We are now less than a month away from Ohio State’s opening kickoff, and the excitement is really starting to build. For too long we were all relegated to nothing but rampant speculation about when the Buckeyes would play their next game while we watched other teams around the country take the field. Now with a clear path forward, instead each passing weekend is a reminder that Ohio State football is just around the corner.
Raise both hands if you’re ready for football season pic.twitter.com/fMeOx9a6XN— Ohio State Football (@OhioStateFB) September 25, 2020
Things are beginning to feel a lot more normal in the college football world, especially with the SEC kicking off their schedule this weekend. Obviously, things are not actually normal, as we continue to see cancellations and postponements of games each week, but it is something we are going to have to get used to as we try to push through a season during a pandemic. Hopefully a combination of the daily rapid testing and added time to learn from other peoples’ mistakes will provide smoother sailing for when the Big Ten season rolls around.
Speaking of the SEC, it’s time to get to this weekend’s slate. In last Friday’s Buckeye Bits, I started a new weekly tradition of giving you guys some of my favorite picks in the CFB schedule that week, and we went a positive 3-2. Pitt really let us down, and I really shouldn’t have doubted D’Eriq King. We’ll try to do even better this time around.
Here are some of my favorite picks for this weekend (9/26):
- No. 13 UCF (-27) at East Carolina
- No. 23 Kentucky (+7.5) at No. 8 Auburn (I also like the under at 49.5)
- No. 2 Alabama (1H -16) at Missouri
- Baylor (-17.5) vs. Kansas
- No. 12 Miami (-11) vs. Florida State
As always, I'd like to remind you that I am by no means an expert, and if you are betting make sure you do so responsibly. Now, let’s get to today’s headlines...
From around Land-Grant Holy Land...
The SEC is back, plus Army-Cincinnati & FSU-Miami
(Brett Ludwiczak, LGHL)
For a way deeper insight on this weekend’s slate of games, be sure to check out Brett’s Money, Cash and Joes piece from earlier today. He gives his picks for many of the biggest games on the docket for Saturday, and he even happens to have an in-depth look at two of the five matchups from my card — both of which we agree on.
Buckeyes hoping to add four-star OT to 2022 class
(Caleb Houser, LGHL)
There’s always something happening in the recruiting world, and Caleb has all the latest for you. Ohio State is trending towards adding one of their top offensive tackle targets in the 2022 class, plus a running back from Penn State’s own backyard has the Buckeyes with a slight edge over the Nittany Lions in his recruitment.
Ohio State 2020 Virtual Season preview: Week 4 at Iowa
(George Eisner, LGHL)
George has done a really phenomenal job putting together this virtual season when we feared we wouldn’t see the real Ohio State this year, but now that the Big Ten is back we have shortened the schedule so that we finish it off right before the real season kicks off. Come join us on Twitch Saturday afternoon as the Buckeyes look for revenge against Iowa.
Check out what all your favorite writers here at LGHL are up to in this week’s edition of the Group Chat. We talk Fargo season four, Connor’s favorite pieces at LGHL, thoughts on the recruiting dead period, and how all my favorite sports teams stink besides Ohio State.
From around the gridiron...
On Friday we got to hear from Ohio State offensive coordinator and tight ends coach Kevin Wilson, as well as a handful of the Buckeyes’ tight ends themselves. Right off the bat, Wilson was quick to laud the work of Justin Fields this offseason. He says the second-year QB has put in a ton of work to prepare for this year, and that he has grown immensely as a leader.
Wilson said the #Buckeyes have worked with Justin Field on being able to recognize where routes need to break off or changing protection. Overall a control of the offseason. Wilson said it’s been a great offseason for Fields.— Bucknuts (@Bucknuts247) September 25, 2020
In terms of the running back room, it appears Master Teague is recovering well from his achilles injury, and is in line to split carries with Trey Sermon to begin the year. Both players are coming off significant injuries, and so it makes sense to play it safe — especially since each guy brings their own unique skillset to the table. It is worth noting that these plans can change, however, as the team has yet to put on the pads in practice.
Kevin Wilson says Master Teague is "doing everything and looks good" after his Achilles injury. Marcus Crowley isn't at full speed yet after his ACL injury.— Colin Hass-Hill (@chasshill) September 25, 2020
Wilson said he believes it will be a 50/50 start between Master Teague and Trey Sermon, who have received the most snaps with the 1s. Teague is recovering well and Sermon looks good but Wilson hasn’t seen him with pads on yet.— Bucknuts (@Bucknuts247) September 25, 2020
Also as a fun tidbit of information, Justin Fields has gone vegan.
Wilson also lauded the overall depth Ohio State has on offense. He says the Buckeyes’ tight ends are very undervalued, but it is tough to play any two tight end sets as that forces one of the very talented wide receivers off the field. All in all, he says the staff cannot afford to overthink and overcomplicate things. They have to let their players make plays.
Kevin Wilson said Ohio State's coaches need to be careful not to overthink their offensive game planning with how much talent they have to work with. Want to keep it simple so those talented players can “cut it loose.”— Dan Hope (@Dan_Hope) September 25, 2020
Luke Farrell spoke next, and he talked about the frustrating offseason the team has gone through. He said guys were able to lean on one another for support until they finally got their season back.
Tight end Luke Farrell now follows Kevin Wilson. He said the offseason was frustrating and the ups and downs were frustrating.— Bucknuts (@Bucknuts247) September 25, 2020
Jake Hausmann was up next, and like Farrell before him, lauded Fields’ leadership.
Hausmann said Justin Fields has helped the tight ends a lot with routes this offseason. He said he gives them coaching points on angels and when to break routes off. “In the last six months, he’s been a real vocal leader."— Bucknuts (@Bucknuts247) September 25, 2020
Hausmann also said this year’s offense has a chance to be the best he’s seen in his five years with the program — which is saying a lot if you look at what Ohio State has done on offense these past few seasons.
Will this be the best offense Ohio State has had since Jake Hausmann, a fifth-year senior, has been here? “It has the potential to be.”— Dan Hope (@Dan_Hope) September 25, 2020
Jeremy Ruckert was the last player to speak on Friday, and he echoed Farrell’s thoughts about how tough the offseason was for everyone when the Big Ten originally cancelled its season. He also set some pretty clear goals for himself and the team.
Jeremy Ruckert is the final tight end meeting with the media today.— Dan Hope (@Dan_Hope) September 25, 2020
His biggest goals going into the season: “Win a national championship, and beat Nebraska right now.”
Personally, Ruckert said he has gotten stronger physically, and he hopes that will show up in his blocking. pic.twitter.com/kfZYfEvRB5
Moving from current Buckeyes to former Buckeyes, Jordan Fuller continues to receive high praise from pretty much everywhere. Jalen Ramsey — ever heard of him? — discussed how impressed he was of Fuller’s professionalism and his ambition right from the jump. The All-Pro corner also said Fuller is a way better player than his draft position would indicate.
On rookie safety Jordan Fuller, Jalen Ramsey says, "I was very impressed with him from the jump...really, just how professional he is, how he goes about his business and has the ambition to be the best at what he does...He's just way better than, what, a sixth-round pick?"— Jourdan Rodrigue (@JourdanRodrigue) September 25, 2020
This is your daily reminder that Chase Young is good at football.
Chase Young grades/rank among defensive rookies:— PFF (@PFF) September 25, 2020
81.1 PFF Grade (1st)
8 pressures generated (1st)pic.twitter.com/w1ndPvwCic
From everywhere else...
I am a huge fan of Bill’s work, but I have to side with GQ on this one. Bagels are made for butter or cream cheese and that is it. They are not sandwich bread. I don't even like egg sandwiches on bagels — they are far better on a roll. I may be biased as I come from the land of top-tier bagels out here on Long Island, but I stand firm in this take.
I hope you all are ready, my fellow degenerate fans, for the return of #Pac12AfterDark
It appears ESPN announcer and Ohio State alum Kirk Herbstreit has come in contact with COVID recently, and while he has since tested negative, he will still be doing the broadcast of the FSU-Miami game from home to be safe.
Hey guys-wanted to update you on this weekend. I came in contact with the virus this week while in Nashville, so because of that, I’ll be on @CollegeGameDay and calling FSU-Miami from home. Tested negative, trying to be as safe as possible. See you tomorrow-let’s enjoy some CFB! pic.twitter.com/bXuhpwjaMj— Kirk Herbstreit (@KirkHerbstreit) September 25, 2020
Wait, we’re hyping up Michigan in the preseason again? Big Ten football is officially BACK!
Cam McGrone is 'scared for everybody else' in Michigan's pathhttps://t.co/sJw6jZU0Ip— 97.1 The Ticket: (@971theticketxyt) September 25, 2020
Have a great weekend, everybody! Just 29 days until Ohio State football.