In case you have been living under a rock for the past few months, you can’t turn on a TV, or check a twitter feed without some reference to Jim Harbaugh, who led Michigan to a 10-3 record in his first season. For powerhouses like Ohio State and Alabama, a 10-3 record would be considered a bad year by the fans, but many fans from Ann Arbor and media personalities are treating Harbaugh like he is the second coming of Christ. In fact, ever since January 11 when Alabama won the second College Football Playoff National Championship, Harbaugh has stolen the spotlight.

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The Grind for Perfection


There are times throughout the day where I think back to last season’s Ohio State run to the National Championship and can’t help but smile. It was a season that couldn’t be scripted any better. It was a season where we beat the number one and number two seed with a team led by a third string quarterback. It was Zeke’s breakout performance, and a championship game that will go down in history. It was a true showing of overcoming obstacles, overcoming early defeat, and proving we wanted it more than anyone else.

Coming into this season, like most Ohio State fans, I expected a continuation of that drive, that “us against the world” mentality that took us through a 13 game win streak to finish the season, fighting our way to the top. We showed glimpses against Virginia Tech, and Braxton Miller made us remember how great he is as a player. The next five games, we struggled offensively, showing a lack of cohesion and our defense, although stout at times, let a few big plays make the game closer than they should have been.

We started unanimous number one in both polls, a feat that has never been accomplished in the AP preseason poll ever, but because of these close games and issues, we have seen our mountain top begin to crumble. It is almost inconceivable to think we would be in this position. The talent we had, the returning starters, Urban Meyer as our coach, we should be proving we are the king each and every week, but at times we look more like the jester with turnovers and penalties. The media has already started mocking our crown, claiming we have no right to be the king, even though we are winning our games, holding on to that perfect record.

But what does a record mean? As I recall my memories of the 2014 season, I also remember that three seed in the college football playoff, the only undefeated team in the country last season, Florida State. They struggled, and won more games from behind then they did just a season before. Already the comparisons are being made between the Buckeyes and the Seminoles, doubts and questioning of a ranking that might not mean anything at this point in the season. I myself even questioned Florida State, and their position last season, thinking they might not be deserving because of the eye-test, and how they looked in their games. Undefeated might be great, and the name of the game, but all of a sudden, because the polls are by a committee of people, how you look means a little something more.

I then realized something about this season, something that needs to be addressed, or at least I feel needs to be said. There is a difference between being the hunter and being the hunted, no matter how good you are. Teams that are fighting for our spot are Baylor, TCU, Utah, LSU, Clemson, and now a resurging Michigan team with Harbaugh at the helm. I am not going to make excuses for our team, because we are getting everyone’s best shot, but as a fan, the reason why this season doesn’t seem as exciting is because we now feel a little more vulnerable. At some point a streak will end, a loss will be had, and we are playing to stay undefeated for as long as we can. The other teams, they get the momentum because they are going after us. Before the season, ESPN launched a commercial for the College Football Playoff with Urban Meyer addressing an “audience” and repeating the phrase “They’re coming.” And we are seeing it now. Teams are coming for us, and we want to know if we are up for the challenge.

That is what the grind is, the challenge from everyone, and the wear and tear of a season while trying to remain on top, to be perfect. We are quickly halfway through the regular season, and we are seeing that we have been challenged, both from our opponents, and our own mistakes. But we are hitting a stride, and I know we will get better. We played our best football on the last half of last season, and I think we will do the same. We will peak when we need to. The football season is not a sprint, it is a marathon, and we will see this second half of the marathon who are the contenders and who are the pretenders. If we keep winning, no matter how close, we will be in the playoff. And if we run the tables once more and win it all again, no one will talk about how close our games are, but instead how we found a way to win. After all, isn’t that the true purpose of the game?

Is Four Enough?


Our first ever semi-final games for the College Football Playoff are in the books, and the champion will be crowned on January 12, between (4)Ohio State and (2)Oregon. Both teams looked great in their victories, and showed the nation why they deserve to be in the championship game, with Oregon blasting the defending national champions Florida State in the Rose Bowl, and Ohio State upsetting top seeded Alabama in the Sugar Bowl. In fact, the numbers in viewers for these games take the top two spots ever in cable broadcast shows. Ohio State versus Alabama takes the number one spot with 28.2 million viewers, and Oregon versus Florida State takes the second spot with 28.1 millions viewers. With the exception of the states of Alabama and Florida, it is expected that the numbers will be close to that for the championship game. This helps show that the first four team selected for the first ever playoff were the correct ones. I know we still have not crowned the champion for the 2014 season yet, but there is still the question is four teams enough?

There has been a lot of talk about expanding the playoffs to eight teams, even twelve or sixteen. In my opinion, which is not reflective of the opinions of the entirety of Buckeye50, I think an eight-team playoff would be ideal, and explain how I would set it up. Baylor and TCU were the first two out for the playoff, ranking fifth and sixth respectively, and also had a solid argument to be in the playoff as they shared the Big 12 title, but Baylor having the head to head advantage. Mississippi State and Michigan State rounded out the top eight teams, but both teams had two losses and were not conference champions, but still were good teams. Now that we have bowl season pretty much wrapped up, I would like to reflect on what could have been this season if there were an eight-team playoff in place.

I will start with the Cotton Bowl, which felt like a playoff game, between Baylor and Michigan State. That game went back and forth, and Michigan State made a dramatic finish to win the game. Next would be TCU, which dominated Ole Miss in the Peach Bowl. Mississippi State lost to Georgia Tech, who was ranked 12th by the Playoff Committee. Lets not forget though Boise State, which had an impressive win against Arizona, who was second in the PAC 12. I would like to see the playoff expand to eight teams, with the conference champions as tie ins, two at large teams from the Power 5 (ACC, Big Ten, Big 12, PAC 12, SEC, along with Notre Dame) and then the top team from the Group of 5 (AAC, C-USA, MAC, MWC, and Sun Belt). Based on the results of these games, imagine if these were the eight teams in the playoff:

  1. Alabama
  2. Oregon
  3. Florida State
  4. Ohio State
  5. Baylor
  6. TCU
  7. Michigan State
  8. Boise State

Alabama is a great team with a great coach, but could have been ranked second behind Oregon. Oregon has looked dominant behind Heisman Trophy Winner Marcus Mariota, and redeemed their loss to Arizona in the PAC 12 Championship Game. Florida State came in as the only undefeated team, and defending National Champions. Ohio State has overcome adversity all season and shut out Wisconsin in the Big Ten Championship Game. Baylor has given TCU it’s lone loss, and has a high-powered offense. TCU is one of the most improved teams in the country, and overcame a few close calls. Michigan State’s two losses have come to the two teams now playing in the National Championship game. Boise State is the best of the Group of 5. All of these teams have legitimate cases to have a shot at the national championship.

Now, I know that every season is different, and this season definitely included some issues with the Power 5 conferences champions having either zero or only one loss with only four spots, but this is where I think eight is enough. I think the more teams you add will muddle up the teams that are deserving, and I know there will still be some issues, but I think this is the best scenario for the playoff moving forward. With eight teams, you could have the first round be on the Friday and Saturday the weekend before Christmas, with the highest ranked teams playing at home. The second round will be on New Years Day, like it was this year, and then make the championship game on the second Monday of the month.

With the results of this seasons bowl games, I think there could be a strong argument for an eight-team playoff, and this would allow the best possible teams to be represented. Even if there was a conference champion with two or three losses, they would be one of the lower seeded teams. Now, don’t get me wrong, I am happy how this year worked out, and enjoyed the games. For this year, four was enough, as we got to see what the playoffs have done for college football. But I also think we can see it changing to eight teams in the next three to five years.

By Josh Watson

Hyde and Mewhort Highlight Day Two

Day Two of the NFL Draft carried on the momentum and excitement of the first round. Two more Buckeyes were selected in the second round and none in the Third. Carlos Hyde, the number one overall running back was not even the first running back picked, which this blogger is confused about or see it as another jab at Ohio State, but he found a new home with San Francisco at the 25 spot in the second round. The 49ers love to run the ball, and this pick makes some sense as they were the third best rushing team in the NFL last year, but I feel a little bad for Hyde because he will be a part of the running back carousel that includes veteran Frank Gore, the teams leading rusher with over 1,000 yards. I personally felt that Hyde would have word better in New York with the Giants to compliment Donald Brown, or like I stated in the previous blog, the Cleveland Browns. I would have loved for the Colts or Steelers to take him, but they have a their own running backs that they are trying to build up. I don’t think Hyde will stay in San Francisco very long, and he will be traded somewhere else in a few years.

The second Buckeye taken was Jack Mewhort by the Indianapolis Colts at the 27 spot in the second round. I like this pick because the Colts needed some help the line, and they need to protect their investment, I mean quarterback Andrew Luck. Mewhort will be a good fit there because he has experience playing multiple positions on the line and he is a gym rat. I think the Colts will be impressed how focused he will be and he will be able to learn from the guys in front of him on the depth chart. I don’t expect him to play much his first year, but that is ok.

There were no Buckeyes selected in the third round but the Big Ten is being represented in the first three rounds. I do expect a few more Buckeyes to be picked up this last day of the draft, including Andrew Norwell, C.J. Barnett, Christian Bryant, and Corey Brown. My far-out there prediction is that the Houston Texans select Kenny Guiton as the Mr. Irrelevant pick, but it brings him back home to Texas. I think “Smooth Jazz” will find a home somewhere in the NFL as a free agent if he is not picked up, and will be a good back up for any team. Lets hope for a good day three of the NFL Draft and Go Bucks!

Shazier and Roby Selected in First Round of NFL Draft

For the first time since Cam Heyward in 2011, a Buckeye was drafted in the first round of the NFL Draft. Like Heyward. The Steelers selected Ryan Shazier at the 15 spot. Shazier had an amazing combine and was able to add solid muscle to his weight since the Orange Bowl, going from 225 pounds to 237. The Steelers needed some help on defense and Shazier should be an instant playmaker, adding some youth to an older defense. It will be interesting to see how the Steelers will use Shazier; if they will keep him at the linebacker position, maybe even at Corner or even Strong Safety, but he his speed and ball-instinct will help out the Steeler’s defense in passing situations and pursuit of running backs. I am looking forward to the shot for when he stands next to Troy Polamalu with their helmets off.

Shazier was not the only Buckeye taken in the first round. Bradley Roby was selected at the 31 spot by the Denver Broncos. I think anyone who paid at least some attention to last season in the NFL knew that the Broncos were known for their offense last year, led by Peyton Manning. It was their defense that arguably cost them some points in a few games, and even the Super Bowl, as they were not able to stop the methodical Seahawks offense. Roby came into this draft with some question marks about his off-field exploits, and his not so stellar Junior season against some of the best Big Ten receivers, but he has the highest ceiling of any of the Defensive Backs in this draft, and I bet Denver drafted him on potential. In the off-season, Denver lost some key defensive players, including veteran Champ Bailey, so Roby helps fill that void and should be able to learn from the experienced players on the defense.

The first round of the draft went surprisingly well and not too many surprises. The Jaguars pick for Blake Bortles at the 3 spot, the Patriots pick for injury prone Dominique Easley and possibly the Browns passing up on Sammy Watkins were the only ones I saw as surprising, but for the most part those who were expected to be drafted in that round were. Two other Big Ten players were selected in the first round, with Michigan’s Taylor Lewan getting picked up at the 11 spot by the Tennessee Titans, and Darqueze Dennard getting picked up at the 24 spot by the Cincinnati Bengals. If it were 1994 and not 2014, I think Carlos Hyde would have been a top 10 pick, and I was rooting for him to be picked up in the first round. The second round starts today, and I am sure that Hyde will be picked up early on. I think the Browns might take him at the 3 spot this round, and if not, he could be picked up by the Raiders, or even to the Buccaneers. As for our other Buckeyes, they are most likely going to be picked up on day three for rounds four through seven.

Defense Does Not Disappoint

In front of a crowd of 61,058 fans, Ohio State football kicked off its 2014 campaign with its Annual Scarlet and Gray Spring game. The final score favored the Gray squad 17-7, but in this situation the score was not the focus of this years glorified scrimmage.  Instead, this bloggers attention, much like the rest of Buckeye Nation, had their eyes on the secondary and defense which looked bad in the last half of the season, and what would the additions of Chris Ash and Larry Johnson do to change it. I must say, it was great seeing Eli Apple, a 5-star recruit of last years recruits, get some quality playing time and had some good stops, and played well in man coverage against freshman wide-out Johnny Dixon., who also looked impressive.  Freshman linebacker Reakwan McMillon showed off his speed as he ran down a receiver in the open field. I think we might have found our new Shazier. From the little we got to see in this, already the scheme looked aggressive for the defense in total, and the freshman and young players got to show off what they were made of. In a separate battle for Kenny Guiton’s replacement, Cardale Jones and J.T. Barrett had a quarterback showdown taking the majority of the snaps for the Scarlet and Gray respectively. Both had some good throws, and some bade throws, but one thing I took away from it is that both have the elusive speed, but Cardale has the better arm. One fan I was sitting near commented that Cardale reminded him of Ben Roethlisberger. I think at the start of the season, Cardale will get the nod for back-up, but will need some time to step into the shoes of the man we knew and loved as “Smooth Jazz.”
Fun Stats of the game: 
12: Doran Grant won the student-buckeye 40 yard dash, edging out speedster Dontre Wilson for fastest man. Here is the video of that race: https://vine.co/v/MJmhaXttXMK
5: Ohio State decided to drop its ticket prices the day before the Spring Game from roughly $14 to $5 and as a result, the attendance went from 26,000 tickets sold to 61,058. Hopefully this is a lesson learned for OSU athletics for the regular season tickets. Then again, maybe not.

Josh Watson – Graphic Designer