Friday, October 20, 2017

Week 8: Bye Bye Bye

Standings
1. Draper (23-8, 1-6 upset)
2. Schweinfurth (22-9, 0-7 upset)
3. Seeberg (20-11, 3-4 upset)
4. Hoying (20-11, 0-7 upset)

Sorry, Buckeye Nation, our month-long tradition of offering human sacrifices to appease Brutus's insatiable hunger is going on hiatus while the table is set for some for more substantive feasts to come.


Michigan Wolverines @ Penn State Nittany Lions
Draper: Penn State gets there first "real" test of the year...or do they? So far, the Lions have gotten fat off of middling B1G teams and crap in the nonconference.  Ok, IU isn't terrible this year and neither is Iowa, but they aren't setting the world on fire.  Let's also look at those games.  PSU pulled away late vs. IU but the Iowa game came down to the wire.  Saquon Barkley has some flashes of brilliance and is definitely in the Heisman conversation, but he has been pedestrian for the last 2 weeks (IU and Northwestern...sheesh).  In come the Wolverines and by far the best defense the Lions will have faced all year.  I don't know if they can muster much against an angry Wolverine D.  The good news for PSU is that Michigan is hot stinky poo on offense.  While I don't have much respect for the Lion defense, Michigan's offense can't do much against anyone.  I like the Lions to win an old fashioned Big Ten match with low scoring and boooooring football.  I don't see much this week to prepare the Lions for what's coming in the Shoe.  UM: 10 -- PSU: 17
Hoying: OK, sweetheart. The cupcake shop is closed for the next few weeks. It's time to show what Saquon & Co. can do against a real defense. PSU's has a dirty little secret: for all the love heaped on Barkley this season, the Nittany Lion rushing attack has kind of sucked the last couple of weeks. And now they have to face what may be the top run D in the country. Oh, but buck up, Happy Valley. It's not like John O'Scorn and his hapless crew have figured out that the red in "red zone" isn't a stoplight signal. This one could come down to attitude. Ever since the Rose Bowl, the voices in Penn State's ears have been gushing over how great they are (rat poison), while Michigan has come crashing down to earth after another loss to little brother. Don't underestimate the disrespekt factor. That said, don't underestimate the revenge factor, either. 49-10 is not quickly forgotten. UM: 9--PSU: 13

Schweinfurth: The best way to stop Penn State is to stop Saquan Barkley and tee off on Trace McSorely. Michigan has the defense that con do both. What is a huge prohibiting factor is that stinky poo offense. Seriously. Harbooger has himself a bad, injured QB, a bad QB, and a running game that can't run the ball. While I am not sold on Penn State's D being great, this is an easy offense to stop. All I ask out of this game is for these to teams to beat the crap out of each other. UM: 6--PSU: 14
Seeberg:  Remember kids, through 31 games at UM, Harbaugh and Hoke have the exact same record...and Hoke's record against OSU and MSU is better.  Tread lightly, TTUN is not back, and I have a sneaking suspicion this game will go a long way towards proving that opinion valid.  True, the Nittany's offense is a bit one-dimensional person in Saquon Barkley, but UM's "offense" is 0-dimensional.  A two-possession lead is a virtual certainty of victory, and even as stout as the Wolverine D may be, they gave up 20 at Indiana, half of which came from a backup QB.  There's just no way this game stays close for four quarters.  See you next week at 3:30, Penn State.  UM: 10--PSU: 27

Central Florida Knights @ Navy Midshipmen
Draper: UCF and Scott Frost have become the belles of the ball.  Undefeated against low level competition and Maryland (but I repeat myself) but they have looked pretty good doing it.  Navy is the traditional Navy team that will end the year with 7-8 wins and frustrate the hell out of any team they play.  Looking at UCF's upcoming schedule, this is the last decent game before the season finale vs. USF.  There's a real chance UCF can be this year's WMU.  Scott Frost will be headed to greener pastures (Nebraska?) soon, so enjoy it while you can Golden Knights.  I like the Knights to take this from the option happy Midshipmen.  UCF: 24 -- Navy: 17
Hoying: South Florida is the team on the 11 game winning streak, carrying all the hoopla going into the season. But the Group of 5's title contender might be a few miles east in Orlando. UCF has blasted all 5 teams it's played so far, including handing Memphis its only loss and crushing Maryland in College Park. The Knights are the highest-scoring team in FBS (ahead of two OSUs at #2 and #3) behind the steady arm of sophomore QB McKenzie Milton. Navy's coming off a bit of a fluky loss in which 5 turnovers doomed their hopes of an undefeated season. The triple option's a bit of a mess to prepare for, but a competent, well-coached team should have no problem putting the Midshipmen away. And it looks like UCF fits the profile. Keep an eye on Central Florida's coach, Scott Frost. He'll be resurrecting a big boy program soon. And keep an eye on the Knights. With a few (OK, a lot of) breaks, their season ending tilt against USF could be for a playoff spot. UCF: 31--Navy: 20

Schweinfurth: Anyone who knows me knows I love watching the service academies play. There is something nostalgic about watching college teams run the wing-T to perfection. The unfortunate part of the wing-T is that it is near impossible to come back from more than 2 scores down. I think UCF jumps Navy from the start to put them in a hole they just can't recover from. UCF: 28--Navy: 21 
Seeberg:  UCF has been putting up some gaudy numbers on offense this season, positioning themselves to be the Group of 5 representative in the money bowls this season.  Those numbers are likely to take a bit of a dive this week as Navy comes rolling into town with their ball-control triple option offense.  Stops on D will be at a premium in this matchup, and I would expect UCF to come up with one or two more than Navy.  Knights pull away late.  UCF: 38--Navy: 28

Southern California Trojans @ Notre Dame Fighting Irish
Draper: Does this game matter again? Surprise! It actually does.  Notre Dame has been playing some good football this year and no one has noticed.  USC is still the darling of the West but they've fallen backward into their 1-loss record (get lucky vs. Texas and Utah).  I don't really think USC is for real, but they are firmly in control of their destiny.  Are the Irish for real? I don't really think that either, but they have a nice win against Sparty and a close loss to a really good Georgia team.  I'll begrudgingly take the home team, but I don't like it.  I think the Irish have the ground game and the smarter team, but this reeks of a magical Trojan blowout.  Let's hope the grass is mowed a little higher and the Irish put the nail in the coffin of the USC CFP hopes.  USC: 27--ND: 33
Hoying: How is it possible that a team like Notre Dame can completely fall out of the national consciousness, particularly in the midst of a pretty good season? Everyone promptly forgot about the Irish after dropping a 1-point game at home against Georgia (who looks like they might be pretty, pretty good), and no one seems to remember that the Michigan State team that knocked off the Maize and Blue got smushed at home by the Golden Domers just a couple weeks prior. Notre Dame is a regular buzzsaw on offense, with a killer run attack fronted by RB Josh Adams, but they can be a bit one-dimensional. USC, on the other hand, can sling the rock, but there's a constant worry about to whom said rock shall be slung. Sam Darnold, or as I like to call him, Christian Hackenberg 2.0, has 9 picks on the season to go with 5 fumbles. That's bad news against a ball-hawking ND defense (what?) already +7 in turnover margin on the year. Fight off. USC: 23--ND: 30

Schweinfurth: Unfortunately, these are two teams I really haven't paid much attention to since each lost early in the season. Blame stupid start times (#Pac12AfterDark), having similar start times to the Buckeyes, and hockey started back up (yes, I have competing interests this time of year). From what I do know, Sam Darnold throws a lot of picks. It's almost to the point I could play in a secondary against him and pick him off (that's pretty bad). You can not turn the ball over in big games and USC has that track record. I am loathing this, but it's time for the talking heads to say the echos have awoken (they haven't). USC: 27--ND: 35
Seeberg:  Wow.  At the start of this season I would've expected this to be a blowout win for the Trojans, but one team has underperformed while the other has surpassed middling expectations this year.  Sam Darnold's draft stock is plummeting with each turnover, already in the teens with 5 games remaining (by comparison, J.T. Barrett has a whopping 1 turnover the entire year).  Essentially, the winner is still a viable candidate for the playoff and the loser is likely done.  Based on last week (thanks Cal for making my upset pick look brilliant, by the way), I just can't trust anybody in the Pac-12 week to week.  USC could very well blow the Irish out, but the Irish are more consistent, and my guess is that will make the difference in crunch time.  Irish by a nose.  USC: 31--ND: 34

Georgia Southern Eagles @ Massachusetts Minutemen
Draper: What?  In the "well, someone's gotta win" category, we have this pillow fight between two defeated teams.  Georgia Southern has been able to run on some decent teams in past years, but this year, they just plain suck.  Luckily, so does UMass! I'm holding out hope for a ridiculous back and forth game in which it looks like the teams are trying to lose, but let's be honest, I'm not watching this.  Minutemen have guns and can shoot the eagles.  Clear UMass victory.  Take it to the bank.  GSU: 44 -- UMass: 45
Hoying: Did you know that UMass has a national championship? Did you know that they won it with their current coach? Sure, it was a I-AA title, and it was in 1998, and their coach left UMass to be a QB coach in the NFL (including coaching Brandon Weeden with the Browns) before returning, but hey, a recipe for success! Did you know that Georgia Southern beat Florida just 4 years ago? Not Florida International, Florida Florida. Like, the Gators. And they did it without completing a pass. Well, it's 2017 now, and Georgia Southern still might not complete a pass in this game, but I don't think anyone's going to confuse UMass with a title contender. The Minutemen haven't won more than 3 games in a season since jumping to FBS, and after an 0-6 start I wouldn't count on that streak to end. UMass hang tough with Tennessee a couple weeks ago, but they're going to lose again here. It's just what they do. GSU: 24--UMass: 20

Schweinfurth: These teams are bad. GSU: 31--UMass: 35
Seeberg:  What a clash of the not-so-titans here.  UMass manages to lose all sorts of ways:  low-scoring (17-13, 17-7), shootouts (58-50, 38-35) and everything in between.  GSU, meanwhile, just loses, badly, often, including to a 1-AA opponent.  At least somebody's win column will go from a bagel to a breadstick.  For my money?  It's the Minutemen.  GSU: 20--UMass: 31

Upset Special
Draper: Indiana over Sparty (SPARTY NOOOO!)
Hoying: Texas over Oklahoma State

Schweinfurth: Kansas St. over Oklahoma
Seeberg:  Arizona State over Utah

Sunday, October 15, 2017

Grading the Bucks: Week 7 -- Nebraska

Offense: A
What more can be said? If this team can do this against a contender, there is no stopping them.  The offense is just humming like crazy with JT putting up Heisman level numbers (you laugh, but it's true).  Yeah, yeah...the defenses are bad, blah, blah, blah, but if you've been watching this team, you see a difference since Oklahoma (and even Army).  JT looks extremely sharp utilizing the middle of the field and the tandem of backs are just phenomenal.  The O-line took a hit with the loss of Bowen, but they played a fantastic game in Lincoln.  The only thing stopping the perfect game was the final drive where Urban decided to lay off.  Two weeks to get ready for PSU.  Do it there and prove the haters wrong.

Defense: A
The D-line is NSFW at this point.  They are completely stifling.  Here's hoping Jalyn Holmes is ok after a nasty hit, but they are at a whole different level.  I was especially impressed with the secondary play last week (particularly the corners).  I know Nebraska isn't going to set many passing records, but they were held to very little outside of garbage time to Spielman (yes, the whole second half was garbage time).  Again, do it to Penn State, and shut the haters up.

Special Teams: Incomplete
Got the kickoff out of bounds done before the clock actually started.  The kickoff coverage unit is still brutal, but they had a few okay stops.  Can't say much about this unit when we might as well have left Cristman at home.  No need for the field goal unit either.  Man, it's easier when they don't play.  8-8 PATs though!

Coaching: A
This team has been a well oiled unit for the last 5 weeks.  Very few turnovers, shut down defense, and tons of offense.  Credit the coaches for finally realizing the strengths of this team and playing to them.  I really had no issues that I can remember with this game.  Well coached and well executed.

Overall: A
Get right over the bye and Beat the Lions!

Friday, October 13, 2017

Week 7: Legends and Leaders

Standings
1. Draper (18-7, 1-5 upset)
2. Schweinfurth (17-8, 0-6 upset)
3. Hoying (16-9, 0-6 upset)
4. Seeberg (15-10, 2-4 upset)

Temperatures in the 80s, thunderstorms, and a crappy, crappy slate of games? Is it early September or mid-October? There are zero, count 'em, ZERO ranked matchups this week. As such, we're going to keep it close to home and take a tour around the Big Ten while we wait for the rest of college football to get its act together. 


Michigan Wolverines @ Indiana Hoosiers
Draper: Indiana was the nice upstart with a half long challenge vs. OSU but they've waned as of late.  Don't let the score fool you, they slowed Saquon Barkley waaay down.  Now, the Wolverines enter full-time John "Freak on a Leash" O'Korn time...not good for the sun and blue.  After a horrendous game last week, I still think the Wolverines have enough to keep their long streak vs. the Hoosiers intact, but it will be close.  Close enough that people may actually start questioning Harbaugh.  Would I be shocked with an upset? No.  Do I see it happening? Sadly no.  UM: 20 -- IU: 13
Hoying: It appears that the enthusiasm that was building over the young Wolverines' early season may have been a bit overblown. Yes, last weekend was kind of a fluke loss in fluke conditions, but Michigan has found itself trailing or struggling in every game this season, whether the opponent is Michigan State or Air Force. The defense still seems to be working but the running game is nonexistent, and the situation at quarterback isn't exactly O'K either. The margin for error will be razor thin from now on, but even though the Hoosiers are much improved and looking somewhat competent, it may be overstating the situation a bit much to predict an Indiana win. Probably. UM: 17--IU: 13

Schweinfurth:  We finally got to see what a full game of John O'Korn looked like and it was bad. That freak rain storm didn't help the Harboogers out either...but still, bad. Indiana has a legit defense this year and has given some good teams headaches (see Ohio State and Penn State). If you listen to Kirk Herbstreit, he will tell you that Lagow is one of the best QBs in the nation. Not sure I believe that. The Harboogers still have a very good defense and should be able to stop a very one dimensional Indiana team. The Harbooger D scores or sets up the game winner in this one. UM: 21--IU: 17
Seeberg:  Unbelievably lousy slate of games this week.  Bleh.  In any event, how good/okay/medicore/awful is the 2017 TTUN?  We still don't really know.  Losing a rivalry game in a deluge by only 4 points with FIVE freakin' turnovers is less indicative of something greater and more a blip on the radar.  Offensively, however, there are issues, and Indiana can score it...and likely should've won this matchup two years ago.  I honestly would not be all that shocked to see them win it this year, but I have to think that the Khaki Eclipse can rally the troops enough to get back on track.  UM: 23--IU: 16

Rutgers Scarlet Knights @ Illinois Fighting Illini
Draper: Rutgers vs. Illinois or carving your eyes out with a spoon? Tough call.  This is just a game of fail.  Buttgers has lived up to their name since 2006 (stupid Judge Ito) and the Illini have tried very hard to join them in the basement.  I honestly have no idea how someone can watch this entire game.  I definitely expect this to be shown to prisoners in Gitmo.  That being said, slight lean towards the team with the Super Bowl coach (yeah, that's actually true...).  RU: 17--Ill: 27
Hoying: Noon on BTN. Now that I've answered the burning question on everyone's mind, on to the preview of this must-see matchup. I could just say "you've seen Rutgers already (RIP)", but, quite frankly, the Buckeyes have been giving everyone the Rutgers treatment lately. More to the point, even though Rutgers played Washington and Nebraska kind of tough, they lost to a MAC team, and Illinois didn't. Illinois has looked...really bad lately, but you weren't expecting me to actually pick Rutgers, were you? RU: 17--Ill: 20

Schweinfurth: As I like to say, this game is a derp fest. I'm not even going to break this down. Rutgers is Butt and Illinois is barely better. Welcome to the "Wind Tunnel" Buttgers. RU: 10--Ill: 20
Seeberg:  Woof.  Easily the worst game we've ever picked here at Let's Go Bucks.  Rutgers has oddly looked as though they're regressing after putting up a darn good fight against Washington and nearly beating Nebraska earlier this year.  Illinois is, well, the new Indiana, B1G doormat extraordinaire (excluding the newcomers Rutgers and Maryland, of course).  Tickets for this clash of the titans are less than a ticket to your local medicore high school game (seriously, $5 on Stub Hub).  I really am tempted to pick Rutgers, but I assume their first B1G win won't come on the road.  Please watch anything else at noon this Saturday, even me teaching tennis to kids early in the afternoon in Clintonville will be more entertaining.  RU: 16--Ill: 23

Purdue Boilermakers @ Wisconsin Badgers
Draper: While Purdue isn't a darkhorse B1G contender as they used to be, they are the most fun team in the conference.  You never know what is going to happen.  The Badgers, on the other hand, constitute the most predictable team in the Midwest.  I want the Boilermakers to win so bad in this matchup, but they just don't have the horses yet.  I think they make this one surprisingly close as Northwestern almost stole one in Camp Randall two weeks back, but the Badgers keep bludgeoning teams to death.  PU: 28 -- UW: 34
Hoying: The Boilermakers haven't won more than 3 games in a season since they got pasted by Oklahoma State in the Heart of Dallas Bowl back in 2012. 5 games into the Jeff Brohm era, and they're up to 3 wins already. The offense has been OK, but the real story is that there's an actual working defense operating in West Lafayette. The jury's out on whether it operates in Madison. RB Jonathan Taylor is chugging along nicely and he isn't about to be derailed by the likes of the Purdue defense. Illinois and Rutgers are still up ahead for the Boilers, meaning a bowl game may be within reach, but giant upsets aren't quite on the table yet. PU: 16--UW: 31

Schweinfurth: This game is actually a little intriguing to me. Purdue has looked better under Jeff Brohm. Unfortunately, the Badgers are just grinding teams to death with Jonathan Taylor. I see no reason why this doesn't continue. The Badgers could seriously be undefeated heading to Indy in December...I want to puke now. PU: 17--UW: 31 
Seeberg:  Well, Purdue looked...competent? against Louisville and UM, but competence doesn't necessarily translate to wins (but with Rutgers AND Illinois on the schedule, the Boilers are one win away from bowl eligibility almost by default now).  Wisconsin, meanwhile, just keeps doing Wisconsin things, grinding out 10-20 point wins in spectacularly unspectacular fashion.  Hard to expect much else than that here.  PU: 13--UW: 35

Northwestern Wildcats @ Maryland Terrapins
Draper: I inadvertently skipped this game the first time through, posted and it didn't save the next time, so 3rd times a charm.  Accidentally forgetting this game pretty much hits the nail on the head for this "middle child" game.  All other games have an identity of potential upset or circle of suck (RU/Ill) but this game is the "oh yeah, these schools still have teams don't they" type game.  Maryland has Bobby Boucher suiting up at QB and we are officially in the 2nd half of the season which is when Maryland hits that wall and crashes.  Cats take a decent road win against the ICU to get Pat Fitzgerald nearer to that benchmark 6-7 win season.  Yawn...NW: 27 -- MD: 17
Hoying: How bad is Northwestern, really? Getting pasted by Penn State is forgivable, and flagging late against Wisconsin is no problem, but getting blown out by Duke? Struggling against Nevada? The Wildcats are moving the ball behind the arm of Clayton Thorson, but they aren't finishing drives, and they aren't stopping anybody either. Maryland, on the other hand, is a total wild card. Bortenschale is questionable to start on Saturday, which means the Terps may have to pin their hopes on 4th-string QB Caleb Henderson in his first start. Can he play poorly enough to actually give the edge to the 'Cats on the road? Well, we aren't exactly talking about Alabama here. At some point, injuries have to have an impact on a middle-tier program. NW: 23--Mary: 17

Schweinfurth: Northwestern's defense actually looked very good against Penn St. last week. Saquan Barkley was held to negative yards into the third quarter last week. Maryland is now on QB number 4?!? Ouch. I know teams can win with a 3rd stringer, but #4? Good night sweet prince. NW: 20--Mary: 6
Seeberg:  Maryland this season is a fantastic case study of what happens to typical college football programs when QB #1 and QB #2 go down (2014 Ohio State?  NOT typical).  The Terrapins dropped 51 at Texas week one, and only 55 points in their other 3 games combined versus D I-A competition.  Until their TD drive late in the 4th quarter at the 'Shoe, Maryland had roughly 35 yards of offense for the entire game.  Obviously the Wildcat D is not nearly as formidable, but they should be able to score enough to outlast the Terrapins at home.  NW: 31--Mary: 20

Michigan State Spartans @ Minnesota Golden Gophers
Draper: Sparty, N..YES! The Spartans finally broke through to expose a horribly overrated Michigan (offense) and did just enough in the monsoon to keep little brother down.  This week presents a return to normalcy....bad news for the Spartans.  Dantonio gets his squad up for those big matchups, but tends to fall flat in a dumb game or two during the year.  Honestly, I don't think MSU is very good, but we've seen those rowing the boat in Minneapolis need some more work.  Minnesota jumps out to an early lead but the Spartans just keep chipping away until they sneak away with another win keeping PJ Fleck's inaugural season on the disappointing side. MSU: 27--Minn: 24
Hoying: Lost in the shuffle of last week's big win over big brother was MSU's complete inability to move the ball in the second half. The Spartans didn't so much as pick up a first down until their final drive. Sure, the defense looked great, but a good deal of that can be attributed to the Wolverines' ineptitude (see above), and the rain. Now, I checked the weather report, and it is supposed to rain on Saturday in Minneapolis. But the Gophers' new cult leader coach is looking for a statement win after puzzling losses to Purdue and Maryland, and a Sparty letdown after riding high all week provides a perfect opportunity. MSU: 24--Minn: 27

Schweinfurth: I loved every minute of the MSU game last week (you can never get enough Harbooger tears)...and it came down to a very close spot on a 4th down (let's pause so I can stop laughing maniacally). That being said, MSU's offense was very, very bad in the second half last week with their first second half first down comming on the game clinching drive. However, a win like that can springboard a team to bigger things. This game should be close as I think both teams are rebuilding. That Sparty momentum from last week brings home the W. MSU: 21--Minn: 17
Seeberg:  Interesting how we've heard markedly less from hyperactive toddler/head football coach P.J. Fleck after his 0-2 conference start.  Unfortunately, an actually respected program is now coming to town.  Quite honestly, this has the feel of a trap game, with Sparty feeling good after swimming their way to a win over "big brother" last week, but I don't think Dantonio will let that happen.  Gophers hang close, but Sparty closes the door late.  MSU: 27--Minn: 17

THE Ohio State Buckeyes @ Nebraska Cornhuskers
Draper: After the debacle vs. the Sooners, Buckeye Nation knew that they had 3 weeks of crap to get things right followed by a step up in Maryland and Nebraska.  So far, so good, but progress is always needed.  Taking your game on the road to Lincoln is always interesting, but the Bucks have had extreme success vs. the Huskers.  I think the Bucks keep in the upswing with JT and co. and the defense harasses Tanner "Pick 6" Lee all day.  2 turnovers forced with 4 sacks pair nicely with 250+ passing and rushing.  The balanced attack sends the Bucks to the bye week on another uptick.  In a surprise twist, the Buckeye special teams will also not look like hot garbage this week (maybe just garbage...but baby steps).  OSU: 51--Neb: 17
Hoying: Everyone complaining about JT Barrett (who has been fantastic for the last month) might remember a young man named Joe Bauserman. After getting chased out of the starting QB spot by a hotshot freshman named Braxton Miller, Bauserman found himself back in the game to protect a 21 point lead in Lincoln. Yes, Braxton went down with an injury and the Buckeyes went down with him, suffering their only loss to the Huskers in 5 tries. Since then, the once vaunted Blackshirt defense hasn't been able to put a dent in the Buckeye attack, giving up 63 points in 2012 and another 62 last year. Any reason to believe this year will be different? Well, the Huskers are at home this time, and...well, they suck more than usual. The front seven will feast, the offense will move the ball at will, Tanner Lee might show a flash of brilliance or two, and the Urban death machine will crank right on toward Penn State. OSU: 45--Neb: 24

Schweinfurth: Good lord special teams. Are we just looking to have one unit totally suck every week? This is the last chance to get it together before the blue and white kitties come to town. I still don't know what to think of the secondary and this game will finally shed a bit more light on them. I have really liked the game plan the last few weeks. You can finally see Wilson and Day's fingerprints on the passing game. I just have one request this week...pull the starters if you get up by 35 this week. No need to risk injury in a game that shouldn't really be close. I do like a little more ground and pound this week. I think the best news for this game is that Joe "Bauserbomb" Bauserman isn't available and that the Walrus isn't calling the plays. This shouldn't be much of a game after the 1st quarter. OSU: 56--Neb: 10
Seeberg:  Nebraska is a 24-point home 'dog this week, the worst it's been in over half a century.  This number might have something to do with the 62-3 beatdown suffered at the hands of the Bucks last season.  Nebraska looked decent for a half against Wiscy before being ground down into submission.  This pundit hopes a similar tactic is employed in Lincoln this Saturday evening.  A healthy dose of J.K. and Mike should open up some intermediate passing routes and wear down the Husker D.  A 59-point margin of victory might be asking for a bit too much, but anything over that 24-point spread still looks darn good to me.  Oh, AND FOR THE LOVE OF ALL THINGS HOLY CAN WE NOT LOOK LIKE CONFUSED 6TH GRADERS ON SPECIAL TEAMS THIS WEEK???  Thanks.  OSU: 41--Neb: 13

Upset Special
Draper: Texas over Oklahoma
Hoying: Georgia Tech over Miami

Schweinfurth: K-State over TCU
Seeberg: Cal over Washington State

Monday, October 09, 2017

Grading the Bucks: Week 6 -- Maryland

Offense: A
Another fantastic performance by the buckeye offense.  JT was phenomenal again as was pretty much all of the offense.  The only negative was the random Dobbins fumble that is correctable for the future. It's actually a good thing as it will teach him the importance of ball security in a moment when it didn't hurt the team.  I still claim Weber is the Buckeye's #1 back at this point in his career, but the sky's the limit for JK.  The receivers are progressing as is the scheme.  Maryland is not a great team, but a definite step up from Rutgers.  Haskins still has a way to go as shown by more indecisiveness and ball security issues. 

Defense: A
The Bullets did what they should have to the 3rd string Maryland QB.  Bortenschlager couldn't do anything, and let's be honest, the entire Terp offense was ineffective until the Bucks checked out.  The D-line was spectacular as usual and the linebackers showed up for a game!  Let's hope there's more of that to come.  The secondary even showed some life which is great.  The highest point of the game came from the beautiful CLEAN hit by Denzel Ward and the even better call by national treasure, Gus Johnson.  Hurt. My. Feelings (don't sleep on the "WOOOOOO") By the way, the Ozone can help us understand targeting in these confusing times.

Special Teams: BUTT
What can you say? What could have gone wrong, did.  The only things we missed we fumbling a kick and a punt return.  Let's list the flaws: 100 yard kickoff return, missed PAT, blocked FG, short punt, and kickoff out of bounds (AGAIN!!).  This was a pathetic display and Urban needs to get a new philosophy. Pinning the opponent deep is great in theory, but if you can't place the kick or, you know, tackle, just boot it deep.  Not like a mistake in the kicking game ever cost someone a game...oh wait.

Coaching: A
The scheme has improved every week which is incredibly satisfying.  JT's skills are being highlighted more and more as are the receivers (Victor with the jump ball and getting Parris in space).  Utilizing the middle of the field has been a major boon.  How they replace Bowen on the O-line will be very interesting going forward.

Overall: A-
For a weird game with a great deal of mistakes, it was TOTALLY one sided.  The defense completely blanked the Terps (until the 3rd stringers were in--after a bad fumble by Haskins).  The minus is for the complete crap on special teams, but credit the offense and defense for fantastic games.  No I don't care much about the targeting penalties.  The first was awesome and not targeting and the second was just dumb.  Keep getting better.

Thursday, October 05, 2017

Week 6: Homecoming

Standings
1. Draper (15-6, 1-4 upset)
2. Schweinfurth (14-7, 0-5 upset)
3. Hoying (13-8, 0-5 upset)
4. Seeberg (12-9, 1-4 upset)

Louisville Cardinals @ NC State Wolfpack
Draper: Is NCState for real? They took down the Noles but that seems like not a big deal any more.  Louisville laid a monster egg versus the defending champs which may not be a huge deal since Clemson is a juggernaut, but they looked passive and rolled over.  Raleigh on Thursday night is an interesting snake pit.  Lamar Jackson is clearly the best talent on the field but I think the Wolfpack defense might have surpassed the Caradinals.  It comes down to Jackson vs. the NC State line...which I think might actually be a push.  Does the craziness on the basketball side affect Petrino and Co.? Probably not, but I like the Pack to pull the upset and send the Cards home crying. UL: 24--NCSt 27
Hoying: OK, Cardinals. Getting past Murray State is one thing, but how will you fare in your first road test since your coach was...wait, what was that? It was Louisville's other scummy coach who was terminated in disgrace? Ah, OK then, back to football. Lamar Jackson continues to do Lamar Jackson things, except against Clemson. And NC State is not quite Clemson. The Wolfpack have righted the ship after an embarrassing home opener loss to big dumb Will Muschamp's Gamecocks, rolling off 4 straight including knocking off FSU in Tallahassee. Whose hot streak will end? Well, there's an extra variable in the equation: this game is on Thursday night. Louisville, as mentioned above, just got done playing Murray State, which really means they've been spending 2 weeks getting ready for this one. It's just too much to ask NC State to be fully ready for this one 5 days after a slugfest with Syracuse. Cards win close. UL: 31--NCSt: 27

Schweinfurth: Everyone seems to be all up on the Wolfpack. I guess beating Florida State will do that for you. Don't overlook the fact that FSU is severely depleted and could barely move the ball, even last week. Louisville on the other hand has a dynamic offense with Llamar Jackson leading the way. I can see the Pack keeping it close for a while, but Jackson is just too much. This one isn't as close as the experts think. UL: 35--NCSt: 20
Seeberg:  Ah yes, the yearly question looms:  What ranked team will the Wolfpack mysteriously beat before settling back into their 8-4, 7-5 mediocrity?  Yes they beat Florida State already, but that hardly seems to qualify.  After this one they have two more chances to beat a ranked team, and my money is on them beating Notre Dame.  That means this one just can't end their way.  Might be close, but the Wolfpack can't kick for crap, and it will cost them in this one.  UL: 35--NCSt: 34

Miami Hurricanes @ Florida State Seminoles 
Draper: What to do? I really believe FSU has the better talent, but they are just playing like a pile of warm poo.  The offensive line is a train wreck but the skill positions show flashes every once in a while.  Miami has looked good, but not great all year.  Will the bling make the difference? FYI: Miami is on a 7 game losing streak to the Noles including last years "Block at the Rock".  The question is: will the Noles rise up and take pride in what the season still could be, or simply throw in the towel? Heck, I have a one game lead.  Might as well throw my co-conspirators a bone and pick this with heart.  There's no evidence that the Noles should win...but screw Miami.  I hate them.  UM: 16--FSU: 17
Hoying: If one team wins 7 straight games in a series, does it even count as a rivalry anymore? (Hmmm...what if they win 14 of 16...?) The Canes have managed to put a scare into the Noles a few times in this last decade, coming a blocked extra point away from forcing OT last season, but FSU has always found a way to come out on top. Problem: this year, Florida State doesn't have Dalvin Cook at RB, and they don't have, well, anyone at QB, and Miami boasts a fierce pass rush looking to make what's-his-name pay. Yeah, the defense still works for Florida State, but Da U seems to be the complete package this year in a way they haven't been since the late Coker years (not the early Coker years). Did you see what they did to Duke last week? UM: 24--FSU: 17

Schweinfurth: Miami looks to have finally turned the corner with Mike Richt at the helm. They are getting Florida State at a very good time. The Noles' defense is still very, very good but that offense is stinky. It shows why the backup QB is the back up. I fully expect Miami to win this game, but the rivalry and FSU's defense keeps this close to be a good one. UM: 17--FSU: 14
Seeberg:  This should have been a marquee matchup at the start of the year, but a massive injury to Francois has turned Florida State listless.  I took Duke on a flyer last week against the 'Canes and regretted it as Miami pulled away for a convincing W.  Their D is much better than anticipated, and with a still-unproven backup signal-caller for the Seminoles it's just not a great recipe for Florida State to get their season back on track.  Fittingly, the Hurricanes win another one.  UM: 23--FSU: 13

West Virginia Mountaineers @ TCU Horned Frogs
Draper: TCU is firing on all cylinders right now, but Holgo likes to come in and wreck up the place.  The problem is that WVU and Will Grier isn't as good as I would have expected.  TCU shut down Mason Rudolph and the Pokes which is a much bigger challenge than the Mountaineers so I expect more of the same.  I know little about the other side of the ball for either team, but the Frogs should be able to score on a traditionally hapless West Virginia squad.  Fort Worth will be fired up to keep TCU laser focused on those in Norman.  WVU: 17--TCU: 31
Hoying: I feel like I've seen this one before. Hot team with lights-out passing game padding their stats against the cream puff gallery, now plays TCU. The last time this happened, TCU was on the road, and they flat out embarrassed Oklahoma State. Anyone want to make the case that Will Grier and the 'Neers can succeed where Mason Rudolph and the 'Pokes failed? Unless you think WVU's defense is going to deliver them? WVU: 23--TCU: 34

Schweinfurth: Man, TCU's defense is for real. WVU just doesn't do it for me. It seems like every WVU game I watch, the "improved defense" is exposed and give up chunk plays. TCU is on fire and looks to be one of the two best teams in the Big 12. I can see this getting ugly. WVU: 17--TCU: 38
Seeberg:  We all know Va Tech dispatched the Mountaineers with ease in week one, and even though Clemson didn't let Sandman enter into their victory in Blacksburg, if you dig into the stats, they were pretty even throughout.  Only three Hokie turnovers turned the game in Clemson's favor.  Essentially, what I'm saying is Va Tech is pretty darn good and that loss by West Virginia wasn't too bad.  Nevertheless, TCU can score with anyone and is actually playing a reasonable amount of defense- a rarity in the Big 12.  Tough to picture WVU heading into Horned Frog territory and escaping with a win.  WVU: 27--TCU: 42

Maryland Terrapins @ THE Ohio State University Buckeyes
Draper: I'm glad I had some Buckeye offense to plow my sidewalk for the last couple of weeks.  Maryland is one of those sneaky teams this year with the surprising 3-1 start.  Max Bortenschlager is the 70213498th string QB but has filled in quite well considering the situation.  D.J. Durkin wasn't expected to defeat the 'new-Purdue' (every year darkhorse that underperforms) but they took down the Gophers...at home.  This week will be very different.  The Buckeyes are hitting their stride on offense, and I really think we are only scratching the surface of the possible at this point.  Every week, the offense gets a little better against these bad defenses.  Maryland is a little better on defense, but OSU is a lot better on offense.  JT will continue his growth with these coaches and receivers as he MIGHT actually play late in the 3rd quarter this week.  I'm going with a heavy 1-2 punch of Dobbins and Weber with some JT sprinkled in on the ground.  The Buckeye D-line will harry Goldschlager to no end and force >=3 turnovers.  This will be closer than the last 2 games...and still not close.  JT throws for 3 scores and 275+ and runs for another.  Bucks keep rolling.  Mary: 10 -- OSU: 48
Hoying: Riddle me this: the Buckeyes take on Rutgers, who lost to the B1G East last year by a combined score of 288-40, and Ohio State opens -28. Now, the Buckeyes return home to face Maryland, a team that just knocked off undefeated Minnesota in the twin cities, and Ohio State opens -32. Maybe Vegas knows something I don't, like last year when Ohio State was -17 against top ten Nebraska and won 62-3. What I do know is that JT is scarlet-hot once again and the receivers have started to do their part to make a play or two as well. On the other side of the ball, is it appropriate to be concerned with the defense after a shutout? Yes, Rutgers had trouble moving the ball but I noticed a worrying amount of overpursuit and players being out of position (*cough* *Baker*). Maryland waterboy Max Bortenschlager is looking to make OSU pay, and if 2015 taught us anything, it's that the Silver Bullets have fits with backup mobile QBs. Am I worried? No. Just, no. No. Mary: 13--OSU: 52

Schweinfurth: Hey look, a test for the secondary! Okay, not a great one, but still better than Army, UNLV, and Buttgers. I'll mostly be watching to see if there has been any growth with the young corners. I still don't think these guys are ready to play man defense. Let's also see if the linebackers (looking at you Jarome Baker) stay disciplined and in position. The offense has had a couple of weeks to work the kinks out of the passing game, and I like the concepts that have been added by Day and Wilson. I doubt we see Dobbins and Weber on the field together until Penn State (why tip your hand), but both guys should get their touches and hopefully each goes for 100. Maryland will move the ball, especially through the air but the Bucks run away as usual. Mary: 20--OSU: 45
Seeberg:  Be wary, Buckeye fans, the Terrapins are on the verge of respectability again.  An impressive victory at Minnesota with a backup-backup QB is definitely something to hang their proverbial hat on, not to mention dropping half a hundred on the Longhorns in week one.  I still worry that the recent passing game success will go to Kevin Wilson's head and the Buckeye offense will struggle early.  However, as soon as we just hand the bleeping ball off to Dobbins and Weber, everything else will be fine.  Maryland scores early, but the Buckeyes score early and often.  Mary: 17--OSU: 49

Upset Special
Draper: Oregon over Wazzu
Hoying: Nebraska over Wisconsin

Schweinfurth: Northwestern over Penn St.
Seeberg: Michigan State over Michigan

Monday, October 02, 2017

Grading the Bucks: Week 5 -- Rutgers

Another little sister of the poor...another blowout.  The shutout was an unexpected surprise but it is Rutgers after all.  Here lies Rutgers....he never scored.

Offense: A
JT looked great again, albeit against subpar competition (but is there anything he could have done to satisfy Buckeye Nation at this game? Literally anything?).  The receivers still dropped some passes that would have lessened the talk of JT's supposed inability to throw midrange-deep passes but I digress.  While the receivers did have some dropsies, there were also some nice grabs (see Binjamin Victor for 6).  Let us not forget to wish Mike Weber a hearty welcome back.  Buckeye fans who have been calling for Dobbins to be the lead back have forgotten how good Mike Weber was last year.  Now that the injury is almost gone, I'm excited to see the thunder and lightning approach in the backfield.  Get rid of the stupid penalties (McLaurin) and we'd be good.  Very little to be upset about in this game.

Defense: A
I believe the bright spot for Rutgers came on a 40 yard or so screen pass.  Other than that, the Buckeye D was phenomenal.  The shutout was flukey with the missed chip shot FG late (#karma for kicking to break the shutout) but the defensive line was just monstrous.  Linebacker play has been 'eh' all year, but Rutgers couldn't exploit it.  Fellow Let's Go Bucks contributor Steven Hoying brought up an excellent point concerning the disappearance of Baker in 2017.  Let's hope he rights the ship soon because isolated plays focused on him were not friendly to Buckeye success.

Special Teams: A-
No kicks out of bounds! Hooray! Chrisman has been a treasure this year completely unexpectedly.  Yeah, he had 1 clunker in this game (hence the -) but 13/18 punts have been downed inside the 20 with 1 touchback.  That's a ridiculous stat with 5 50+ yarders.  The coverage units were much better in this game (but it was Rutgers).  Return game still needs work (especially punt return).

Coaching: A
See what happens when you finally let JT throw intermediate passes in the middle of the field? Great scheme and playcalling for pretty much the whole game.  56-0? What could the coaches have done better?

Overall: A
56-0....Not as good as last year but I think I'll let that slide.  Good night Sweet Buttgers.

Friday, September 29, 2017

Week 5: In Which Ohio State Plays Rutgers

Standings
1. Draper (11-5, 1-3 upset)
2. Schweinfurth (10-6, 0-4 upset)
3. Seeberg (9-7, 1-3 upset)
3. Hoying (9-7, 0-4 upset)

Miami Hurricanes @ Duke Blue Devils
Draper: Many will see this as a total mismatch.  One of these teams has won the Coastal Division in their history while the other has wallowed in obscurity while a member of the ACC.  The Duke powerhouse is only 4 years removed from the ACC title game, but Miami might be ready to take a step forward (yes, Miami has never won the Coastal).  Two years ago had one of the most epic endings ever with 17 laterals giving the Hurricanes the victory at the buzzer. Miami had their Hurricane Irma swoon in the first half vs. Toledo but righted the ship.  Duke isn't a pushover, but the Canes have too much firepower.  UM: 30--Duke: 21
Hoying: Time to weigh in on two teams I know almost nothing about (aka most teams this year). These ACC powerhouses have played 6 games between them without dropping any of them. And the Blue Devils have some actual wins over actual teams from the B1G, the B12, and the ACC, while Miami has been picking up the pieces from Hurricane Irma before returning to overcome the Toledo Rockets last week. Duke has had a nice run over the last few years under Cutcliffe (except for last season's hiccup), but Mark Richt has put the 'Canes on a path to recapture the glory of finishing 2nd in the Coastal Division every year. Canes take this one on the road. UM: 27--Duke: 21
Schweinfurth: Let's be honest, I really haven't been paying attention to anyone other than Clemson and FSU (Week 1) in the ACC this year. Duke has had some nice seasons the last few years. Let's be honest, it's still Duke football. I think they hang tough but this is Miami after all. UM: 35--Duke: 20
Seeberg: Tough not to feel for the Hurricanes, who still haven't played a power five opponent thanks to, well, actual hurricanes.  Toledo nearly took advantage of that and led Miami at half last week, only to see Miami explode for 6 second-half TDs.  Duke, meanwhile, has beaten THREE power 5 teams by an average of 16 points.  David Cutcliffe has brought the Duke football program to actual credibility and near-relevance.  A win over the still-readjusting, top-15 Hurricanes might just get the Blue Devils over the top.  Prepare for a Coach K like performance as the Dukies get their long-awaited signature win.  UM: 24--Duke: 31

USC Trojans @ Washington State Cougars
Draper: While Mike Leach may be an evil genius, he seems to have trouble in these big games (at Wazzu).  Clearly, the Trojans have the better talent, but they've been up and down, especially vs. mid level teams.  The Cougars and Mike Leach comprise one of my favorite assemblages of offensive brainpower and scheme, they don't have the horses to compete.  This feels like a "statement" game for the Trojans against a mediocre team beset by injuries.  Don't put it past Wazzu to use some black pirate magic to keep in interesting, but Sam Darnold and the Trojans get a nice road win in Pullman.  USC: 37--WSU: 27
Hoying: You know you've reached the big time when your undefeated, ranked matchup is kicking off at 10:30 on a Friday night. When USC started the season ranked #4, I raised a skeptical eyebrow. Sure, they finished last season ranked #3 (despite 3 losses), and they have everybody's favorite mediocre-producing Heisman candidate and second coming of Peyton Manning, Sam Darnold. But this is a team that's been "back" at least half a dozen times since they were last relevant around 2008, and they've won the Pac-12 exactly zero times since then. OK, so USC might be overrated; who's going to step up and take them down? Cal fell flat against a lackluster Trojan effort last week, but can the Cougs get it done? QB Luke Falk has picked up where he left off last year (and the rest of the team is perfectly capable of mounting double digit comebacks with him off the field, right Boise State?). Running the ball is optional, though, and a one-dimensional offense isn't going to be enough to apply a statistical correction to USC. Not yet. USC: 41--WSU: 24
Schweinfurth: It seems like everyone is on the Sam Darnold train. The more I watch and see stats, the less impressed I am. The dude throws at least 1 pick a game. That's good right? Wazzu can put up points in a hurry (hello air raid) but doesn't play much defense, a Mike Leach special. I think the Trojans win a shootout with Darnold putting up the numbers everyone expects...just with a couple of INTs to keep the Cougs in it. USC: 52--WSU: 42
Seeberg:  USC has been very Cedar Point-like this weekend, rolling up and down and in and out like a coaster.  Lackluster performances against Texas and Western Michigan sandwiched around a blasting of Stanford.  WASU, meanwhile, has quietly started 4-0 with such quality wins as...um...uh...Boise State despite giving up 44 points at home??  Tough to see USC not putting up at least that much offensively and, thereby, tough to see the Cougs keeping up.  Trojans fight on.  USC: 48--WSU: 28

Clemson Tigers @ Virginia Tech Hokies
Draper: I hate to say this, but Clemson is really, really good.  They may stumble out of the gates, but the talent is overpowering.  The Hokies have Blacksburg rocking Enter Sandman at night, but can they take down the new monster of the ACC? My money says no.  The Clemson D is stifling and Bryant is a very good QB running the offense.  Too much Tigers.  Good night sweet Hokie Bird. Clem: 27--VT: 10
Hoying: I'm done picking against Clemson unless I have a really, really good reason to. They're like the ACC version of Alabama or Ohio State. Clem: 34--VT: 20
Schweinfurth: This game screams of a blood bath. Clemson's defensive front is the best in college football. I mean there is no way VaTech moves the football consistently. The Tigers are the best team in the ACC and show it. Clem: 35--VT: 10
Seeberg:  Both teams here have quality wins over nonconference opponents (WVU for Va Tech, Auburn for Clemson) and are riding high early in the season.  Having been to Va Tech in 2015 I can honestly say it is by FAR the best atmosphere in a visiting stadium I have ever experienced (and I've been in the Big House for The Game twice).  Va Tech is good, the venue is superb, but that won't be enough to last all four quarters.  Clemson's D-line is too deep and athletic, and will wear the Hokies down in the second half, much like the Buckeyes do to their opponents.  Tigers pull away late.  Clem: 35--VT: 17

Mississippi State Bulldogs @ Auburn Tigers
Draper:  Time for the other "ranked" matchup of the week.  Two mediocre SEC West squads pandering to be Bama's number 2.  These teams appear to be near mirror images of talent.  Stidham vs. Mitchell.  I don't know.  When in doubt, pick the home team.  If this was in StarkVegas, I'd lean CLANGA, but the Tigers reign supreme in Jordan Hare (in a game no one cares about).  MSU: 17--Aub: 21
Hoying: Good to see that this is still a ranked matchup after Mississippi State got utterly pasted by Georgia last week. Must be that quality win over the LSU team that limped past Syracuse last week. It seems that the most impressive achievement of either of these teams was Auburn's narrow loss to Clemson. When in doubt, pick the home team, especially at night (Eastern time, anyway). MSU: 17--Aub: 20
Schweinfurth: Two SEC teams that aren't Bama which means a snoozefest. Bad offense or good defenses? Who cares, this won't be worth watching until the 4th quarter. I'll take the Tigers are at home. MSU: 10--Aub: 14
Seeberg:  I can't decide if I put too much stock in LSU (that MSU destroyed) or too much stock in MSU (that Georgia destroyed).  Either way, I think Auburn is less bipolar- and at home- so I'm going with the Tigers. MSU: 16--Aub: 27

THE Ohio State University Buckeyes @ Rutgers Scarlet Knights
Draper: Hooray for the famed matchup vs. Buttgers! This has been an annual curb-stomping and I don't expect different this year. Yeah, Rutgers played Washington tough, but Urban's squad was focused by the loss and, let's face it, they have more talent than the Huskies.  Chris Ash is getting Rutgers near the corner of actually winning a close game, but he's not there yet...and OSU won't give him the opportunity.  The defense will give a bit through the air, but the offense is what to focus on this week.  Last week's glorified scrimmage shored up parts of the passing game.  Let's see if we can keep moving in the right direction.  If the passing game sputters on the road, we still have JKLOL and a newly healthy Mike Weber to carry the load.  I think the offense might spend a little more time working on the run this week just like they focused on the pass last week.  Keep em guessing.  Bucks big.  OSU:55--Buttgers: 17
Hoying: Ohio State has played Rutgers 3 times in its storied history. 56-17, 49-7, 58-0. Following these trend lines, the final score of this one should be something like 60 to negative 8. Is Rutgers any better this year? Well, they lost to Eastern Michigan a couple of weeks ago, so no. The Scarlet Knights did play Nebraska tough last week, but not as tough as Northern Illinois did. Maybe Rutgers would fare better if they added a directional word to their name. Like "Rutgers, the State University of Northeastern New Jersey." I hope no restaurants are offering promotions based on the margin of victory in this one. OSU: 52--RSUNJ: 10
Schweinfurth: I still can't believe this is a night game. This should look a lot like last week. JT leads the Bucks to a MASSIVE first half lead and turns it over to Haskins. I guess the bright spot in this game, and last week, is that the backups get some live fire reps and get on tape to get better. Just get out of this game with no injuries, get Weber about 10 snaps, Dobbins his 100 yards, work on the pass D, etc. Feel for Chris Ash. His former boss has no mercy for inferior opponents, especially conference teams. OSU: 56--RSUNJ aka NY's CFB team: 9
Seeberg:  Ah yes, a night game at Rutgers with Greg Schiano in attendance.  Wait a minute, is it 2006?  For Rutgers, the answer to that question is, sadly, no...and Schiano now patrols the opposing sideline.  Rutgers does seem to be improving as this season wears on, but so to are the Buckeyes, now including a healthy Mike Weber!  I expect the defense to look good, and I REALLY hope the offense goes berserk to shut some people up.  I still worry the coaching staff is too enamored with the pass, but last week may have just been to try to work some of the kinks out against a laughably inferior opponent.  In any case, Rutgers isn't a whole lot better, so don't expect this one to be much closer.  OSU: 48--RSUNJ: 14 

Upset Special
Draper: Tennessee over Georgia
Hoying: Northern Illinois over San Diego State
Schweinfurth: Ole Miss over Bama (someone has to pick it)
Seeberg:  Vanderbilt over Florida

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Grading the Bucks: Week 4--UNLV

Sorry for the late post.  This will be a short one.  Not a ton of insightful takeaways here.

Offense: A-
JT looked fine but I don't take a lot out of the game given the level of competition.  Honestly, what did you expect him to do? I'll talk about the playcalling later but there was little to nitpick offensively other than the turnovers at the goalline.  Obviously, ball security is of paramount importance, but that was really the only negative.  Buckeye Nation got a dose of reality regarding Dwayne Haskins.  Yes, he did look really good, but there are certainly some inconsistencies (the pick six and a few misses).  Yes, JT has those misses periodically and I don't know if he could have made that throw to CJ Saunders, but Haskins is much more of a gunslinger and plays his game that way.  JT is simply more risk averse (and maybe that's a better strategy with the talent disparity--but no definite answer).  I would like to see Saunders get some time with the 1s as he seems to be a nice little wide receiver with actual hands and route-running ability.

Defense: A-
Again, what can you say.  The starters (for the most part) did what they should have done with a few exceptions (the first half score probably shouldn't have happened).  The D-line is still ridiculously good and the secondary still has holes but that's to be expected when the entire last 2 years secondary is playing on Sundays.  I don't really care much about the second half (offensively or defensively) because that just provided time for the backups to see the field.  Good experience, but not a measure of the team going forward.

Special Teams: A-
Man, I really want to give an A with the nice return by Parris, but you know where I'm going.  Coverage was better this week against an inferior opponent, but I will lose all my hair with these kickoffs out of bounds.  There is simply not reason.

Coaching: A-
I was interested to see the coaching staff go completely into practice mode for this game.  There was a clear agenda to work on the passing game and I really did like the approach.  The running game is fine and we don't need a lot of tuning up in game situations so why bother with it.  JT went play action on almost every "obvious" running down because that's what needs work (and it seemed to show good results).  I absolutely LOVE the fact that the playcalling started utilizing the middle of the field in the intermediate passing game which I feel is JT's strength.  If we can keep working there and add in some of those nice fades in the red zone, we might have something.  Obviously, this wasn't a perfect game, but the playcalling and execution took a step up (yes, I know it was UNLV, but be happy when something positive occurs).

Overall: A-
Nice win.  Didn't learn anything new but got to practice some new concepts as well as get the backups some live action.  Concerning Haskins, don't get me wrong: he has some incredible tools that could lead to fantastic quarterback play, but I feel he showed a few chinks (not to say JT doesn't have them) that leads me to trust the coaches.  I literally heard on radio personalities in Columbus who should know better say (in back to back sentences) that we can't take anything from JT's nice showing and 5 TD- 0 int- 0 punt performance because of the weak opponent, but Haskins 2 TD- 1 int- multiple punt performance against the same team shows he has the skills and it's time to consider a change.  You can't have it both ways.  Either the opponent sucked and we need to take these stats with a grain of salt (my personal opinion) or we have incredibly meaningful data.  Haskins has shown so great high spots but is inconsistent.  JT's ceiling may be a bit lower (definitely in the passing game) but his mental grasp of the game and consistency will keep him in the driver's seat for the foreseeable future.  On to Buttgers.


Friday, September 22, 2017

Week 4: You Rebel Scum

Standings
1. Draper (8-4, 1-2 upset)
1. Hoying (7-5, 0-3 upset)
3. Schweinfuth (7-5, 0-3 upset)
4. Seeberg (7-5, 0-3 upset)

TCU Horned Frogs @ Oklahoma State Cowboys
Draper:We always hear of TCU preparing to emerge and bring defense to the Big12 with the lightning of Kenny Trill....but they don't have the world's most glorious mullet and Mason Rudolph.  Yeah, the Pokes haven't reallly played anyone of note, but Pitt kept it close with PSU (kind of).  The Pitt massacre was on in the first 20 minutes.  I don't know much about the Horned Frogs, but I love me some Okie State right now.  Fly Mullet, Fly!  TCU: 24--OkSt: 45
Hoying: The Pokes are the hot team on everyone's lips after dismantling...Pitt...last week, but TCU is the team that already has a win over a (possibly) real live team in this young season. 2 weeks ago, the Horned Frogs rolled into Fayetteville and shut down Arkansas. Stopping Mason Rudolph will be a bit of a steeper task; TCU held him to 207 yards and 50% passing last year but still got their doors blown off in a 31-6 rout. This year should be closer, with the Cowboys still emerging victorious. TCU: 17--OkSt: 27
Schweinfurth: Mike Gundy may no longer be 40, but he is still a man and he's 50! What I'm getting at here is that the Oklahoma State offense seems unstoppable. The Fun and Gun is back baby! Oh yea, the really haven't faced a defense with a pulse either. TCU at least tries on defense. It's still not going to be enough. OSU has to put up at least 40 right? TCU just doesn't have the horses to score with the Pokes. TCU: 28--OSU: 42
Seeberg:  Well, this year hasn't started out all that way for the prognosticators here at Let's Go Bucks.  Lots of tricky games this week, such as this Stillwater shootout.  TCU will likely get at least into the 30s, but it's tough to imagine them keeping Mason Rudolph and Co. out of the 40s.  Cowboys pull away late.  TCU: 35--OkSt: 45

Mississippi State Bulldogs @ Georgia Bulldogs
Draper: Cue Schweinfurth with the "I'm picking the Bulldogs to win" joke.  If you read the column last week (as you should every week), you would seen that I gave you the big CLANGA win over LSU.  Is it time for the annual UGA crap themselves game? I don't think we're quite there yet (but it's coming).  The power of the CLANGA doesn't make it to Athens this week as Stark Vegas brought the pain last week.  Chubb and Michel keep the Dawgs from UGA perfect until the annual meltdown.  MSU: 20 -- UGA: 31
Hoying: Wow, Georgia! Big win over ranked opponent! Great power running game! And Mississippi State has them...outclassed on both fronts? Yes, these Bulldogs are 3-0 for the first time since they shot all the way up to #1 in 2014 behind the arm of Dak Prescott, and they're looking to prove that their win over LSU was no fluke. Their winning ways should continue between the hedges. MSU: 31--UGA: 24
Schweinfurth: Hey Draper, there is a big difference here: one is the Bulldogs, the other is CLANGA!! Mississippi State did get the big win over LSU, but the Tigers can't get out of their own way. I'm not sold on either of these teams but I have to go with the known commodity in this game. It's Chubby Time! MSU: 14--UGA: 24
Seeberg:  I'm not entirely certain what to make of this matchup.  LSU got their doors blown off in Starkville last week, but now MSU is on the road.  Still, UGA hasn't beaten anybody of consequence yet, and the SEC East doesn't provide too many of those matchups anyhow.  Roll CLANGA (ugh).  MSU: 31--UGA: 21

Penn State Nittany Lions @ Iowa Hawkeyes
Draper: I don't know how good PSU really is after a lackluster win over Pitt (I don't care about the other crappy shutouts).  I think they're pretty good (maybe not as good as last year) but outside of Barkley, I don't see a difference maker.  The difference is that I really don't see Iowa as anything more than a mirage.  The miracle comeback for the CyHawk is nice and likely got Ferentz another bajillion dollars, but I think Iowa is another 6-7 win yawner of a team in a pedestrian division.  Weird things happen in Iowa City at night, but I just don't see it here.  While I'd love a return to the 6-4 game, I'll go a touch higher. PSU: 30--Iowa: 13
Hoying: How good is Penn State, really? They've looked sharp on both sides of the ball, barely having to break a sweat on their way to 3-0. Meanwhile, Iowa struggled with their in-state rivals, like they do every year, and haven't really given too many flashes of brilliance lately outside of last year's stunner against Michigan. I don't really think they're going to test Penn State this week, either. PSU: 27--Iowa: 10
Schweinfurth: I honestly do not get the Iowa hype this year. They are a power running team with 3 RBs but had trouble with Iowa State. Penn State has a much better defense than the Cyclones. Everyone is calling Saquan Barkley the next (insert last great B1G running back) and he has earned some comparisons. The Nittany Lions have perfected the run, run, run, play 500 offense. It will get them through this game, but watch to see how many times McSorley gets hit. PSU: 35--Iowa: 17
Seeberg:  This is a night game (lol).  People are trying to convince you it will be close.  It won't be.  Iowa was in a game with freakin' Wyoming for 3 quarters.  Roar Lions Roar.  PSU: 38--Iowa: 14

UNLV Rebels @ THE Ohio State University Buckeyes
Draper: What do you say about this game? There is no reason this should be close at half.  Last week was expected with the weird offensive scheme.  This week offers no excuses.  Bucks FINALLLY break 50 and look like a reasonable offense (not that I expect that to continue past this week).  The defensive starters are out in the 4th quarter so a garbage TD is surrendered but no one really cares.  Come enjoy the big red blob.  That should be the most exciting part of the game! UNLV: 10--OSU: 52
Hoying: The good news is, even if Ohio State were to lose this game, they wouldn't be suffering the worst upset ever. That distinction belongs to the visiting Rebels of UNLV, who dropped a game to 45-point underdog Howard in their opener. Still, this is a pretty severe mismatch, now that the Buckeye offense is back on track. JT's setting more records, JK's breaking long TD runs, and the receivers...sure can block. Bucks keep on rolling through cupcake city. UNLV: 10--OSU: 45
Schweinfurth: This game will be UGLY. UNLV lost to Howard (look them up). This is a true "get healthy" game. Find an offensive identity and establish it. If it's running, run the damn ball. If its a RPO team, then run that offense, but settle on something. The linebackers and secondary need all the live fire they can get and this is the perfect opportunity. Don't get hurt and get Dobbins his 150. UNLV: 7--OSU: 49 
Seeberg:  In stark contrast to the game above, nobody is trying to convince you this will be a game, and it sure as heck better not be.  I am concerned that the offensive masterminds will beat their collective heads against the wall trying to throw passes for awhile, and honestly even that would produce a win.  Hopefully, however, the run is used early and often and J.T. can hang out on the bench after an opening TD drive in the 3rd quarter, particularly since it'll be 90 tomorrow...wasn't it supposed to be the start of fall today?  Oh well, stay healthy Bucks and let's get to B1G play.  UNLV: 10--OSU: 56

Upset Special
Draper: Purdue over Michigan
Hoying: Kentucky over Florida
Schweinfurth: Cal over USC
Seeberg:  NC State over Florida State (sorry, Chief)