"Bosa doesn't overwhelm guys with pure strength like Watt does."
- Anonymous NFL scout, via NFL.com
It's a tradition unlike any other: the pre-draft hoopla that reduces college players to archetypes, shoehorning them into comparisons with NFL players past or present to project what they'll look like at the next level. Perhaps inevitably, Ohio State's Joey Bosa is facing that same treatment in regards to J.J. Watt, who happens to be one of the three or four best defensive players in the league. The chorus has spoken: Bosa is not and never will be as talented as Watt, according to NFL scouts.
Of course, the comparison is hardly a fair one. Watt, halfway through his fourth full NFL season, has shattered expectations and kept the otherwise-yawn-inducing Houston Texans at the forefront of our national consciousness for quite some time. Watt is a dump truck with the grace of a figure skater, and he's a problem for opposing quarterbacks, seemingly having mastered the art of the sack. That's the biggest knock on Bosa qua Watt, that the Buckeye DE just doesn't get after the QB the same way the Texan does.
But comparisons like this are reductive and silly. Watt had just 11.5 sacks total in his two seasons at Wisconsin; you may recall Bosa racking up 13.5 in 2014 alone. This also ignores the fact that sacks don't tell the whole story of a defensive lineman's talent. Bosa -- who is still young, and has tons of time to add size/strength -- has just five sacks in 2015, but in 11 games has tallied 16 tackles for loss, two interceptions, and four pass breakups. He has put opposing QBs on the ground at an alarming rate. Per NFL.com, there's a burgeoning consensus among scouts that Bosa's ceiling is roughly Chris Long, of the St. Louis Rams. Given that NFL scouts also thought Jake Locker and Blaine Gabbert might be better picks than Cam Newton, we'd rather wait and see than speculate.
"I feel like I've done it all."
- Vonn Bell, via Ari Wasserman, Cleveland.com
Vonn Bell came onto the Ohio State scene in a big way. Making his first career start against Clemson in the 2013 Orange Bowl, Bell leapt into Buckeye highlight history with a ridiculous goal-line interception of Tajh Boyd. He's been making big plays ever since. This year, his efforts were recognized in the coolest way the school knows how: a tree in Buckeye Grove, in honor of Bell's being named a first team All-American by Sports Illustrated. Given all that Bell has accomplished -- a national title, a great highlight reel, and now a tree -- is there anything left for him at Ohio State?
Bell hasn't said one way or another whether or not he'll be returning to school for his senior season. If he leaves, he'll join the exodus of Buckeye underclassmen trying to take their talents to the next level, a group that includes Ezekiel Elliott and Joey Bosa. He certainly has the skills to make it in the league. This season, he has paced the Buckeye defense with nine pass breakups and two interceptions, leading the team in both categories. His nose for the ball puts him at third in tackles, with 52.
According to Cleveland.com's Ari Wasserman, Bell is still undecided, despite how obvious it may seem that he should go. "I haven't really thought about it," said Bell, "I have just been putting it off to the side." It's more likely than not that Bell's strong nose also leads him to an NFL payday and the chance to make his name in the league, rather than another year of unpaid work in the midst of sizable turnover.
"Fickell is the coordinator, Meyer said, but he expects a similar symmetry between Schiano and Fickell as he saw the past two years between Fickell and Ash."
- Tim May, The Columbus Dispatch
Like so many other things, Urban Meyer does coaching a little differently. For most teams, one defensive coordinator is plenty, and with good reason: when you get too many talented people overlapping, you start to deal with egos, power struggles, and a muddled chain of command. But for the last two seasons, Meyer has laid the foundation for one of the country's best defenses by combining the powers of Luke Fickell and Chris Ash. According to Tim May of The Dispatch, for Meyer, it all comes down to chemistry.
"I like to have two people kind of (running the show) in that room. I don't believe in dictatorships. I believe in teams, teams on staffs, too," Meyer said, per May. Fickell and Ash clearly made a fantastic team, but with the latter gone for Piscataway and the Rutgers Scarlet Kngiths, Meyer will now need to establish a partnership between Fickell and former Scarlet Knights coach Greg Schiano.
Schiano is perhaps a bit more, uhh, temperamental than Ash. Still, he seems eager to be part of Meyer's staff, and without the myriad duties associated with head coaching, can get back to what he does best: defense. On the sidelines during game days, Schiano will principally be in charge of defensive backs, but he, Fickell, and DL coach Larry Johnson will be working collaboratively throughout each week to maintain the skyward trajectory of the Buckeye D.
"Michigan returned atop the attendance leaders after its 16-year run was ended by Ohio State in 2014."
- Jon Solomon, CBSSports.com
Give Michigan credit: they may put out an inferior product on the football field, but they get more butts in the seats to watch it than any other team in the country. The Wolverines have led college football in home game attendance 17 of the last 18 years, with the Buckeyes being the only team to unseat them during that stretch. College football attendance as a whole is decreasing slightly, with a 4% drop in 2014 and an additional 1% in 2015. Michigan and Ohio State, however, seem to have insulated themselves from the trend.
The Wolverines saw their attendance spike 5% in 2015, likely thanks to the splashy hire of Jim Harbaugh and an actually intimidating team taking the field each week. The Buckeye faithful, perhaps sensing a repeat championship run, boosted their numbers by <1% over last season. In the face of the national trend of fans staying home more often than usual, UM and OSU finished at No. 1 and No. 2 overall.
One of the biggest surprises of the 2015 attendance data comes out of Iowa. The Hawkeyes finished the regular season undefeated, their only loss coming at the last second to Michigan State in the Big Ten Championship Game. Despite the historic season, Iowa actually saw attendance drop by 6%, perhaps partially attributable to years of mediocrity impacting season ticket sales prior to this one.