown effort vs. Rutgers on Saturday.
The Buckeyes needed all Henderson could provide in both contests.
Henderson has an explosiveness that is unrivaled on Ohio State's roster, the Big Ten and – if I can be so bold – all of college football. The warrant for such a claim? When Henderson used ye ol' dodge, duck, dip, dive and dodge trick (the oldest trick in the book!) to transform a 4-yard checkdown into a 65-yard catch-and-run.
Yeesh! pic.twitter.com/JEWJV6o1Rc— Eleven Warriors (@11W) November 4, 2023
HE18MAN CAMPAIGN CONTINUES
Marvin Harrison Jr. had an "off game" or a "quiet game" in Ohio State's win over Rutgers. Yet, the 6-foot-4, 205-pound wide receiver still recorded four receptions for 25 yards and two touchdowns for the Buckeyes.
Magnificent! Magnificent! pic.twitter.com/uubdk2jwvl— Eleven Warriors (@11W) November 4, 2023
Make it 2 for Marvin Harrison Jr. pic.twitter.com/w6Ftgf9kwR— Eleven Warriors (@11W) November 4, 2023
Harrison's performance, of course, drew praise from Ohio State football's social media accounts, which have adopted a HE18MAN nickname for the talented pass-catcher. Several others hopped aboard the Harrison For Heisman train this week, including Ohio State athletic director Gene Smith, who called Harrison "one of the best ever" and THE best player in college football.
Ive been blessed to witness greatness in players when I played, coached and as an administrator.— Gene Smith (@OSU_AD) November 4, 2023
There is no question in my mind that Marvin Harrison Jr is one of the best ever and the best player in all of college football this year. pic.twitter.com/a0TjsHQbb6
Good looks, Gene.
Harrison For Heisman!
Ohio State's defense has made a series of goal-line stands over the past two weeks to put the Buckeyes in a position to extend their lead or complete a comeback in the second half.
On Oct. 28 at Wisconsin, Tommy Eichenberg stood up running back Braelon Allen on a shovel pass on third down at the 1-yard line. The Badgers settled for a field goal, and the Buckeyes entered halftime up 10-3.
On Saturday, Ohio State's defense delivered three more stops with Rutgers parked inside the 5-yard line. All three times, the Buckeyes forced the Scarlet Knights to settle for field goals, which made Ohio State's deficit 9-7 at the intermission rather than 21-7.
Overall, Wisconsin and Rutgers made eight trips to the red zone. The Buckeyes only allowed two (!) touchdowns. That's phenomenal. And it speaks volumes of the work defensive coordinator Jim Knowles has done in his second season in Columbus. He's a Mad Scientist, that man – mad indeed!
"THEY KEEP SWINGING. THEY KEEP FIGHTING."
The 2023 version of the Buckeyes is unprecedented for a Ryan Day-coached Ohio State team. The 2023 version of the Buckeyes doesn't have an offense that racks up 500 yards and 40 points per game. It doesn't have a quarterback who will throw for 470 yards and five touchdowns (more on that later). And it doesn't boat race teams.
But you know what the 2023 version of the Buckeyes do?
"This team finds a way," Day said after Ohio State's win on Saturday. "They don't panic. They keep swinging. They keep fighting. ... You never know how these games are gonna go. You have to respond to what comes your way. That's what championship teams do. They continue to — week after week — have the stamina to find a way to win. Here we go. On to Week 10."
On to Week 10.
THIS AND THAT. When there's A LOT to cover, there's no better solution than the Skull Session classic This and That™.
As the clock approached 0:00 in Michigan's 41-13 beatdown of Purdue in Ann Arbor, the Boilermakers' mascot, Purdue Pete, had some fun with the Wolverines, who – as we all know – are in the middle of an NCAA investigation for an (alleged) sign-stealing operation.
Purdue Pete with a sideline view, in hand pic.twitter.com/4dh6GqoTA2— ISC Purdue (@ISC_PU) November 5, 2023
Well done, Pete.
It's been nine weeks. I've seen enough. C.J. Stroud is already the best NFL quarterback Ohio State has ever produced. He's broken the Buckeye Curse. On Sunday, Stroud completed 30 of 42 passes for a rookie-record 470 yards and five touchdowns, including a second-half performance of 16 of 20 for 325 yards and four scores.
CJ STROUD.— NFL (@NFL) November 5, 2023
470 PASSING YARDS (NFL rookie record)
GAME-WINNING DRIVE WITH 46 SECONDS LEFT. pic.twitter.com/aFJY6eEr1B
This kid's goooooood.
Ohio State men's basketball opens its 2023-24 season on Monday with Oakland at 7 p.m. inside Value City Arena. On Friday, Andy Anders wrote a season preview for Chris Holtmann's squad that features all the need-to-know information for the Basketbucks. Here's a trailer the team released on Sunday:
The 125th season of Ohio State Mens Basketball begins tomorrow. pic.twitter.com/UIptHKwsnE— Ohio State Hoops (@OhioStateHoops) November 5, 2023
The Golden Grizzlies don't stand a chance.
After a 28-8 season with an Elite Eight run, Ohio State women's basketball returns to the hardwood with a championship mindset in 2023-24. The Buckeyes will feature familiar faces (Jacy Sheldon, Taylor Thierry and Cotie McMahon) and some new additions (Celeste Taylor and Taiyier Parks), all while providing Ohio State fans with the same success that has become the standard for a Kevin McGuff-led team. Their season starts in Las Vegas vs. No. 21 USC on Monday at 2 p.m. Here's their trailer:
One of the most dangerous, one of the most exciting teams to watch in the country. pic.twitter.com/HmvgHCZsee— Ohio State WBB (@OhioStateWBB) November 5, 2023
That's all for This and That™.
Skull Session readers, we move.
PLAYERS OF THE GAME. The Sunday after an Ohio State win, Eleven Warriors presents an offensive and defensive Buckeye with player of the game awards. This week, running back TreVeyon Henderson and defensive back Jordan Hancock received our top honors for their performances.
Congratulations to the Eleven Warriors players of the game for Ohio State's 35-16 win over Rutgers.— Eleven Warriors (@11W) November 5, 2023
TreVeyon Henderson: 22 carries, 128 yards, 1 TD, 5 catches, 80 yards
Jordan Hancock: 5 tackles, 1 solo, 93-yard pick-six pic.twitter.com/KdyntfisN6
Four hours after we shared our selections, Ohio State revealed its picks: Henderson as the offensive player of the game and Hancock as the defensive player of the game.
I don't know if an Ohio State media team member didn't send the tweet for the program's special teams player of the game or if Ohio State didn't name one. However, given how inconsistent Ohio State's special teams have been the past couple of weeks – and for most of the 2023 season – it wouldn't surprise me if the latter were true. That, or the Buckeyes made a rule that it couldn't give Cody Simon the honor for the 1,429th time.
But, like Tim May, I digress.
Henderson. Hancock. Ohio State needed them on Saturday. The Buckeyes will need them again in 2023. I hope both continue in excellence.
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SONG OF THE DAY. "Carmen Ohio" - TBDBITL.
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