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_The Buckeyes have their first road game in B1G play tonight, in one of the toughest settings in college basketball, Assembly Hall. The #15 ranked Hoosiers are much more imposing than in recent years too, though they are coming off their first loss of the season at Michigan State, 80-65. They'll be looking to rebound tonight and possibly relive their upset of #1 Kentucky just a few weeks ago.

For a full rundown on the game, click here.

The game tips at 6 PM ET on the ESPN 2, but the LiveBlog will get going at 5:30. Joining us as usual will be Men of the Scarlet and Gray, Our Honor Defend, The Buckeye Battle Cry, Buckeye House Call, the Buckeye Blog, Scarlet and Game, and Fox Sports Ohio.

LiveBlog after the break!

 
 
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Sully: The key to a victory at Bloomington
Dave Thurman (12:06 pm)

The 2nd ranked Buckeyes travel to Bloomington, Indiana, on the final day of 2011 to take on the number 13 Indiana Hoosiers in an early B1G game that has conference title implications.  Although everyone expected IU to be greatly improved nobody thought they would start the season 12-0 including a win against then number one ranked Kentucky.  The 6 PM tip-off is being televised by ESPN2 and should be a physical game that goes down to the wire.  The Buckeyes are favored by 4 points, but will face a tough test in what I believe is their most important game thus far in the 2011-12 season.  Let's take a moment to do a position by position analysis, then notice a few intangibles, and finally, make a prediction. 

Position by Position:

Forward: Deshaun Thomas (15.9 ppg, 4.1 rpg) vs. Christian Watford (13.3 ppg, 5.5 rpg)

This is a good matchup, as both Thomas and Watford can score inside and out.  Deshaun has come a long way this year and has carried the team on occasion, most notably at South Carolina.  Watford, who is two inches taller, is the better defender and rebounder, and has shown improved shooting skills, including hitting the game winning three-pointer against Kentucky.  Because he is more seasoned, and playing at home, I'll give a slight advantage to Watford.

Forward/Center: Jared Sullinger (16.3 ppg, 9.6 rpg) vs. Cody Zeller (14.2 ppg, 6.9 rpg)

This is the key matchup of the game in my opinion.  Zeller is a talented freshman who has spurred the Hoosiers revival but struggled against the rugged Michigan State front line in Indiana's opening conference loss.  He likes to run the floor and score in transition, while Sully prefers to post up on the blocks.  Although Jared will want to be physical he can't afford to get in foul trouble, which is something to watch.  If he can stay on the floor I think he will be too much for the tall, thin freshman.  Advantage: Sullinger.

 
 
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Camren Williams caught my eye throughout practice.
Drew Thurman (8:51 am)

The East Squad practice is where I devoted most of my attention in the first day of practice since Demetrious Cox, Jordan Diamond and Camren Williams were all there. Not only are those three some of the hottest names left on the board for the Buckeyes, but they are some of the best rated prospects in this game.

Unlike at the West practice, the portion I saw of the East practice was much more toned down and focused on fundamentals. They did open with a group of Marines leading the warm-up, which had to be one of the most interesting few moments of any football practice ever (or should I say boot camp). Afterwards they focused on special teams and positional drills, before finally getting into some offensive-defensive sets. Let's take a look at how Cox, Diamond and Williams looked, and where things stand in their recruitment. 

Demetrious Cox

One of the first guys that caught my eye when I first showed up was Cox. He was one of the quickest guys in the speed drills and seems to run so effortlessly. He did look a little raw in coverage later in the practice though, and had coaches working with him several times. Some of that can be credited to shaking off some rust on the football field.

"It feels great to be out here," Cox said. "It's been awhile since I put my gear on, I'm in basketball right now. I feel good and I'm ready to get things cracking."

Cox is also getting used to playing exclusively on the defensive side of the ball, as his focus has been at quarterback over the last several years.

"It feels a little weird just playing safety. I can adjust to it, but I'm just used to having the ball in my hands."

 
 
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Bam Bradley isn't sure he's ready to announce.
Drew Thurman (7:23 pm)

Today was the first of four days worth of practices for the guys in the Semper Fidelis All-American Bowl, which is played on January 3rd. While no Buckeye commitments are playing in the game, there are a handful of prospects on both teams. Bam Bradley and Alex Kozan will be playing for the West Squad, while Demetrious Cox, Jordan Diamond and Camren Williams are playing for the East.

At the West practice, I got a chance to take in a very hard hitting first day of practice featuring Bradley and Kozan. While Bradley could easily pass as an outside linebacker right now, he still showed the quickness to play safety. The West coaches had the offense in a lot of spread formations, and Bradley was in one-on-one coverage most of the afternoon instead of playing deep safety. Bradley held his own too, shutting down practically everyone he guarded, including Greg Garmon. He also stood out as one of the most competitive guys on the field.

"I'm trying to get the M.V.P. trophy," Bradley said. "If they're handing one out, I'm trying to get it."

As for his college choice, there have been many reports saying that Bradley will be announcing at the game what his final destination will be. While that still could happen, he made it clear that he will not announce if he is not ready.

"They (Semper Fi Bowl) asked me and I told them if I am ready then I will, but I also told them if I didn't feel ready, I wouldn't rush into it. I'm playing it day by day. I'm still praying on it and still asking my mom, and I'll know Tuesday if I'm ready to announce."

 
 
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Dave Thurman (4:20 pm)

As January 2nd draws closer Buckeye nation is beginning to warm up to the idea of playing the Florida Gators.  Although both teams are a disappointing 6-6, it is still a compelling matchup, made all the more interesting because of the Urban Meyer connection with both programs. And it is always fascinating to see which team in a bowl game has made the most changes and adjustments since the end of the regular season.  Astute fans also watch with hopes of picking up clues in regard to the next season, as young players start to get more playing time.  

Although there are many things I will be watching for in this game, I have to confess that my focus will be on the defense, first and foremost. Don't get me wrong, I will also be observing the OSU offense.  I am interested to see if Braxton Miller has continued to progress, and will do a better job of reading the opposing defensive schemes now that he has more practices and film analysis under his belt.  And, it will be exciting to see if any of the young receivers has stepped up and is ready to become a big time player in the future.  But, it is the defense that tuly has my attention.

So what exactly will I be watching for as my eyes fix on the Ohio State defensive unit?

1) Will the team do a better job of playing in space and tackling in the open field?  As the Silver Bullets were repeatedly gashed this year the most glaring problem was tackling, with both the linebacking corp and secondary whiffing on opposing ball carriers over and over again.  Some of it was due to poor spacing, and some was due to poor tackling form, but is has to be corrected if this team is going to move forward.  Maybe the past six weeks has given coaches a chance to teach fundementals and improve technique.  I know that I'll be watching.

 
 
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_B1G play is finally upon us. The Buckeyes host Northwestern (10-2) tonight in Value City Arena, in what should prove to be a tough test. The Wildcats, led by junior forwards John Shurna (19.4 ppg, 6.0 rpg) and Drew Crawford (18.1 ppg, 5.0 rpg), are hoping to end a 30 game losing streak in Columbus. They fought hard in both contests against OSU last year, and outside of a 69-41 beatdown against Baylor have looked very strong this season. Sullinger is as healthy as he has been in weeks, and Matta and company are hoping to regain the momentum they had after the Duke game. 

The game tips at 5:30 PM ET on the Big Ten Network, but the LiveBlog will get going at 5. Joining us as usual will be Men of the Scarlet and Gray, Our Honor Defend, The Buckeye Battle Cry, Buckeye House Call, the Buckeye Blog, Scarlet and Game, and Fox Sports Ohio.

LiveBlog after the break!

 
 
Drew Thurman (1:51 pm)

If you're are a recruiting nut like me, you enjoy the bowl season as much for the All-American games as you do for the bowl games. Buckeye commitments and potential prospects are littered throughout these games, so don't miss out. Below is your guide to each game...
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_Offense-Defense All-American Bowl - December 29th 6:30 p.m. ET

Buckeye Commitments Playing: Joshua Perry, Se'Von Pittman, Bri'onte Dunn, Warren Ball, and Roger Lewis

Buckeye Prospects: None

Others of Note: Keith Byars II, Mauty Mauk, Jonah Pirsig, and Pharaoh Brown

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_Semper Fidelis All-American Bowl - January 3rd 6 p.m. ET (CBS)

Buckeye Commitments Playing: None

Buckeye Prospects: Demetrious Cox, Jordan Diamond, Camren Williams, Bam Bradley, and Alex Kozan

Others of Note: Greg McMullen, V’Angelo Bentley, Rushel Schell, and Deaysean Rippy

 
 
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_Family Feud is a feature where Dave and Drew throw their opinions in on various Buckeye football subjects, which like most father and sons, are quite opposite. This edition takes a detour as they look at the B1G as a whole and the upcoming bowl schedule.  

Buckeye Nation isn't exactly as wired for the bowl season as in past years. The matchup of two 6-6 teams in the TaxSlayer Gator Bowl hardly compares to the BCS battles that Ohio State has been through over the last decade. While some have tried to use the Urban Meyer angle to gain interest in this game, it hardly does enough to make things meaningful. Meyer isn't coaching in the game, and instead fans get one last chance to see Bollman's play calling.

So while the major drama may be missing for the Buckeyes, there is plenty to keep you interested in the bowl season thanks to the Big Ten. The conference has a record 10 teams playing in bowls, including some pretty compelling matchups.
Conference bragging rights will also be at stake again this year, as the Big Ten tries to rebound from 3-5 record from a season ago. Let's take a close look at these games and give some predictions.

Little Caesars Pizza Bowl - Purdue (6-6) vs. Western Michigan (7-5)
TV Details: Today, Dec 27; 4:30 p.m. (ESPN2)

Game Outlook: The Boilermakers find themselves in their first bowl game in four years after winning two of their final three games. They make the trip to Ford Field without their top tackler on defense, Dwayne Beckford (suspended), as well as OJ Ross (suspended) and Ralph Bolden (injured).

On the other side, Western Michigan is trying to win the first bowl game in school history. They rank 22nd in total yards in the country and 18th in points scored on offense mostly thanks to quarterback Alex Carder (3434 yards, 28 touchdowns). In their first two meetings against Big Ten schools this year they fell short, Michigan (34-10) and Illinois (23-20).

Prediction: Dave - Purdue 24, Western Michigan 20; Drew - Purdue 35, Western Michigan 31

 
 
It has been an absolutely crazy year for the Buckeyes and for us personally. Thanks for your support through the good times and the bad in 2011, and for making us one of your online Buckeye destinations. We hope you enjoy this holiday season with family and friends. Merry Christmas!
                                                                                                                                          Dave and Drew (The Silver Bullet)
 
 
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The Buckeyes will get a change of scenery as they play host to the Redhawks (3-5) in Nationwide Arena downtown. It's the final game before B1G season arrives, so hopefully they play with more of a spark than what they showed against Lamar. 

The game tips at 8:30 PM ET, but the LiveBlog will get going at 8. Joining us as usual will be Men of the Scarlet and Gray, Our Honor Defend, The Buckeye Battle Cry, Buckeye House Call, the Buckeye Blog, and Fox Sports Ohio.

LiveBlog after the break!