Friday, November 20, 2009

MICHIGAN WEEK: 'THE GAME'

ANN ARBOR, Mich. — With a Rose Bowl berth and at least a share of their fifth straight Big Ten title already in the books, Saturday's game at Michigan really doesn't mean too much to the tenth-ranked Ohio State Buckeyes.

Oh, wait ... yes it does.

"This game embodies everything about Ohio State," Buckeyes senior safety Kurt Coleman said. "It's about tradition. We prepare for this game the whole year. It's the cap to each season."

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Thursday, November 19, 2009

STEFANIE SPIELMAN LOSES HER LONG AND TRYING FIGHT WITH CANCER

Photo of Chris and Stefanie Spielman by the Associated Press

Stefanie Spielman, the wife of former Ohio State football great, Chris Spielman, passed away Thursday evening at her home in Upper Arlington, after a long and trying fight with cancer.

Spielman, 42, who battled the disease off-and-on for more than a decade, was a very well-known advocate for breast cancer awareness and research, not only in Ohio, but all across the country.

The Stefanie Spielman Fund for Cancer Research, which she and her husband established in 1998, has raised millions of dollars for breast-cancer research, awareness measures and assistance for patients at the Ohio State University's James Cancer Hospital and Solove Research Institute.

Stefanie, who married Chris in 1989, is also survived by her four children: Madison, 15, Noah, 13, Macy, 8, and Audrey, 7.

God bless Stefanie, her family and all her loved ones, as well as those who have lost or are still fighting with this horrible illness.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

MICHIGAN WEEK: RODRIGUEZ HAS A WHOLE LOT ON HIS PLATE

Photo of Rich Rodriguez by the Associated Press

ANN ARBOR, Mich. — It hasn't been the magical ride Rich Rodriguez had envisioned when he accepted the head coaching job of the Michigan football team prior to the 2008 season.

Boy, oh boy, not at all!

Not only has Rodriguez had problems winning football games on the field — at the winningest program in history, we might add — but off the field, he and his program have been investigated more times than Halliburton.

Whether it's an alleged recruiting violation, conducting illegal practices (allegedly), not turning in time logs or even destroying important documents (allegedly) at West Virginia — his former gig — controversy seems to follow Rodriguez around like that dust cloud hovering over the head of the character Pig Pen, in the famous comic strip, Peanuts.

"I don't know how anybody could envision this much stuff," Rodriguez told the Detroit Free Press on Monday. "A lot of it did catch me off-guard. That's not something you see in a manual."

What we do see in the manual — or better yet, the media guide — is Rodriguez's eight wins in two seasons as head coach of Michigan, with just three victories coming against Big Ten foes.

Oh, did we mention that Michigan is the winningest program in history?

It seems that Rodriguez is out of place in Ann Arbor. We're talking about a football program that's been historically more prim and proper than The Brady Bunch. Heck, their most famous player is actually named Brady, for crying out loud!

Rodriguez, on the other hand, isn't as clean and wholesome. Shoot, the mayor of Grant Town, West Virginia — Rodriguez's hometown — ordered that the two signs that read "Home of Rich Rodriguez" be taken down permanently. Ouch!

Of course, Rodriguez still feels his way is the right way.

"We can see the light at the end of the tunnel," Rodriguez said. "Sometimes it's hard when you're losing to see that, but we can see it."

That light at the end of the tunnel could be an on-coming train, though.

There's no secret that many Michigan alumni and fans didn't want Rodriguez in the first place. Many wanted a "Michigan Man" to replace former head coach Lloyd Carr.

Sooooo ... it doesn't help matters much for Rodriguez that the top coaching prospect in the country is ... well ... a "Michigan Man."

Stanford head coach, Jim Harbaugh — a former Michigan quarterback — is the hottest name in the college coaching circle at the moment, and naturally, Ann Arbor is being labeled as the perfect landing spot for the former Wolverines standout come season's end.

Harbaugh, in just three seasons in Palo Alto, has successfully transformed Stanford from PAC 10 cellar dwellers to Rose Bowl contenders.

Oh, did we mention Stanford is NOT the winningest football program in history?

With all of these allegations, losing seasons, Harbaugh's name being thrown around, not to mention having to face arch-rival and Big Ten champion Ohio State this Saturday at Michigan Stadium — how in the world is Rodriguez dealing with all of this mess?

"You just have to deal with it when it comes," Rodriguez told the Free Press. "You just have to trust your judgment and hope that eventually everybody will see that the right path is going on."

The truth is, if Rodriguez doesn't beat the Buckeyes this weekend and get his Wolverines bowl eligible, that "right path" the coach is referring to will surely be heading "right" out of Ann Arbor.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

MICHIGAN WEEK: FORMER WOLVERINE JUSTIN BOREN'S NEW IDENTITY

Justin Boren photo by Darla Dunkle-Hudnell

COLUMBUS — When Michigan hired Rich Rodriguez as their new head coach prior to the 2008 season, the good ole boy from West Virginia and his staff thrust themselves into the program like gang busters.

Rodriguez transformed the pound it out, conservative style of previous coach Lloyd Carr, to a fastbreak, zone-read approach that made the new Michigan mentor a star at West Virginia. His attitude was more flamboyant, he was more fiery than the previous regime.

Rodriguez completely changed the culture of Michigan football.

Apparently, it was a culture that Michigan starting offensive guard, Justin Boren, wasn't comfortable getting behind. So ... he got out.

Boren stated then that the "family values have eroded" within the program at Michigan and announced that not only would he be leaving Ann Arbor, but he would be playing for the Wolverines arch-rival, Ohio State.

Ever since the Pickerington, Ohio product left Michigan, the Wolverines have fell off the map as one of the elite programs in the nation. Michigan is 8-15 since Rodriguez took over last season, and the culture that he has brought to Ann Arbor has been under scrutiny from the national media, as well the UM alumni groups. The Wolverines have also found themselves under fire for everything from alleged recruiting violations to illegal practice procedures.

It's pretty safe to say, the Michigan program has "eroded" since Rodriguez has taken over.

Back to Boren.

Due to the NCAA transfer rules, Boren had to sit out the entire 2008 season. So he was unable to take out his frustrations right away on his former team. His new comrades had his back, though, dominating the Wolverines, 42-7, last season at Ohio Stadium.

This Saturday in Ann Arbor, Boren gets his much-awaited turn.

"It's a big week for him," OSU offensive guard Bryant Browning said of Boren. "I know he's going to give it his best shot and fight for a win. He's a hard worker and he'll do his best to help the team."

Some may think that Boren's head might not be completely into the game because of his past with the new regime in Michigan.

OSU head coach, Jim Tressel, isn't worried at all about where Boren's focus will be on Saturday.

"Justin's the kind of guy that focuses on what he has to do," Tressel said. "I'm sure he'll be excited. I'm sure it will be difficult in some ways because he has great feelings for both teams that are going to be on the field and a lot of great memories up in the Big House."

On the other side of the field, those "great feelings" are not going to be shared.

"He's just somebody that shouldn't have been here in the first place," Michigan senior Brandon Graham said of Boren. "He just didn't feel like he needed to be here any more.

"He could've gone anywhere else, but he went to Ohio State. That's just a slap in our face."

According to OSU offensive tackle, Jim Cordle, Graham's assessment of Boren is correct — he should have never been at Michigan to begin with.

"His dad tried hard to get him to go (to Michigan)," Cordle said of Boren. "And now his dad hates everything about Michigan. (Justin) wanted to come here and eventually he did."

Boren's father — which Cordle is referring to — is Mike Boren, a former Michigan football player who played in the early 1980's under legendary coach, Bo Schembechler.

It's clear how Boren's teammates — both former and current — think of this Saturday's tilt.

But, what does Justin himself think about his reunion at the Big House?

"It's the biggest rivalry in college football," Boren said. "I'm going to be able to live both sides of it. It's going to be interesting, but I'm looking forward to it.

"It's going to be a good time."

But for whom? We'll see on Saturday!

Monday, November 16, 2009

MICHIGAN WEEK: OSU'S NEW LOOK

COLUMBUS — As many already know, the Ohio State football team will be sporting new threads — for a one-time basis — this Saturday during their regular season finale against arch-rival, Michigan, in Ann Arbor.

The new uniforms, which are being worn by the Buckeyes as a tribute to their 1954 national championship team, have become available for the viewing public and the fan reactions have been a little mixed.

Some wonder why Ohio State would buck their traditional uniforms in what is looked at as the most traditional of tilts — the Michigan game.

Sure, the alleged "throwback" look does have the old white helmets, with the numbers on the side, much like the ones the undefeated '54 team sported in their Rose Bowl win over Southern California. And sure, they do have the gray pants with the red stripes, just like the ones Howard "Hopalong" Cassady ran up and down the field in during that magical season 55 years ago.

But, what has those OSU traditionalists up in arms is that new-age Nike look to the jerseys. Let's face it, they do appear to be very Oregon-esque, don't they? No surprise, though, being that's where the Nike headquarters is located.

So, who — at Ohio State — picked the look of the new gear?

"I was out-of-town," Ohio State head coach Jim Tressel said. "I don't know if I was in Iraq (visiting the troops) or where I was, but I guess (Nike) gave us a bunch of different examples and so forth and we had a couple players and a couple coaches and administrators and whatnot, and we got to choose which way we would go."

Tressel did state that he is a little of a traditionalist himself, but admits he's trying to evolve.

"I'm a little old school, but even I'm trying to mature a little bit and embrace things like that," Tressel said. "But to me, it's an awesome responsibility to play in the Ohio State-Michigan and it adds a little more when all of a sudden you're wearing what the people did that were extraordinary (in 1954). So, it will be exciting."

Does the coach like the new uniforms?

"Yeah." Tressel said.

Now that's a raving endorsement!

Tressel did joke that there may be a throwback outfit for himself — not his "traditional" vest.

"I might be wearing one of those trench coats and a little Paul Brown hat," Tressel laughed. "Not sure. Throwback sweater vest, I don't know, with the buttons in the front ... whatever they give me, I wear."

The Buckeyes and Wolverines will square off this Saturday (12 p.m.) at Michigan Stadium.

OSU WEEKLY AWARD WINNERS

Photo of Ross Homan by Darla Dunkle-Hudnell

COLUMBUS — Tailbacks Dan "Boom" Herron and Brandon Saine were named the "Offensive Players of the Week" by the Ohio State football coaching staff, for their solid performances in Saturday's 27-24 victory over Iowa.

Herron and Saine combined for 200 yards and three touchdowns in the win over the Hawkeyes, helping OSU clinch at least a share of their fifth straight Big Ten title and a berth in the Rose Bowl game.

Linebacker Ross Homan was selected as the "Defensive Player of the Week." Homan led the Buckeyes with eight tackles, and also recorded an interception in the win over Iowa.

OSU kicker, Devin Barclay, received the "Special Units Player of the Week" for his game-winning 39-yard field goal in overtime, while senior offensive tackle, Jim Cordle, was named "Lineman of the Week," for his outstanding play up front in the victory.

SCOUT TEAM CHAMPIONS: Chris Malone (offense); Keith Wells (defense); Jordan Whiting (special units).

Sunday, November 15, 2009

BUCKEYES IN THE NEW BCS TOP 10

Ohio State jumped up one spot to No. 10 in the new Bowl Championship Series (BCS) standings, after their 27-24 overtime victory against Iowa in Columbus.

The Buckeyes have already locked up a spot in the Rose Bowl, which will played on January 1 in Pasadena.

To view the complete BCS standing, which were released Sunday, please click the graphic below:

Saturday, November 14, 2009

BUCKEYES SEND SENIORS OFF WITH A TRIP TO PASADENA

Ohio State defensive tackle, Doug Worthington, gives head coach Jim Tressel a giant bear hug prior to Saturday's 27-24 win over No. 10 Iowa in Columbus. Worthington was one of 19 OSU seniors who played in their final game at Ohio Stadium. (Photo by Darla Dunkle-Hudnell)

COLUMBUS — It was the war of the roses.

After trading blows for 60 grueling minutes Saturday evening, in front of 105,455 screaming fanatics at Ohio Stadium, the Big Ten championship and a berth in the Rose Bowl couldn't be decided in just four quarters of play.

So, No. 10 Iowa and No. 11 Ohio State would have to duke it out one more round for the title.

And, it was the Buckeyes' defense which delivered the first staggering shot, as two seniors — Austin Spitler and Doug Worthington — fittingly made back-to-back stops for losses, forcing the Hawkeyes into a fourth and long. Then, another senior — safety Anderson Russell — picked off an Iowa pass in the end zone, preventing the Hawkeyes from scoring on the first series of overtime.

On the ensuing drive of the extra period, it was the least experienced player on the team — yet, the oldest — who delivered the knockout punch.

After the Hawkeyes' defense allowed the Buckeyes just three yards during their overtime series, OSU backup kicker Devin Barclay — a 26 year old junior who had only played in two football games ever in his life prior to Saturday's showdown with Iowa — lined up, and with every eye in the stadium zeroed in on his No. 23 jersey, nailed a 39-yard field goal through the heart of the uprights.

The clutch kick gave the Buckeyes a 27-24 win, at least a share of their fifth straight Big Ten title, and of course a spot in the "Granddaddy of them all" — the Rose Bowl.

Following the victory in the post-game press conference, senior offensive tackle Jim Cordle erupted with joy, began pouring Gatorade on his head, and shouting ... "We did it, baby! We won! These guys up here (the senior captains), we've got five rings now. We did it! We won!"

The senior from Lancaster would eventually come back down to Earth a few moments later to give a more subdued reflection of the big win.

"Man, this was great," Cordle said. "It was obviously an unbelievable game. I'm bruised. I'm battered, but we're victorious, man."

Barclay, a former MLS soccer player who took off running as if he had just kicked a game-winning goal in the World Cup, was walking on water following the win.

"It's unbelievable. I'm pretty speechless," said Barclay, who went from being a bench-warmer two weeks ago, to season-hero Saturday night. "The fourth quarter definitely made it interesting. I'm just glad that we came out and now we're going to the Rose Bowl. I'm pretty excited. It's a really great feeling."

Ohio State head coach, Jim Tressel, said he felt confident that his inexperienced kicker could make the pressure-packed boot.

"We had so much confidence in Devin that we were going backwards to make his kick longer," Tressel laughed. "Unbelievable. But we did have confidence in him. We weren't going to line up kicking on first down because we thought we could move forward. And then, we didn't move real far forward, but we got it centered back up for him and he nailed it through.

"I had confidence that he was going to."

Iowa (9-2, 5-2 Big Ten) stated their case as to why they should've been wearing the Big Ten crown, as the Hawkeyes came back from the dead more times Saturday than Michael Myers.

Trailing by as much as 14 points, with just 11 minutes to play in the fourth quarter, the Hawkeyes used a 99-yard kickoff return by Derrell Johnson-Koulianos to pull the Buckeyes' lead to within seven points.

Following a big defensive stand, the Hawkeyes then marched 70 yards on eight plays to even things up at 24 apiece, when red-shirt freshman quarterback, James Vandenberg, connected with Marvin McNutt in the corner of the end zone.

Vandenberg, who was making the first start of his collegiate career — replacing injured starter Ricky Stanzi — was stellar in the loss, picking apart the Buckeyes' defense for 233 yards on 20-of-33 passing, with two touchdown tosses, both to McNutt.

Iowa head coach, Kirk Ferentz, wasn't surprised that his young quarterback played so well, with so much on the line.

"James played a heck of a game," Ferentz said. "It wasn't unexpected. We know what he is capable of. He was very impressive and has a good handle on our system. The thing is, he couldn't have walked into a tougher environment. Ohio State is a great team and this is a tough place to play.

"But James played with mental and physical toughness."

Spitler, who finished with six tackles — two of which for losses — in his final game at the "Horseshoe," was impressed with the Iowa passer.

"That guy had an arm on him," Spitler said of Vandenberg. "He made us pay for our mistakes. He was unbelievable."

Of course, when it comes to Big Ten football, the team that runs the ball more effectively, usually comes out victorious.

That was the case on Saturday, as the Buckeyes played "Tressel Ball" to near perfection, running the rock 51 times for 229 yards, controlling the time of possession with an average of 4.5 yards per rush.

"Twenty first downs against Iowa? There are not many people that had 20 first downs (against them)," Tressel said. "And, I don't know of anyone that rushed for 229 yards (against Iowa). I thought (offensive coordinator) Jim Bollman and the staff did a great job of having a game plan."

Junior tailback, Brandon Saine, led the Buckeyes rushing attack in the win, running for 103 yards on 11 carries, with two touchdowns, including a 49-yard jaunt in the fourth quarter.

"It was the best game I ever played in," Saine remarked after the game.

Dan "Boom" Herron also had a solid game on the ground for the Buckeyes, rushing for 97 yards on 32 carries and a touchdown in the win.

On the other side of the ball, the Iowa offense — which had its way in the air for much of the game — were never able to successfully mount a rushing attack on the Buckeyes, as they ran for just 67 yards on 24 totes — an average of just 2.8 per carry.

The Buckeyes defense didn't play their best game of the season by any means, but they held strong when it counted.

"We kept on fighting," OSU senior safety Kurt Coleman said. "That's what our team is all about."

The Buckeyes are now just one win away from earning an out-right Big Ten title. To accomplish that feat, Ohio State (9-2, 6-1 Big Ten) will have to knock off arch-rival Michigan in Ann Arbor next Saturday.

"We're not satisfied with a share of the Big Ten title," Coleman said. "We want to win it out-right.

"Michigan week begins now."

OSU TRIBUTE UNIFORMS UNVEILED

COLUMBUS — On November 21 in Ann Arbor, Michigan, the Ohio State football team will pay tribute to their 1954 national championship squad by wearing a special jersey designed by Nike.

Photos of the uniforms have been unveiled by the university and available for viewing on the OSU athletics official website.

For more on the tribute uniforms — including photos — please visit the official OSU football website by clicking here.

Friday, November 13, 2009

PREVIEW: BUCKEYES, HAWKEYES RUNNING FOR THE ROSES

COLUMBUS — Before last weekend, the only passes Iowa red-shirt freshman quarterback, James Vandenberg, had attempted in his collegiate career, were the three he threw in garbage time against Iowa State earlier in the season.

The 6-3, 205-pound backup from Keokuk, Iowa, was designated as clipboard carrier this season, riding the pine behind starter, Ricky Stanzi — the man who was leading the Hawkeyes to an undefeated season and a No. 4 ranking in the BCS standings, prior to last weekend.

However, Vandenberg's role with the Hawkeyes was transformed drastically during last Saturday's game against Northwestern, when Stanzi rolled his ankle in the end zone early in the second quarter, forcing the starter to leave the game with a bad sprain. The devastating injury snatched the clipboard out of Vandenberg's hands, and in turn, placed the Hawkeyes' season hopes on his bright green shoulders.

To read the rest of the story, click here.

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Wednesday, November 11, 2009

OSU RECEIVER DAN POTOKAR NOMINATED FOR COURAGE AWARD

Ohio State senior wide receiver, Dan Potokar, has been nominated for the 2009 FedEx Orange Bowl-FWAA Courage Award.

Potokar, a cancer survivor, is currently helping the OSU coaching staff as a student-assistant.

Below is the complete release about the nomination, issued by the Football Writers Association of America:

DALLAS (FWAA) — Ohio State's Dan Potokar is the weekly nominee for the 2009 FedEx Orange Bowl-FWAA Courage Award, to be announced at the end of the season. Potokar, from Grove City, Ohio, has battled several rounds with cancer and is currently helping the Buckeyes as a student assistant.

Though a walk-on, Potokar had been impressive as a wide receiver during spring practice in 2007 and was part of the Ohio State track team's 400-meter relay team. But in the fall of 2007, he became ill and was diagnosed with testicular cancer that had spread to his lungs and abdomen.


Despite surgery and chemotherapy, the lesions remained on his lungs. Potokar underwent several weeks of intensive treatments in Indianapolis, including two stem-cell transplants. Several months later, five tumors were discovered in Potokar's brain, necessitating full-brain radiation and something similar to laser surgery.


Last winter, tests indicated the cancer was gone.


"I enjoy things even more and appreciate people more," Potokar told the Columbus Dispatch. "That's a major change, just taking everything in. and another thing is I'm much more of an emotional person. When I see things that are sad or extremely happy, I get teary-eyed from time to time. That's a big change. I used to be a hardened football player. Now, I'm expressing emotions."


Potokar has continued to participate in the football program, helping as a student assistant coach, and will be honored with the Buckeyes'

seniors on Saturday. He's on track to earn a business degree and is scheduled to be married next May. Potokar has also reached out to other athletes who have been diagnosed with cancer.


"An amazing guy," said Shelly Poe, Ohio State's director of athletic communications.


For the fourth straight year, the Football Writers Association of America and the FedEx Orange Bowl will announce a weekly nominee each Wednesday during the season. A blue-ribbon panel will determine the winner from all of the nominees. The winner of the FedEx Orange Bowl/FWAA Courage Award will be announced in December and be presented with the trophy.


The Courage Award was created by ESPN The Magazine's senior writer Gene Wojciechowski, also a FWAA member. A select group of writers from the FWAA vote on the winner each year. The requirements for nomination include displaying courage on or off the field, including overcoming an injury or physical handicap, preventing a disaster or living through hardship.


Previous winners of the FWAA's Courage Award are Tulsa's Wilson Holloway (2008), Navy's Zerbin Singleton (2007), Clemson's Ray Ray McElrathbey (2006), the Tulane football team (2005), Memphis' Haracio Colen (2004), San Jose State's Neil Parry (2003) and Toledo's William Bratton (2002).


The Orange Bowl Committee is a not-for-profit, 330-member, primarily-volunteer organization. It is a self-sustaining, independent organization that supports and produces activities and events that enhance the image, economy and culture of South Florida . The Orange Bowl Festival features a year-round schedule of events culminating with the FedEx Orange Bowl on January 5, 2010. In 2013, the OBC will again double-host both the FedEx Orange Bowl and the BCS National Championship. Other OBC core events include the MetroPCS Orange Bowl Basketball Classic, Orange Bowl Youth Football Alliance, Orange Bowl International Tennis Championships and Orange Bowl Sailing Regatta Series. For more information on the 2009-10 Orange Bowl Festival and its events, including promotional and volunteer opportunities through the Ambassador Program, log on to www.orangebowl.org.


The Football Writers Association of America, a non-profit organization founded in 1941, consists of more than 1,100 men and women who cover college football for a living. The membership includes journalists, broadcasters and publicists, as well as key executives in all the areas that involve the game. The FWAA works to govern areas that include gameday operations, major awards and its annual All-America team. For more information about the FWAA and its award programs, contact Steve Richardson at tigerfwaa@aol.com or 972-713-6198.


2009 FedEx Orange Bowl Courage Award Nominees


* Sept. 23: D.J. Williams, Arkansas


* Sept. 30: Mark Herzlich, Boston College


* Oct. 7: Darius Nall, UCF


* Oct. 14: Ricky Rosas, USC


* Oct. 21: Derrick Coleman, UCLA


* Oct. 28: Connecticut Huskies


* Nov. 4: Antoine "Shaky" Smithson, Utah


* Nov. 11: Dan Potokar

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

BUCKEYES' STAR HEYWARD LETS HIS PLAY DO ALL THE TALKING

Photo of Cameron Heyward by Darla Dunkle-Hudnell

COLUMBUS — Cameron Heyward doesn't like to talk much, but his game on the other hand screams out "superstar."

"Yeah, I hate talking," Heyward laughed. "I don't really like answering all these questions,

"I just love playing football."

And the 6-6, 287-pound junior does what he loves, oh, so well.

Heyward has been a force this season for the Buckeyes' defense, recording 36 tackles — with seven and a half for losses — and a team-leading five sacks.

Last Saturday at No. 11 Penn State, Heyward was a beast from the very start, sacking Nittany Lions' quarterback Darryl Clark on PSU's first play of the game. Heyward didn't let up one bit after the big start, eventually finishing the game with a team-high 11 tackles and two sacks, in the Buckeyes' 24-7 victory at Happy Valley.

With a win against No. 10 Iowa this Saturday in Columbus, Heyward's Buckeyes will be heading to the Rose Bowl for the first time under Ohio State head coach, Jim Tressel.

Of course, Heyward doesn't want to "talk" about the Buckeyes' pending trip to Pasadena.

"Not at all," Heyward said, before breaking into a huge smile. "If we focus on the Rose Bowl, Iowa is going to come in here and beat us up."

All he would say about the Rose Bowl is that the Buckeyes would be taking it "one game at a time." In fact, he said it at least two dozen times on Tuesday afternoon.

What Heyward did talk about, though, was his girlfriend, his future in football, and his first love — basketball.

Before wreaking havok on Big Ten quarterbacks, Heyward — son of the late NFL first round running back, Craig "Ironhead" Heyward — dreamed of hooping it up for Mike Krzyzewski and the Duke Blue Devils. He, along with OSU quarterback, Terrelle Pryor — who dreamt of playing at Duke's arch-rival North Carolina — still reminisce about what could have been on the hardwood.

"Me and Terrelle always talk about that a bunch — why we didn't play basketball," Heyward said. "But, I think we're enjoying football too much. I thought I was going to go to Duke. So, me and Terrelle would've been playing against each other.

"I think I benefitted a lot from basketball," Heyward continued. "It helped me out a lot in football, just staying athletic. I used to be a high-flyer back in my day. I don't know if I can still do that anymore."

What he can still do, though, is play football. So well in fact, that his NFL draft stock is soaring right now.

Asked if he has noticed any NFL scouts at Ohio State's practice facility this season, Heyward quickly joked ... "No, Coach (Jim) Heacock is too busy yelling at me."

"No, I remember during my freshman year, scouts would be in here watching James (Laurinaitis) and Malcolm (Jenkins)," Heyward continued. "I got to observe what they did to get to that position. Hopefully one day I can be in that position, as well."

However, Heyward hinted that that day will not come at the end of the 2009 season.

Tressel — who Heyward said his mother "fell in love with" when the Buckeyes coach was recruited him out of high school in 2006 — stated that his junior defensive lineman is a one of those "special" players.

"Cam loves to prepare," Tressel said. "Cam's over there in the building all the time. It seems you can't walk by the locker room or one of the film rooms and not see Cam sitting there with a bag of groceries watching film.

"He's very talented. The more he has learned about the game, obviously the more effective he is. He's going to be a very, very good player. He's a special one."

Heyward said he does, in fact, spend a lot of time studying film and preparing at the Woody Hayes Athletic Center. So much so, that his girlfriend — Ohio State junior volleyball player, Allie Schwarzwalder — gives him a hard time about it.

"We're both in-season right now, we try to attend each other's games a lot," Heyward said. "But, she gets mad at me sometimes because I sneak into 'the Woody' for a little extra film and she's like 'where are you going? It's so late.' But, she knows my schedule and I know hers and we both benefit from it."

Whether it's pummeling opposing quarterbacks, studying film or keeping his girlfriend happy, Heyward doesn't seem to have any problems in his life at the current time.

Well, except ... "I'm having trouble in public speaking right now," Heyward laughed, as he was surrounded by a mass of reporters Tuesday at the Jack Nicklaus Museum in Columbus.

However, contrary to his analysis, Heyward is quite an excellent speaker, with a beaming personality, who seems like a real pleasure to be around.

Well ... if you're not an opposing quarterback, that is.

Monday, November 9, 2009

NOON KICKOFF FOR OSU-MICHIGAN


It was announced Monday that the Ohio State-Michigan football game in Ann Arbor on November 21 will be a noon kickoff.

The game will be televised nationally on ABC.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

OHIO STATE JUMPS UP TO NO. 11 IN LATEST BCS STANDINGS

Ohio State moved up five spots to No. 11 in the latest Bowl Championship Series standings released on Sunday.

The Buckeyes will face No. 10 Iowa this Saturday in Columbus for a share of the Big Ten title.

To view the new BCS standings, please click on the graphic below ...

Saturday, November 7, 2009

PRYOR ALL SMILES IN HAPPY VALLEY

Photo by the Associated Press

STATE COLLEGE, Pa. — They booed him, they razzed him, they mocked him, but by game's end — he was the last man smiling in Happy Valley.

In his much anticipated Pennsylvania homecoming, Ohio State sophomore quarterback, Terrelle Pryor, silenced the crowd of 110,033 maniacal fans at Beaver Stadium, by throwing for two touchdowns and running for another, in Saturday's 24-7 rout of the No. 11 Penn State Nittany Lions.

"(The crowd) messed with me pretty good," Pryor smiled. "But it was all good. I was trying to concentrate on the game, but they were laughing back there. I had a lot of fun with them."

He had a lot of fun with the Nittany Lions' defense, as well.

Pryor, who last year chose to play at OSU over his home state Nittany Lions, faced a barrage of insults and boos from the Penn State faithful early on. But, the kid from Jeannette, Pennsylvania was an extremely cool customer Saturday evening, putting an assault on the nation's top rated defense with both his legs and his right arm.

Pryor made great decisions all game long, he successfully converted a plethora of critical third downs, and most importantly, he showed that he can get the job done deep down field.

With the Buckeyes (8-2, 5-1 Big Ten) on top 10-7 late in the third quarter, the Ohio State signal caller made the play of the game — and maybe the season — as he dropped back in the pocket, scanned the field, and then fired a 62-yard spiraling strike over-the-top to fellow sophomore DeVier Posey for a touchdown and a 10-point advantage.

The deep connection acted as a giant mute button to the jam packed stadium, which was quite raucous prior to the Buckeyes' scoring play.

Posey said that the play had been in the works well before it happened.

"We kept coming back to the sideline telling them we've really got a shot if we go deep on that particular play," Posey said. "They were in the right coverage on first down. It was just a great call that Coach (Jim) Bollman made."

Pryor described the big pass play.

"I just had to move the safety a little bit to the right and we just got it in there," Pryor said of the scoring toss to Posey. "DeVier made a great catch and the linemen had a real good block going on.

"I just stepped up in the pocket and just let her go."

The final dagger would be inserted with 9:37 to play in the game, when Pryor — on another third down play — connected with tailback Brandon Saine for a six-yard touchdown pass.

Pryor finished with 175 total yards in the win.

"(Pryor) was prepared," Ohio State head coach Jim Tressel said. "Nick Siciliano, after their last quarterback meeting this morning, said 'Coach, T.P. is zoned in rightnow.' Then we got into our final meeting before we boarded the bus and you could tell he knew what was up.

"I don't know what his passing numbers were, and I don't know how much he threw it, but he made some good, big throws and made some good decisions not to throw. If you don't turn it over, and you rush for over 200 (yards as a team), and you have a defense like ours, and special teams, you're going to win most games.

"T.P. did a great job."

Pryor wasn't the only star on Saturday donning a scarlet and gray uniform. His "silver bullet" defense was just as stellar.

The Buckeyes stifled the Penn State offensive attack in Saturday's win, holding the Nittany Lions to just 201 total yards (82 in the second half), while forcing the home team into seven three-and-outs.

OSU junior defensive end, Cameron Heyward, was a monster for the Buckeyes in the victory. The big man from Georgia led the OSU defense with 11 tackles on Saturday evening and punished Penn State senior quarterback, Darryl Clark, with two big sacks and several other brutal hits in the win.

The Big Ten's most efficient passer (Clark) was under attack all game long, finishing with just 125 yards on 12-of-28 passing, with no touchdowns and an interception.

The Nittany Lions only points of the game came in the second quarter, when Clark scored on a quarterback keeper on a fourth-and-goal play at the OSU 1-yard line.

Penn State head coach, Joe Paterno, didn't make any excuses after the loss — he just told it like it was.

"I don't think we were off a little bit anywhere," Paterno said. "I just think for the whole ball game, (Ohio State) gave us a good licking. They played better than we did today."

The loss eliminated the Nittany Lions from Rose Bowl contention.

PASADENA BOUND? — With Iowa losing to Northwestern earlier in the day, the Buckeyes are now tied for first place in the Big Ten and will face the Hawkeyes next Saturday in Columbus for at least a share of their fifth straight conference title and a possible trip to the Rose Bowl in January.

Friday, November 6, 2009

PREVIEW: BUCKEYES HEADING TO HOSTILE HAPPY VALLEY

STATE COLLEGE, Pa, - Some things just never change.

When it comes to playing tough, physical, Big Ten style defense, Ohio State and Penn State are the perennial poster boys.

And this season is no different, as the No. 11 Nittany Lions (8-1, 4-1 Big Ten) and No. 15 Buckeyes (7-2, 4-1 Big Ten) roll into Saturday's showdown at Beaver Stadium, boasting the first and second rated defenses in the conference, respectively. Each team plays with a tenacious and gritty style which makes games between the two schools always a hard fought classic, to say the very least.

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Wednesday, November 4, 2009

BUCKEYES TO HONOR 1954 NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP TEAM IN ANN ARBOR

COLUMBUS — Ohio State will honor its 1954 national championship winning football team, by sporting new uniforms, when they travel to Ann Arbor to take on Michigan on November 21.

According to OSU director of athletics, Gene Smith, the uniform change is only a one-game deal to pay homage to 1954 Buckeyes, who finished that season unbeaten.

Smith stated that the Buckeyes will go back to wearing their traditional uniforms following the Michigan game.

Listed below is a complete statement from Smith about the uniforms:

"During spring, 2009, Ohio State was invited by Nike to participate in its Rivalry uniform program with several other universities from around the nation. They offered us a chance to try a new uniform product featuring cutting-edge fabrics and technology; participation in theprogram also offered us a one-time opportunity to salute one of those great championship teams that have built the Ohio State football tradition.


"Our coaches and players were excited to see the different elements Nike presented in the prototype designs and samples. The uniform elements are still in production, and we are extremely eager to see the finished product when it arrives.


"For this special program, we chose to recognize the achievements of our undefeated 1954 national championship team, winning the Big Ten title outright before capturing a Rose Bowl victory. These great Buckeyes celebrated their 55th anniversary with us at the Minnesota game, and this is another way for us to pay homage to their stellar achievements.


"Our fans will be able to get the first look at these unique uniforms on Sunday, Nov. 15, when we will share photos of the finished product on our website OhioStateBuckeyes.com. Fans can also take a look at the actual uniform up close that week in our official Team Shop in the Schottenstein Center. And our team will wear these custom designs when the Buckeyes take the field Nov. 21 up north in Ann Arbor.


"Again, this is a one-time opportunity to honor a great championship team. We have no plans to make any changes to the traditional Buckeye uniform for the foreseeable future."

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

BUCKEYES KICKING IT WITH BARCLAY

COLUMBUS — If Saturday's game at No. 11 Penn State comes down to a last second field goal try, the big kick for the No. 15 Ohio State Buckeyes will be attempted by the oldest — yet least experienced — player on the roster.

That is, least experienced "football" player.

Ohio State junior kicker, Devin Barclay, never played football as a prep athlete. In fact, the Maryland-native only attended two years at McDonagh High School in Annapolis, before dropping out and pursuing a career in professional soccer at the age of 17.

After banging around in Major League Soccer (MLS) for a few years, including a stint with the Columbus Crew during his final season, the then 22-year old Barclay needed to make a career change.

However, before being cut by the Crew in 2005, Barclay had joined the Athletes in Action Ministry in Columbus, where he was able to form a bond with some of the Ohio State kickers at the time. That's when that "career change" began to take shape.

Ohio State head coach, Jim Tressel, stated that Barclay had come over for a visit with the ministry group and fell in love with what he witnessed. Then it was like boom, boom, boom ... he was on the team as a walk-on.

"Devin was involved in the Athletes in Action Ministry and some of the leaders that minister to the MLS teams and college programs happened to bring him over and he got to know our guys," Tressel said. "I guess, our kickers and he had forged a little bit of a relationship, I think while he was with the Crew.

"One thing led to another and he said he wanted to go to college and I remember there was some time that it took to figure out if he could come and walk on and so forth.

"He may have liked the fact that we were senior citizen friendly," Tressel laughed. "We had (28-year old) Ryan Pretorious and they had opportunities and one thing led to another."

Barclay, who has resided on the depth chart below Pretorious and Aaron Pettrey — as well as red-shirt freshman Ben Buchanan — during his first few seasons in Columbus, had to wait patiently for an opportunity to make his way onto the collegiate gridiron.

However, his long-awaited chance to get on the field became a reality last Saturday during the Buckeyes' 45-0 win over New Mexico State, after Pettrey left the game with a season-ending knee injury. With Pretorious already graduated and Buchanan out sick, Barclay was catapulted into the kicking role.

Barclay's first attempt — an extra point kick following a Brandon Saine touchdown run — went through the uprights with no problem. His second kick, though, missed wide from 47 yards.

Barclay said that it's quite different kicking in a football game than in a soccer match.

"You don't play in front of over a hundred thousand people (in MLS soccer)," Barclay said. "It's a little different kicking because you don't get that many opportunities and you have to make the best of it."

Barclay made the best of his next three attempts — a 29-yard make and two PATs.

Of course, that was against the lowly Aggies at home, not the No. 11 Nittany Lions at Happy Valley. This week, we'll see just how calm and collected Barclay really is.

Ohio State wide receiver, Dana Sanzenbacher, thinks the Buckeyes won't stumble a bit with Barclay manning the kicks.

"I think he has a big leg," Sanzenbacher said. "He is a very capable kicker. If he stays focused this week, I don't think we'll miss a beat. He's handled everything very well, he's one of the older guys in this group. Obviously, he's going to take a very mature approach to everything and I'm sure he'll be great."

Barclay said that his approach will be simple ... just do what he knows he can do — and that's kicking the football.

"I just have to do what I'm comfortable doing every day," Barclay said. "It shouldn't be any different if I just stick to what I know how to do.

"It's definitely going to be a great experience and I'm ready for it."

INJURY UPDATE — OSU defensive tackle, Dexter Larimore, who has been out of commission since suffering a knee injury during the Indiana game back on October 3rd, will be back in action this Saturday at Penn State, according to Tressel.

The junior has 17 tackles this season for the Buckeyes.

Also returning to action this Saturday will be offensive guard, Justin Boren. The junior offensive lineman missed last week's game against New Mexico State with a foot injury.

Monday, November 2, 2009

HOMAN, SANZENBACHER, EVEGE NAMED PLAYERS OF THE WEEK

Photo of Ross Homan by Darla Dunkle-Hudnell

COLUMBUS — Ohio State linebacker, Ross Homan, was awarded the "Defensive Player of the Week" by the Buckeyes coaching staff for his outstanding play in Saturday's 45-0 victory over New Mexico State.

The junior backer finished the game with seven tackles and an interception, leading the Buckeyes defense to its third shutout of the season.

Wide receiver, Dane Sanzenbacher, was named the "Offensive Player of the Week" by the coaches after hauling in four receptions for 74 yards and two touchdowns.

Sophomore special teams specialist, Donnie Evege, received the "Special Units Player of the Week," as the speedster recorded three key tackles in the Buckeyes win.

Tight end Jake Ballard was named the "Jim Parker Lineman of the Week," while safety Anderson Russell was given the "Attack Force" award.

SCOUT TEAM CHAMPIONS: Kenny Guiton (offense); Grant Dziak (defense); Joe Gantz (special units).

Sunday, November 1, 2009

OSU MOVES TO NO. 16 IN BCS


Click on the graphic below for the latest BCS college football standings:

BUCKEYES UP TO 12TH IN COACHES POLL, 13TH IN HARRIS, 15TH IN AP

Photo by Darla Dunkle-Hudnell

Ohio State moved up three spots in the USA Today Coaches Poll and two spots in both the Associated Press (No. 15) and Harris Interactive (No. 13) polls, released on Sunday.

BCS Standings coming later ...

Listed below are the latest polls:

AP (first place votes)
1. Florida (38) 8-0
2. Texas (13) 8-0
3. Alabama (8) 8-0
4. Cincinnati 8-0
5. Boise State 8-0
6. Texas Christian 8-0
7. Oregon 7-1
8. Iowa 9-0
9. LSU 7-1
10. Georgia Tech 8-1
11. Penn State 8-1
12. USC 6-2
13. Houston 7-1
14. Pittsburgh 7-1
15. Ohio State 7-2
16. Miami (FL) 6-2
17. Utah 7-1
18. Oklahoma State 6-2
19. Notre Dame 6-2
20. Oklahoma 5-3
21. Arizona 5-2
22. Virginia Tech 5-3
23. California 6-2
24. Wisconsin 6-2
25. Brigham Young 6-2

USA Today (first place votes)
1. Florida (50)
2. Texas (4)
3. Alabama (5)
4. TCU
5. Boise State
6. Iowa
7. Cincinnati
8. Oregon
9. LSU
10. Penn State
11. Georgia Tech
12. Ohio State
13. USC
14. Pittsburgh
15. Houston
16. Utah
17. Miami (FL)
18. Oklahoma State
19. Arizona
20. Oklahoma
21. Notre Dame
22. Wisconsin
23. California
24. Virginia Tech
25. Brigham Young

Harris Interactive Poll (first place votes)
1. Florida (83)
2. Texas (19)
3. Alabama (9)
4. Boise State (1)
5. Cincinnati
6. TCU
7. Iowa (2)
8. Oregon
9. LSU
10. Penn State
11. Georgia Tech
12. USC
13. Ohio State
14. Houston
15. Pittsburgh
16. Utah
17. Miami (FL)
18. Oklahoma State
19. Oklahoma
20. Notre Dame
21. Arizona
22. California
23. Virginia Tech
24. Wisconsin
25. Brigham Young