Monday, February 8, 2016

Buckeyes in the Super Bowl






Bradley Roby and the Denver Broncos win Super Bowl 50.
Despite entering Super Bowl 50 as betting underdogs and a schematic disadvantage in rostered Ohio State alumni, the Denver Broncos corralled the Carolina Panthers, 24-10, in Super Bowl 50.
Bronco CB Bradley Roby finished the game with two tackles, including a big third-down pass breakup late in the fourth quarter against Ted Ginn to stall a Carolina drive deep in Denver territory that kept the Panthers to three points and Denver's lead at six.
Other Buckeyes to receive Super Bowl 50 rings include former player and Silver Bullet founder Fred Pagac, who coaches TEs/OLBs for Denver, and Jeff Heuerman, who was with the team despite recovering from a preseason ACL injury.
Corey Brown made the Buckeye play of the game with a sprawling 42-yard catch in the third quarter. Unfortunately, he suffered a concussion on the plan. He finished with four receptions and 80 yards, the best statistical outing by an Ohio State alumnus.
Bronco LB Vonn Miller, who made about three billion dollars in his next NFL contract, was named MVP for a whirling-dervish performance that included 2.5 sacks, 2 QB hits, and a forced fumble.


SuperBuckeyes

By Eric Seger on February 7, 2016 at 12:00p 
Former roommates Bradley Roby and Corey Brown are set to battle for football's biggest crown Sunday.
via @NFL

Before the final whistle blows on Super Bowl 50, Ohio State will have a significant impact on who is crowned the champions of the top professional football league in the world.
SUPER BOWL 50
MATCHUPWHEREWHENTV
Carolina v. DenverLevi's Stadium (Santa Clara, Calif.)6:30 p.m.CBS
Former Buckeyes litter the rosters of the Carolina Panthers and Denver Broncos Sunday. Cornerback Bradley Roby and tight end Jeff Heuerman don the orange and blue of Denver, though the latter won't play as he continues his recovery from a torn ACL. Roby is Denver's nickel corner.
On the opposite side of the field, wide receivers Ted Ginn Jr. and Corey "Philly" Brown join safety Kurt Coleman and offensive lineman Andrew Norwell for the Panthers. All are starters.
The five active Buckeyes in the Super Bowl is more than any other school in Sunday's game, though the SEC has more players overall.
One matchup carries a bit more intrigue than the others, however. Roby and Brown lived with each other at Ohio State first when they played for Jim Tressel and then later Urban Meyer. Now, they get to play for football's biggest prize against one another.
Luckily, their former positions coaches at Ohio State took care of the trash talking this week for them ahead of the biggest game of their lives.
Cornerbacks coach Kerry Coombs spoke to the media Wednesday about the latest top-5 recruiting class he helped Meyer secure for the Buckeyes, but predicted his former pupil in Roby would shut out Brown Sunday if the two lined up opposite one another in Santa Clara.
"Come on, man that's a shutout," the always colorful Coombs yelped as he walked away from the podium Wednesday. "Are you serious? Philly won't catch a ball.
"I saw that every day for three years."
Wide receivers coach Zach Smith fired back, popping in some old game film of Brown and telling ESPN.com nothing more needs to be brought up.
"The film doesn't lie," Smith told Austin Ward. "Chirping in an interview is one thing. Pushing play is another."
It no doubt will be a special day for not only Roby and Brown, but the rest of the Buckeyes hope to put their own impression on Super Sunday.
Each is making their first Super Bowl appearance, and the Carolina Buckeyes carried the Panthers over Arizona in the NFC Championship Game two weeks ago. Roby intercepted New England quarterback Tom Brady's game-tying two-point conversion attempt hours earlier to seal the AFC Championship for Denver.
In all, it served as a nice recruiting tool right before the 2016 cycle came to a close. Now Roby and Brown will face off against their best friend, with a host of Buckeyes also vying for a ring.
"We always talked about it, man, but we knew it was a long shot," Brown told Around the NFL this week. "We always talked about playing in the NFL, but for it to happen this early in our careers is ridiculous."






Broncos players call out selfish Cam Newton: He plays for himself

By John Breech | CBSSports.com

SANTA CLARA, Calif. -- The final nail in the Carolina Panthers' Super Bowl 50 coffin came in the fourth quarter on Sunday.
With just over four minutes left in the game, Cam Newton dropped back to pass, but before he could get a throw off, Newton's right arm was hit by Broncos linebacker Von Miller, which caused a fumble.
The Broncos ended up with the loose ball, which was almost a miracle because it looked like Newton was in the perfect spot to recover it. Instead of going after the ball though, Newton appeared to avoid DeMarcus Ware.
During the aftermath of the Broncos' 24-10 win, plays like that left at least two Broncos defenders questioning Newton's effort.
Broncos linebacker Danny Trevathan basically called Newton selfish. "That's the way he is. Playing for himself," Trevathan told MMQB.com.
Broncos defensive back Aqib Talib agreed, saying, "He didn't want it."
No one was celebrating Newton's downfall more than Talib after the game.
"There ain't no Easter Bunny, there ain't no Santa Claus, there ain't no Superman," Talib toldthe Broncos' official website.
In a separate interview with a Canadian television station, Talib said Newton was probably tearing up in his press conference.
"Cam's probably crying right now," Talib said, via TSN.com.
Trevathan said his team flustered Newton by keeping pressure on him all game.
"Our defense came out there and got after him," Trevathan said. "We never let him get comfortable back there. He made some passes, but he was never comfortable."
Newton was sacked a total of six times in the game. The Panthers quarterback didn't exactly defend himself in his postgame press conference, either. After several questions, he just got up and walked out.
The Broncos were questioning Cam Newton's effort in the big game. (USATSI)
The Broncos were questioning Cam Newton's effort in the big game. (USATSI)

LeBron James said he didn't see Cam Newton's postgame press conference after Super Bowl 50, but shared what it's been like for him to talk to the media after an NBA Finals loss: "I know it's very difficult to play in one of the biggest games of your life and come out on the wrong side of it and then have to automatically answer questions. And we also know as professionals that's part of the business. We also know that you guys are part of the reason that help (make) the game as great as it is, so you got to, as difficult as it is to answer some of the questions that you know this is the last thing you want to talk about, you have to go up there and take the onus, and take the good with the bad. Like I said I didn't see the Cam interview, but I can only imagine what happened. But I've been in that situation before on both sides, so, it's difficult."

Friday, January 15, 2016

Ohio State and Nike Buckeyes Mock Draft





Buckeyes Well Represented in Mel Kiper's Mock Draft 1.0
By Patrick Murphy

If Mel Kiper is correct, Joey Bosa will be the No. 1 pick in the NFL Draft
Photo by Jim Davidson
 
COLUMBUS – Every year, ESPN’s college draft analyst Mel Kiper releases mock drafts ahead of the NFL Draft. On Tuesday, Kiper released his 2016 NFL Mock Draft 1.0 and Ohio State is tied for the most players selected in the first round with Alabama at four.
Going at No. 1 overall, according to Kiper, is Joey Bosa. This should come to no surprise to anyone who’s paid attention to college football, but there were some pundits that believe that the Tennessee Titans will take Ole Miss offensive tackle Laremy Tunsil. Kiper is not one of those, as he has Tunsil going third to the San Diego Chargers.
On the former Buckeye defensive end, Kiper writes:
Bosa has the upside of a star. He's a dominant pass-rusher who piled up 51.0 tackles for loss over three seasons despite running into a steady supply of double-teams, and he's also outstanding against the run. You can move him around on the line at will. The son of a former first-round pick, he comes in ready to contribute.”
It is interesting to note that defensive lineman Robert Nkemdiche, who was the No. 1 overall player in Bosa’s recruiting class, won’t go until the 13th pick to the Philadelphia Eagles according to Kiper, showing that it’s not always how you start at a program but how you finish.
Taylor Decker in a first-round talent
Photo by Dan Harker
 
The second Buckeye off the board, if Kiper’s mock draft is to be believed, is offensive tackle Taylor Decker going at No. 18 to the Indianapolis Colts. Decker is one of just six seniors listed as first-round selections and the fourth tackle taken.
With the Colts issues protecting quarterback Andrew Luck – and the other signal callers they used when Luck was hurt – this year, an experienced and talented player like Decker would be welcome to Indianapolis. This selection could potentially pair two former teammates in Decker and fellow offensive lineman Jack Mewhort.
On Decker, Kiper says: “Decker has a ton of experience -- he could have entered the draft last year and landed late in Round 1 -- and could be your Week 1 starter at left tackle in Indy.”
Note, these next picks are not set, as the NFL Playoffs are still ongoing.
The next selection, and the most interesting, is cornerback Eli Apple going No. 26 to the Seattle Seahawks. On Apple, who some considered a surprise to declare early for the draft, Kiper said the following:
“A long, physical cornerback who is a fearless tackler is a great fit for Pete Carroll.”
Because Seattle already has starter corners established, Apple could come in and learn from some of the best before working his way up the depth chart. As Kiper said, “it’s impossible to have too many corners that can play,” due to potential injuries at the position.
The final Buckeye going in the first round of the mock draft is running back Ezekiel Elliott. Kiper projects Elliott to be taken with the 29th pick of the first round by the Denver Broncos.
With quarterback Peyton Manning
Ezekiel Elliott looks NFL ready
Photo by Jim Davidson
 
potentially hanging up his cleats after an injury-plagued season, Kiper said the Broncos will likely look to become a more run-based team. While they do have a couple of options, Kiper rates Elliott as a great fit in Denver and the best prospect available at this point.
“[Elliott] has vision, runs behind his pads, can turn a small crease into a big gain, catches the ball with ease, and is one of the best blocking tailbacks I've ever seen.”
While those are all the OSU players projected by Kiper to be taken in the first round, here are some other picks Buckeye fans might be interested.
Cleveland Browns select quarterback Jared Goff out of California with the No. 2 pick. The Cincinnati Bengals take Notre Dame wide receiver Will Fuller – someone the Scarlet and Gray should remember from the Fiesta Bowl – with the 24th pick. The Pittsburgh Steelers pick Virginia Tech cornerback Kendall Fuller – who Michael Thomas left in the dust – with the 25th selection.
Kiper does point out that this is the first of many mock drafts he will do leading up to the draft, which begins on April 28. He notes that teams do not have draft boards yet and there is still the combine before any selections are made.



Ohio State and Nike reach record-breaking $252 million sponsorship deal, surpassing Texas and Michigan contracts

Ohio State wears awesome, black Nike uniforms, Nike gives Ohio State giant piles of cash. Perfect. - Greg Bartram-USA TODAY Sports

On Thursday evening, the Ohio State University and Nike reached an agreement for a new $252 million, 15-year contract. The massive deal surpasses the $250 million contract between Texas and Nike from October, as well as Michigan's $169 million deal from July. Ohio State's previous contract with Nike was an 11-year, $46 million deal that was set to expire in 2018. Rather than wait it out, they signed an extension that is officially the most lucrative deal in college sports history.
According to the Wall Street Journal, Ohio State will receive a whopping $112 million in Nike product, as well as 'at least $103 million in cash, not including royalty income'.
Ohio State athletic director and vice president, Gene Smith, had the following to say about the deal:
"We approached this as a university contract, not one that's purely focused on athletics. Under this partnership, every student — whether they play club sports, Division I sports or no sports at all — will be eligible to benefit."
Nike North America President and GM, Joaquin Hidalgo, also commented:
"The Ohio State University has been a NIKE partner for over two decades and we're delighted to extend that partnership with the school through the 2033 academic year. NIKE and Ohio State share similar values of innovation and a commitment to excellence, and we look forward to an exciting future both on and off the field for years to come."
The full news release from Ohio State can be found over on Cleveland.com.
Not only can Ohio State fans rejoice at the prospect of having cutting-edge, Ohio State-themed Nike gear available to them for the foreseeable future, but there is some extra enjoyment to be taken from the fact that the university was able to coax $2 million more out of Nike than Texas, setting a Nike record.
But the best part of all?
Whoops. Sorry, Michigan.

Monday, January 11, 2016

How the game balls for the national title game are made



Click HERE to watch video



How the game balls for the national title game are made (Video)

Nick Bromberg 


Ever wondered how a football game ball is made? Wonder no more.
Wilson, the company that provides the game balls for the College Football Playoff, has a display at Fan Fest for Monday's National Championship Game between Clemson and Alabama. The display shows the multi-step process that the balls go through from start to finish. After the footballs are sewn together, they're then turned right-side out before they are laced. Watch the entire process above and wow your friends with your football-making knowledge during Monday's game.

Thursday, January 7, 2016

Cleveland Browns New Coach Will Be......


Cleveland Browns New Head Coach


There have been a lot of reports out there regarding who the Cleveland Browns are interviewing or might interview to replace Mike Pettine as their new head coach in 2016. This thread will constantly be updated to track the candidates, and when an interview with them took or will take place.

The Search Committee

  • Jimmy Haslam - Owner
  • Dee Haslam - Owner
  • Sashi Brown - Executive VP of Football Operations
  • Paul DePodesta - Chief Strategy Officer
  • Jed Hughes - Consultant from Korn/Ferry International

Head Coaching Candidate Tracker

CandidateCurrent PositionInterview
Adam GaseOffensive Coordinator, Chicago BearsWed, January 6th
Teryl AustinDefensive Coordinator, Detroit LionsWed, January 6th
Doug MarroneAssistant HC & OL Coach, Jacksonville JaguarsThu, January 7th
Sean McDermottDefensive Coordinator, Carolina PanthersThu, January 7th
Jerome HendersonDefensive Backs Coach, Dallas CowboysFri, January 8th
Hue JacksonOffensive Coordinator, Cincinnati BengalsSun, January 10th
Paul GuentherDefensive Coordinator, Cincinnati BengalsSun, January 10th
Matt PatriciaDefensive Coordinator, New England PatriotsReceived permission for interview
Chip Kelly(Former Head Coach, Philadelphia Eagles)PFT: plugged-in source says "keep eye on"

Who Do You Like?

Feel free to discuss the candidates in the comments section below, including who might best align with the Browns' innovative approach to analytics, and the fact that the head coach will have a say in the team's general manager.



Monday, January 4, 2016

Everything Ohio State after a 44-28 Win Over Notre Dame







Ten Things We Learned from Ohio State's 44-28 Win Over Notre Dame in the Fiesta Bowl


1. When Ohio State does what they do, nobody can contain the offense.
It could be argued that the only team that stopped Ohio State on offense this year was Ohio State, and that might take some credit away from their opponents, but sometimes you have to do that when you have a lot more talent than those opponents.
The play calling and the quarterback situation hindered the team for most of the season, and all of their bills came due when Michigan State and an ill-timed weather front hit Columbus at the exact same time.
This might sound like the “Stanford didn’t play ‘Stanford Football’” meme, but that argument excuses poor play by an entire team, whereas we know exactly where to place the blame for Ohio State’s struggles on offense this season.
Urban Meyer and his coaches never want their players to either feel comfortable or say they feel comfortable because that equates to a lack of desire or softness, and yet the offensive play calling situation could be described as Ohio State trying to make things as comfortable as possible for their coaches.
And to no surprise, things only got better when Urban Meyer made things uncomfortable by moving Ed Warinner upstairs to the press box
2. This is going to be a very different team in 2016.
This is pretty obvious, but also shouldn’t just be ignored. The identity of the 2016 team has yet to be shaped, as opposed to the 2015 team that already had crowned jewels placed upon their heads. This is going to be a team that gets to write its own story, as opposed to one that will either live up to expectations or fail in doing so. That’s the kind of situation that can build up a team’s appetite and get their hunger going.
And don’t forget the memories of this season’s disappointment. That won’t go away any time soon, especially after watching the essentially unwatchable College Football Playoff games on Thursday and reliving the opportunities that were missed.
3. Joey Bosa’s impact cannot be overstated.
The Buckeye defense played 10 snaps on the field before Joey Bosa was ejected for targeting and the Irish managed just 35 yards of total offense on those 10 plays. In those 10 plays, Bosa finished with three tackles and quarterback DeShone Kizer had pressure coming at him from all over the place, even though it wasn’t necessarily coming from Bosa himself.
Once Bosa was no longer part of the picture, the Irish offense was able to change a few things. Kizer was allowed to take deeper and slower drops, and even when he didn’t, he still had plenty of time to survey the field. Notre Dame averaged 3.5 yards per play before Bosa’s ejection and 6.2 yards per play after it. Even though Bosa’s sack numbers were down all season long, it was easy to see the impact that he had just based on the havoc of the first 10 plays in this game compared to the more comfortable levels of the final 60 plays.
4. Ed Warinner has to stay upstairs next year.
If Ed Warinner is going to call plays again next season — or at least be the facilitator, then it is clear that he is going to have to stay upstairs because the results against Michigan and Notre Dame are just too contrasting from the rest of the season to ignore.
Urban Meyer said they can only keep him in the press box if they have a veteran offensive line. So how will they make that happen for next year? That’s something to work on during the offseason, and it’s clear that it has to be done.
Here’s a stat for you that I just went and researched:
Ohio State pts/game under Urban Meyer with the OC upstairs: 42.8 ppg.
Ohio State pts/game under Urban Meyer with the OC downstairs: 34.3 ppg.
Urban Meyer’s confidence in the offense is so much higher when they can employ the hurry up, and you saw that when they went for it on fourth down pretty deep in Notre Dame territory. Why give that kind of confidence up, let alone the results?
5. The defensive line held up despite being down three starters.
Notre Dame can run the ball when they want to, they’ve done it all season long. Against Ohio State, especially after Joey Bosa was ejected, the Irish were running into a defensive line that was missing three starters. So what happened? They averaged 3.8 yards per carry. Prior to the Fiesta Bowl, they averaged 5.8 yards per carry.
Notre Dame rushed for 121 yards against the Buckeyes, which was their second-lowest total of the season. Their lowest? They rushed for 111 yards in a monsoon at Clemson. Just over a month ago they pounded Stanford for 299 yards rushing on just 35 carries. By comparison, they had 32 carries against the Buckeyes for 178 fewer yards.
No, there wasn’t much of a pass rush in the middle of the game, but the defensive line did enough with what little rotation they had left to keep Notre Dame from controlling the game.



6. Michael Thomas is going to be missed.
Michael Thomas is the living definition of a go-to receiver. When a play needs to be made, or a third down needs to be picked up, or a lockdown cornerback can’t be allowed to shut down a team’s top receiver, Thomas can be expected to emerge victorious. He had success all year long against some of the nation’s top cornerbacks.
Thomas now has a decision to make, but I would expect that decision to have already been made. He will likely be playing in the NFL next season after being a first or second-round draft pick, and his will certainly be a success story.
His presumed departure will leave the Buckeyes looking for that same type of guy. Who can they rely on when a pass has to be completed? Who can they count on to beat the opponent’s top cornerback? Who can move the chains when they absolutely have to be moved? The Buckeyes knew who that guy was coming into this season, but they are going to have to figure out who that will be in 2016.
7. Ezekiel Elliott was the perfect running back for this offense.
I said it when he was a high school senior and he confirmed it as a collegiate sophomore, and then further confirmed it for us this year. There could not be a better tailback for what Urban Meyer’s offense does and requires of its players. What the Buckeyes do in the future at tailback will no doubt be successful, but it will never look like Ezekiel Elliott again.
Moving forward, there could be three different players next year doing what Elliott was asked to do all by himself. That’s not a shortcoming of the players of the future, merely a statement of Elliott’s skill, versatility and willingness to get as deep into the fray as anybody ever has. There was a level of determination to all aspects of Elliott’s game that is rare and will be missed. It won’t be seen again, and the best you can hope for moving forward is that future players perform well enough to draw comparisons to Elliott and his stellar execution.
8. If the bowl game is a springboard into the next season, then Sean Nuernberger’s sophomore season was not wasted.
If I would have told you that the Buckeyes were going to go 3 for 3 on field goals in this game, you would have assumed that it meant the Ohio State offense stalled deep in the red zone and they had to settle for a few chip shots. But you would be wrong! Amazingly, sophomore kicker Sean Nuernberger hit from 37, 38 and 35 yards, and the 35-yarder was actually the result of Urban Meyer playing for a field goal. Consider our minds completely blown that Meyer actually played for a field goal late in a game.
After losing the starter’s job to graduate transfer Jack Willoughby, Nuernberger was on his way to redshirting after being the starter last year. That plan changed, however, due to a lack of consistency on Willoughby’s part. Put back out onto the field late in the season, Nuernberger finished 3 for 4 on field goals, and there is no doubt that he will take the confidence from Friday’s performance with him into the offseason.
The Buckeyes might be in a few more close games next season, so having a confident and competent kicker is going to be extremely important. If this was our first glimpse at what the 2016 kicking game is going to look like, it was a positive one.
9. Sam Hubbard and Tyquan Lewis are going to be one of the best bookends in the nation next season.
Redshirt freshman Sam Hubbard and redshirt sophomore Tyquan Lewis each notched critical sacks towards the end of the Fiesta Bowl, and when they did they surprised absolutely nobody. Even though a pass rush was hard to come by for most of the game following Joey Bosa’s ejection, they never quit and eventually they broke through in consecutive key moments.
Lewis was a starter all season long for the Buckeyes at defensive end, and while Hubbard started a couple of times, he was generally the third defensive end into the game. Despite that, the two of them combined for 14.5 sacks this season and 22 tackles for loss. Remember when Joey Bosa was a true freshman in 2013 and Noah Spence was a sophomore? As full-time starters, they combined for 15.5 sacks and 28 tackles for loss.
While this is going to be a drastically different team in 2016, bringing back a pair of defensive ends as disruptive and productive as these two is definitely a rarity in the college football landscape. In terms of building blocks for a team, these are two pretty good ones.
10. The Ohio State special teams were vastly superior to Notre Dame’s special teams.
We have already talked about the Buckeyes’ success with field goals in the Fiesta Bowl, but that was only one portion of the special teams dominance. There was also punter Cameron Johnston, who put two of his three kicks inside the Notre Dame 10-yard line. And then there were the return teams. The Buckeyes held C.J. Sanders to a 12-yard average on his six kickoff returns. The OSU return game, however, saw Jalin Marshall average over 18 yards on his four punt returns, including a 29-yarder. On the kickoff side of things, the Buckeyes averaged over 29 yards on their three returns by two different players.
Notre Dame had 13 possessions against the Buckeyes and started inside the 18-yard line seven times. Ohio State, however, only had one such possession. In fact, the Buckeyes even had two possessions that began in Notre Dame territory, and both of those were due to punt returns from Marshall.
Everywhere they could get extra yardage in the kicking game, the Buckeyes did it, and it made life constantly difficult for both the Notre Dame offense and defense.
Ohio State won this game in all three phases, proving for just the second or third time this season that they were one of the best teams in the nation this year.





Five Things

One six-pack, four touchdowns for Ezekiel Elliott against Notre Dame in the Fiesta Bowl.
84 COMMENTS
Though not making the playoffs will forever sting a little bit, Ohio State earned a laudable consolation prize in a 44-28 pasting of Notre Dame in the Fiesta Bowl, sending the seniors out with 50 wins in 54 games
The lopsided victory improved Urban Meyer to 10-2 in career bowl/playoff games and 16-6 against Top 10 teams. 
Ohio State raced out to a 28-14 halftime lead and was never threatened down the stretch despite losing Joey Bosa to a 1st quarter ejection thanks to an efficient offense with simply too much firepower for Brian Kelly's program. 
With Bosa along with Ezekiel Elliott and Cardale Jones having already said they'll turn pro, we must now wait and see which of a handful of juniors will also opt to take their talents to the next level. 
While we wait on those guys to levy their decisions, here's a look at Five Things from Ohio State's fourth straight win over the Notre Dame Fighting Irish. 

J.T. THE QB

Following a lackluster performance in Ohio State's only loss of the season aided by horrendous play calling, J.T. Barrett came through with electric performances against both Michigan and Notre Dame. 
In Ann Arbor, Barrett racked up 252 total yards and four touchdowns in a Buckeye rout, though much of that damage came via the ground (19 for 139, 3 TD). 
Yesterday Barrett was more impactful through the air completing 19 of 31 throws for 211 yards with a touchdown and an interception and added another 23 carries and 96 yards on the ground yielding 307 total yards of offense. 
Barrett hit seven different receivers with a 27-yard connection to Marcus Baugh on an out-and-up on OSU's first possession and a 3rd and 6 hookup with Nick Vannett for 14 yards as highlights. The throw to Vannett was most impressive in that it was through a tight window over the middle moving the chains en route to a field goal. 
Barrett did mix in a few bad reads and poor throws but overall his performance was a solid springboard into next season when, barring anything fluky, there won't be a quarterback controversy or injury to create unrest at the most important position in college football. 
Over J.T.'s final two games of the 2015 campaign he tallied 559 yards and five touchdowns as the Ohio State offense churned out 86 points. 

FAREWELL, ZEKE

Zeke went for 1,821 rushing yards and 23 scores in his final collegiate season.
In a performance that can only be described as "the usual," Ezekiel Elliott bid adieu to Ohio State fans with a 27 carry, 149 yard, four touchdown effort featuring another heavy dose of bone crushing lead blocks and soft hands (1 catch, 30 yards) to key the rout. 
Zeke's final score of the day, a 47-yard gallop up the gut, put the game out of reach at 35-21 midway through the 3rd quarter gave him 43 rushing touchdowns in his OSU career allowing him to join Pete Johnson (56), Keith Byars (46) and Eddie George (44) as the only Buckeyes with at least 40 rushing trips to pay dirt. 
On the heels of a sophomore season in which he tallied 1,878 rushing yards and 18 touchdowns, Elliott's junior campaign went for 1,821 yards and 23 scores including 363 yards and six touchdowns in wins over Michigan and Notre Dame. 
The heart and soul of the offense for two incredible years, Zeke's place in Buckeye lore is secure. Hat tip to a true gamer that improved in every facet of the game during his time in Columbus. 

THROW THE D

With Adolphus Washington suspended in the week's leading up the Fiesta Bowl, Tommy Schutt out with injury and Joey Bosa ejected in the 1st quarter, Ohio State's staff got a long look at what next year's defensive line might look like. 
Sam Hubbard was easily the most impactful man up front with four stops and a sack and it's a good bet he announces himself as an all-league worthy talent next fall. 
Tyquan Lewis has been a solid bookend all year but was quiet yesterday with one tackle though he did pick up a late sack of his own. 
Sam Hubbard will make a bid for all-conference honors next season.
Michael Hill saw a ton of time as the heir apparent to a starting spot inside and picked up two tackles while Donovan Munger failed to record a tackle. Also inside, Tracy Sprinkle made a grown and sexy play late pouncing on a fumble forced by Darron Lee. 
On the downside, the defensive line produced only two sacks/TFLs spanning 70 snaps with both of those coming with the game already decided. 
On the plus side, the young guys saw valuable reps, helped hold the Irish to 3.8 yards per rush and showed heart led by Lewis and Hubbard. The obvious key this offseason is to get Hill, Sprinkle, Munger etc. ready to effectively clog the middle come next September. 

THIRD IS THE WORD

I touched on Ohio State's dominance on 1st down yesterday and how that figured into the win but the Buckeyes were damn good on 3rd down as well.
Against an Irish unit ranked in the Top 20 in 3rd Down Conversion Pct Defense (33%), Ohio State converted 10 of 18 tries on 3rd down (56%). 
Nick Vannett showed great hands on a nifty 3rd down catch.
That number swells to 71% when you examine 3rd down plays of any significance as the Buckeyes converted four of six tries in the 1st half and six of their first eight in the 2nd half before largely calling off the dogs and being willing to settle for field goals after posting a 38-21 lead early in the 4th quarter. 
Ohio State's first 3rd down of the game occurred on the last play of the opening drive as Zeke plunged for a 1-yard touchdown to give the Buckeyes a 7-0 lead. 
Barrett picked up a pair of conversions via the run three possessions later allowing Elliott to record his second touchdown of the day to make it 21-7 good guys. 
My favorite conversion of the afternoon occurred on a 3rd and 5 play that saw Barrett roll right behind flowing action the same direction only to stop and throw back to Mike Thomas for 13 yards. Too bad OSU didn't run that play about 10 times this year. 
Another nifty conversion saw Barrett's noted throw just over an outstretched linebacker and in front of a closing safety, finding Vannett for 14 yards on a great throw down the seam to keep the chains moving. 
The balance on 3rd down was fantastic to see as the Buckeyes threw it 10 times and ran it eight, picking up five 1st downs through the air and another five on the ground to help break Notre Dame's spirit. 

JUST KICKIN' IT

Having lost his starting job to graduate transfer Jack Willoughby only to earn it back ahead of the 10th game of the season, it was a rough 2015 for sophomore placekicker Sean Nuernberger. 
A highly touted leg coming into Ohio State, Nuernberger served as the squad's starter during the national championship season but made only 13 of 20 tries triggering Meyer's willingness to give Willoughly a look this fall but the Duke product couldn't hold the spot after hitting seven of 11 tries through this year's first nine games. 
Having not even attempted a field goal since missing a 29-yard chip shot way back on November 14th at Illinois, Nuernberger was perfect against Notre Dame connecting from 37, 38 and 35 yards  – all in the 4th quarter – helping OSU pad an insurmountable lead. 
Yeah, I know it's hard to get amped about kickers but with an eye on 2016, these were important boots for a kid that will be a true junior with likely no competition for the starting role next season. 
Throw in the fact Ohio State will be breaking in a ton of new starters on both sides of the ball and the likelihood of more close games is real. Hopefully yesterday's effort can be a springboard of sorts for Nuernberger moving forward.