"Star QB Braxton Miller's season-ending injury only increased the onus on four new starters up front. Left tackle Taylor Decker is a sure thing, but the coaches are nervous about the group's overall development."
- Foxsports.com's Bruce Feldman and Stewart Mandel
As we inch closer to the kickoff of the college football season, Bruce Feldman and Stewart Mandel of Foxsports.com have been working their way through conference previews, and today saw them tackle the Big Ten. The landscape of the top of the Big Ten's East Division changed with the injury to Miller, but it didn't change all that much in terms of how many predicted the top of the division to look like. Both have Ohio State as one of the top two teams in the East, with Mandel still believing that Ohio State can take home the crown, and defeat Nebraska in the Big Ten Championship Game.
The Ohio State offensive line was named as the top "make-or-break position group", but many had already pegged that with the loss of four starters from last year. The injury to MIller just means that the offensive line will be under a microscope even more now. To try and make up for the loss of Miller, Feldman and Mandel think we could see more from Dontre Wilson, Jalin Marshall, and even true freshman Curtis Samuel to try and pick up some of the slack.
Also Ohio State was mentioned in half of the "under-the-radar" games this coming season, with the number one on the list being the night game tilt that the Buckeyes have with Virginia Tech at Ohio Stadium on September 6th. While Virginia Tech will be trying to find a new quarterback of their own after Logan Thomas graduated, the bigger problem they may pose for the Buckeyes is how Bud Foster plans to try and attack J.T. Barnett with his strong defense. The other game mentioned is the October 4th matchup with Maryland in College Park, where the Terrapins will be looking to make a name for themselves in their new conference.
"In my 10 years here, this is the most explosive offensive talent, depth wise, that we've ever had. The 2006 team had a lot of offensive weapons. But depth wise, you just have to get the ball to the players and get out of the way."
- Ohio State athletic director Gene Smith
As Buckeye Nation is still mourning the loss of Braxton Miller for the season, they shouldn't get too down, as this football team still has a ton of talent. Redshirt freshman quarterback won't be any stranger to working with the first-team offense when the team takes the field against Navy next Saturday, since he has been working with the starting crew most of training camp with Braxton Miller trying to ease his way back into form. Since it became known that Barrett was going to have take the reigns of the offense, his high school coach and many others have raved about Barrett's leadership and talent. While Braxton will undoubtedly be missed this season, Ohio State fans should feel lucky that they have a quarterback with such potential waiting in the wings.
Not only did Pete Thamel take a look at Barrett and how he might be able to step into the shoes of Braxton Miller this season, there were also a number of other great items from his look at the Buckeyes. If Buckeye fans enjoyed the high-scoring pace of last season, they should be happy to hear that Urban Meyer is trying to emulate the success that Oregon had under Chip Kelly in the ways that they practice and prepare. But the funniest nugget from the piece was hearing that former Ohio State linebacker Anthony Schlegel dressing up in a "faux nuclear suit" on Wednesday to do a daily urine collection from players that helps to measure hydration levels.
"It hurts. It stings and it's totally unprecedented, and Ohio State has to understand that in the history of this sport, no would-be championship contender has lost a Heisman Trophy-caliber quarterback this close to the eve of the regular season."
- Paul Myerberg, USA Today
As the USA Today writer counts down the college football teams from No. 128 to No. 1 as we are just a week away from the start of the season, Ohio State checks in at No. 11 in the countdown. Undoubtedly the Buckeyes would've come in higher had Braxton Miller suffered his season-ending shoulder injury, but even with having to deal with that adversity, they still come in at a very respectable position.
We all now know that J.T Barrett will be taking the snaps for the Buckeyes when the season starts against Navy, but this isn't the first time that Urban Meyer has dealt with an injury to his quarterback with little time to adjust. While Brett Elliott was no Braxton Miller when he was injured early in the season for Utah back in 2003, many are hoping that Barrett will be able to find the type of success that Alex Smith found under Meyer.
Myerberg has Ohio State slotted for a 8-4 record this year with losses to Virginia Tech, Penn State, Michigan State, and Michigan. That is probably a little pessimistic on his part, as it wouldn't be a surprise at all to see the Buckeyes finish the regular season with 10 wins or more. Still this is a good look at how the Buckeyes shape up just nine days from the season opener.
"Since the opening of Value City Arena, the team has appeared in three Final Fours (1999, 2007, and 2012) and has won either the Big Ten regular season or conference championship (or both) in four consecutive years (2010-2013). So you know you're going to see a good team when you make the trip to Columbus, and with the level of play in the Big Ten being some of the best in the country, you can expect to see a close contest."
While these rankings were posted back in April, time doesn't change just how odd some of these rankings are. Is Value City Arena the best college basketball arena to watch a basketball game in the country? Of course not. But to be ranked at number 99 seems a little bit low. At least strides are being taken to improve the atmosphere in Value City Arena during basketball games, most notably with the moving of The Nuthouse. And if this list measures food and beverage at the arenas, I do enjoy what Value City Arena has to offer, so to see them this low on the list is puzzling.
Not only does coming in at number 99 seem low, but when you look at some of the teams that are ranked ahead of Ohio State in terms of arenas it gets even more puzzling. Directly in front of the Value City Arena is Longwood's arena. I'm guessing that where Longwood plays is essentially your high school gym, and anyone that shows up can sit on the bench.
Among Big Ten teams, there was six arenas in the Top-40, with the highest ranked Big Ten Arena being Michigan's Crisler Arena. The University of Dayton Arena came in at 28th on the list, so I'm sure that'll be another victory Flyers' fans will claim as they beg for respect. One last oddity on the list was Duke's Cameron Indoor Stadium being ranked 31st. While many don't care for the Cameron Crazies and everything else Duke, it still looks like a great place to watch a college basketball game.
"Their phones have been ringing off the hook for two days about this issue. People that are saying they're going to withhold their funds, they're stopping right now and they're never going to give another penny to the university. And then another group saying that's kind of what we're thinking but we will wait until Betty Montgomery's report comes out."
- Larry Morse, Ohio State graduate
The firing of Ohio State Marching Band director Jon Waters continues to create division among many, it could start to hurt the university where it counts. In terms of donations from alumni. In 2014, Ohio State received $70 million from alumni donations, and losing even a little of that could hurt with the university facing a budget of $5.25 billion.
As mentioned, Betty Montgomery is heading up a task force that will examine the band's culture and what the university could have done about it. Ohio State said they wouldn't reverse the decision of firing Waters, who many feel was unjustly fired as he was taking steps to change a culture that he inherited. Waters contends that he was making progress in trying to undo years of the culture in the band, and that he didn't have adequate time to make the changes that the administration was looking for.
STICK TO SPORTS
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- The marathon of every Simpson episode started this morning on FXX. Here are a few things to watch for if you plan on taking in a good of the 522 episodes that'll be aired.
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- Woody Hayes would've been proud of the chain of "paying it forward" that happened at a Starbucks drive-thru in Florida