55 Days To Football*

This is the 46th in a series of 100 daily posts, a Countdown to College Football. (Sort of.)

I don’t usually remember my dreams, but I had a great idea in one earlier this week.

In it, Ohio State had installed a Skyride over Ohio Stadium. If you’ve ever been to the State Fair, you know what I’m talking about.

It’s basically a little gondola car that rides on a cable up in the air and takes you from one side of the Fairgrounds to the other.

In my dream, it ran the length of Ohio Stadium from north to south and provided a bird’s eye view of the game below for the few minutes you were riding above the Horseshoe.

That would totally be worth a $25 ticket during a game.

Granted, it’s probably not the top priority on OSU’s facility upgrade list (coughcough in-stadium WiFi coughcough) and the #haters may also suggest that it’s wildly impractical.

But if one day you get to glide hundreds of feet above the playing field during The Game, you’ll know who to thank.

While you’re waiting for them to build that Skyride, you can read yesterday’s edition of the countdown here.

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

#55 Taylor Decker

Taylor Decker Ohio State football 2014 national Champions
Celebrating the 2014 national championship

Yesterday, we honored one of the guys on this countdown with the least-impressive career stats.

Today, it might be the guy with the least-impressive starting debut of anyone on the list.

Taylor Decker won the starting right tackle job out of camp in 2013 and then got completely destroyed in the season opener by some scrub from Buffalo of all teams.

That guy had nine tackles including 2.5 sacks against the Buckeyes that day.

If Taylor Decker was getting completely owned by some MAC player, there was no hope for the rest of his career, right?

As it turned out, that Buffalo player (Khalil Mack) was pretty good. He went No. 5 overall in the following spring’s NFL Draft. And Decker’s career worked out pretty well, too.

He was named second team all-conference during the 2014 national championship season, and then won first-team all-American honors in 2015.

Decker went No. 16 overall to the Detroit Lions in the 2016 NFL Draft. He started all 16 games in 2016 and earned a spot on the all-Rookie team.

Not bad for a guy who couldn’t block some scrub from the MAC.

Best Games This Fall

#55 UCF at Memphis

This should be the toughest road test of the year for the defending national champions.

These teams met twice last fall, with UCF winning both times. The Knights won 40-13 in October, and then had their toughest challenge of the year in the AAC Championship. UCF held on for a 62-55 victory in double-overtime to claim the conference title and remain perfect on the year.

With Scott Frost and star players like Shaquem Griffin now gone from UCF, the Tigers have a chance to seize the top spot in the AAC and potentially grab a New Year’s Six bowl bid. But they’ll have to go through the Knights to get there. Possibly twice.

What We Can’t Wait To See

#55 Kevin Sumlin and Khalil Tate

Outside of the Ohio Stadium Skyride, the most thrilling college football experience this fall might be Kevin Sumlin and Khalil Tate working together.

Tate quietly had a completely insane 2017, rushing for 327 yards and four touchdowns on just 14 carries against Colorado. That works out to 23.4 yards per carry.

He averaged 15.3 yards per carry against UCLA, 12.9 against Oregon State, and 11.2 against Washington State. Please note, these are all in conference play.

He tailed off pretty badly toward the end of the season, but should have new life under his new head coach Kevin Sumlin.

Sumlin, you may recall, has enjoyed some success at the college level while working with shifty quarterbacks in the run game.

But while Johnny Manziel had to deal with teams like Alabama, Tate plays in the Pac-12.

There is almost no over/under on single game or total season yardage you could offer that would make me immediately take the under.

The Pac-12 is almost inarguably the worst conference in college sports at marketing its football product, so Tate has largely flown under the radar to average fans. But this year, he may be impossible to ignore.

Please take a moment to enjoy his work before we wrap up for the day.

Matchup To Watch

#55 Jackson Anthrop, PUR WR vs. Jordan Fuller

It’s still really weird to say this, but Ohio State’s trip to West Lafayette on October 20 could be a legitimately dangerous game for the Buckeyes.

The Boilermakers took huge strides in Jeff Brohm’s first season, and could improve even more this fall.

Elijah Sindelar and David Blough are both back at quarterback, and a talented group of receivers will be with them.

Jackson Anthrop may be poised for big things. He caught 47 passes for 423 yards and five touchdowns as a freshman.

He had his biggest game in the season opener against Louisville, with 82 yards and two scores.

At just 5-foot-11, Anthrop figures to play in the slot this fall, and will likely be matched up at least some with OSU field safety Jordan Fuller.

Anthrop isn’t a burner or a deep threat, but he’s exactly the kind of receiver who can get you 10 yards on 3rd-and-7 to keep the chains moving.

Containing him means controlling the Boilermaker offense, and avoiding the kind of long, grinding drives needed to fuel an upset.