I don't know about you guys, but there’s just a different feeling in the air the week after an Ohio State win. There isn’t all that much going right in the world as we speak, but the return of the Buckeyes has brought at least some semblance of normalcy to a crazy period of time.
If there were any questions as to just how excited Buckeye Nation is to have football back, the TV ratings from this past weekend give a pretty clear-cut answer. With nearly 6.2 million viewers, the Ohio State-Nebraska game was the second most-watched college football game on any network this season, trailing only the Alabama-Georgia game.
The results are in... ️— FOX Sports PR (@FOXSportsPR) October 27, 2020
The BIG NOON SATURDAY showdown between Ohio State and Nebraska is this season's most-watched college football game on FOX and second most-watched on ANY network. pic.twitter.com/hLPzEvRryb
We will likely see an even larger number this weekend, as despite the Nittany Lions’ stumble in their season opener against Indiana, the Ohio State-Penn State Halloween showdown still has massive implications for the rest of the Big Ten season.
Speaking of that matchup, let’s get to today’s headlines.
From around Land-Grant Holy Land...
Looking back at five key factors in Ohio State’s win over Nebraska
(Matt Tamanini, LGHL)
Before the game on Saturday, Matt highlighted five things he would be looking for in Ohio State’s season opener. With the game now in the rearview, he looks back at those factors and how they played out.
Basketball Buckeyes host virtual visit with 2022 PG
(Dan Hessler, LGHL)
The Ohio State football team has taken over 99.9% of the headlines these past few weeks — understandably so — but that doesn’t mean Chris Holtmann isn’t still putting in work.
Podcast: Talking Ohio State-Nebraska analytics with College Football Nerds
(Matt Tamanini, LGHL)
On the latest episode of In Conversation, Matt sits down with Josh from College Football Nerds to dive into Ohio State’s performance on Saturday, as well as preview the upcoming battle with Penn State.
Buckeye Clips: NFL Week 7 highlights
(Gene Ross, LGHL)
It was a great weekend for the Buckeye alum showcasing their talents in the NFL, as Terry McLaurin showed up an opposing DB and Denzel Ward created new ways to be awesome.
Firsthand Look: Black Shoe Diaries previews Penn State
(Tia Johnston, LGHL)
We will have more coming in terms of collabs with SB Nation’s Penn State blog Black Shoe Diaries later this week, but for now we take a look back at their preseason preview of the Nittany Lions — although some things have already changed since then.
From around the gridiron...
Ryan Day kicked off Penn State week with a press conference on Tuesday, wherein he talked about some key aspects of the Nebraska game as well as looking ahead to Saturday night’s primetime contest.
Of course one of the main storylines from game one was the return of Haskell Garrett, who returned just two months after being shot in the face. Day had lots of praise for Garrett, who recorded a sack in the 52-17 blowout.
Ryan Day begins by discussing DT Haskell Garrett. He said everyone at #OhioState deserves credit for Garrett getting back on the field. He said the surgeon did well, the #Buckeyes’ medical team got him ready without much contact and Garrett himself.— Bucknuts (@Bucknuts247) October 27, 2020
He was asked a bit about the run game, both in terms of the two-back system as well as his feelings on Justin Fields carrying the ball as much as he did. Day admitted he wants to see more out of the running game moving forward, but isn’t overly concerned about it, and isn’t worried about them not being able to get into a rhythm as a result of the rotation.
Day said he doesn’t really think rhythm comes into play with running backs. He said keeping the running backs fresh is good and it’s important for the players to see holes and run with pads down.— Patrick Murphy (@_Pat_Murphy) October 27, 2020
In terms of Fields, he says you will live with taking a few sacks as he tries to extend plays, because a lot of the times his scrambling allows you to pick up yards you wouldn’t have gotten otherwise if he just threw the ball away.
Day said there’s a give and take with Justin Fields picking up yards on scrambles and throwing the ball away instead of taking a sack. He points out that if Fields throws away one play in the first half, he doesn’t get his rushing touchdown.— Patrick Murphy (@_Pat_Murphy) October 27, 2020
Speaking about Chris Olave, who left Saturday’s game with an injury, Day was not clear about the status of the talented wide receiver, saying they will “see how it goes as the week goes along.”
Ryan Day said “we'll see how it goes as the week goes along” regarding Chris Olave's status after he left last week's game. If he can't play, the Buckeyes will “move things around as we always do.”— Dan Hope (@Dan_Hope) October 27, 2020
Moving forward to Penn State, Day says good teams show big improvements from Week 1 to Week 2, so this weekend will be a real test for the Buckeyes. Despite their loss to Indiana, Day thinks very highly of the Nittany Lions, saying that they looked excellent and that the final score did not really tell the story of the game.
Ryan Day expects Penn State will have an edge this week after losing in overtime at Indiana on Saturday. “When you lose a game like that, everyone is a little more hungry.”— Joey Kaufman (@joeyrkaufman) October 27, 2020
Finally, Day is not yet ready to choose a winner in the battle for the backup QB job, and that Jack Miller’s appearance as the first man off the bench is not an indication he is ahead in that area.
Ryan Day said Ohio State’s backup quarterback competition remains an “ongoing deal.” Freshman Jack Miller replaced Justin Fields late in the fourth quarter against Nebraska.— Joey Kaufman (@joeyrkaufman) October 27, 2020
Haskell Garrett was up next to the podium, and he talked about the great help he got from the Ohio State Wexner Medical Center as well as Ohio State’s training staff in the aftermath of the shooting. He did not want to go back and detail any of the events that went on that night, and instead just wants to focus on football.
Garrett has undergone multiple surgeries in the road to recovery, including a bone graft in his mouth. He is missing five teeth from the incident, and he has been mostly on a liquid diet as a result.
Haskell Garrett says he was back meeting with Larry Johnson on the Friday after getting shot. The incident happened early on Sunday morning, so it took less than a week before he was back to meeting with his position coach.— Colin Hass-Hill (@chasshill) October 27, 2020
Garrett was incredibly happy to get back on the field and contribute the way he did. He lauded the work of the defensive tackle group as a whole, and said he has been able to lean on his teammates a lot throughout this process.
Haskell Garrett on his place in Ohio State's defensive tackle rotation: “It's not about really, to me, who starts. It's all about contributing and what you can bring to the table.”— Dan Hope (@Dan_Hope) October 27, 2020
Josh Myers was up next, and he admitted there are things that need to be fixed along the offensive line after their first performance. He isn’t worried about anything, however, as he says any issues they had in that game are fixable.
Josh Myers said there were things that Ohio State's offensive line was not happy with regarding how it played in the season opener against Nebraska. Said the first game felt weird because it had been so long since the Buckeyes played, but he's confident they'll improve this week.— Dan Hope (@Dan_Hope) October 27, 2020
Myers had lots of praise for Wyatt Davis and Harry Miller, and also firmly believes in Ohio State’s running back room. He said Nicholas Petit-Frere did very well in his first start as well. Myers was also very impressed with Garrett’s return to practice right from the initial play.
Myers said the first day @HASKELL_808 Garrett returned to practice, on first play, an outside zone, "He ame off the rock so hardn... I don't what he did at home in quarantine, but the way he came off the ball was so different" in terms of velocity.— Tim May (@TIM_MAYsports) October 27, 2020
Myers said he was “terrified” when he woke up in late August and saw the news about Haskell Garrett getting shot. He called him playing Saturday a miracle.— Bucknuts (@Bucknuts247) October 27, 2020
Garrett Wilson was the last person to speak on Tuesday, and he began by talking about how the extended offseason allowed he and Justin Fields to get really comfortable together. While Day wasn’t very upfront about Olave’s injury, the sophomore wide receiver feels “super confident” that his running mate will play against Penn State.
Wilson likes his new role in the slot, but is comfortable bouncing back and forth as well. He says his previous experience playing basketball has made him a better receiver.
Garrett Wilson said basketball is still his favorite sport, and if he was taller, he'd probably still be playing basketball. That said, he credits his basketball background with helping him develop his skills as a receiver.— Dan Hope (@Dan_Hope) October 27, 2020
From around the Big Ten
Usually the last segment of Buckeye Bits is a mixed bag of miscellaneous news stories, but there are a lot of big topics to discuss from around the rest of the conference today.
For starters, things are not looking so great in Wisconsin. Quarterback Graham Mertz has officially tested positive for COVID-19, and will have to sit out for the next 21 days as per Big Ten protocols. Mertz was filling in for the injured Jack Coan, and looked awesome in his debut. Mertz’s backup, Chase Wolf, also reportedly tested positive for COVID-19, but is still awaiting confirmation.
Wisconsin qb Graham Mertz has tested positive for COVID a second time (backing up the first positive) and will enter the Big Ten's 21-day protocol, a source told CBS Sports. https://t.co/pLIYcHiqde— Dennis Dodd (@dennisdoddcbs) October 27, 2020
More bad news for another Big Ten program, Penn State will be without running back Noah Cain for the remainder of the season after suffering an injury against Indiana. Cain was already starting in place of Journey Brown, who is out with a medical condition.
BREAKING: #PennState running back Noah Cain is out for the season. The Nittany Lions lose their second running back of the year just prior to facing #OhioState on Saturday night (FREE)https://t.co/UH6aQHWbjU pic.twitter.com/CbegvVWoxg— Bucknuts (@Bucknuts247) October 27, 2020
From everywhere else...
Florida continues to struggle with COVID-19 — both the state and the football program.
Breaking: Florida's football program has six new positive COVID tests in the past week, bringing the team's total for the month to 37.— ESPN College Football (@ESPNCFB) October 27, 2020
The No. 10 Gators returned to practice and meetings starting Monday following a two-week hiatus because of a coronavirus outbreak. pic.twitter.com/HGkP6DHtd9
The Michigan fan who threatened Ohio State players in coaches back in 2018 has been sentenced to jail time. Good riddance.