Monday, October 31, 2011

BRAXTON MILLER'S LATE HEROICS MORE THAN JUST A GAME-WINNER

Players congratulate Braxton Miller (5) Saturday
night in their win over Wisconsin. (AP/Tony Dejak)
COLUMBUS — It is not very often that you get to witness something truly special up close and personal.

Sure, in my seven seasons covering the Ohio State football team I have witnessed some pretty memorable moments, but nothing I would categorize as "truly special."

Well, that is, until late Saturday night in Columbus, when true freshman quarterback Braxton Miller's 40 yard pass fell into the hands of receiver Devin Smith in the end zone with 20 seconds remaining in their game against Wisconsin. The play gave the Buckeyes an improbable 33-29 win over the heavily favored Badgers.

BUCKEYES TO REPLACE CINCINNATI ON THE 2012 SCHEDULE WITH UCF

COLUMBUS — Ohio State announced Monday afternoon that they and the University of Cincinnati have changed their 2012 scheduled meeting on the football field to the 2018 season.

In a statement sent by the OSU department of athletics, the Buckeyes are now in the process of replacing the open game on Sept. 8, 2012 with a home tilt with the University of Central Florida.

BRAXTON MILLER NAMED BIG TEN FRESHMAN OF THE WEEK

Braxton Miller
AP/Jay Laprete
COLUMBUS — Ohio State quarterback Braxton Miller has been named the Big Ten Freshman of the Week, the conference announced Monday morning.

The 6-foot-3, 215-pound native of Huber Heights (OH) led the Buckeyes to a fourth quarter comeback victory Saturday night, upsetting visiting Wisconsin by throwing a 40-yard touchdown pass to freshman receiver Devin Smith with 20 seconds left to give Ohio State a 33-29 win.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

MILLER'S THREE TOUCHDOWN NIGHT POWERS OSU PAST BADGERS, 33-29

Braxton Miller, right, and Devin Smith
(AP Photo)
COLUMBUS — Just before the final drive of Saturday night's game against visiting Wisconsin, Ohio State true freshman quarterback Braxton Miller looked at his head coach Luke Fickell on the sideline and gave him a wink.

The rest as they say is history.

With 20 seconds left in the game and Ohio State trailing 29-26, Miller rolled right in the pocket, surveyed the Badgers' defense and chucked a pass 40 yards deep down the middle of the field to fellow true freshman receiver Devin Smith in the end zone, causing pandemonium in the 105,000-plus filled Ohio Stadium.

After a few attempts in the waning seconds by the Badgers failed, the Buckeyes came away with the improbable 33-29 victory ... and a new lease on life.

GAME NOTES: OHIO STATE BUCKEYES 33, WISCONSIN BADGERS 29

COLUMBUS — Below are quarter-by-quarter game notes of Ohio State's 33-29 win  over 15th-ranked Wisconsin on Saturday night at Ohio Stadium.

First Quarter

— Wisconsin struck first on an 8-play, 69-yard drive led by quarterback Russell Wilson. He connected with Badgers running back Montee Ball on a 22-yard pass to open the scoring for the game, 7-0.

Friday, October 28, 2011

GAME PREVIEW: ANGRY BADGERS MAY BE TOO MUCH FOR BUCKEYES

COLUMBUS — Ohio State looked as if they were going to have an opportunity to ruin Wisconsin's perfect season this Saturday night in Columbus, just the way the Badgers did to the Buckeyes a year ago in Madison.

Well, that plan has been nixed ... thanks to the Michigan State Spartans.

Last Saturday night in East Lansing, Wisconsin saw their perfect season and possible BCS title hopes go down the drain as the Spartans defeated the Badgers on a Hail Mary touchdown pass as time expired.

Saying that the defeat was heartbreaking for the Badgers would be a major understatement.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

SULLY NOT THE ONLY BUCKEYE TO SLIM DOWN, THOMAS SHEDS WEIGHT

Deshaun Thomas
AP/Terry Gilliam
PARK RIDGE, Ill. — Ohio State head coach Thad Matta is encouraged by what he has seen in the early stages of what hopes to be a championship run for his Buckeyes' men's basketball team this season.

It started this offseason with his squad putting in the long hours in the weight room with the goal of elevating their bodies to 'championship' levels. It's been much publicized recently that the Buckeyes' biggest star, sophomore forward Jared Sullinger, has tightened up his frame by dropping 10 to 15 pounds ... but he is certainly not the only one who has cut the fat this season.

BUCKEYES, SULLINGER VOTED BY MEDIA AS TOPS IN THE BIG TEN

Jared Sullinger
(Updated) PARK RIDGE, Ill. — Ohio State was voted by the media Thursday as the Big Ten's top men's basketball team, while sophomore forward Jared Sullinger was named the conference's Preseason Player of the Year.

The defending conference champions were selected as the team ahead of Wisconsin and Michigan State. Ohio State finished 34-3 last season, winning both the Big Ten regular season and conference tournament championships, and made it to the regional semifinals of the NCAA tournament where they were upset by Kentucky, 62-60.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

BIELEMA: YOU CAN'T COMPARE HE AND FICKELL'S FIRST SEASONS

Wisconsin head coach Bret Bielema
(AP/Al Goldis)
COLUMBUS — Wisconsin head football coach Bret Bielema and Ohio State interim boss Luke Fickell have traveled some very similar paths in their lifetimes.

Each played nose guard in the Big Ten — Bielema at Iowa (1989-92), Fickell at Ohio State (1992-96). Each were defensive coordinators at their respective schools before replacing some highly successful head coaches in Barry Alvarez (Wisconsin) and Jim Tressel (Ohio State). Each are known as tough, no-nonsense type of guys whose confidence is so strong it can sometimes be construed as arrogance.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

TUESDAY ROUNDUP: FICKELL ISN'T WORRIED ABOUT JOB, JUST BADGERS

Ohio State will wear Nike pro combat uniforms
to commemorate 1961 national championship team.
( Photo courtesy of OSU)
COLUMBUS — Ohio State head football coach Luke Fickell fielded an array of questions during his weekly media luncheon on Tuesday in Columbus, ranging from grooming a freshman quarterback to facing an upset Wisconsin team to the uniforms his Buckeyes will be sporting this Saturday night.

However, the biggest question he faced Tuesday was about his own job security, something many feel at the moment isn't too ... well, secure.

Monday, October 24, 2011

BUCKEYES MEN'S HOOPS LOOKED AT TO REMEDY RECENT FOOTBALL WOES

Jared Sullinger
AP/Terry Gilliam
COLUMBUS — Buckeye Nation may be reeling from the tough start of its football team this season, but the anticipation for the young men taking to the hardwood at Ohio State is reaching biblical levels.

"I know people are depending on us with the football team having a lot of problems," Sophomore star forward Jared Sullinger said. "As far as everyone putting everything on us, it'll really give us motivation to get us going ...

Thursday, October 20, 2011

BUCKEYE GRIDDERS ARE ON R&R, SO NATURALLY IT'S TIME FOR SOME Q&A

Braxton Miller
The Buckeye Times/Darla Dunkle-Hudnell
Ohio State is currently in the midst of a much-needed bye week, so I thought it would be a perfect time to answer some questions from my readers about Buckeye football, the NCAA, and even one about journalistic style.

Again, I can't possibly answer all of the questions I've received due to newspaper space limitations, so I'll answer a handful from the reader e-mails and some of those posted on my Twitter account. (I will use full names/handles from Twitter, initials/first names from e-mails.)

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

AN ENDORSEMENT FOR COACH LUKE FICKELL'S FUTURE AT OHIO STATE

Luke Fickell
The Buckeye Times/Darla Dunkle-Hudnell
COLUMBUS — It hasn't been an ideal season for the 2011 Ohio State Buckeyes. With the team sitting in the middle of the conference pack (4-3, 1-2 in Big 10), there has been quite a bit of heat on interim head coach Luke Fickell.

Every other day I seem to run into speculation on who the next coach SHOULD be (I'm guilty, too. Although I speculated back when Jim Tressel was still preparing for last season's Sugar Bowl). It's as if the fans and the media have already booted Fickell from being considered for the full-time position.

Those speculators have their reasons, too.

FOUR OSU MEN'S HOOPS PLAYERS NAMED TO TOP 100 LIST; SULLY NO. 1

Jared Sullinger
COLUMBUS — Four Ohio State men's basketball players were named to the CBS Sports 2011-12 preseason Top 100 list, including sophomore forward Jared Sullinger who was selected as the nation's best.

The 6-foot-9 all-American big man was rated No. 1 overall by a panel of CBSSports.com basketball writers, taking top billing over the likes of North Carolina's Harrison Barnes and Wisconsin's Jordan Taylor.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

BUCKEYES' BOOM HERRON PAID HIS DEBTS, THAT'S WHY HE STARTED

Dan "Boom" Herron
The Buckeye Times/Darla Dunkle-Hudnell
COLUMBUS — It didn't take much time for Ohio State senior tailback Dan "Boom" Herron to return to the starting lineup following his much publicized six-game suspension.

In fact, it didn't take any time at all, as the Buckeyes' leading rusher from a season ago was inserted on the very first play of Saturday's showdown at Illinois.

It also didn't take long for Herron to make an impact on the game.

Monday, October 17, 2011

JAKE STONEBURNER ON MACKEY AWARD MIDSEASON WATCH LIST

Jake Stoneburner
COLUMBUS — Ohio State junior Jake Stoneburner was named Monday to the midseason watch list for the John Mackey Award, given annually by the Nassau (N.Y.) County Sports Commission to the nation's best collegiate tight end.

The 6-foot-5, 245-pound native of Dublin (Oh.) has recorded a team-high 12 receptions this season, for 150 yards and six touchdowns in seven games as the Buckeyes' starting tight end.

BUCKEYES JOHN SIMON NAMED BIG TEN DEFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE WEEK

John Simon
COLUMBUS — Ohio State junior defensive lineman John Simon was named the Big Ten Conference's Defensive Player of the Week on Monday for his outstanding performance over the weekend against then-unbeaten Illinois.

The 6-foot-2, 270-pound native of Youngstown had a career day in Champaign on Saturday, registering eight tackles (four for losses) for the Buckeyes' defense, including two key sacks of Illini quarterback Nathan Scheelhaase in the 17-7 victory.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

BUCKEYES USE RUNNING GAME, DEFENSE TO GIVE ILLINI FIRST LOSS

Ohio State senior tailback Dan Herron (1) runs by Illinois defenders during the Buckeyes 17-7 victory over the 16th-Ranked Illini on Saturday in Champaign. (AP Photo/Seth Perlman)
CHAMPAIGN, Ill. — Woody Hayes is certainly looking down from the heavens with a smile draped across his face that would stretch from Champaign to Columbus.

Ohio State (4-3, 1-2 Big Ten) avoided suffering their first three-game losing streak since 2004 on Saturday afternoon by wearing down 16th-ranked Illinois (6-1, 2-1) with a Woody-style power running game and an attacking, relentless defensive effort, to win their first Big Ten contest of the season, 17-7, at Memorial Stadium in Champaign.

Friday, October 14, 2011

GAME PREVIEW: BUCKEYES HOPE TO KEEP ILLIBUCK FOR FOURTH SEASON

CHAMPAIGN, Ill. — Ohio State hasn't possessed a losing record since beginning the 1999 college football season 0-1.

If the Buckeyes (3-3, 0-2 Big Ten) fall to No. 16 Illinois (6-0, 2-0) this Saturday afternoon in Champaign, that impressive 12-year run of winning excellence will be dust in the wind.

The Buckeyes looked to have finally gotten things rolling in the right direction early on in last Saturday night's showdown at Nebraska, jumping ahead of the Cornhuskers by three touchdowns midway through the third quarter. True freshman quarterback Braxton Miller was brilliant during the hostile road tilt, leading the Buckeyes to 27 points, 312 yards of offense and 13 first downs in the first 40 minutes of action, breaking down the 'Black Shirts' with both his arm and his legs.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

DOMINIC CLARKE SUSPENDED FOR ILLINOIS GAME; GUITON MAY BE NO. 2

Dominic Clarke
COLUMBUS — Ohio State head football coach Luke Fickell addressed the media for his Thursday briefing in Columbus, and what seems like protocol these days at the weekly meetings, the Buckeyes' boss announced yet another suspenion of an OSU student-athlete.

"We will not have the services of Dominic Clarke this week, he will not make the trip (to Illinois)," Fickell said. "He's involved in a university rules violation, so it's in the university's hands."

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

URBAN MEYER MAY BE OHIO STATE'S FOOTBALL SAVIOR ... OR MAYBE NOT

Urban Meyer (AP Photo)
COLUMBUS — Many Ohio State football fans are under the illusion that once the 2011 season is complete, former Florida head coach Urban Meyer will ride into Columbus on his white horse to save the program from recent damnation.

Fans believe that the two-time national championship winning coach will place his blessed hands on the front door of the Woody Hayes Athletic Center, cleansing the school of its sins and transgressions, all while exalting the team into the BCS title game almost instantly.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

TUESDAY ROUNDUP: BAUSERMAN STILL NO. 2, BUT GUITON TO GET REPS

Kenny Guiton
The Buckeye Times/Josh Stueve
COLUMBUS — Generally when a football team is struggling, the most popular player on the team — according to the fans — is the backup quarterback.

This week in Columbus that statement rings oh-so-true.

Now, most of the time it's because the starting quarterback isn't playing up to par and the fan base is calling for next guy in line to take the reins. However, in Ohio State's case this week, the question isn't who should start — true freshman Braxton Miller has a firm grasp on that role if healthy — it's who should be the second man in line?

Sunday, October 9, 2011

OSU'S GREAT START VS. HUSKERS DASHED BY QB MILLER'S INJURY

Ohio State quarterback Braxton Miller is brought down by a Nebraska defender Saturday night in the Buckeyes 34-27 loss to the Cornhuskers in Lincoln, Neb. (AP Photo)
LINCOLN, Neb. — Ohio State true freshman quarterback Braxton Miller was electric in Saturday night's Big Ten road tilt at 14th-ranked Nebraska, racking up 186 total yards and a touchdown pass in just a little more than a half of work.

But like everything that's happened to the Buckeyes over the past 10 months, good fortunes would turn for the worse — and in a very short period of time.

Friday, October 7, 2011

GAME PREVIEW: STRUGGLING OSU HEADS TO LINCOLN SATURDAY

LINCOLN, Neb. — Saying the Ohio State football team is struggling right now would be like pointing out that Carrie Underwood is cute.

Both are major understatements that deserved to be followed with a big, fat, DUH!

The Buckeyes performance against Michigan State at home last Saturday was an abomination. The offensive line was porous, the play-calling was predictable and unimaginative, and the player management once again was indecisive.

I apologize for offering more of those 'DUH!' examples, but unfortunately for the Buckeyes, that's the reality — and there's really no way to sugarcoat it.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

AS OF NOW, FICKELL FACING UPHILL CLIMB TO REMAIN BUCKEYES' BOSS

Luke Fickell
The Buckeye Times/Joe Stueve
Some people have placed a minimum win total that Ohio State head coach Luke Fickell must achieve if he is to remain boss of the Buckeyes football team beyond this season.

I think said criteria is flawed in many ways. I mean, Fickell has inherited a team in Columbus that was decimated by suspensions, resignations and graduations. He's been dealt a hand that consists of first- and second-year players with little or no collegiate football experience. He's also heading a team and staff that was heavily dependent on former head coach Jim Tressel.

I don't think a certain win total can accurately determine the coach's success level, certainly not in this situation.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

TUESDAY ROUNDUP: FICKELL NOT WHINING, NOT MAKING EXCUSES

Luke Fickell
The Buckeye Times/Darla Dunkle-Hudnell
COLUMBUS — Ohio State interim head coach Luke Fickell is taking a page out of the coaching philosophy of John Wooden.

"We probably went ahead with our three points of wisdom from John Wooden: 'Don't whine, don't complain and don't make excuses,' " Fickell said, quoting the legendary college basketball coach. "And I think that's what we've got to be able to do. And I think it starts from the top-down with all of us as coaches."

Monday, October 3, 2011

POSEY, HERRON, MARCUS HALL WILL NOT PLAY SATURDAY AT NEBRASKA

DeVier Posey
The Buckeye Times/Darla Dunkle-Hudnell
COLUMBUS — Ohio State football players DeVier Posey, Dan "Boom" Herron and Marcus Hall have been ruled ineligible for Saturday night's game at Nebraska for an employment violation, OSU director of athletics Gene Smith announced on Monday in Columbus.

Posey and Herron were supposed to be reinstated this weekend after serving a five-game suspension issued last December for receiving improper benefits in association with a Columbus-area tattoo shop scandal.

SMITH TO ADDRESS MEDIA AT 3:30 P.M.

DeVier Posey
The Buckeye Times/Darla Dunkle-Hudnell
COLUMBUS — According to Ohio State assistant director of athletics communications Adam Widman, AD Gene Smith will address the media Monday at 3:30 p.m. to "discuss developments in Ohio State's case with the NCAA."

Reports are surfacing that Smith will be discussing the eligibility status of tailback Dan Herron and receiver DeVier Posey. Each were suspended the first five games of the 2011 regular season for receiving improper benefits.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

SPARTANS TOP RATED DEFENSE ABUSES BUCKEYES ON SATURDAY

Ohio State quarterback Braxton Miller, top, gets  sacked by Michigan State's Johnny Adams Saturday, during the Spartans 10-7 win over the Buckeyes at Ohio Stadium. (AP/Jay LaPrete)
COLUMBUS — Ohio State fifth-year senior quarterback Joe Bauserman fired a 33-yard touchdown pass to true freshman receiver Evan Spencer with just 10 seconds remaining in Saturday afternoon's Big Ten showdown against Michigan State at Ohio Stadium.

Unfortunately for the Buckeyes, the score wasn't for the victory — it was to avoid being shut out for the first time since 1993.