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A big hug for John Simon
Dave Thurman (5:54 pm) @DThurman7

"The Game" rarely lacks drama although RichRod tried his best to spoil it when he brought some pathetic teams into the greatest rivalry in college sports.  But that is past history, and the first edition of the Urban Legend vs. Hoke the Joke promised to be a terrific game.  In spite of some big plays and a close final score it wasn't terrific, as neither team played crisp football.  But it certainly didn't lack for drama, as Ohio State went for a perfect season and Meyer aimed for his first victory against that team from up north.

So what stood out on a cold early afternoon in Columbus?

A Fired Up Coach and an Amped Up Team

Urban was not lacking in passion, as evidenced the day before when he shed a few tears while closing with his memorable quote, "Let's beat the s#&* out of Michigan."  While I love his emotion and the fact that Meyer "gets" this rivalry, he may have been a little too amped up.  Emotion is a funny thing, because too little of it will kill a team, but too much can cause a squad to make mistakes.  I thought some of the early penalties and missed assignments indicated a team that was sky high and playing with almost too much passion.  Still, I will take that over the opposite, any day of the week.

Some Ultra Cool Uniforms

In past years the Nike Combat Uniforms have brought mixed reviews, but what wasn't to like about this year's version?  The helmets featured a wide stripe and large, green Buckeye leaves that had a retro feel about them.  I also loved the colors and the large numbers, and felt that these uniforms were enough like what the team normally wears that it was still recognizably Ohio State on the field.  In fact I wouldn't mind seeing these unis used again in the future.


 
 
Drew Thurman (8:21 am) @osusilverbullet

12-0.

On the last weekend in November, under snow flurries and gray skies, the Buckeyes completed the sixth perfect season in the school's history (previous: 1916, 1944, 1954, 1968, 2002). While the result meant a spotless record for the 2012 season, the game definitely was marred with blemishes.

If you were like me, you cringed a lot throughout the game. Penalties, turnovers and poor execution plagued the Buckeyes in Urban Meyer's first Michigan-Ohio State game, and one had to wonder if it some point the culmination of so many missed opportunities would come back to spoil the afternoon.

I mean let's be honest, there seemed to be plenty of frustrating moments. There was Philly Brown's muffed punt. There was the roughing the kicker penalty. There was Denard Robinson's 67 yard touchdown scamper. There was the sack and missed field goal after getting to Michigan's 4 yard line. There was Braxton's fumble deep inside Michigan's territory. That's just the tip of the iceberg too. It was a would have, could have kind of game, and teams just don't win those. At some point all those shortcomings are supposed to come back to haunt you.

Unbelievably they didn't.

 
 
 
 
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Dave Thurman (9:11 am) @Dthurman7

Important Data:

Mascot: Wolverines
Stadium: Michigan Stadium (109,901)
2011 Record: 11-2
2012 Record: 8-3
Head Coach: Brady Hoke  (2nd year at Michigan, 19-5; 66-55 overall)
Letterman Returning: (50; lost - 24)
Returning Starters: Offense -  6; Defense - 7; Specialists - 2
Base Defense: 4-3
Base Offense: Ace (3 Wide Receivers)

Notable Alumni: 

Gerald Ford, 38th President of the United States
Charlie Gehringer, Baseball Hall of Famer
Tony Fadell, Inventor of the iPod
Lucy Liu, Actress
Tom Brady, NFL quarterback (two time Super Bowl MVP)
Desmond Howard, Heisman Trophy Winner; sporstcaster
James Earl Jones, Actor
William Mayo, Cofounder of the Mayo Clinic

Cheerleader Scouting Report:

Cast of Characters:
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#12 Quarterback, Devin Gardner

Gardner was a wide receiver for most of the season, and was pretty good (16, 266, 4), but after Robinson was injured and Russell Bellomy was clearly in over his head, Devin came to the rescue and played so well that he should start at quarterback Saturday.  He is hitting 65.7% of his passes, with 7 TD's and 3 INT's.  Gardener is a threat to run and has rushed for 6 TD's.

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#16 Quarterback/Running Back, Denard Robinson

"Shoelace" has had trouble staying healthy but is an amazing runner, going over 1000 yards rushing for the third straight season, totaling 1044 yards so far at 7.3 ypc.  Passing has never been his strong suit, and this year he has as many interceptions (9) as touchdowns.  Look for him to line up in the backfield with Gardener a good deal of the time on Saturday.  

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#10 Wide Receiver, Jeremy Gallon

The diminutive (5'8") Gallon doesn't get talked about as much as Roy Roundtree but has better numbers this year, with 34 catches, 617 yards and 2 TD's.  The fleet footed receiver is also the Wolverine's main punt returner, and has rushed 11 times for 67 yards, so the coaching staff looks for multiple ways to get him the ball.

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#47 Linebacker, Jake Ryan

One wonders if Ryan is trying to look like Clay Matthews, and while his game isn't at that level he is pretty good, leading Michigan with 75 tackles, with 13 for loss including 3.5 sacks.  Jake has also broken up 3 passes and forced 3 fumbles, and will be a key to slowing down Carlos Hyde and Braxton Miller in the running game.   

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#11 Safety, Jordan Kovacs

A fifth-year senior from Curtice, Ohio, Kovacs has played a lot of minutes in his UM career, having started over 40 games.  In 2010 he led Michigan with 110 tackles, and though his role has changed he is still active, and has totaled 59 stops so far this year with 5 for loss, 2 sacks and an interception.  He is better defensing the run than the pass, something OSU may try to take advantage of.  

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Head Coach, Brady Hoke

Yes, he does look like Fred Flintstone and it is enjoyable to make fun of the big guy, but he has done a very good job of digging Michigan out of the hole RichRod dug for them.  A former UM assistant coach, Hoke was the head man at Ball State and San Diego before coming to Ann Arbor a year ago, leading them to 11 wins and a Sugar Bowl victory in his initial season.  


 
 
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Dave Thurman (0:00 am) @Dthurman7

Important Data:

Mascot: Badgers
Stadium: Camp Randall (80,321)
2011 Record: 11-3
2012 Record: 7-3
Head Coach: Bert Bielema (7th year at Wisconsin, 67-22)
Letterman Returning: (41; lost - 16)
Returning Starters: Offense -  5; Defense - 6; Specialists - 0
Base Defense: 4-3
Base Offense: Power-I and Ace (2 Tight Ends)

Notable Alumni: 

Mike Webster - NFL Hall of Famer
Steve Miller - Musician (Steve Miller Band)
Charles Lindbergh - Aviator
Elroy Hirsch - Pro Football Hall of Famer
Frank Lloyd Wright - Architect
John Wilce - Former Buckeye football coach (in College Football Hall of Fame)
Greta Van Susteren - Television broadcaster
Bud Selig - MLB commissioner

Cheerleader Scouting Report:

Cast of Characters:
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#10 Quarterback, Curt Phillips

Who saw this coming?  A year after the Russell Wilson transfer worked so well, Badger fans thought another transfer, Danny O'Brien would be the man in 2012.  When he disappointed the coaches turned to redshirt frosh Joel Stave.  When he got hurt they tapped the little used redshirt senior Phillips, who has battle injuries throughout his career.  He looked good against Indiana and now gets OSU!

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#28 Running Back, Montee Ball

The stud for the Badgers is senior Montee Ball who returned after rushing for 1923 yards and 33 TD's a year ago.  After a slow start, Ball is back in form and comes into this game with 1226 yards and 16 TD's.  There are bigger backs and faster runners in the nation, but nobody who runs tougher than Ball.  He actually shares time with  James White, giving the Badgers an incredible 1-2 punch.

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#4 Wide Receiver, Jared Abbredaris

The Badgers may be a running team but they have a big-time receiver in teh skinny Abbredaris.  Playing with Wilson in 2011 he snared 55 catches for 933 yards.  This year he has worked with three different quarterbacks but has still managed 38 catches for 698 yards and 5 TD's.  He has made a bunch of big plays and now plays a team that has been burned a number of times in 2012.

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#53 Linebacker, Mike Taylor

The unquestioned leader of the Badger D is 5th year senior Taylor, who registered an eye popping 150 tackles last year, and so far in 2012 has 95 stops including 12 for loss.  He is a hard-nosed prototypical linebacker, who pairs with Ohio native Chris Borland who has 82 tackles, 4.5 sacks, and 6 passes defensed.  These guys will test Braxton Miller and Carlos Hyde for sure.

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#10 Cornerback, Devin Smith

Another fifth year senior, Smith started way back in 2009 but came off the bench in 2010, and was hurt last year.  This season he has been their best defesnive back, and has totaled 48 sacks, with 13 passes defensed, including 3 interceptions.  He is solid against the run, and by far the best cover player on a team that has struggled to stop good passing attacks.  

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Head Coach Bert Bielema 

The surly Bielema is certainly not a Buckeye favorite, and seems to truly hate Ohio State.  Despite his crying over Urban Meyer stealing Kyle Dodson, the big guy has done a pretty good job at Wisconsin.  The UW fans were on his case after going 7-6 in his third season, but since then he has won 10,11 and 11 games coming into this year.  A former offensive lineman, he loves physical football.


 
 
Corey Andry (12:31 pm) @CoreyAndry

Last Saturday’s matchup between Texas A&M and Alabama presented me with a slight conundrum as an LSU fan. Of course, like most fans of SEC teams, I love to gloat over the conference’s five consecutive BCS National Championships. Furthermore, I understand the benefit that each SEC team receives from such a streak.

However, knowing that LSU’s most hated foe was the SEC’s best, if not only, shot at a national title this year, I was forced to choose between SEC supremacy and my hatred for Alabama. Ultimately, I chose SEC supremacy but to no avail. “Johnny Football” and the Aggies pulled off a great win over the Tide and left them on the outside of the national title picture… for now.

So what are the SEC’s chances of a sixth straight national title?

I don’t believe a one loss SEC champion, whether it is Alabama, Florida or Georgia, has chance to edge out any of these top three teams should they remain undefeated. Thus, the only chance for an SEC national title is that two of the top three teams lose.

#1 Kansas State seems like the least likely to stumble. The Wildcats have passed some significant tests with flying colors and really only have one more left. This week they play a bad Baylor team. Then they will have two weeks to prepare for #15 Texas at home. Texas has the offense to give themselves a chance in that game, but with a lackluster defense, odds are slim that Texas could go into Bill Snyder Stadium and actually beat Snyder himself. Chance of losing – 20%

#2 Oregon seems most likely to stumble. The Ducks have rolled over pretty much everybody with that Lamborghini offense including three ranked opponents. However, their last two games might be their two biggest tests with #16 Stanford in Eugene this weekend and then #16 Oregon State in Corvallis on November 24th, where the in-state rivals will get a chance to shoot down the Duck’s title hopes. Don’t forget that Oregon will also have to play a PAC 12 championship game against either UCLA or USC. Chance of losing – 55%

#3 Notre Dame, as I have said all year, could fall to anyone. Their two remaining games include a less than mediocre Wake Forest at home and a west coast trip to Los Angeles to play USC. Wake Forest should be a none threat, but Notre Dame is more than capable of shooting themselves in the foot. The USC game seems like a dream dasher waiting to happen. Matt Barkley’s senior year has not been anything it was supposed to be, but a game against Notre Dame at home on prime time national television is a great chance to redeem some of that. Notre Dame should be very wary of this game. Chance of losing – 35%

Should two of these three teams lose, the one loss SEC champion will almost assuredly slide into the #2 ranking. Chance of an SEC team making the title game – 30%
 
 
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My B1G Game of the Week: #6 Ohio State vs. Wisconsin
Zach Clark (12:44 pm) @Zach_TSB

Saturday: 

Northwestern (+7) [7-3] vs. Michigan State (-7) [5-5]

2011 Records: Northwestern 6-7 and Michigan State 11-3
Game Time: 12:00 PM Eastern
Channel: ESPN2/WatchESPN
Prediction: Northwestern 13 – Michigan State 24

With Northwestern dropping its last 3 out of 5 and Michigan State losing its last 3 out of 4, both teams enter Week 12 looking to turn things around and end the 2012 season strong.  Despite the Wildcats’ impressive 7-3 record, they are surprisingly .500 in B1G play and face an elite 11th ranked (points against) Spartan defense on Saturday at noon.  Mark Dantonio may have his flaws as a head coach, but I strongly believe that two weeks preparation for an average Northwestern offense provides ample time for Dantonio and a tough Spartan defense to effectively game plan for Wildcat playmakers Kain Colter and Venric Mark.  I see a close game early, but the Spartans surely covering the 7-point spread.

Iowa [4-6] vs. #23 Michigan [7-3]

2011 Records: Iowa 7-6 and Michigan 11-2
Game Time: 12:00 PM Eastern
Channel: ESPN/ESPN 3D
Prediction: Iowa 10 – Michigan 34

Coming off heartbreaking 3-point losses to both Indiana state powerhouses (Indiana and Purdue), this deflated Iowa team should extend their 4-game losing streak to 5 in Ann Arbor this Saturday.  The Hawkeyes have consistently ranked in the 100’s for points scored, and they now sit at 104th in the country, averaging 20.8 points per game.  The lone bright statistic Iowa ranks well in, points against (29th), is more of an indicator of B1G offensive mediocrity than Iowa defensive dominance.  The Wolverines, on the other hand, have won 5 out of their last 6, all with effective backup quarterback Devin Gardner.  Despite Denard Robinson’s status yet again being unclear for Week 12, I fully expect Michigan to roll over the Hawkeyes at home. 


 
 
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Aaron Craft started 2012-13 in top form
Dave Thurman @Dthurman7 (9:26 pm)

And Then There Were Four:  While the Buckeyes didn't play this past weekend, you have to believe that most of the players watched some of the other top teams in the nation with interest.  Of course, both Alabama and Louisville left the realm of the undefeated, meaning that only four BCS teams are still unblemished: Oregon, Kansas State, Notre Dame, and Ohio State. Once again it is a reminder of how hard it is to go through a year without a loss.  I don't care which conference you are in or who you play, it is really difficult to navigate through an entire year without stumbling at some point.  

Of course the big news heard round the college football world was the Alabama loss, as they were defeated at home by Texas A&M.  Although everyone knew the Aggies can score points behind boy wonder Johnny Manziel, nobody thought they would beat a team that some felt was good enough to play in the NFL.  Personally, I am thrilled when an SEC frontrunner takes it on the chin, and it would make me very happy to see a BCS National Championship Game without a team from the $EC, but I'm not holding my breath.  There's still a lot of football to be played, and the powers that be love those southern teams.

Some Buckeye fans were upset that Ohio State didn't move up in the AP rankings this week, with both Alabama and Georgia, at 9-1, rated ahead of the Buckeyes who check in at 6th in the poll.  Honestly, considering how weak the B1G is this year, and how soft our pre-conference schedule was, I can't complain.  But if OSU were eligible for a bowl this year I'm sure I would feel differently, and would be lobbying to see "our" boys get to the National Championship Game!

So what are the odds of Ohio State winding up perfect in 2012 like they did 10 years ago, when they finished a magic season at 14-0?  A few weeks ago I would have said this squad had about a 1 in 25 chance, but the odds have gone up following two well-played games versus Penn State and Illinois  Still, Wisconsin and Michigan both present tough challenges, and the Bucks may need to play their two best games of the season to finish 12-0.


 
 
Drew Thurman (5:27 pm) @osusilverbullet

If you haven't noticed, the Buckeyes aren't the only ones taking advantage of the bye week. Things have been a little crazy for our staff, and thus the blog has been a bit slow this week. We've got plenty coming your way the rest of the week though, including lots of basketball coverage.

Enough about us though. There's plenty of action going on in Buckeye Nation, so let's get to it.

Miler's Heisman Hopes

Even though the 2012 Buckeyes are unable to play for a National Championship, B1G Title or even a bowl game, that won't keep the players and coaches from being able to grab awards and postseason accolades. In fact, one of the most intriguing stories has been Braxton Miller's Heisman chances.  With 1,753 receiving and 1,166 yards rushing for a combined 27 touchdowns, Miller is definitely looking at a chance to make it to New York. Currently ESPN has him in 5th:

 
 
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Dave Thurman (9:17 am) @DThurman7

If you like easy wins, power running, and good defense then Saturday was a very good day as a Buckeye fan.  For the first time since the Miami (OH) win in week one, the team put away an opponent considered to be well below Ohio State in terms of talent.  Think back to games against UAB, Indiana, and Purdue, in particular, and the frustration most of us felt due to OSU playing at the level of the opposition.  In spite of being undefeated, there is no doubt that this squad has not played well against "lesser" competition.  But Saturday, the team came out with an attitude, and took the fight to the (un)Fighting Illini, overwhelming them with power football.  On the heels of a big win at Penn State, it is obvious that the 2012 Buckeyes are getting better, and go into what may be their two toughest games on an upswing.

We could probably stop right there, because there isn't a great need for in-depth analysis of this game.  It was an old fashion butt-whoopin, with OSU winning the battle in the trenches on both sides of the ball.  However, less isn't always more, so I'll take time to mention a few things that stood out to me:

El Guapo Wants 1000

Carlos Hyde is running harder every week, and while he may not have the greatest vision or moves, nobody can fault #34 for his effort.  Saturday he rushed for 138 yards on just 18 carries, scoring three times.  In spite of missing two and a half games due to injury, Hyde now has 738 yards and 13 touchdowns in 2012, and seems determined to put together a 1000 yard year.  It won't be easy, with Wisconsin and Michigan left on the schedule, but don't bet against "El Guapo."  It is fun to watch him put his head down and run with reckless abandon, and his yards after contact are especially impressive.