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Dave Thurman (12:12 pm)

Important Data:

Mascot:
 Spartans
Stadium: Spartan Stadium (75,005)
2011 Record: 11-3
2012 Record: 3-1
Head Coach: Mark Dantonio (6th year at MSU, 47-23; 65-40 overall)
Letterman Returning: (50; lost - 20)
Returning Starters: Offense - 5; Defense - 8; Specialists - 2
Base Defense: 4-3
Base Offense: Ace & Power I

Notable Alumni: 

Herb Adderley, Former NFL player and Hall of Famer
James Caan, Motion Picture Actor
Robin Roberts, former MLB player and Hall of Famer
Robert Urich, TV Actor
Richard Ford, Novelist, author of Independence Day
Earvin "Magic" Johnson, former NBA player and Hall of Famer
Susan Packard, Founder of HGTV

Cheerleader Scouting Report:

Cast of Characters:
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#24 Tailback Le'Veon Bell...The "Bell" Cow

The MSU offense starts and stops with Bell, an Ohioan who was not heavily recruited by the Buckeyes.  At 244 pounds, Bell is a load who some have compared to former Wisconsin star Ron Dayne.  However, he seems to possess more speed and agility than Dayne, and will be a handful for the Silver Bullets, having already tallied 610 rushing yards this season. 

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#80 Dion Sims, Tight End...A Tackle with Soft Hands

An enormous target (6'5". 285) for quarterback Andrew Maxwell, Sims was recruited by the Buckeyes but chose to attend MSU.  His first three years he caught 23 passes all total, but already has grabbed 22 this season, and is the go to player for Maxwell, a quarterback who has struggled at times thus far in 2012.  Sims is a mismatch due to his size, and will be a load for the OSU linebackers and secondary on Saturday. 

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#2 William Gholston, Defensive End...The Smile is Deceiving

One of the fiercest, most talented (and some would say dirtiest) players in the B1G, Gholston is a massive end at 6'7", 278.  The cousin of former Buckeye star Vernon Gholston, William can play the run or pass equally well.  Last year he finished with 70 tackles, including 16 for loss, and thus far in 2012 has registered 14 tackles, with 3 coming for loss.  He will test the OSU tackles, big time.

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#40 Max Bullough, Middle Linebacker...A Throwback Player

In a day and age of smaller, faster linebackers, Bullough reminds you of many old-fashioned Buckeye middle linebackers - big, strong and instinctive.  At 6'3", 252 he is imposing, and is the leading tackler on a tremendous Michigan State defense, with 26 stops, including 3.5 for loss.  A year ago he had 89 tackles, and this fourth year junior will make inside running tough this week.

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#28 Denicos Allen, Outside Linebacker...A Sack Machine

This Hamilton, Ohio, product, is one of several from the Buckeye State on the MSU roster.  He may not be the biggest player on the field, but Allen has a nose for the ball and makes big plays.  Last year he had 83 tackles including a team leading 11 sacks, and so far in 2012 has 17 stops, a sack, a forced fumble and a fumble recovery.  He just beat our CB Johnny Adams for this fifth and final highlight spot. 

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Head Coach Mark Dantonio...In Tress he Trusts

A Zanesville, Ohio native, Dantonio is familiar to Buckeye fans because he was the defensive coordinator in Columbus for three seasons, including the memorable 2002 National Championship team.  From there, Dantonio headed to Cincinnati, serving as the head coach for three seasons, before moving up to East Lansing.  Now in his sixth season, this Tressel disciple has won 11 games each of the past two years. 


 
 
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My B1G Game of the Week: OSU vs. MSU
Zach Clark (8:01 am) @Zach_TSB

Saturday:

Indiana (2-1) vs. Northwestern (4-0)

2011 Records: Indiana 1-11 and Northwestern 6-7
Game Time: 12:00 PM Eastern
Channel: Big Ten Network
Prediction: Indiana 14 Northwestern 35

I am eager for this opening B1G game, as this matchup between the Hoosiers and Wildcats will tell me what kind of team Northwestern really has.  By defeating three respectable non-conference opponents in Syracuse, Vanderbilt, and Boston College, I peg Coach Fitzgerald’s Wildcats among the B1G’s elite.  I’m not sure the B1G can even be considered to have an “elite” group, but let’s pretend.  Despite losing two weeks ago to Ball State 39-41, Indiana surprised me with how many points they put up without injured star QB Tre Roberson.  More shockingly, the Hoosiers committed zero turnovers against Ball State.  Despite the respectable play from an injured IU team, I believe Northwestern is legit and will roll.  I see a 35-14 Wildcat victory and Northwestern covering the 11-point Vegas spread.

Penn State (2-2) vs. Illinois (2-2)

2011 Records: Penn State 9-4 and Illinois 7-6
Game Time: 12:00 PM Eastern
Channel: ESPN/ESPN 3D
Prediction: Penn State 24 Illinois 14

In the Illini’s toughest B1G test at home, Vegas has set the line at 1 point with the Nittany Lions as underdogs.  It’s safe to say this matchup will not be lacking in intensity or emotion, as some offseason turmoil between coaches Bill O’Brien and Tim Beckman has surely been on everyone’s minds this week.  It’s been tough to get a good read on either team thus far in 2012, but Penn State is coming off a big victory and Illinois the exact opposite.  Penn State QB Matt McGloin has finally started to get some help from the run game, and if this continues like I expect it will, they will put up some points on this disappointing Illini defense.  Despite Illini QB Reilly O’Toole’s stellar play as of late, I think the indecision at quarterback on the depth chart and a horrible hangover from a loss to Louisiana Tech will be enough to doom the Fighting Illini. 

Minnesota (4-0) vs. Iowa (2-2)

2011 Records: Minnesota 3-9 and Iowa 7-6
Game Time: 12:00 PM Eastern
Channel: ESPN2/WatchESPN
Prediction: Minnesota 28 Iowa 13

Man do I love college football rivalry games, and for some weird reason, the Battle for the Floyd of Rosedale is one of my favorites.  Since 1891, these crazy Hawkeyes and Gophers have been grueling over a bronze pig-shaped trophy, and Minnesota leads the overall series 61-42-2.


 
 
Drew Thurman (6:01 pm)

Well, a week ago I posed some pretty solid questions (#humblebrag), and pretty much everything  I asked was answered on the field.

This time around though, the questions are going to be a bit bigger. The Buckeyes head into B1G play for the first time ever under Urban Meyer, and find themselves on the road in East Lansing against B1G preseason favorites Michigan State. Both teams have underwhelmed at this point, and are coming off very mediocre performances against some NCAA bottom feeders.

Still, ESPN's College GameDay will be in town to build up some more hype around what could be one of the most important games in the conference this season. The B1G is begging to find a favorite for the conference to stand behind, and Saturday's game will likely produce the "best team in the conference."

So let's take a look a deeper look into the game.

 
 
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Ask not for whom the Bell tolls
Dave Thurman (10:07 am)

It is the middle of the week prior to the first B1G game of the year for our Buckeyes, and it might be the toughest, and most important game of the year.  So, we'll spend our time this week discussing all things Michigan State in preparation for a war at 3:30 Saturday in East Lansing.

Half Full or Empty:  The young, energetic Ohio State football team is 4-0, and depending on your nature, you are either really optimistic about the season, or you think the sky is about to fall starting this Saturday.  Consider the following:

-The Buckeyes offense has been explosive and they have yet to have all their weapons on the field at the same time or The offense has been inconsistent against weak competition and is about to play a really good defense.

-The coaches have been holding back, not showing all their cards, and waiting for this week to unleash the real Buckeye offensive arsenal or Herman and the rest of these guys are confused, failing to exploit obvious weaknesses in the opponents defense.

-The Silver Bullet defense is a work in progress, and is feeling the effects of some injuries along with an offense that strikes quickly, meaning they spend more time on the field than in the past or This is the worst tackling OSU defense in recent memory, made worse by poor scheming from Fickell and company.

-Special teams have veteran kickers and hungry young players on the attack squads, and should come up with a big play any day now or A blocked punt, a missed extra point, a surrendered onside kick and nothing out of the return team means this is a very unspecial OSU special team corps.  

I could go on, but you get the point.  The truth, as is usually the case, probably lies somewhere in between.  Yes, if the team performs Saturday with the lack of execution and intensity they showed against UAB they are in trouble, but I imagine the coaches and players will bring their A game to East Lansing.  Will that be enough?  I'm not sure.  I keep looking at the glass and can't figure out if it is half empty or half full!

On a positive note, Meyer is optimistic as the team heads into the "real" schedule, and that is certainly encouraging.  


 
 
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Illinois Fighting Illini: Week Four’s Most Disappointing B1G Team
Zach Clark (8:56 am)  @Zach_TSB

Saturday:

UAB 15 - #16 Ohio State 29

Most Shocking Statistic: Total Yards: UAB 403, OSU 347

My Ohio State MVP: QB Braxton Miller (12/20-143 yards, 11 carries-64 yards-2 touchdowns)

It was another week of unexpected mediocrity for Ohio State fans, as the Bucks struggled mightily against the Blazers early on.  The Buckeye defense was picked apart by a very bad team, and yet again Braxton Miller was forced to take over the game.  Ohio State coaches seem to indicate that the current OSU defense is more geared toward pro-style offenses (think Michigan State…) rather than spread offenses, and hopefully they aren’t just scrambling for excuses.  Aside from the 4-0 start and the security of having a proven winner like Coach Meyer at the helm, the only thing the Buckeyes have going for them is an extremely weak B1G conference slate.

UTEP 26 - Wisconsin 37

Most Shocking Statistic: Wisconsin 2/8 on 3rd Down Conversions

My Wisconsin MVP: RB Melvin Gordon (8 carries-112 yards-1 touchdown)

Like I predicted, Wisconsin didn’t cover the 18-point spread, but came out victorious.  Although it wasn’t a huge victory for the Badgers, I’ve learned to temper my expectations when it comes to B1G matchups.  Freshman QB Joel Stave put up solid numbers (12/17-210 yards-1 touchdown) and provided better leadership and stability than Danny O’Brien in the first 3 weeks.  Hopefully Wisconsin has somewhat found their groove and can compete in a very weak B1G Leader’s Division.

Central Michigan 32 - Iowa 31

Most Shocking Statistic: Iowa: 9 penalties for 106 yards

My Iowa MVP: RB Mark Weisman (27 carries-217 yards-3 touchdowns)

Not only did Central Michigan cover the 14.5-point spread favoring Iowa, but they defeated the Hawkeyes in Iowa City.  Of Iowa’s 9 penalties for 106 yards, the most crucial came within a minute of the game ending in a Hawkeye victory.  After getting in a scuffle, DL Joe Gaglione was called for a 15-yard personal foul.  This colossally detrimental penalty fueled a short 6-play, 28-yard drive that ended in a 47-yard game-winning field goal for CMU.  Just when the Hawkeyes finally decided to score some points, their defense flopped and allowed 32 points to a poor MAC opponent.  With every disappointing week for the Hawkeyes, I have to wonder what die-hard Iowa fans and Ferentz-supporters think of Kirk’s status in Iowa City.


 
 
Drew Thurman (9:06 pm)

Well, this game wasn't the pre-conference tune-up that everyone expected it to be. The Buckeyes played incredibly uninspired football, and looked much more like the 6-7 team from a year ago than the one fans thought Meyer would transform in year one.

While the Buckeyes have been frustrating at times so far in this young season, Saturday was by far the most exasperating effort they have put forth yet. Against a greatly mismatched UAB team, they managed just 29 total points while giving up over 400 yards of offense. To make matters worse, they also had multiple special teams blunders, meaning they fell short in all three facets of the game.

Still, fans can hang their hats on the fact that this team stands at 4-0. It's not been as pretty as we've hoped thus far, but things could be worse.

So, as usual, let's take a look at all the madness and what stood out from the game.

 
 
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Zach Clark (9:48 am)

It’s never too early to look ahead to upcoming recruiting classes, especially when it comes to possible future Buckeye quarterbacks.  I had a chance to speak with Justin Berry, a 2016 QB prospect from St. Francis High School (Wheaton, IL).  Berry’s dad, Shaon, played running back for Pittsburgh in 1980’s.  Although he’s only a freshman in high school, he brought me up to date with his recruitment thus far.

I know it’s early for you in the recruiting process, but what schools are showing constant interest so far?

I’d say Illinois, Indiana, Ole Miss, and UCLA.  I speak to Illinois coaches weekly and will be visiting both Illinois and Indiana within the next couple weeks.  I spoke to the UCLA coaching staff, and I will probably visit there next summer.  I’ve gotten mail from many other schools and spoken to other coaching staffs, but these four schools are who I talk to the most and on a regular basis.

What schools stand out for you and do you have any favorites?

As of now, I don’t really have any favorites.  Since I was 8 years old, I attended Illinois games, and my dad’s friend from college was on the Illinois coaching staff a few years ago.  I am very close with the Illinois staff and attended two Illinois camps this past summer.  I spoke with Coach Paul Nichols after the camps, and he told me about Illinois’s interest.

How would you describe your game at quarterback?

I’d say that I am a dual-threat quarterback.  I throw the football accurately, but, if needed, I can run.  My deep-ball, accuracy, and velocity are the best things about my game.  I also play safety, and playing defense and reading offenses both help me at the quarterback position.  My dad was a running back in college at Pittsburgh, so maybe that’s why I’m able to have the option to run the ball at quarterback.


 
 
Here was Coach Urban Meyer's reaction following the 29-15 victory over UAB. You can read the full transcript from the press conference after the break (via OhioStateBuckeyes.com). We'll have more coverage from the game later.

 
 
Just make tackles, PLEASE!

All the action starts at Noon EST on the B1G Network, but we'll be getting things going with the LiveBlog about 30 minutes before kickoff. As usual we'll be joining our friends from Fox Sports OhioThe Buckeye Battle Crythe Buckeye BlogMen of the Scarlet and Gray, Buckeye Empire and Our Honor Defend.