I just want to take a minute to wish my good friend Marvin Lewis a happy birthday. The Bengals head coach celebrated earlier this week by firing long-time assistant, and most recent Bengals’ offensive coordinator, Ken Zampese. He followed it up by letting the team know that Zampese didn’t get himself fired, the team did, and if they don’t turn things around soon then they may be next. While I admire the motivational tactic, I think Marvin may be the next one on the chopping block if the Bengals fortunes don’t change soon. It seems like at least one NFL expert agrees with me. A few more ugly losses and Marvin may not make it past the bye week. So, like I said, Happy Birthday Marvin! And now that we’ve gotten things off to such a positive note, welcome to another edition of Wake Up With Whitty…
Oh, hello there. I didn’t see you come in. I was too busy reading last week’s Wake Up With Whitty. Look at me. So young and innocent. So vibrant and happy. So optimistic and full of enthusiasm. So ignorant and naive. A lot has happened since we last met. The Buckeyes were beaten by the Sooners. Baker Mayfield planted an Oklahoma flag right through my heart. The Bengals lost. Twice. People are calling for quarterback changes on both teams. The Reds were officially eliminated from playoff contention (we knew that was coming months ago, but it still stings when it becomes official). Now I sit here, dejected. Jaded. My spirit broken. I hate sports. Here’s Wake Up With Whitty:
Welcome to another edition of Wake Up With Whitty. There’s a lot to be excited about this weekend with some big college football matchups, including No. 2 Ohio State against No. 5 Oklahoma, which has huge playoff implications. The NFL season is finally underway as well, and if football isn’t your thing, the MLB playoff races are heating up as that season enters the home stretch. There’s a little something for everyone this weekend, which is why this is hands down the best time of the year for sports fans. So while you’re waiting for that chili to finish cooking before your favorite team kicks off this weekend, check out this week’s Wake Up With Whitty and let me know what you think.
Good morning and welcome to another edition of Wake Up With Whitty. College football is officially here, as we have a full slate of games ahead of us today. Among those games is possibly one of the most anticipated season openers ever, #1 Alabama vs #3 Florida State. This very well could be a preview of one of our College Football Playoff matchups. Several other teams kicked off their seasons earlier this week, including the Ohio State Buckeyes (check out my recap here) and the Cincinnati Bearcats, who both opened the season with wins on Thursday night. If you’re looking to kill some time between now and that next big game, then check out this edition of Wake Up With Whitty and let me know what you think.
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It was a tale of two halves in Bloomington tonight, as the Buckeyes pulled out a 49-21 victory. Things started out promising as Ohio State moved down the field relatively quickly before stalling out inside the 10 yard line and settling for the field goal. Indiana then took it straight down the field and took the lead on a Richard Lagow to Ian Thomas pass. The teams then traded punts over the next several drives before the Buckeyes brought it back within 1 with another field goal. Lagow found Simmie Cobbs for a touchdown on the ensuing Indiana drive and OSU capped of the first half scoring with an Antonio Williams touchdown.
Indiana was moving the ball pretty handily during the first half, and the Buckeyes were unable to make adjustments thanks to the Hoosiers’ fast pace. Lagow finished the game with 410 passing yards and 3 touchdowns. He looked particularly sharp in the first half, getting the ball out quickly and not allowing the Buckeye defense to get much pressure on him. Cobbs looked very impressive at receiver for IU, including some spectacular one-handed grabs. It’s safe to say that Cobbs will be playing on Sundays in the near future.
Things took a dramatic turn in the second half as Ohio State showed why they’re the #2 ranked team in the country. The Buckeyes scored on 5 of their 7 second half possessions, and should have had a 6th if not for a dropped pass in the end zone by Parris Campbell. Campbell more than made up for it by scampering to a 74-yard score on a slant from Barrett later in the half. Barrett shared the wealth, hitting 3 different receivers for touchdowns in the second half, while running for one himself as well.
By contrast, the Hoosiers only managed one second half score, and had 4 three-and-outs against the the Buckeyes defense. Ohio State’s second half adjustments worked wonders. The secondary switched up coverages, preventing Lagow from picking them apart like he did in the first half and allowing the front 4 to get some pressure on the quarterback. Ohio State ended the game with 5 sacks, including two by Tyquan Lewis and one by Nick Bosa.
Probably the most impressive performance of the night was by Buckeyes’ true freshman running back JK Dobbins. Thrusted into the starting position due to a lingering hamstring injury for Mike Weber, Dobbins only managed to set an OSU record for most rushing yards by a true freshman running back in his debut. Dobbins finished with 181 yards on 29 carries. He failed to reach the end zone as his potential scoring opportunities were sniped by Antonio Williams, but he showed exactly why Buckeyes fans need to be excited about this kid’s future. He may not have stolen the starting job from Weber just yet, but it’s clear that Ohio State will have to make him a significant part of the offense going forward.
The Buckeyes now have 9 days to prepare for a visit from the Oklahoma Sooners. Don’t expect a blowout like last year’s matchup in Norman. Heisman hopeful Baker Mayfield will be looking to exact some revenge and first year head coach Lincoln Riley will be looking for his first big statement win. This game may very well have playoff implications, so expect a battle in Ohio State’s home opener.
1. Ohio State has spent more time atop the AP poll than any other team in college football history. The Buckeyes have found themselves at number 1 a total of 105 times. Their 871 weeks in the top 25 also ranks first among all schools. This year they start out ranked #2, behind Alabama, but there’s a strong possibility that the Buckeyes spend some at the #1 spot this year. Of course it doesn’t really matter where you start, it’s all about where you finish. Urban Meyer has the Bucks ready to go and, barring any major setbacks, the Buckeyes should return to the College Football Playoff for a chance to redeem themselves after last season’s abysmal semi-finals performance. Ohio State has the talent and the coaching staff to run the table this year, but they’re going to need be more consistent in all facets of the game. Of course you can’t go 14-0 without first going 1-0, and we’re just a day away from seeing if the Buckeyes will start the season unblemished. It’s bound to be an exciting season, and I fully expect to see the Buckeyes hoist the National Championship trophy in January.
2. There have many great Buckeyes to wear the number 2, particularly in recent years. The one that stands out to me the most is Mike Doss. The hard-hitting safety ranks 11th in school history for career tackles at Ohio State, and is first all time for career tackles by a defensive back. The three-time All American helped lead the Buckeyes to a national title during the 2002 season, a season in which he was named Big 10 Defensive Player of the Year. Doss also added 8 career interceptions, which is no small feat for a strong safety whose primary role was run support. Doss was a special talent and is probably my next favorite defensive Buckeye ever after AJ Hawk. There were many OSU greats to wear #2, but Doss was #1 in my eyes.
7. Ohio State’s seven Heisman trophies ties them with Notre Dame and USC for the most of all time. The Buckeyes also have the distinction of having the only two-time Heisman trophy winner in Archie Griffin. The school has a history of great athletes and legendary players. If all goes well this year, Ohio State could take the lead for themselves with eight Heisman trophies. JT Barrett is currently on the short list of Heisman trophy favorites this season, and at the very least should find himself with an invitation to Manhattan at the end of the year. Already one of the most prolific quarterbacks in OSU history, bringing home the top award in college football would cement his legacy as one of the greatest Buckeyes ever. He has the skills and a talented, albeit relatively unproven, supporting cast to do it. If he lives up to his potential this could be a special season for the Buckeyes.
13. Ohio State ranked 13th in the nation in points per game during the 2016 season. Ohio State’s 39.4 points per game were less than a touchdown shy of Western Kentucky’s 45.5, which led all teams. The Buckeyes exceeded the 60 point mark three times during the season, but they also failed to top 30 points on four occasions and required overtime to hit that mark in two others. It was feast or famine for the Buckeyes’ offense, and you never knew which OSU team was going to show up on any given Saturday. The Buckeyes were also aided by 7 defensive touchdowns during the year. The offensive weapons are there this year, but to have any chance of making it back to the college football playoff they’ll have to use them effectively. While a strong defense is a key component of a championship caliber team, you can’t rely on your defense for points if you hope to win it all.
14. Ohio State’s last national title came just 3 short years ago following the 2014 season. That was the first year of the new college football playoff system. The year got off to a rough start with starting quarterback Braxton Miller re-injuring his surgically repaired shoulder in training camp, ending his season before it even began. Freshman quarterback JT Barrett was thrust into the starting role, but the Buckeyes stumbled out of the gate, losing at home to a mediocre Virginia Tech team during the second week of the season. While things were looking bleak at the time, Ohio State righted the ship and Barrett went on to have one of the greatest seasons for a quarterback in OSU history. Heading into the last game of the year against Michigan the Buckeyes were flying high, having climbed back up to #6 in the AP poll. Things once again took a turn for the worst when JT Barrett went down with a broken leg late in the game, ending his season as well. The outlook was not positive for the Buckeyes as they were essentially down to their third string quarterback heading into the Big 10 Championship game against Wisconsin. That all changed with a 59-0 OSU rout, and from there the Buckeyes went on to defeat Alabama and Oregon to become the first ever champion in the new College Football Playoff era. The 2014 season had its ups and downs, but will ultimately go down as one of the best seasons in OSU history.