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Football

All things pigskin.

We are in the midst of the stretch run of the college football season. For the Buckeyes, that means the biggest games are at hand and the stakes are as high as can be. We are also in the stretch run of BP's Pick'em contest on Yahoo and for some the stakes are also very high.

There won't be any funny, cutesy cat stories this week. Just cold hard facts. @cincibuck has been clamoring for updated standings, so that's what this week's post will be about.

First of all, I went back and tabulated the results from the featured picks for each week all the way back to the beginning of the season. I'm happy to report that I'm not losing to Poobert. When I started this thing I was fully prepared to make a complete ass of myself and get beat by him regularly. Through eleven weeks though, having featured picks for 99 games each in this column, I have managed to pick 54.5 correctly while he has only been correct for 44. The half-correct represents a push - there have been a few of those throughout the season so far.

On one hand, it's kind of depressing to think that I've only managed to be one pick better per week (on average) than a housecat. On the other hand, 10.5 is a pretty significant margin for this point in the season, and I'd have to commit an all-timer of a choke job to relinquish my advantage.

The other angle that we can look at this from is the overall standings from the Pick'em group. In that group, I currently sit at 5th while Poobert is 22nd out of 47. That's a little misleading though. Yahoo's standings are a simply gross points total - they don't give a way to sort by number of correct picks per week, so participants who forget to submit or run into some other kind of snafu really get punished with no way to make up for it. Once you take out the participants below Poobert in the standings who posted a score of zero in at least one week, we can effectively say that Poobert is placed 22nd out of 26.

That begs the question, who are the unlucky four who are losing to Poobert?...
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 29-15-0 (.659), with a 29-13-0 (.690) record in Big Ten play. Ohio State has outscored Michigan State 1,115 to 738, or 25.3 to 16.8 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...
1. The Ohio State Buckeyes (10-0; 6-0) remained perfect on the season with a dominating 28-3 win over the Illinois Fighting Illini (5-5; 2-4). The Buckeye offense sputtered at times, but running back Ezekiel Elliott kept his Heisman hopes alive with his 15th straight game of 100+ yards rushing (27 carries, 181 yards, 6.9 ypc, 2 TDs) and wide receiver Michael Thomas hauled in 6 receptions for 76 yards and a touchdown. Quarterback J.T. Barrett, fresh off a one-game suspension, had 224 yards of total offense and 2 total touchdowns, but also committed 2 costly turnovers. But the offense's inconsistency didn't really matter, because the Buckeye defense held the Illini to 261 total yards, 20 yards rushing on 25 carries, 3.6 yards per play, and 5/20 (25.0%) on third and fourth down conversion attempts. Defensive end Joey Bosa led the way with 7 tackles and 3 TFLs, while middle linebacker Raekwon McMillan had 14 tackles, 2 TFLs, and a fumble recovery. The only bright spot for Illinois was wide receiver Desmond Cain, who had 10 receptions for 102 yards. While the Buckeyes won a national title last year with an overwhelming offense (44.8 ppg), this year they are relying on a top-10 defense (9th total defense, 2nd scoring defense) to get the job done. If the Buckeye defense can stay stout against a pair of mediocre offenses - Michigan State (61st total offense, 44th scoring offense); and Michigan (71st total offense, 49th scoring offense) - then a return to the Big Ten Title Game is a virtual certainty. Illinois, on the other hand, must beat either Minnesota (a hard luck 4-6) or Northwestern (a surprising 8-2) just to gain bowl eligibility.

2. For the third time in four games, the Michigan Wolverines (8-2; 5-1) played a contest that came down to literally the final play. After losing to Michigan State on a botched punt and beating Minnesota thanks to botched clock management, the...
1. It wasn't always pretty, but in the end Ohio State dominated Illinois for a 28-3 victory in Champaign to improve to 10-0-0 on the season.

2. Ohio State has started a season 10-0-0 on eleven previous occasions. Below is a chart showing each previous 10-0-0 season along with the team's final record, final poll ranking, and a look at how the Buckeyes finished that season:

SeasonFinal RecordFinal APFinal CPSubsequent Games
195410-0-012none
196810-0-011none
197511-1-044Beat Michigan; lost to Stanford in Rose Bowl
197911-1-044Beat Michigan; lost to Southern Cal in Rose Bowl
199511-2-068Beat Indiana; lost to Michigan; lost to Tennessee in Citrus Bowl
199611-1-022Lost to Michigan; beat Arizona State in Rose Bowl
200214-0-011Beat Purdue; beat Illinois; beat Michigan; beat Miami in BCS Title Game
200612-1-022Beat Northwestern; beat Michigan; lost to Florida in BCS Title Game
200711-2-054Lost to Illinois; beat Michigan; lost to Louisiana State in BCS Title Game
201212-0-03NRBeat Wisconsin; beat Michigan
201312-2-01210Beat Indiana; beat Michigan; lost to Michigan State in Big Ten Title Game; lost to Clemson in Orange Bowl
The Buckeyes' record after starting a season at 10-0-0 is 15 wins, 10 losses. Wins get...
1. Last week, Ezekiel Elliott passed Chris "Beanie" Wells for 4th place on Ohio State's career rushing leaders. Zeke now has 3,384 yards rushing, and he needs 170 yards to surpass Tim Spencer (3,553 yards) for 3rd place and 385 yards to pass Eddie George (3,768 yards) for 2nd place. Unless Zeke returns to Ohio State for his senior season, he has no chance to pass Buckeye career rushing leader Archie Griffin (5,589 yards).

2. Zeke has 1,244 rushing yards so far this season, which is already the 18th best single season in Ohio State history. If Zeke hits his season average (138 yards) against Illinois, then he will move into 12th place on the Buckeyes' list of single-season rushing leaders.

3. Zeke has 14 rushing touchdowns so far this season. Pete Johnson holds the Buckeye single-season record with 25 touchdowns rushing touchdowns in 1975.

4. Elliott now has 34 career rushing touchdowns (tied with Jim Otis). Zeke needs just two touchdowns to tie Tim Spencer and Harold "Champ" Henson for fifth place on Ohio State's list of career rushing touchdown leaders, and three touchdowns to tie Carlos Hyde for fourth place. Pete Johnson tops the list with 56 career rushing touchdowns (1973 to 1976).

5. Michael Thomas has 1,406 receiving yards for his Buckeye career, good for 21st place at Ohio State. Thomas needs 14 yards receiving to pass Bobby Olive (1,419 yards) for 20th place, 24 yards to pass Brian Hartline (1,429 yards) for 19th place, and 76 yards to pass John Frank (1,481 yards) for 18th place.

6. Michael Thomas has 96 receptions for his Buckeye career, tied with Brian Stablein for 18th place at Ohio State. Thomas needs 4 receptions to pass Jeff Graham (99 receptions) for 17th place, and 11 receptions to pass Doug Donley and Ken-Yon Rambo (106 receptions) for 15th place.

7. Joey Bosa has 45.5 TFLs for his Buckeye career, which ties him with Will Smith for 5th place. Bosa needs 4.5 TFL to tie Andy Katzenmoyer (50.0 TFLs) for 4th place. Mike Vrabel leads...
1. Ohio State has played Illinois 101 times since the series began in 1902; the only team that Ohio State has played more often is Michigan (111 games since 1897). Ohio State leads the series 67-30-4, for a .683 winning percentage.

2. Ohio State got off to a very slow start in the series, with a 0-0 tie in 1902; a 46-0 loss in 1904; and a 37-0 loss in 1914. The Buckeyes finally managed a field goal in 1915 to force a 3-3 tie with the Fighting Illini. Ohio State's first win came the following season, when the legendary Chic Harley led the Buckeyes to a 7-6 road victory.

3. With Chic Harley leading the way, the Buckeyes compiled a 7-0-0 record in 1916 and an 8-0-1 in 1917 (including a 13-0 win over Illinois). During that 16-game unbeaten run, the Buckeyes outscored their opponents by a combined 550 to 35 (or 34 to 2 on a per game basis) with 10 shutouts. When Harley left to serve in World War One in 1918, the team fell into a state of mediocrity, posting a 3-3 record which included a 13-0 loss to Illinois.

4. Harley had one year of eligibility left and he returned to the Ohio State squad for the 1919 season. The Buckeyes quickly regained their lost greatness, beating their first six opponents by a combined 169 to 3. In the seventh and final game of the season, Ohio State faced a 5-1-0 Illinois squad with a Big Ten championship on the line. Trailing 7 to 6 with two minutes left in the game, Illinois quickly drove into field goal range. With their best kicker (Ralph Fletcher) sidelined with an injury, the Fighting Illini turned to Fletcher's brother Bob. It was a desperate move, as Bob Fletcher had never attempted a field goal before. But apparently Bob quickly learned place kicking from his brother Ralph through osmosis, as his 25-yard attempt was good. Ohio State was unable to score during the final seconds and Illinois won the game by the score of 9-7, handing Chic Harley the first and only loss of his Buckeye career.

5. In retroactive national title...
We are now in that time of year where just about everybody seems to pack on a few extra pounds. The weather is a little less pleasant and the football more compelling, so we end up sitting on our asses eating more nachos and drinking more beer. Thanksgiving is right around the corner and only adds to that. Christmas too. There are parties and get-togethers and food and drink are about endless.

Poobert knows all about this. He used to be a skinny-mini. Just look at him in this picture, taken not long after he was adopted:


Poobert when he was young, before the dreaded Freshman 15.

It didn't take long for him to become fat as hell. Here he is just a couple years later:

Picture 020 (2).jpg
After he was adopted, Poobert realized he didn't have to impress anybody anymore.
Only Bret Bielema has gotten fatter faster. As he waddles around the house with his belly flopping back and forth...
1. The Ohio State Buckeyes (9-0; 5-0) kept their perfect season and national title hopes alive with a 28-14 victory over a pesky Minnesota Golden Gophers (4-5; 1-4) squad that has played tough against #3 OSU, #8 TCU, and #17 Michigan so far this season. Quarterback Cardale Jones, subbing for a temporarily suspended J.T. Barrett, had a decent game by the numbers: 12/22 passing for 187 yards, one TD, no INTs; 12 rushes for 65 yards including a game-clinching 38-yard touchdown run with under two minutes left in the game. Running back Ezekiel Elliott had his 14th straight game of 100+ yards (26 carries, 114 yards, TD). Wide receiver Michael Thomas was his steady self with 4 receptions for 39 yards and a TD, while Jalin Marshall and Braxton Miller each caught long balls (44 yards and 45 yards, respectively). Even with all that production, the Buckeye offense still seemed out of sorts for much of the evening (7/16 on third downs, 7 punts, 4 sacks, fumble). On the other side, Minnesota couldn't run the ball worth a damn (26 carries, 33 yards, 1.3 ypc), but Gopher quarterback Mitch Leidner lit up the Buckeyes' vaunted pass defense (#2 yardage, #4 efficiency entering the contest) for 27 completions on 44 attempts (61.4%), 281 yards, and a pair of touchdowns (but also a very costly pick six to Buckeye safety Vonn Bell). Leidner's primary target was K.J. Maye who hauled in 10 passes for 116 yards (long of 57 yards) and a touchdown. The Buckeyes still look like a playoff contender, especially with so many other hopefuls going down this week (previously undefeated Texas Christian, Michigan State, Louisiana State, Memphis, and Toledo all suffered their first loss), but there seems to be some magic missing from this year's squad.

2. The Michigan Wolverines (7-2; 4-1) staked their claim to be the best two-loss team in the country with a resounding 49 to 16 win over...
1. Last season, Minnesota was down 17 points with 10:08 left in the game; at the 1:19 mark, they were attempting an onside kick for a chance to tie the game. Last night, Minnesota was down 21 points with 14:42 left to play; at the 2:03 mark, they were attempting an onside kick for a chance to tie the game.

2. Last night, Alabama beat LSU 30-16 at home. The Tide held the Tigers to 54 yards rushing on 26 attempts (2.1 ypc). Last night, Ohio State beat Minnesota 28-14 at home. The Buckeyes held the Golden Gophers to 33 yards rushing on 26 attempts (1.3 ypc). So who will get credit for having the great victory? Granted, LSU was undefeated and ranked top-5 in all polls and Minnesota was a 4-4 team. But LSU had struggled in several games this season and proved themselves to be a one-dimensional team, while Minnesota had a highly-rated defense and played #8 TCU and #17 Michigan to within one score. The Minnesota win was a quality win, but the Buckeyes will get zero credit for it from the national pundits.

3. LSU running back Leonard Fournette began yesterday as the Heisman frontrunner; Alabama held him to 31 yards on 19 carries (1.6 ypc) and a late, meaningless touchdown. TCU quarterback Trevone Boykin was also garnering a lot of Heisman hype; Oklahoma State, not known as a defensive juggernaut, forced him into four interceptions including a pick six and a near pick six (down at the one-yard line) and stuffed him on a crucial 4th-and-goal from the one-half-yard line. Ezekiel Elliot began the day with 1,130 yards rushing (142 yards per game) and 13 touchdowns; against a top-25 Minnesota defense that was selling out to stop the run, Zeke had his 14th consecutive 100-yard game (26 carries, 114 yards, 4.4 ypc) and a nifty 15-yard touchdown run. So who leads the Heisman race now? Alabama's Derrick Henry, of course. S-E-C!

4. For the Ohio State offense to be effective, it needs a quarterback who can: (a) run the ball; and (b) hit the deep pass. Cardale Jones had runs of...
1. Ohio State has a record of 44-7-0 (.863 winning percentage) over Minnesota. Ohio State has won nine games in a row in the series. The Golden Gophers' last win over the Buckeyes came during the 2000 season, by the score of 29-17.

2. Ohio State has outscored Minnesota in the series by 1,568 to 661, or an average score per game of 31 to 13.

3. Minnesota and Ohio State did not play each other between 1950 (Buckeyes won 48-0) and 1965 (Buckeyes won 11-10).

4. It's hard to believe now, but Minnesota used to be one of the giants of college football. From 1900 to 1941, Minnesota compiled an overall record of 248-68-22 for a .766 winning percentage. During that four-decade period Minnesota had the third best record in college football, behind only Notre Dame (.822 winning percentage) and Michigan (.772 winning percentage).

5. From 1942 to 2014, Minnesota hasn't fared quite as well. The Gophers overall record since 1942 is 361-403-16 for a .473 winning percentage, which is 80th among FBS schools.

6. From 1900 to 1941, Minnesota had sixteen Big Ten championships and five national titles (1934, 1935, 1936, 1940, 1941).

7. Minnesota actually won a national championship in 1936 without winning the Big Ten title. That year, the Golden Gophers (7-1-0) lost to the Northwestern Wildcats (7-1-0) by the score of 6 to 0. Despite the facts that the two teams had identical overall records and the Gophers had lost the head-to-head matchup, the AP pollsters (in the initial year of the poll) voted Minnesota #1 and Northwestern #7. However, Northwestern still won the Big Ten title based on its victory over Minnesota.

8. From 1942 to 2014, Minnesota had only two Big Ten championships (1960, 1967) and one national title (1960). Needless to say, Minnesota (4-4 overall, 1-3 in Big Ten) will not win any championships in 2015.

9. Minnesota's 18 Big Ten championships ranks third in the conference, behind Michigan (42) and Ohio State (36).

10....