The NFL Draft is now over, which means a whole lot of former Buckeyes now have new football homes.
It’s a little sad to say goodbye to players who have been a part of your autumns for between three (Denzel Ward) and 72 (J.T. Barrett) years, but that’s the nature of college football.
You have to clear out the old before you can lurk outside a hotel, creepily taking pictures of the new carrying their suitcases inside. It’s the circle of life in Columbus.
Don’t forget to check out yesterday’s installment if you haven’t yet.
Now please join us as we continue our countdown of the 100 greatest Buckeyes of The Ozone era (1996-present).
We will also preview one of the 100 most exciting games on this fall’s college football schedule, and one of the 100 things we’re most looking forward to this fall.
Plus, we’ll preview one of this season’s 100 biggest personnel matchups.
Greatest Buckeyes Of The Ozone Era
#87 Marcus Freeman, 2004-2008
He entered Ohio State as one of the highest-rated players in one of the more disappointing recruiting classes the school has had this century.
Freeman, Ted Ginn, A.J. Trapasso, and Vernon Gholston turned in strong careers. The rest of the class were role players at best.
But Freeman helped the program overcome that to appear in back-to-back national title games anyway.
He had a career-high 108 tackles during the 2007 season that ended with a loss to LSU in the BCS title game.
Freeman was named second-team all-conference as both a junior and senior.
He was picked in the fifth round of the 2009 NFL Draft, but was forced to retire a year later due to a heart condition.
He returned to the college game as a coach, serving as a graduate assistant at OSU before moving on to Purdue and now Cincinnati.
Best Games This Fall
#87 Michigan State at Maryland, November 3
The Big Ten East looks pretty wide open this year. With as top-heavy as it is, a team could win it with two conference losses.
This game comes in the middle of a brutal stretch for the Spartans. They’re at Penn State a week before their annual in-state showdown with Michigan, then have a probably-decent Purdue at home before heading to College Park. The next week, Ohio State visits East Lansing.
Your own personal version of Admiral Ackbar should already be screaming “IT’S A TRAP” inside your head.
MSU is going to “SPARTY, NO” either the game against the Boilermakers or this one against the Terps.
Assuming Maryland can keep its quarterbacks alive this fall, they have a chance to be pretty good.
If the Spartans are looking ahead to their revenge date with the Buckeyes even a little, the Terps could trip them up.
What We Can’t Wait To See
#87 The Labor Day Weekend Schedule
Week One is your first real taste of football since the end of the national title game. Yeah, there are the random Mountain West games a week earlier, but those are appetizers.
Labor Day weekend is when you sit down at the college football table, tuck the tablecloth into your shirt, and FEAST.
Thursday: Northwestern at Purdue
Friday: San Diego State at Stanford
Saturday: FAU at Oklahoma, Auburn vs. Washington, Michigan at Notre Dame
Sunday: Miami (FL) vs. LSU
Monday: Virginia Tech at Florida State
That’s five straight days of interesting matchups, many of which will hand a potential national title contender its first loss.
Matchup To Watch
#87 Ben Bredeson, MICH OG vs. Dre’Mont Jones
Nick Bosa and Chase Young are going to get a lot of the headlines on the defensive line this fall, but Jones has a chance to be the biggest impact player.
Urban Meyer singled him out as the most-impressive player in camp this spring.
Jones could have been a first-round pick in this week’s NFL Draft, but passed it up for a chance to come back and improve his game this fall.
Bredeson was one of the brighter spots on Michigan’s generally shaky offensive line last fall. Now entering his third season, he will be tasked with containing Jones – likely without much help.
It’s a decent bet that Michigan, like a lot of teams, will focus a lot of energy on keeping Bosa and Young from vaproizing their quarterback. That means that Bredeson may have to keep Jones at bay one-on-one.
Pressure up the middle is generally a death sentence for an offense. If Jones can win this battle, Shea Patterson may wish the NCAA ruled him ineligible after all.