"This game could very well serve as a de facto conference championship game and provide a ticket to the College Football Playoff."
-Dan Murphy, ESPN.com Big Ten Blog
T.S. Eliot once wrote that April is the cruelest month, but for Ohio State, it's going to be November. There's a very clear four-game stretch that will make or break the champ's chances make it back to the College Football Playoff this coming season. It just so happens that this stretch happens during the Buckeyes' last four games of the regular season. Those games, in order: Minnesota, at Illinois, Michigan State, at Michigan.
Minnesota has the reigning Big Ten Coach of the Year on their sideline, and the Gophers make hay dragging their opponents into slow-paced cold-weather slogs. They'll be without David Cobb and Maxx Williams in 2015, but Ohio State occasionally plays down to their opponents, and this one could be an ugly trap game. The Buckeyes follow that up with a trip to Illinois, where the Illini could prove dangerous if the Tim Beckman Circus takes down the tents and QB Wes Lunt fulfills the hype that surrounded him entering college.
But the real test will come in the final two games. Murphy points out that whoever emerges victorious in the OSU-MSU tilt will likely end up as the B1G conference champion (no disrespect to Wisconsin, or Ben Affleck). Connor Cook will be out for blood in his final season with Sparty, and Mark Dantonio is as talented a coach as you can find in the conference. Jim Harbaugh, meanwhile, will look to add some vinegar to the Ohio State-Michigan rivalry in his first season. If anyone is going to play spoiler to the defending champs, there's a good chance it's one of the two teams from that state up north. (Oh god, something that happens in October is going to make me regret this, isn't it?)
"He's proven incredibly productive at a young age, and the ceiling is obviously very high."
-Sayre Bedinger, NFLMocks.com
While the above quote could easily have been taken from one of my elementary school teachers, it's actually in reference to Ohio State's Joey Bosa. This week, NFL Mocks took a look at Bosa's tape to see whether the hype surrounding him is overblown or well-deserved. Needless to say, they came away impressed.
Just about the only over-the-top thing being said about Bosa is that he's the second coming of J.J. Watt. Bedinger points out that Watt is the NFL's best defensive player, so we need to pump the brakes on making that distinction quite yet. But the rest of Bosa's film is really impressive, showcasing a number of talents that will make him dangerous at football's next level.
Bosa is explosive despite being a huge guy. He's 6'5, 275 pounds, and could maintain his speed and athleticism even if he adds weight. By comparison, Dante Fowler and Randy Gregory (two of the most highly-touted prospects in the 2015 draft at defensive end) come in at 6'3, 261 and 6'5, 235, respectively. Bosa is bigger than either, and even more productive. He can rush inside and outside, and plays with "heavy hands" that allow him to fight off and through bigger offensive linemen. Had he been eligible, he would likely have been a high draft pick in 2015, so Buckeye fans and NFL scouts alike are eagerly anticipating what he'll do in his third season as a Buckeye.
"After one particularly long night at the hospital, Fraser unveiled the plan to his wife. He would retire from professional football and enter medical school."
-Andrew Gribble, ClevelandBrowns.com
This week, the Cleveland Browns profiled a former Ohio State and Browns player on a remarkable journey. Simon Fraser was a Buckeye defensive end before being signed by the Browns in 2005. He played on the national championship team that upset Miami in the 2002-03 season. And now, he's well on his way to becoming a doctor.
Fraser became "infatuated" with medicine for very personal reasons: his wife, Mallory, gave birth to twins three months prematurely. The babies weighed less than three pounds each, and Fraser was faced with the terrifying prospect of losing his children. Almost a decade removed from taking science classes, he dove headfirst into finding out everything he could about the twins' condition, interrogating doctors, even being allowed into meetings that were typically reserved for physicians. He became as dogged about his children's treatment as he had been about football, which he had worked uncommonly hard for: he was undrafted, meaning he had to fight hard to make the Browns' roster. He succeeded there, appearing in every Browns game from 2005 to 2007 before being moved to the Atlanta Falcons, where he saw a more limited role.
So he spent a year at Cleveland State to fulfill the requisite coursework, and in 2011 he was accepted into Ohio University's college of osteopathic medicine. He earned a reputation as an incredibly hardworking and well-liked student, though the commute was hard on him and his family, who he bonded with over FaceTime. Now, he's in Columbus' Doctors Hospital for his clinical rotations. He'll be a resident there, too, and plans to become a surgeon. His twins are happy and healthy.
STICK TO SPORTS:
- Ohio State has found need-based aid for 12,400 students.
- Let "The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill" take you into the weekend.
- Winning on the field and off: Ohio State just won the North American EcoCar competition.
- This is a video of, um, a dude playing guitar while undergoing brain surgery.
- Cool public art project happening in Columbus next weekend.