Ohio State Football 2K8 Week Two: Tressel's Game Face

Ryan StaabAnalyst ISeptember 5, 2008

Image courtesy of ESPN.com
Inspiration for image courtesy of Dennis Dodd on CBS Sportsline

All right, now that I've got the doom-and-gloom worries of a Beanie-less Buckeyes out of my system, its time to look ahead to Saturday's showdown of epic proportions against Ohio University (or as Terrelle Pryor probably calls them, "The University of Ohio") at Ohio Stadium in the best damn city in the country (I'm a Cincinnati native, but I love Columbus).

I wanted to do a pregame writeup last week before the Youngstown State game, but personal issues arose which prevented me from focusing on college football.

The first chance I got to do any following up on the season was when I woke up with a hangover on Saturday afternoon, checked the Columbus Dispatch, and discovered that Ohio State's star running back left the game with an injury.

Not the greatest way to start what is typically my favorite time of year (hence last week's pissy article).

Anyway, I'm going to try and set up these game previews with some kind of theme song each week. I let my mind wander at work and tend to go with whatever the first thing it is that pops into my head.

This week's theme song: "We Don't Need Another Hero (Thunderdome)" by Tina Turner.

Why?

Jim Tressel is playing it smart this week by keeping Beanie out of the game, and while OU isn't what one would call a formidable opponent, given the team the Bucks play on Sept. 13, what better way to prove that they can win without Beanie than by giving the ball to Manny, Mo and Jack...

...I mean: Mo, Boom and Saine. Speaking of which, I've heard Saine is nicknamed "Zoom," but I don't much care for that one, seeing as how Herron is called "Boom" and that is easily confused with "Zoom."

Now that I've gotten the Dr. Seuss-isms out of the way, I thought about calling Saine "Fizzbitch" but since college sports are supposed to be a family-friendly enterprise, I didn't think giving him a nickname taken from a stupid video I found on the Internet (I'm easily amused) the best plan of action.

With that said, I propose that Saine's nickname be "Zippy." Really, its not any more ridiculous than "Beanie" or "Zoom," and its not easily confused with "Boom."

Ken Gordon of The Dispatch is right: Give Beanie time to heal and prepare for USC while giving Mo, Boom and Zippy the chance to show what they can do.

The last thing the State of Ohio wants (except Cincinnati) is additional mental anguish from watching Beanie hurt himself worse than he already is by playing against the Bobcats.

Not only that, but it gives Buckeye Nation some insight into how Ohio State could get past USC without him.

Truth be told, Beanie should be good to go against USC, and that's really all we can ask of him. If he's not as injured as I originally feared, then kudos to Tressel for one hell of a bluff.

Even Beanie playing at 75 percent to 80 percent health against USC is better than no Beanie at all, and that is why you play cream puffs early.

And speaking of cream puffs, check out Gray Ghost's article on other sugary sweet names you can give to easy opponents.

Now, with all that out of my system, I've decided to try to be a kindler, gentler Ryan when it comes to Ohio State.

Maybe its because I'm sick and tired of reading baseless attacks from "experts" and fans of certain colleges down south and out west who think they're God's gift to college football (but seriously folks, the SEC, Big XII and Pac-10 are arguably the best conferences in the country, there's no denying that).

What drives me nuts is the assumption that football teams from the Midwest and East are inferior. I'm going to try and turn these weekly previews into a weird form of experimental optimism wherein I don't criticize anything about the Buckeyes unless its absolutely deserved (and believe me, I will miss making asinine comments about Tressel and his sweater vests).

And as part of my contrition, the first order of business is admitting that I'm wrong, as Kristofer Green generously pointed out last week. I criticized Tressel for keeping Beanie in the game too long just to run up the score, without stepping back and checking the stats.

As it turned out, Beanie only had 13 carries before he left the game injured, and further analysis shows that Tressel and his coaches were actually doing a pretty good job of rotating players so that everyone could see some action.

Which is why I get pissed when someone who gets paid to write about sports rips the Buckeyes and Sweater Vest for keeping Beanie in when the Bucks were up 26-0 without first consulting videos and stats of the players, which clearly shows that all around, Ohio State is a great team and beat the hell out of the Penguins with help from second- and third-stringers.

Kudos to the Buckeye faithful on ESPN (how do you guys put up with the crap that goes on over there?) for trying to set the record straight. Its just a shame that hardly anyone is willing to listen.

And really, if it weren't for these cream puff games, how else would teams know if playbook scenarios that might look good in practice will work during game time?

Rip on the Buckeyes for playing YSU and OU all you want, but its games like these that allow Tressel to get the kinks worked out of the system before playing a juggernaut like USC.

And lest we forget, lets take a look at the out-of-conference games a certain SEC team plays in 2008: Appalachian State, North Texas, Tulane and Troy*.

Amazingly, there's a couple of great analysis of teams who routinely schedule cream puffs over on ESPN's Page Two, which can be read here, here and here.

As much as people like to bag on Ohio State for scheduling allegedly weak competition, its nice to know that in the real world (at least from a statistical standpoint), we don't even crack the top 20 for "bully teams" who play easy opponents.

One more item before we get into the pregame analysis: I'm sure most Buckeye fans have heard by now about Tressel's marbles (if you haven't, check out Adam Jardy's article on the subject) and also check out Cody Blubaugh's excellent analysis of Adam's article.

Tressel has made it clear that Mo Wells will the starting tailback against the Bobcats. For all intents and purposes, we should see a repeat of last week, wherein everyone should get some playing time (except, of course, Beanie).

Taking Beanie out of the equation, Terrelle Pryor is currently the Buckeyes top rusher. He had nine carries for 52 yards against the Penguins last week including an 18-yard touchdown run. Zippy had five carries for 20 yards, and Boom had five carries for 17 yards.

If Boeckman's going to beef up his passing stats, Saturday's game is the perfect opportunity. As easy as it should be to run through the Bobcats' defensive linemen, lets not forget who's on the schedule Sept. 13.

If anything, I really hope Tressel's been emphasizing the importance of the passing game. Brian Hartline is currently the top wide receiver with a whopping two receptions for 59 yards.

Lets face it folks, there's really not much to get excited about when it comes to the Bobcats. On paper, QB Theo Scott (26-35-1-224 with one TD pass) looks alright compared to Boeckman (14-19-0-187 with two TD passes) from a purely statistical standpoint, but he can't run the ball as well as Boeckman (-2 yards compared to Boeckman's 10) nor Pryor (52 yards), and their top rusher Chris Garrett went 12-30 against Wyoming compared to Mo's 5-32 against YSU.

The only stat the Bobcats currently have the Buckeyes beat is their passing. Wide receiver Taylor Price went 14-139, but had a 9.9 receiving average, compared to Hartline's 2-59 with a 29.5 receiving average.

There's only one game apiece to compare stats, and Ohio wasn't that impressive considering they barely lost to Wyoming 20-21. Clock control isn't a specialty of Ohio's, and that's suicide when facing a team like Ohio State.

My prediction:
Ohio State 45, Ohio 7

The funniest thing I've heard this week are the five or six OU fans convinced that the Bobcats will go up to Columbus and pull off a massive upset.

One even went so far as to call OU "This year's Appalachian State!" which would be funnier if that person realized that theoretically given the talent on both teams, the Mountaineers would probably beat the Bobcats if they ever had the opportunity to play one another.

*Troy as a creampuff is debatable, since they've shown in the past that they're able to hold their own against tough SEC opponents.
**
Stats courtesy of CBS Sportsline

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