EVERY TEAM IN THE BIG TEN – except Michigan – WON THEIR GAME LAST SATURDAY. SEVERAL BY BIG MARGINS. AND ONE BEAT A RANKED SEC TEAM.
That team? That team was Indiana. Yes, thumb the red-headed step child of the conference for the past decade or so brought not only the best win of the week, but the best non-conference win in the entire conference for the season. The Hoosiers stunned the SEC’s #18 Missouri Tigers with a late touchdown drive to win. Mizzou is the highest-ranked team Indiana has beaten since 1987, when they beat Ohio State at home in the Shoe. This ends their streak of losing 36 in a row on the road versus Top 20 opponents. Hoosier fans, I hope that in celebration you’ve drunk copious amounts of booze out of those new helmets – All. Week. Long. Big Ten fans, stuff that tasty little morsel in your pocket for your next run-in with an ignorant and obnoxious (I know, stating the obvious here) SEC fan.
The Big Ten looked like the Big Ten of yore last Saturday. (Yes, except Michigan. I can’t even.) Michigan State and Wisconsin put up basketball points, winning 73-14 and 68-17 respectively. The Badgers racked up 756 yards of total offense. You read that right. Last year’s star running back Melvin Gordon recorded 253 rushing yards and five touchdowns on only 13 carries for Wisky.
And Nebraska kept their perfect record, beating the Miami Hurricanes and kicking in their “Fear Ameer” Heisman campaign for running back Ameer Abdullah. He rushed for 229 yards and two touchdowns against The U (U Suck!) which increased his total career rushing yards to 3602 and puts him 3rd in the school’s career rushing list.
And Michigan? Well they paid the Utah Utes $1,000,000 to come to their house and beat them with a switch.
Four Big Ten teams are currently in the AP and Coaches Poll including Nebraska at #21 and #19, Ohio State at #22 and #20, Wisconsin at #19 and #17 and all by itself in the Top 10, Michigan State at #9 on both. B1G play begins this weekend for many teams with Indy v. Maryland, Nebraska v. Illinois, Penn State v. Northwestern, Iowa v. Purdue and Minnesota v. Michigan….the home of the $3 ticket fiasco. Which will be made even worse if that stadium is not packed to the gills. Memes to come, I’m sure.
Wisconsin will most likely whip South Florida. And the Spartans to Wyoming: “Hi. We’re here to kick your Cowboy asses. ” While Ohio State is facing something I never thought I’d see – an incredibly important and somehow nerve-racking game against the Cincinnati Bearcats. Of the AAC conference.
The uppity Bearcats are coached by Tommy Tuberville, he formerly of the SEC, and arrive in Columbus with a 2-0 record for the season having beaten Toledo 58-34 and then struggling a bit in a win against Miami of Ohio, 31-24. Cincinnati has not beaten Ohio State since 1897. And Ohio State has not lost to an in-state opponent since 1921.
UC’s biggest sports alumni? Baseball Hall of Famer and legend Sandy Koufax and….its former football player, Urban Meyer.
OSU is going to finally learn just how good they are this Saturday.
Coach Tuberville has stated this year’s Bearcat team is his best group of wide receivers. OSU Coach Meyer has called Bearcat quarterback Gunner Kiel one of the best in the country. (He just might be.) What Kiel is is pass-happy. And good. Scary good. With a helluva receiving corps. In his first two games of the season he had 76 pass attempts, completed 50 of them and 10 were for touchdowns. Cincy is coming in averaging 44 points per game.
One of Kiel’s favorite targets is wide receiver Mikale McKay, who was actually granted release from the SEC’s Arkansas after the 2012 season for a family health issue to play closer to home. In 2013 he averaged a remarkable 30.3 yards per catch. That, kids, is an offensive weapon. Also keep an eye on running back Ralph David Abernathy, whom the Cincinnati Inquirer said covering is “like herding cats.”
The Buckeyes have had two weeks to prepare for this match-up. And it’s safe to say we all hope to hell they worked heavily on defending the pass. Co-coordinator Chris Ash, all eyes are on you for having trustfully fixed the holes in the defense. On D, keep your eyes on extraordinary defensive end Joey Bosa and redshirt freshman linebacker Darron Lee – they are tied in tackles for loss with five. And defensive tackle Michael Bennett, who is an aggressive defender with outstanding speed and range.
On offense, it is absolutely imperative that Ohio State’s offensive line protects J.T. Barrett. The Bearcats defense is averaging 5.5 sacks per game, and linebacker Jeff Luc leads the nation with 15 per game.
QB Barrett completed passes to 11 different guys against Kent State, but watch for him to hit wide receiver Michael Thomas, who has recorded a touchdown in all three games. (Thomas is the nephew of legendary USC receiver Keyshawn Johnson. Nice genes, bro.)
The biggest key to winning this game is Ohio State’s pass defense, ranked 110th nationally last year and the Achilles heel of the team. Ash’s new-look pass defense has got to be ON. The second will be protecting J.T. Barrett. No more seven-sacks games, offensive line. Let’s also prevent turnovers and maybe come out guns ablazing with a fast start on this one.
So, if you wake up Saturday and you kind of already need that first cocktail (I ain’t judgin’) here’s a lil drinking game you can try out. Put on ESPN’s Game Day, and every time Kirk says “Cincinnat-uh” take a sip. Good Lord, we get it, Herby. You’re a native. Prepare to be buzzed.
Now let’s kick some third-largest-Ohio-city ass.