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Notre Dame Postgame

1. With last night's 21-10 victory, Ohio State now leads the Notre Dame series 5 to 2, with each of the Buckeyes' wins coming by a double-digit margin (average margin of victory of 14.6 points). Ohio State also outgained Notre Dame in yardage (395 yards to 253 yards); first downs (22 to 12); plays (69 to 48); and time of possession (33 minutes to 27 minutes).

2. The first narrative heading into the game was this: Ohio State's high-powered passing attack would generate several big plays against a stout but slow Notre Dame defense. As things turned out, Notre Dame had the three longest pass plays of the game (54, 32, and 31 yards), and averaged far more yards per attempt (9.3 to 6.6) and per completion (17.7 to 9.8) than Ohio State.

3. The second narrative heading into the game was this: Notre Dame would win the battles of the trenches, allowing the Domer offense to run the ball consistently and the Domer defense to shut down the Buckeyes' running game. As things turned out, Ohio State easily outgained Notre Dame on the ground (172 yards to 76 yards) and nearly doubled their yards per carry (4.9 to 2.5).

4. It is unfair to say that Buckeye quarterback CJ Stroud regressed all the way back to the beginning of 2021, but he certainly did not pick up where he left off in last year's Rose Bowl. The numbers look pretty good (24/34, 223 yards, 2 TD, no INT, one sack), but Stroud was slow to make decisions, inaccurate with several passes, and once again displayed a maddening refusal to run the ball even with 10+ yards of open field in front of him. Nobody wants Stroud to be a running quarterback, but he has to learn to take positive yardage when the defense gives it to him, just like any other quarterback would do.

5. Sophomore Emeka Egbuka had his best game as a Buckeye with 9 receptions for 90 yards and a touchdown, while fellow soph...
Ohio State vs Notre Dame: The Rivarly That Never Was

The Big Ten Conference was formed in 1896, and by 1917 it counted as members every major football power in the upper midwest. All except one - Notre Dame.

Notre Dame began football in 1887 as an independent and it has stayed that way ever since (more or less - see below) despite various attempts to lure them into a conference. But in the early days, before Notre Dame became a brand name in college football, the small private Catholic school in South Bend, Indiana, actually tried to join the Big Ten. Although Notre Dame fit the Big Ten profile geographically, that factor was about the only match with the other conference members, most of whom (Northwestern and Chicago being the exceptions) were large state-operated "land grant" universities. The Big Ten could ignore the "small" and "private" aspects of Notre Dame, as the conference had previously done with Northwestern and the University of Chicago, but many of the key players had a serious problem with the "Catholic" element of that university.

The rift between Notre Dame and the Big Ten dates back to at least 1909. Back then, Notre Dame was a considered a "cupcake". From 1887 to 1908, the Fighting Irish sported an impressive overall record of 89-30-9 (.730 winning percentage), but the vast majority of those victories came against a motley crew of high schools, prep schools, medical schools, dental schools, law schools, future D-III programs, and private clubs such as the Illinois Cycling Club and the South Bend Howard Park Club. Against the relatively powerful Big Ten schools, Notre Dame had a miserable record of 10-23-4, with the Irish being outscored 189 to 518 in those 37 contests.

Led by the legendary Fielding Yost, Michigan was perhaps the most powerful program in the country in first decade of the Twentieth Century. Yost took over the Michigan program in 1901, and during his first eight years on the job his team posted...
2022 Rose Bowl (Ohio State vs Utah)

Before I get started, I have a couple of admissions to make. First, I'm in the "NC or bust" camp when it comes to the Buckeyes. Ohio State is historically a top-5 (or top-3) program, and the Buckeyes are in the midst of perhaps their best run ever, so it's not unreasonable to expect the team to compete for a national championship every single year and win a few along the way (more than one a decade, IMHO). So every season that does not result in an NC (with a few exceptions) is necessarily a "failure" to some degree. With that being said, I can deem a season like 2021 a failure overall yet still enjoy individual moments or games along the way and appreciate them for what they are. Last night was one of those games.

My second admission is this: I had Utah winning the game fairly comfortably, something like 38-27, primarily because the Buckeyes were missing four All Americans (Garrett Wilson, Chris Olave, Nicholas Petit-Frere, and Haskell Garrett) due to opt outs, and several other key players to injury; and also because I believed that Utah (much like Michigan) would be more physical and more motivated than Ohio State. And for the entire first half and much of the second, my prediction looked to be spot on. Then, talent took over and Ohio State made a memorable comeback....

1. What a great game! If you're just a fan of college football and had no rooting interest in either team, then last night's Rose Bowl was probably the Game of the Year for you. And if somehow you missed it, don't worry: this game will be replayed forever as one of the all-time classics of the sport.

After Utah jumped out to a 14-0 first quarter lead, the Ohio State offense finally got going in the second quarter with 21 points of their own. The only...
RECAP: Big Ten Championship Game 2020 (Ohio State vs Northwestern)

1. First of all, props to Northwestern, as they played one Hell of a game today. There is - literally - not one player on Northwestern's entire team who had an Ohio State offer, yet the Wildcats went toe-to-toe with the Buckeyes all game long and had the 20-point favorites on upset alert for about three quarters. Pat Fitzgerald is a great coach and motivator and he got every ounce of talent and effort out of his squad. Unfortunately for Northwestern, that still wasn't enough to beat Ohio State, because the Buckeyes are just that much more talented than the Wildcats.

2. Major props to running back Trey Sermon, who broke the Ohio State single-game rushing record with 331 yards on 29 carries (11.4 average) and a pair of touchdowns. Sermon broke the record set by Eddie George against Illinois all the way back in 1995 (314 yards on 36 carries). Sermon also broke the Big Ten Conference Championship Game record set by former Buckeye Ezekiel Elliott against Wisconsin in 2014 (220 yards on 20 carries). Sermon may not be on the same talent level as Elliott and George, but for one game he was the best running back in Ohio State history.

3. And the Buckeyes needed every one of Sermon's 331 yards because quarterback Justin Fields was, quite frankly, awful. Fields completed just 12 of 27 passes for 114 yards, no touchdowns, two interceptions, and three sacks (and that doesn't count the incompletion on a failed two-point conversion). It looked like Fields hurt his hand early in the game, and afterwards he stated that he suffered a sprained thumb on his throwing hand. If Fields was in fact injured, we all have to hope that he gets well before the Playoffs. If not, the Buckeyes already slim chances to win it all will get that much slimmer.

4. With Fields ailing and Sermon...
1. Well, that's what Buckeye football was supposed to be in 2020 - complete domination from start to finish, as Ohio State rolled Michigan State, 52 to 12. The only break in the complete domination was a brief span of 86 seconds in the third quarter (from 6:14 to 4:48) when Sparty went on an improbable 2-play, 75-yard TD drive to cut the Buckeye lead to 35-7, then forced a Buckeye fumble two plays later. At that point, I wasn't exactly having flashbacks to the nightmare 1998 game, but it was beginning to look a lot like another Buckeye second half meltdown (a la Penn State, Rutgers, Indiana) was in progress. Fortunately, Shaun Wade made a spectacular interception on the very next play to kill any chance of Sparty respectability, and the Buckeyes closed out the scoring on a 17-5 run.

2. His numbers were okay (17/24, 70.8%, 199 yards, 2 TDs, 3 sacks), but we didn't really get Heisman Justin Fields yesterday. There were plenty of contributing factors - makeshift offensive line, numerous bad snaps, typical December weather, conservative play calling. Perhaps the biggest factor was the success of the Buckeye running game (45 carries, 345 yards, 7.7 average, 4 TDs), led by Fields himself with 13 carries for 104 yards (8.0 average) and 2 TDs.

3. Trey Sermon had clearly his best game as a Buckeye, with 10 carries for 112 yards, including a 64-yard touchdown run (his first as a Buckeye). On the play, Justin Fields was running stride for stride with Sermon, and he threw a block for him at the 5-yard line to help secure the touchdown. I love Fields's hustle, effort, and desire to help out a teammate, but to be honest, I don't want to see my starting quarterback sprinting 60 yards down the field for any reason, especially not to throw a block - too many bad things can happen and the risk is not worth the reward.

4. Chris Olave had a huge game, with 10 receptions for 139...
1. Michigan State was the last of the "original" members of the Big Ten to join the conference. The Spartans joined the Big Ten in 1949 but did not play a full conference football schedule until 1953.

2. Now for a brief aside on the history of the Big Ten. The conference was formed in 1896 with seven members: Chicago, Illinois, Michigan, Minnesota, Northwestern, Purdue, and Wisconsin. Indiana and Iowa joined in 1899. Michigan withdrew from the conference in 1908, only to return in 1917. In the meantime, Ohio State joined in 1912. When Chicago permanently withdrew in 1946, Michigan State was recruited to become the new tenth member of the conference that for four decades had been informally known as The Big Ten. (The conference was originally incorporated as the Intercollegiate Conference Athletic Association, and did not officially obtain the name "Big Ten" until 1987.) Of course, subsequent expansion has seen the addition of Penn State (1993), Nebraska (2011), Maryland (2014), and Rutgers (2014).

3. Ohio State leads the series 33-15-0 (.688), with a 33-13-0 (.717) record in Big Ten play. Ohio State has outscored Michigan State 1,230 to 773, or 25.6 to 16.1 on a per game basis.

4. The teams first played on November 28, 1912, a game which Michigan State won by the score of 35 to 20. The teams would not play again until the 1951 season.

5. Michigan State has 9 Big Ten championships, the most recent being the...
Post-Game Notes

1. I'm fairly confident in saying that Indiana is not as good as they played yesterday. Hoosier quarterback Michael Penix, Jr. will probably never throw for 491 yards and 5 TDs in a single game (he came in averaging 267.5 yards and 2.25 TDs per game); wide receiver Ty Fryfogle is unlikely to make 7 receptions for 218 yards and 3 touchdowns; and the Hoosier defense won't force another Heisman candidate quarterback into three interception and five sacks. Except for the final eleven minutes of the second quarter, when Ohio State scored three straight touchdowns and held Indiana scoreless, the Hoosiers played over their heads. Not much over their heads, perhaps - after all, they were 4-0 and ranked #9 in the country entering the contest with Ohio State - but enough over their heads that what should have been a fairly comfortable Buckeye victory was not finally decided until literally the last play of the game (a desperate Lateral Mary that the Buckeye defense actually seemed prepared for).

2. I'm not so confident in saying this, but I'm going to say it anyway: Ohio State isn't much better than they played yesterday. In the season opener against a really bad Nebraska team, Ohio State scored early and often and never let up (or if they did let up, Nebraska simply wasn't good enough to do anything about it). Then in Week 2, Ohio State opened up a 21-3 lead against Penn State (now 0-5), only to see the Nittany Lions outscore the Buckeyes 22-17 thereafter. The same thing happened in Week 3, as Ohio State raced out to a 35-3 lead against Rutgers, only to be outscored down the stretch, 24-14. Last night was more of the same: After Ohio State went up 35-7 early in the 3rd quarter, Indiana finished the game on a 28-7 run, with the Buckeyes' only remaining touchdown coming on a defensive score. It's now three games in a row where the Buckeyes have built an early lead and then melted down or slacked off or lost interest or whatever they've done...
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1. Indiana University is located in Bloomington, about an hour southwest of Indianapolis. IU is the state's flagship public university. The school's motto is Lux et Veritas, which translates to: "Light and Truth".

2. Indiana's colors are crimson and cream and the mascot is the Hoosier. No one knows exactly what a Hoosier is, other than a term for a resident of Indiana. Some say that Hoosier comes from an old Indian word, hoosa, which apparently meant "maize". Whatever the origin of the obscure word, Hoosier now apparently means: "friendliness, neighborliness, an idyllic contentment with Indiana landscape and life." At least that's according to the Indiana Historical Society, which is probably not the most objective source for such information.

3. Indiana has played football for 132 years. The Hoosiers have been good at football for maybe a dozen of those 132 years. Indiana's overall record is 497-684-44, for a .424 winning percentage. Among Power5 teams, only Wake Forest (.414) has a worse winning percentage.

4. Indiana is not a charter member of the Big Ten, but they have been in the conference since 1900. In conference play, the Hoosiers have a record of 223-511-26 (.311 winning percentage), and have been outscored 18,333 to 11,885 (24.1 to 15.6 on a per game basis). In 120 years of participating in Big Ten football, the Hoosiers have just two conference championships (1945; 1967).

5. Indiana does not have a recognized national championship, or any unrecognized national championships for that matter. The closest that Indiana has come to a national championship was the 1945 season when the team compiled a fine record of 9-0-1 (the Hoosiers' only undefeated season in their history). Indiana's only blemish was a 7-7 tie...
After last night's utterly embarrassing loss to Wisconsin, a 49 to 11 blowout at home that was even worse than that lopsided score would indicate, it looks like the Michigan Football 2020 Preseason Hype Train has finally ground to a halt. The Hype Train is an annual event up in Ann Arbor, a premature ejaculation over the Heisman Trophy and National Championship and victory in The Game that will certainly come this year, because this is their year once again. We're used to the Hype Train down here in Ohio, it's old news and played out and barely warrants a snicker these days, it's all so outrageous and overblown. But this year's loads of loving hype were extra sticky and gooey, and Michigan Man lapped it all up and kept coming back for more. Here are some of the best money shots:

Josh Gattis (Michigan OC): Joe Milton makes NFL highlight reel plays.

Brandon Brown (Sports Illustrated): Compares Joe Milton to Cam Newton and young Big Ben.

Josh Ross (Michigan LB): "We should have the best running back room in the country for sure, no doubt."

Brandon Knapp (Wolverines Wire): Michigan's depth at WR should scare opponents.

Don Brown (Michigan DC): Aidan Hutchinson and Kwity Paye are the best DE duo in the country.

Sam Webb (247 Sports): Compares Aidan Hutchinson to the Bosa Brothers.

Aidan Hutchinson (Michigan DE): Michigan's defensive line will create "matchup nightmares.... It's going to be scary once we get out there."

Shaun Nua (Michigan DL coach): "Kwity Paye is literally a freak."

Josh Ross (Michigan LB): Michigan has the two best linebackers in the country (Cam McGrone and himself).

Cam McGrone (Michigan LB): He is scared for everybody in Michigan's path. Vows revenge on Wisconsin.

Don Brown (Michigan DC): Dax Hill is the best cover guy in the Big Ten.

Isaiah Hole (Wolverines Wire): Predicts that Michigan will be 11-0 entering the Ohio State game.​

Whew! Had enough yet? I'm sure that I could find several more pearls of wisdom...
Q: Can a 49-27 win be unimpressive?

A: Yes. See Rutgers @ Ohio State, 11/07/2020.

Part of the reason the score was unimpressive is that Rutgers left eleven easy points on the field. Rutgers attempted 2-point conversions after each of their four touchdowns, and they failed each time. And in the final minute of the game, Rutgers had the ball first-and-goal from the 2-yard line against the Buckeyes' reserve defenders, and their third-string QB fumbled the ball away without even getting hit. Give Rutgers those eleven easy points and it becomes a 49-38 game. It looked like a 49-38 game. It felt like a 49-38 game.

Another reason the win was unimpressive was the effort level by Ohio State. The Buckeyes lost the battle of the trenches all night long, and quite frankly they seemed bored and even entitled for much of the game. I get it - the Mighty Mighty Buckeyes don't want to play Lowly Rutgers in an empty Horseshoe on a Saturday night. They didn't want to be there. They'd rather be doing something else. But you know who did want to be there, and who wanted to do nothing else but play to a crowd of cardboard cutouts? Rutgers, that's who. The Scarlet Knights were hungry, they were aggressive, they were smart, and, thanks to their coaches, they were innovative. Rutgers had no real chance to win last night - Ohio State was simply too talented to allow that to happen - but they played one Hell of a game. And they made Ohio State look unimpressive.

Now on to some specific news and notes:

1. Justin Fields once again played like a future Heisman winner, completing 24 of 28 passes for 314 yards, with 5 touchdowns and no interceptions. No complaints here.

2. The primary beneficiaries of Fields's largesse were, as usual, Garrett Wilson (6 receptions, 104 yards, TD) and Chris Olave (5 receptions, 64 yards, 2 TDs). Jameson Williams caught just...