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Ohio State freshman Dawand Jones is earning playing time, avoiding redshirt

Braxton Miller has found a new home in the NFL.

NCAA Football: Ohio State at Northwestern David Banks-USA TODAY Sports

“Watching Jones collapse one side of the Northwestern defensive line on Friday night late in the dominant win or seeing how much attention he commanded early in the season to help free up Chase Young to block a kick, it’s becoming clear that Jones already can chip in meaningful reps even if he’s still a bit raw when it comes to playing his natural position at offensive tackle.”

-Austin Ward, Letterman Row

So far, the Buckeyes have not been shy about getting their true freshman in. Six freshman have already lost their redshirt status, Garrett Wilson, Jameson Williams, Zach Harrison, Harry Miller, Craig Young and Marcus Crowley. Even the ones that were deemed long term projects are getting into games, and none are bigger (in both raw status and sheer size) than offensive tackle Dawand Jones.

The 6-foot-8, 360 pound true freshman has only been playing football for a few years, and definitely has a lot to work on in terms of technique. But size and athleticism can’t be taught and both those things Jones has in spades, so much so that he is forcing his way onto the field.

Jones has played in multiple spots, both as a special teams rusher and at his natural position at tackle, and he’s been a contributor at both spots. He’s been a space eating monster on the kick blocking units, and he created a massive hole for Master Teague’s 73-yard touchdown run against Northwestern on Friday night.

At today’s press conference, head coach Ryan Day said about Jones, “He’ll probably go more than four, just because he is very talented. We want to get him in some of these games when we can. His ceiling is very high. We want his development to continue. I really think it’s important for these guys to play.”

Despite how talented the team is this year, there seems to be no shortage of replacements waiting to take their turn as the next stars of the scarlet and gray. It just speaks to the insane depth and recruiting ability of OSU, and we can always be sure of the future here in Buckeye Land.

“The Scarlet and Gray are once again big favorites at home against the Badgers. Following Wisconsin’s disappointing loss, Ohio State is a 13.5-point favorite against the Badgers at the Horseshoe.”

- Patrick Murphy, 247sports

What should have been a highly anticipated top ten clash has fallen a bit due to the Badgers close loss to Illinois, and they have since dropped to 13. But Ryan Day has been very cautious about the Badgers, and isn’t letting the loss affect preparation. He still considers them a great team, filled with NFL guys on both sides, and says it will be their biggest challenge.

Fans of the Ohio State Buckeyes are no stranger to fluke losses covering up a great team. Purdue last year, Iowa the year before, Michigan State beating what could have been an all-time great team in 2015. So let’s not overlook what is still a very strong team in Wisconsin despite their shocking loss to Illinois. It can be easy to dismiss them, but Ryan Day isn’t and you shouldn’t either.

Like Day said, the Badgers have multiple NFL caliber players on the team, with running back Jonathan Taylor staking a massive claim as the best back in the country. Even in their loss Taylor had little trouble on the ground, still amassing 138 yards and a score to continue his campaign for a second Doak Walker trophy. The Wisconsin offensive line is still as good as it always is with center Tyler Biadasz a popular mid-season All-American pick, and quarterback Jack Coan finally gives Wisconsin that passing game threat they’ve always been missing.

Defensively the Badgers are also incredibly stout. Despite their loss to Illinois, Wisconsin still ranks number one in total defense (with OSU a close second), giving up only 3.43 yards per play and 193 yards per game. Zack Baun and Chris Orr have a combined 14.5 sacks between just the two of them, and OSU has not been resistant to pressure, giving up two sacks per game, good for 64th in the country.

They are only allowing 7.6 points per game, but despite that OSU is still favored to win by nearly double that number. OSU has certainly been strong on offense, and are easily the most well-rounded team in the NCAA. After passing the Michigan State defensive test with flying colors, they will be challenged again by another top defense.

Day mentioned in his press conference that you can compare the mutual opponents for OSU and Wisconsin to see how strong they are. The only two mutual opponents so far have been Michigan State and Northwestern. OSU beat Northwestern 52-3, while Wisconsin only won 24-15. But the Michigan State game tells a different story, with OSU winning in comfortable fashion 34-10, but Wisconsin dominated the Spartans, shutting them out 38-0.

Overall, we can’t let Wisconsin’s loss, or a big Vegas number, detract from what is a strong team. OSU will be the favorites no doubt coming into Saturdays game, but football isn’t played on paper. If it was, Wisconsin wouldn’t have lost to Illinois. Day knows this, and he preaches focus day-to-day and week-to-week.

Day said in his press conference “We’ve said all along is all we’re going to do is focus on this week, being 1-0. I know it sounds cliche, but it’s real. We have to stay locked in on this, can’t worry about what this game means or doesn’t mean,” and most importantly he has the whole team buying in.

Former OSU quarterback Braxton Miller gets another shot to continue his NFL career as he lands on the Panthers practice squad. Of course, he’s a wide receiver now, but everyone in the Buckeye Nation knows how electric this guy can be no matter where he lines up. He amassed 5,295 yards passing, 3,314 yards rushing and 341 yards receiving in his career at OSU, to go along with 88 total touchdowns.

He was drafted in 2016 by the Texans and only played spot duty there for two years before being waived in 2018. He then bounced around to the Eagles and then the Browns, who cut him on August 31st.

Braxton will get to join former teammate Curtis Samuel, another guy converted into a wide receiver, and hopefully they can take the field together soon. Maybe just not the way they used to. Braxton currently has 34 receptions for 261 yards and two touchdowns in his career.

Quick Hits

  • Justin Fields moves into fourth in the Heisman race according to the odds by FanDuel Sportsbook. He’s +1000, and fellow teammate J.K. Dobbins is eighth at +8500.

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