Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Week 13 College football TV schedule


College football TV schedule

Thursday, Nov. 26
South Florida at Central Florida, 7:30 p.m., ESPN
Texas Tech at Texas, 7:30 p.m., FS1
Friday, Nov. 27
Miami (Fla.) at Pittsburgh, Noon, ESPN2
Marshall at WKU, Noon, FS1
Navy at Houston, Noon, ABC
Western Michigan at Toledo, Noon, CBS Sports Network
Kent St. at Akron, Noon, ESPN3
Eastern Michigan at Central Michigan, 1 p.m., ESPN3
Troy at Georgia St., 2 p.m., ESPN3
Missouri at Arkansas, 2:30 p.m., CBS
Oregon St. at Oregon, 3:30 p.m., TBA
Washington St. at Washington, 3:30 p.m., FOX
Iowa at Nebraska, 3:30 p.m., ABC
Boise St. at San Jose St., 3:30 p.m., CBS Sports Network
Massachusetts at Buffalo, 4:30 p.m., ESPNU
TCU at Baylor, 7:30 p.m., ESPN
Tulsa at Tulane, 8 p.m., ESPNU
Saturday, Nov. 28
Cincinnati at East Carolina, Noon, CBS Sports Network
SMU at Memphis, Noon, ESPN News
Iowa St. at West Virginia, Noon, FS1
Indiana at Purdue, Noon, BTN
Maryland at Rutgers, Noon, BTN
Ohio St. at Michigan, Noon, ABC
Clemson at South Carolina, Noon, ESPN
Virginia Tech at Virginia, Noon, ESPNU
Georgia at Georgia Tech, Noon, ESPN2
Louisville at Kentucky, Noon, SEC Network
Boston College at Syracuse, Noon, ESPN3
Duke at Wake Forest, 12:30 p.m., ESPN3
Louisiana Lafayette at Applachian St., 2 p.m., ESPN3
South Alabama at Georgia Southern, 2 p.m., ESPN3
Colorado at Utah, 2:30 p.m., PAC 12
North Carolina at North Carolina St., 3:30 p.m., ABC/ESPN2
Alabama at Auburn, 3:30 p.m., CBS
Penn St. at Michigan St., 3:30 p.m., ESPN
Wisconsin at Minnesota, 3:30 p.m., BTN
UTEP at North Texas, 3:30 p.m., FSN
UCLA at USC, 3:30 p.m., ABC/ESPN2
Northwestern at Illinois, 3:30 p.m., ESPNU
BYU at Utah St., 3:30 p.m., CBS Sports Network
Arkansas St. at New Mexico St., 4 p.m., ESPN3
Kansas St. at Kansas, 4 p.m., FS1
Vanderbilt at Tennessee, 4 p.m., SEC Network
Texas St. at Idaho, 5 p.m., ESPN3
Connecticut at Temple, 7 p.m., ESPNU
Ole Miss at Mississippi St., 7:15 p.m., ESPN2
Notre Dame at Stanford, 7:30 p.m., FOX
Florida St. at Florida, 7:30 p.m., ESPN
Texas A&M at LSU, 7:30 p.m., SEC Network
Oklahoma at Oklahoma St., 8 p.m., ABC
Colorado St. at Fresno St., 9 p.m., CBS Sports Network
Arizona St. at California, 10 p.m., FS1
Air Force at New Mexico, 10:15 p.m., ESPNU
Nevada at San Diego St., 10:45 p.m., ESPN2

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Everything Ohio State after a Loss to Michigan St.

Everything Ohio State after a Loss to Michigan St.

The latest AP Top 25 poll was released Sunday. Iowa and Notre Dame entered the top four at No. 3 and No. 4, respectively, while Ohio State dropped to No. 8 after its first loss of the season. 
1. Will Iowa’s jump be reflected in the playoff rankings?
Few would have predicted the Hawkeyes would be one of the last two remaining undefeated teams and in contention for a Big Ten title and a College Football Playoff berth. But Kirk Ferentz's squad continues to win—and win easily—each week. Iowa was at No. 5 in the last playoff ranking and No. 6 in last week's AP poll, behind Notre Dame in both. Now the Hawkeyes are ahead of the Fighting Irish in the AP rankings after the Irish's lackluster win over Boston College on Saturday. Iowa will surely move up in the playoff top 25 after the Buckeyes’ loss, but can it jump the Irish, who sit at No. 4 with the selection committee?

2. Oklahoma takes the top spot in the Big 12
The Hawkeyes' resume is compelling. They have a 30-point road win over No. 17 Northwestern, which continues to find ways to win. Notre Dame’s only loss is a two-point defeat at top-ranked Clemson, the least damaging loss of any this season. Regardless of whether Iowa passes the Irish this week, it has the clearest path to the playoff of any Big Ten team. Win next week over Nebraska and then in the Big Ten championship game, and the Hawkeyes are surely in.
The Big 12's contenders continue to beat up on each other in November. Oklahoma handed Baylor its first loss of the season last week, but the Bears rebounded to knock off previously unbeaten Oklahoma State on Saturday. The Sooners, meanwhile squeaked out a one-point win over a Trevone Boykin-less TCU. The Cowboys' defeat makes Oklahoma the top-ranked Big 12 team in this week's AP poll at No. 5. The Sooners have a bad loss to Texas on their resume but benefit from the fact that the loss occurred earlier in the season. They're currently riding a strong wave of momentum on a six-game winning streak, including victories over ranked teams in each of the past two weeks. The Bears and Cowboys are lurking just behind at No. 7 and No. 9, respectively, in the AP poll, and Oklahoma State will get its shot against Oklahoma on Saturday in the Bedlam game. After the conference got shut out of the playoff last season, there's still no guarantee it will get a team in the top four this year. Even determining which team is most likely to do so remains a challenge.
3. Ohio State is not out of the picture—yet
The Buckeyes suffered a brutal loss at the hands of the Spartans, leading for the entire game until Michael Geiger's 41-yard field goal as time expired. Ohio State has looked shaky for most of the season and far from the team that rolled through its final three games to make and win the playoff last year. Amid Saturday loss,Ezekiel Elliott criticized coaches and declared his intention to enter the NFL draft, while quarterback Cardale Jones also looks ready to leave the Buckeyes after the season. Despite the apparent chemistry problems that emerged Saturday, Ohio State isn't out of the playoff conversation just yet. The AP poll has the Buckeyes at No. 8, only two spots behind the Spartans. The Buckeyes still have a chance at the conference title, though they will need some help from a Penn State upset of Michigan State next week. With four Big Ten teams in the AP's top 12 (Michigan rose two spot to No. 12 this week), the conference is far from settled, and the Buckeyes will have a lot more than pride on the line in their matchup with rival Michigan to close the regular season next week.
Here is the complete AP Top 25:
1. Clemson
2. Alabama
3. Iowa
4. Notre Dame
5. Oklahoma 
7. Baylor
8. Ohio State
9. Oklahoma State 
10. Florida
12. Michigan
13. Stanford
15. TCU
16. Navy
18. Oregon
19. Ole Miss
21. Houston
22. UCLA
24. Toledo
25. Temple


Ohio State's playcalling and offensive line did nothing to throw Michigan State off balance.
Senior Day wasn't supposed to go like this. 
With Ohio State facing its first legit opponent of the season and looking to send out the seniors and numerous juniors headed to the NFL with one last home victory, the Buckeyes couldn't get anything going offensively and failed to make key stops late allowing Michigan State to pull off a17-14 stunner in Ohio Stadium. 
The loss all but assuredly halted Ohio State's bid to repeat as national champs, stopped a 23-game winning streak and further magnified the struggles of an offense that through 11 games has yet to click on all cylinders. 
As painful as it is the Buckeyes must figure out a way to circle the wagons and turn their attention to The Game which now sits just seven sunrises away. 
Before the focus shifts to Jim Harbaugh's outfit here are Five Things from a dreary, teary night in the Shoe.


Remember when Urban Meyer tried to score 50 points every team by speeding up the tempo and throwing haymakers at opposing defenses? I do, but not this year. 
Instead, with a three-headed monster of Ed Warinner, Tim Beck and Meyer calling the plays for an offense featuring bouts of indecision around staffing the quarterback position, a line that has yet to match last year's effectiveness and spotty wide receiver play all complemented by the best running back in America, the playcalling became painfully conservative. 
Beyond the passive playcalling the offense's overall strategy and identity became cloudy and it all came to a head versus an aggressive Spartan defense. 
Front and center in the calamity was Ezekiel Elliott receiving just 12 touches which served as his lowest touch total of the season (13 vs. Va. Tech). Amazingly, eight of his touches came on Ohio State's first touchdown drive. From there, he'd earn just one touch over the next three possessions before halftime and recorded just two over the game's final 30 minutes with Ohio State's season on the line. 
J.T. never got comfortable going against Sparty's defense.
Effectively, the trio of playcallers eliminated Zeke's opportunity to be a factor in the game though it's fair to note that when Elliott did tote the rock there was no room to run as evidenced by his 2.8 yards per carry. 
Meanwhile, J.T. Barrett was called on 15 times in the run game (2.9 per carry) and in the passing game – as we've seen all season – he was basically given two options; throw it laterally or (sparingly) throw it deep. Of course throwing it deep proved difficult with so little time to throw. Barrett just missed Braxton Miller on a bomb and would've likely connected if he had just a hair longer to throw. 
I am still puzzled with the lack of any intermediate passing attack in this team's arsenal. Through 11 games it feels like the only time this offense employs slants or crosses or mid-range out routes is when it's 3rd and 10 and the routes are designed to get seven yards. 


While the questionable offensive game plan was the most frustrating aspect of the game it can't be overlooked that some of Ohio State's most talented players turned in disappointing performances. 
The team's biggest pro prospect, Joey Bosa, looked out of sync for much of the night (4 stops, 0 TFL, 0 sack) and one of his three offsides penalties, shortening a 4th and 8 to 4th and 3 which Sparty converted and scored the game-tying touchdown (14-14) five plays later, was particularly deflating.  
Bosa's third offsides penalty, changing a 4th and 8 into a 4th and 3, was crushing.
Mike Thomas, a man destined for NFL fortune himself, had a drop and finished with two catches for eight yards. Fellow receiver Jalin Marshall had a couple drops. 
There were whispers of Eli Apple also claiming he's going pro as part of the postgame drama. He's certainly an NFL talent but the timing seemed odd, if true, considering Aaron Burbridge won every one on one matchup with Apple on the way to four catches for 62 yards, or 70% of Sparty's total pass yards. 
The great Cameron Johnston put three punts inside the 20 but shanked another just five yards giving Michigan State the ball at the OSU 23 though Sparty failed to capitalize. 
Barrett, a year after torching the Spartans, looked timid and completed just 56% of his throws.
The offensive line lost the battle up front early and often with the game plan seemingly petrified of the Chase Farris / Shilique Calhoun matchup and even the team's best lineman, Taylor Decker, wasn't at his best especially as the designed rollouts forced him to block on the run. 
Josh Perry got beat by a fullback on a wheel route for at touchdown. Vonn Bell had just three tackles. 
This is not to single anyone out or insinuate any player was more worried about the NFL (as I've seen suggested on twitter etc) – the players fought hard for 60 minutes – it's just to provide perspective that the outcome wasn't solely on the coaches. 


So much for the effectiveness of the media "cooling off period". 
By now we've all seen and heard Elliott's critical comments of the playcalling as part of his postgame presser culminating in the announcement that he won't be returning to Ohio State. 
I get it, Elliott is an emotional guy who was frustrated by what he felt was his own coaching staff eliminating him from having a legit shot to save Ohio State's season. There's certainly a lot of truth in that argument. That said, Elliott's rant showed very poor judgment and form. 
Elliott is one of the main leaders on this team and to publicly call out Urban Meyer and the offensive staff was disappointing to say the least. Proclaiming he won't be returning to Ohio State next year as if this game had anything to do with that decision was just icing on the turd cake. Anyone applauding his diatribe doesn't understand what it means to be a leader and/or struggles with emotional intelligence. 
I love Ezekiel Elliott. He seems like a great kid who got caught up in his frustration with how the day unfolded which was further fueled by the emotional significance of knowing all season this would be his final game in the Shoe. He'll be fine. Ohio State will be fine. But I hope that's a moment in time he wishes he could take back once the smoke clears. 


Mark Dantonio is a boss. 
Dantonio's squad didn't give Ohio State fans much to cheer about.
Coming in as 13-point underdogs, playing without Connor Cook and losing the turnover battle 2-0, Dantonio's squad was the far more prepared team not to mention being physically and mentally tougher than Ohio State. 
The win dropped Urban Meyer to 2-2 against Dantonio's Michigan State program during his OSU tenure. Against all other coaches, Meyer is 46-2 during that same span. 
At 10-1, Dantonio has his team right back in the thick of the college football playoff hunt despite a rash of injuries. He lost stud LB Ed Davis before the season started, two starters in the secondary, a host of offensive linemen have missed major time and now he just beat Ohio State without Connor Cook. 
We can all focus our attention on what Ohio State did to lose the game but don't forget to give Dantonio some credit for what Michigan State, under the direction of Dantonio, did to win it. 


The season is far from over but last night served as the greatest example yet that Ohio State needs to shake up the offensive staff's roles in the offseason. Maybe that's through turnover, maybe it's through shuffling responsibility but the status quo won't suffice. 
The playcalling has been suspect since Tom Herman left for Houston and Meyer hired Tim Beck and promoted Ed Warinner creating a three-pronged approach to offensive game planning. 
The current setup has taken some of Warinner's time away from coaching the offensive line and it seems logical to correlate that fact with the lack of consistency and improvement from a group that was the strength of last year's championship run. 
Ohio State's QB development has bogged down since Tim Beck's arrival.
Chase Farris plays hard but hasn't gotten any better at pass pro over the course of 11 games. Billy Price's growth feels a bit stunted. Jacoby Boren has more penalties and shaky snaps through 11 games than he did through 15 last year. Meanwhile, Pat Elflein has been awesome and Taylor Decker has been solid though not spectacular. 
Next year, it's conceivable only Price will be back with best case seeing Elflein join him. That means if Warinner doesn't take a head coaching job somewhere his efforts will need to be solely focused on shaping an overhauled line instead of dabbling in 33% of the playcalling and game planning efforts. 
Beck has taken over some of the playcalling duties while moonlighting as the quarterbacks coach and it's telling that the offense looks rudderless at times as both quarterbacks have shown zero improvement – if not regression – in comparison to last year. Specific to yesterday, to not even attempt to attack Sparty's depleted secondary was flat out criminal. How much of that decision was Beck and how much was Meyer isn't totally clear but either way it's on Meyer as the head coach. 
While Meyer evaluates how he employs Beck and Warinner in the offseason I hope he also to take a long look at himself when it comes to answering why OSU's best skill players have been marginalized by its own staff in both losses to Michigan State since his arrival while the overall offensive approach has become so passive this season. 

Ten Things We Learned from Ohio State's 17-14 Loss to Michigan State
By Tony Gerdeman
COLUMBUS — Boy, oh boy, was that an irresponsible offensive gameplan by the Ohio State coaches, or what?
How do you verbalize incredulity when silence speaks louder than anything that I can type in these spaces?
I guess maybe I could just leave 10 blank spots below and let you fill them in with your own anger, but there’s too much to say to just go with blank disbelief, so let’s get started.
1. Urban Meyer has gone too conservative.
I cannot believe that what we witnessed on Saturday was an Urban Meyer offense. This was not the offense of an elite head coach. This was the offense of a guy who has lost a team and is on the way out. This was like Ron Zook’s last stand with players going through the motions and coaches checking their phones throughout the game looking for texts from prospective future bosses.
Obviously, that does not describe the reality of Ohio State and Urban Meyer, but that’s what it looked like. Realistically, this was the kind of performance that leads to some shuffling on the coaching staff. It’s just one game, but it’s really not. This isn’t entirely new this season. It has never been this bad, but that doesn’t make it new. And it all leaves me wondering where the Urban Meyer offense that used to score points and move the ball has gone.
Meyer cites the lack of big hits in the running game because of the lack of big hits in the passing game, but you’ll never have either if you a) don’t throw the ball deep; and b) don’t run the ball with your big-hitting running back. Instead, Meyer was content during the game to try to fight and scratch for each yard and hope they could get a good punt off and then the defense could maybe get them the ball back in decent field position.
Meyer admitted last week at Illinois that it got to a point with the wind and weather that he just wanted to get the win the quickest way and get out of town. He wanted the clock to burn. We then saw the same thing in this game. Meyer said after the game that the play calling wasn’t acceptable, but then added that he was one of the play callers. The weather was terrible and it was absolutely a factor, but I don’t know why it would leave the quarterback run as the only viable option. Oh, and speaking of the option, how many times did the Buckeyes even run the read option in this game? Three times? There’s no way those are reads when J.T. Barrett is handing the ball off up the middle into 15 defenders.
So yes, Urban Meyer has gone too conservative, and it may have started all the way back in January with his hire at quarterback coach.
2. MSU didn’t need to defend the entire field, OSU did it for them.
After the game Michigan State defensive end Shilique Calhoun said this: “At one point I looked at the DBs and said, ‘The game is going to come down to you guys because they’re going to try to pass the ball.’ But I expected them to pass the ball a little more and they didn’t do so. We were happy though. That’s our motto: stop the run, be aggressive, all green helmets to the ball. That’s basically what we were trying to do. When they became one-dimensional the game became a lot easier.”

That’s their motto: Be happy when teams voluntarily go one-dimensional.I could just copy and paste that quote again for further effectiveness, but I won’t. Basically, Michigan State didn’t have to do any guessing in this game because there were only a few plays that they had to worry about. The Buckeyes pretty much brought the ball right to them every time. This game plan will never not be baffling.
3. This is the real 2015 Ohio State Buckeyes.
This isn’t a team that was bored by the schedule. This wasn’t a team that was waiting for a real challenge. This is a team that scored twice at home against Michigan State on touchdown drives of 32 and 6 yards. Those are fake drives. This is a team that struggled on offense at times all season long.
Still, it’s an offense capable of big things. They have four 500-yard games through 11 games. Jim Tressel’s final two teams had three such games in each of 2009 and 2010, and yet those offenses weren’t as disappointing as this one because we have seen what these players are capable of.
It would have been impossible for this offense to live up to its billing, but even falling a little short would have been more than plenty. If it wasn’t for the Ohio State defense in this game, the Buckeyes would have been shutout.
4. The defense played well enough to get the win.
Ohio State’s defense gave up 17 points while being on the field for over 38 minutes in a 60-minute game. They held Michigan State to 294 yards of total offense. Yes, the Spartans rushed for 203 yards, but they did it in 51 carries. They didn’t even average 4 yards per carry. As the game went on, however, the defense did tire out and they got pushed around and couldn't quite get the stop they needed. Even so, it took a last-second field goal just to reach the 17-point mark. The OSU defense did have four offside penalties, but only one of them resulted in keeping a scoring drive alive. That one, however, came on fourth-and-8 and in the fourth quarter. Without that penalty, MSU would have likely had to pass — or try the QB run on third-and-long, and neither were winning propositions. Instead, they ran the QB on fourth-and-3 and picked up 8 or 9 yards and soon after the game was tied at 14-14.
5. The defense cost the Buckeyes the win.
This is totally not fair, but the Joey Bosa offside penalty on fourth-and-8 cannot be glossed over. You can’t pin the outcome of this game on that play, but you can certainly pin the possibility of a different outcome on that play had it not happened.
However, this isn’t Tresselball and the defense should be granted the ability to make a mistake since the offense was making two or three on every drive of their own. When you continue to put that much pressure on a defense, you can’t be surprised when it eventually breaks.

6. The Cliffs Notes for OSU’s playbook is probably thicker than the playbook in use right now.
Just how many pages have been torn out of the Ohio State playbook and thrown away of late? Where is the idea of stretching the field north and south and east and west? There was no stretching of the defense in this game. If anything, they did the opposite of stretching and instead they crumpled the defense.
Think of it like a shirt and the difference in appearance and span if it is being stretched or crumpled. This Buckeye offense crumpled the Michigan State defense and all it took for the Spartans to stop OSU dead was a little static cling. I have no doubt that the Michigan State defensive coaches were thrown for a loop by nothing they saw. In fact, they had a better idea of what Ohio State was doing than Ohio State did, because there is no way an offensive coaching staff actually set out to do this on purpose.
7. We learned Ezekiel Elliott left for the NFL at the half.
Everybody saw or heard Ezekiel Elliott say that he was leaving for the NFL after the game, but I thought he already left at halftime because I don’t remember seeing him out there in the second half. Elliott’s lack of touches is supremely baffling, especially considering his sub-par first-half performance was actually par for the course this season. So many times this season the running game has started slowly only to pick up in the second half and wear the opposing defense down. That didn’t happen this time around and we’ll never even know if it would have happened because they never even tried. He carried the ball two more times than you did in the second half. I could see this happening if a defense was taking away the run and forcing a team to pass, but Michigan State apparently took everything away and forced the Buckeyes to simply admit defeat.
8. If you have a bad offense, it’s on purpose.
This is my longest-held and most firm football belief, and I have mentioned it many, many times: If you are a college football head coach and you have a bad offense, you’re doing it on purpose. There is no reason for it. There are far too many successful offenses out there with lesser skill looking like world beaters.
The only excuse for Ohio State’s offense to look like it did against Michigan State is that Ohio State caused it. You can’t give this much credit to the Spartans. Give them some, they took some things away from the Buckeyes, but the Buckeyes didn’t look for replacements, they just simply threw their arms up and hoped that they could get away with doing absolutely nothing.
9. There is no longer any pressure on this team, and that might be huge.
Now that the Buckeyes have lost their title hopes and their Big Ten Championship hopes are in somebody else’s hands, they truly have nothing left to lose, save for something as simple and solitary as a single game. Granted, it’s a very big game, but there is only the weight of this week on this game. There aren’t 11 games on top of it.
Urban Meyer needs to find the coach that he used to be who wanted to put 50 points on everybody every week and not try to squeak out a win and shorten the game. He should want to make every game take four hours. This is Ohio State. The players are here. If you aren’t happy with the lack of touches for your players, then speed the hell up with the tempo and the playcalling.
The Buckeyes ran just 45 plays, which is what good up-tempo teams want to run in a half. Getting 45 plays is due to a lack of trying on the coaches’ part and that’s a total disservice to the players. Limiting opportunities is the exact opposite of what Urban Meyer has always said his offense is about. He talks about writing down his list of 10 playmakers and how he’s going to get them the ball, but where is the evidence of that list and those intentions this season? It never existed.
It’s time for that list to come back out of the moth balls, and it’s time for Meyer to make that list a reality. He doesn’t have to worry about playing for a national championship anymore. He can simply focus on defeating Ohio State’s rival, and why wouldn’t you try to do that by involving as much talent into your plans as possible?
You saw what happened when you limited your options against the Spartans. Why do it two weeks in a row in the two biggest games of the year. What’s wrong with going out there and being bad asses? When did playing not to lose become part of this coaching staff’s plan of attack? There’s no way they can be happy with what happened on Saturday, so why would they ever, ever, ever take the chance of it happening again?
10. This is the kind of performance that can happen when you have a bunch of players with their eyes toward the NFL.
This is not pointing blame, this is simply speaking to the reality of having a group of players who are going to be playing in the NFL next season. When you have Ezekiel Elliott saying there’s “no chance” of coming back after the game and Joey Bosa earlier in the week saying that playing with his brother would be the “only possible thing” that would bring him back, it makes you wonder if the focus has been where it’s needed to be this season.
Comments like these come from players who sound like they have one foot out the door. These players know what their next step is and at what point does that next step take priority over the current step? Why does Bosa jump offside three times in the game? Was the focus where it needed to be? Yes, Michigan State game planned for it. They set out to do it, and it worked. But that doesn’t make it okay.
There is certainly no lack of effort on the part of Elliott or Bosa or anybody in the Scarlet and Gray, so don’t get my criticism wrong. This loss wasn’t on one player, especially one who only carried the ball twice in the second half and openly talked about how much it hurt him not to be able to impact the game more than he did. It’s merely a question of focus. And maybe none of this had anything to do with Saturday’s game, but does it explain the lackluster nature of the season as a whole? After a player wins a championship, the other goals can easily become personal. What’s left to do after winning a championship other than go on to the next level?
Part of even asking this question feels so foolish because Elliott and Bosa and Darron Lee and Vonn Bell have been four of the most consistent and productive guys on the team, if not the four most consistent, but with the talk of a “mass exodus” that began way back in January of this year, I just wonder if any of that came into play this season or in this game.
Heck, Urban Meyer openly talked about their duty and desire to get Braxton Miller ready to play receiver in the NFL. Perhaps other players saw that and viewed looking ahead as a completely normal thing to do.

Ohio State

"Last year, our committee made a decision to let Ohio State into the College Football Playoff. People yelled at us. But did you see Ezekiel Elliott against Alabama and Oregon? He was unstoppable.
After the Buckeyes' loss Saturday night, Ezekiel Elliott complained about how poorly Ohio State's coaches managed the game. They didn't give him the ball, and they lost 17-14.
It's our official stance as a committee that Elliott was absolutely right. Urban Meyer should've given him the dang ball, over and over and over again. Based on what we saw last year, the Buckeyes absolutely would've won if they'd just given Elliott the dang ball.
We know Ohio State's peak potential. We were wise enough to allow them to display it in the inaugural version of college football's new premier event, the College Football Playoff. We know the Buckeyes weren't allowed to play at their peak potential Saturday night, and for that reason, we're not dinging them for their loss."

Friday, November 20, 2015

Ohio State vs Michigan State Depth Chart and Preview


Ohio State's depth chart ahead of the Michigan State game.
Ohio State left its 28-3 victory at Illinois in Champaign relatively healthy.
As a result, not many changes were made to its depth chart, released Tuesday, ahead of the No. 3 Buckeyes' game against No. 9 Michigan State Saturday.
  •  The lone difference from a week ago is a switch at placekicker. Sean Nuernberger is officially listed ahead of Jack Willoughby, despite missing a 24-yard chip shot field goal at Illinois Saturday. He did make all four of his extra point attempts.
  •  Willoughby will remain the team's kickoff specialist, as Urban Meyer said.
  •  An 'OR' was added between wide receivers Parris Campbell and Jeff Greene, who back up leading receiver Michael Thomas.
  •  Even though the offensive line struggled to protect quarterback J.T. Barrett against the Fighting Illini, the two-deep at the unit remains the same as it has all season.
         OR93TRACY SPRINKLE6-3290SO
         OR77MICHAEL HILL6-3295SO
OR 89JEFF GREENE6-5220SR        
RB 15EZEKIEL ELLIOTT6-0225JR        
WR 17JALIN MARSHALL5-11205SO        
  83TERRY MCLAURIN6-1200FR        
  98JACK WILLOUGHBY6-2210SR        
KO 98JACK WILLOUGHBY6-2210SR        
  96SEAN NUERNBERGER6-1220SO        

Ohio State vs. Michigan State preview: Buckeyes battle Spartans in biggest test yet this year

Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports
The Buckeyes face the Spartans at home, with absolutely everything to play for.

The parallels between football and war are drawn too often, and ring too hollow, for it not to feel trite to preview Ohio State's upcoming game with such a connection. But in Gabriel Garcia Marquez's The General in His Labyrinth, a fictionalized account of the last days of Simon Bolivar, lies an excerpt that may as well have been written about the Buckeyes' 2015 season:
He was shaken by the overwhelming revelation that the headlong race between his misfortunes and his dreams was at that moment reaching the finish line.
"Damn it, he sighed. "How will I ever get out of this labyrinth!"
Make no mistake: Ohio State's misfortunes -- a media circus, an inevitable regression from the dizzying heights of 2014's title run, the loss of offensive wizard Tom Herman -- are in a headlong sprint against their dreams. The dreams are on top, for now, but there's perhaps no player in college football more willing to shatter them than Ohio nativeConnor Cook, who is back for a final shot at the Buckeyes' throats.
Who could forget the black hole of despair that fell over Ohio State fans in early December 2013, watching Braxton Miller fail to gain a final yard on fourth down, enduring Jeremy Langford running up the middle and right over our hopes and aspirations as he galloped to the end zone, with Cook playing hero, to boot? (Who, too, could wipe from memory J.T. Barrett's coronation in East Lansing in November of last year, willing the Buckeyes to victory, showing the world that the word "freshman" doesn't mean a thing when you've got equal parts talent and cojones?)
This contest is shaping up to be one that keeps the tradition of dramatic finishes alive. Michigan State enters Columbus still reeling from a fateful Saturday tilt against Nebraska, one that smashed Sparty's perfect season and announced to the world that officiating incompetence knows no geographical bounds. Ohio State, meanwhile, still seems reticent to show the world exactly which Buckeye team is the real one. They've yet to take a loss, but they've looked awfully human against squads with a whole lot less ammunition than Michigan State has. Which Ohio State team shows up this weekend -- the version that demolished Rutgers, Virginia Tech, and Penn State, or the version that let Northern Illinois and Indiana hang around -- will be the difference between playoff dreams and narrative nightmares for Buckeye fans until next fall.
There's a clear path out of the Big Ten's labyrinth for Ohio State. But it's not an easy one to tread.

Data dump

TeamRecordCFPF/+ RkLine
Ohio State10-035-13
Michigan State9-1915

Ohio State Five Factors

CategoryAvg.RkAvg.RkNat'l Avg.
EFFICIENCYSuccess Rate47.8%1730.9%440.3%
FIELD POSITIONAvg. FP34.5724.9129.8
FINISHING DRIVESPts. Per Trip in 405.13353.63104.65

Michigan State Five Factors

CategoryAvg.RkAvg.RkNat'l Avg.
EFFICIENCYSuccess Rate42.1%6239.9%5740.3%
FIELD POSITIONAvg. FP32.91827.32429.8
FINISHING DRIVESPts. Per Trip in 405.22364.29404.65

Ohio State's Biggest Advantages

The sneaky-best running back in the country. He doesn't get the "highlights played ad nauseam" treatment like Derrick Henry. He's never been talked about as being so revelatory that he should consider sitting out a year before the pros, so as not to get hurt in college, like Leonard Fournette. But Ezekiel Elliott is quietly stringing together a Heisman-worthy season: fifteen consecutive 100-yard rushing performances dating back to last season, a 96% catch rate on his receiving targets, and a ferocious nose for pass-blocking that has bailed out several of his teammates in 2015.
He'll have his work cut out for him against the Spartans, who boast a defense that's 13th in the country at stuffing the run, and 17th in explosive run plays allowed. That last stat shouldn't be too much of a problem for Zeke. No. 15 is perfectly happy to make hay all afternoon on 6-8 yard bursts, grinding down opponents and opening up some opportunities in the passing game along the way. Shilique CalhounRiley Bullough and co. will be tasked with the unenviable job of needing to bring him down on Saturday, and it's entirely possible they won't be enough.
Urban Meyer's sleeves. Ohio State's mastermind has run a decidedly vanilla version of his offense the last few weeks. Is he out of ideas, or has he been doing his best not to show Mark Dantonio (and Jim Harbaugh, and Dabo Swinney, and Nick Saban) his hand? You can bet on the latter. Meyer has mentioned several times this season that he's working on wrinkles to his offense to get playmakers (particularly Braxton Miller) more involved, taking advantage of the unique skill sets his players boast.
Now that the stakes are this high, look for one or two plays against the Spartans that we haven't really seen so far this year. A Braxton Miller pass? A Miller-Jalin Marshalldouble reverse with a pass involved? Wheel routes?! The sky really is the limit, given all of the weapons in Meyer's arsenal.
J.T. Barrett, live and unplugged. Barrett is (again) the starting QB for the Buckeyes, and that should give Michigan State fans nightmares. Barrett played his best game of 2014 against a Spartan defense that was stingier than this year's version, racking up 386 all-purpose yards and a ridiculous five touchdowns. Now he's back from his suspension, and while he didn't light the world on fire against Illinois in his return to the field, he didn't really need to.
That won't be the case on Saturday. The Buckeyes will need Barrett at his best for plenty of reasons, not least of which is that this is the first real chance OSU has of proving itself capable of taking down quality opponents, something that could factor into the finalCollege Football Playoff seeding. A repeat 300-yard performance against this year's Michigan State team would say an awful lot about the direction the Buckeyes are trending.

Michigan State's Biggest Advantages

Veteran leadership. Connor Cook is in his fourth and final season as a Spartan, and while his last year in East Lansing hasn't gone unspoiled, he's still one of the most dangerous quarterbacks in the conference. He also has a victory over an Urban Meyer-led Buckeye team in his trophy case, something only two other quarterbacks can say.
While Cook's 2015 completion rate, a robust 56.3%, is far more Leidner-esque than the Spartans would hope for, he's still putting up dazzling numbers in other categories. He seems to make all the throws that count, as evidenced by his 21-4 TD-INT ratio, and he's tossed for almost 2500 yards so far this year. A shoulder injury took him out of last week's game against Maryland, but Cook says he's ready for the Buckeyes, and even a banged-up version of Sparty's signal-caller could give Ohio State some trouble.
4th quarter magic. One of MSU's most admirable traits in 2015 has been the way they've finished games on offense. By S&P+, the Spartans play their best ball in the final 15 minutes, a rating that climbs with each successive quarter. The Buckeyes, meanwhile, play their best defense in the 2nd and 3rd quarters. While a Michigan-Michigan State bizzaro-world style finish is highly unlikely, the Spartans are more than capable of getting up to some 4th quarter shenanigans that could keep things interesting until the final whistle.
To be frank, this is still kind of a mismatch in favor of the Buckeyes, in hard numbers if not in trends. At their best, in the 4th quarter, Michigan State ranks 53rd in S&P+, all the way up from 92nd in the 1st quarter. Ohio State, meanwhile, trends down between the 3rd and 4th quarters...but it's from 5th in defensive S&P+ to 18th. That's a mighty small glimmer of hope for Sparty.
Keeping the offense on the field. One place where it's not a stretch to give Michigan State a whole lot of credit? 3rd downs. The Spartans are 10th-best in the country on offensive 3rd downs, by S&P+, and that could spell trouble for the Buckeyes. Urban Meyer's team -- a paltry 25th at defending 3rd downs -- will need to do everything in their power to slam the door shut on Michigan State's drives if they don't want to get dragged into a shootout, and shootouts are precisely the kind of game the Buckeyes haven't yet proven they can win.


F/+ Projection: 35.2-20.8, Ohio State
Win Probability: Ohio State 80%, Michigan State 20%
Close as the teams might otherwise seem, the advanced stats really like the Buckeyes in this game. Of course, Ohio State has gotten mixed up in some unnecessarily close contests this season (they're just 4-6 against the spread), and this one could go much the same way. It certainly has all the right ingredients for a thrill ride: a former OSU assistant taking on his old team, a jilted Ohio-born QB taking one last shot at the school he wanted to play for, and the bizarre college football DNA that makes the game a slave to entropy.
One of the biggest questions the Buckeyes will need to answer on Saturday is this: how will an up-and-down offensive line stack up against a defense that's one of the best in the country at creating havoc? (That's not lip service, either: Havoc rate is a real statistical measure, used to gauge how often a defense can create a sack/TFL/interception/pass breakup, and the Spartans are 16th in the country at it.) Ohio State's right tackle, Chase Farris, was the subject of many a sidelong glance and collar pull among Buckeye fans last Saturday, and the rest of the line has had bad days too. They'll get their biggest test of the season against a defense that boasts world-destroyers in Shilique Calhoun, Malik McDowell, and Riley Bullough.
Still, there's an awful lot to like in Scarlet and Gray in this game. The Buckeyes are living and dying by Ezekiel Elliott and a suffocating defense, and if that unit can play at the level we've seen from them all season, the F/+ projection might just hit the nail on the head. We like Ohio State to walk away from this one victorious.