Well, we did it everybody. After perhaps the most dead offseason that I can remember, the thinkpieces about satellite camps can be shoved away, because now we are so tantalizingly close to actual, honest to goodness, college football. It's Game Week. Or, Game Week-ish, since Ohio State technically plays eight days from now. Either way, we're close enough to football games that we can throw out that preseasons schedule and get ourselves back into midseason blog form, and that means you, dear reader, get a Sunday Morning Stock Market Report. We even published it early enough for you to read on your phone when you're supposed to be paying attention in church! I got you.
Blue Chip Stocks:
Ezekiel Elliott: Even without injuries or suspensions, this figured to be a banner year for Elliott, who demolished three strong defenses to end last season, and is near the top of the charts in any respectable preseason Heisman list. Despite having a cadre of speedy weapons on the outside and a pair of excellent quarterbacks, Ohio State's offensive philosophy is still fundamentally a power rushing attack. Elliott is going to get his touches no matter what, and there's no reason to think he won't be as successful as he was last year, especially now that he's totally healthy.
But now that promising WR Noah Brown is likely out for the year thanks to a major leg injury, and with Jalin Marshall, Dontre Wilson and Corey Smith all suspended for the season opener, that just puts the emphasis on Elliott even more. The Buckeyes will be depending on some young (although stupid talented) names on the outside, and are opening in a hostile environment against a superior secondary. Knowing you can hand the ball off to a dude who can probably get you five yards a carry makes everything easier.
So draft Elliott on your fantasy team, crop off your t-shirts (come get me, NCAA fashion police), whatever you need. His current over/under on rushing yards for the season is 1,500, and I feel great about grabbing that over.The QBs get the press clippings, but the most dangerous (and important) player on this offense is Elliott. He seems like about a safe investment as you're going to find in the Big Ten this year.
The Slobs: I mean, if this nickname wasn't self-given, I'd say it isn't entirely fair. After all, I can personally verify that at least Taylor Decker owns a suit, and he cleaned up just fine. Sartorial or hygienic distinctions aside, the reason that so many can feel so bullish about Ohio State's chances this season is because of this offensive line unit, which returns four starers, including possible first round pick Taylor Decker at left tackle. Chase Ferris has been talked up all offseason, and should slide in at right guard, and if he doesn't, the Buckeyes have a bevy of four-star backups to rotate along the line.
Last year, this unit was a dumpster fire against Virginia Tech, but then grew into one of the most confident and productive fronts in the entire country, and now they're basically all back. Seems reasonable that they would consider this a revenge game, and will be looking to pancake some people.
Braxton Miller, as something: I felt like there was a lot of revisionist history of Braxton Miller over the offseason, with some insinuating that as a quarterback, Miller was closer to say, Steve Bellisari than, I dunno, actual Braxton Miller. Miller's injury history won't give him a chance to remind everybody why he was actually great at throwing the ball, but complaints about his ariel efficiency aside, Braxton Miller still did a lot of Braxton Miller things, and those things were awesome. Like, remember this?
Now, Miller will be taking snaps at H-Back/WR, and with suspensions and injuries, he'll likely need to play a bigger role a teensy bit sooner than maybe everybody would like. And if you've been paying attention to Scarlet and Gray Days, you'd know that the position change hasn't been 100% perfect. The coaches are enamored with his potential, and it's not like Miller forgot how to run. It's unclear exactly how much he'll do against Virginia Tech, but the odds are good that Miller have a role in this offense, and even if we don't get a Braxton Miller Game per se, we'll get some Braxton Miller Dot Gifs.
St. Paul and the Broken Bones: I am often made fun of (correctly, I might add) in the office for being an out of touch dad, especially musically, and maybe this doesn't help my case at all, but here is a band that is making honest to God new music in 2015, it's upbeat, unique, fun, and if you like retro soul, you'll dig it.
Also, this is probably an accurate representation of my dad dance moves. Might be why I don't get invited to many weddings anymore.
Dontre Wilson: Maybe this a little bit unfair. After all, Dontre Wilson wasn't the highest ranked prospect in Ohio State's super 2013 class (that would be Vonn Bell). He hasn't been the most productive either (that would be either Joey Bosa or Ezekiel Elliott), but her certainly hasn't been the biggest bust (Mike Mitchell transferred, and plenty others have yet to perform). Wilson certainly isn't bad, but might be the most maligned of the big names of this group, and now he hasn't helped himself.
Wilson's speed and big play ability is undeniable, even if he hasn't quite broken that signature highlight yet, but durability and consistency has been a concern. Now, thanks to a one game suspension when the team could really use him, it is less clear where he fits in this offense. If he's an H-Back, he's fighting for snaps with Braxton, Curtis Samuel, Jalin Marshall and more. If he's a pure wideout, that list is even longer. He's not returning punts. He might not even be 100%. Wilson has time to reach the promise he's flashed, but maybe not much. Seems like there are others who are a more sure bet.
Rutgers not doing Rutgers things: If you believe in demographic inevitability, the prospect of Rutgers eventually becoming a strong college football program seems logical, but the counterpoint has always been, "yeah, but they're Rutgers." And now, right before the season starts, this administration is doing Rutgers things again.
We covered the basics of the investigation surrounding Kyle Flood and his potential emails to instructors. That's a violation, but in the grand scheme of things, not a very serious one, and one that should be pretty easy to investigate. Instead of getting this wrapped up quickly though, Rutgers isn't answering questions, letting their faculty union show their displeasure, and generally letting a one day story become a multi-day story.
Seems like there's a real chance the administration at Rutgers is trying to undermine Kyle Flood this season. Failing that, they're screwing up on accident, which might be worse. No matter how many advantages you have, poor leadership will throw it all away.
Most children's books: My daughter just turned one, and I'm trying to be a responsible parent by exposing her to books. This has proven difficult, because books for little kids are the worst. They're insipid, they're mostly a bunch of disassociated words (basically, the equivalent of that 501 Spanish Verbs textbook you bought in college but never read, but with pictures of babies) and they're so dumb that I manage to get bored of them before she does, which is remarkable. She's starting to suspect that my reading of "Oh Me Oh My Oh Dinosaurs!" might not be 100% by the book either. Ugh, if only establishing literacy wasn't the foundational skill for like, everything. This crap is boring.
I think we can all agree that basically the only good children's book was written by Strong Bad.
Thursday night football schedule: BUY. UNC/South Carolina should be a fun game that we'll all overreact to, Utah/Michigan will be an ugly brawl, but in a fun way, and TCU/Minnesota pits a national title contender on the road against a team with a great secondary. I mean, we would have all binge watched Alcorn State or whatever if that's all that was on, but there's real football there. Nice.
The Big Ten is BACK headlines after week one: SELL. There are a few fun games in week one, with Michigan/Utah, Nebraska/BYU, Ohio State/Virginia Tech and Wisconsin/Alabama, but unless Wisconsin or Northwestern (who hosts Stanford) are able to spring upsets, I'm not sure the public perception of the league changes that much even if everybody else wins, which is by no means a lock, since the state of Utah could totally win both Big Ten games. Plus, Purdue is probably going to lose at Marshall, and Iowa could do something stupid like lose against Illinois State. if you want redemption, wait until after Week 2.
Illinois football in general: SELL. Only the most bullish investor would've been feeling a Tim Beckman led Illini side with little to feel optimistic about. Now? Only a sadist could like the short term prospects. Until we know the next head guy there, it's difficult to imagine the future won't be more of the same.