Football

63 Days To Football*

This is the 38th in a series of 100 daily posts, a Countdown to College Football. (Sort of.)

It’s Wednesday, which means it’s the day a new episode of the Accost The Field podcast comes out.

Gerd and I will talk about Joe Burrow and OSU’s future football schedules, and also the latest installment of the hit Amazon Prime comedy series “All or Nothing.”

So you have that to look forward to while sitting in traffic on 270, cursing the people around you for failing to use their turn signals.

While you’re waiting for that to hit your podcast app, you can read yesterday’s edition of this series 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

#63 Cie Grant

Cie Grant Ken Dorsey 2003 Fiesta Bowl Ohio State Miami
A moment of some significance in OSU history

A starter on the 2002 national championship team, Cie Grant made one of the biggest plays of the season. He came in off the right edge and pressured Miami quarterback Ken Dorsey on the final play of the game. Dorsey rushed his throw and it fell incomplete, clinching the title.

However, Grant might be best remembered for his singing. He performed Carmen Ohio a cappella during the celebration ceremony for that title in Ohio Stadium.

He came to Ohio State as a strong safety, then moved to linebacker as a sophomore. He then switched back to defensive back during 2001 due to a shortage of players at the position. He finished his career as a linebacker in 2002.

Grant was fourth on the team with 71 tackles that fall, including a career-high 8 in a win over eventual Pac-10 champion Washington State. He was named all-conference that season.

Grant was a third-round pick of the New Orleans Saints and played two years in the league.

You can hear all about Grant’s time with the Buckeyes from the man himself in this interview with the Silver Bullets podcast.


Best Games This Fall

#63 Texas at Kansas State, September 29

On paper, this should be a Longhorn blowout every season. Texas is one of the sport’s wealthiest blue bloods, the flagship public institution in the richest state for football talent in America.

The Horns claim four national titles, 32 conference titles, and aren’t shy about letting the rest of the Big 12 know who the big kid on the block is.

Kansas State spent almost a full century as an absolutely irrelevant doormat. From 1896-1993, the Wildcats appeared in one bowl game.

From 1986-1988, they went 2-30-1 under future Michigan assistant Stan Parrish. They had some of the worst facilities and fan support in the nation.

And then Bill Snyder showed up.

It took a few seasons to really get going, but Snyder then racked up eight straight years with 9+ wins. The Wildcats had only one such season prior to his arrival, and that was in 1910.

His teams have fallen off some since then, but they still dominate this series somehow. KSU has gone 7-3 against the Horns since 2006.

This may very well be Snyder’s last year as head coach. He will turn 79 in October and has been suffering from health issues.

On paper, the frail-looking old guy versus the hot shot young offensive coach is a ridiculous mismatch.

But college football’s version of Matlock has made a career out of leaving whippersnappers like Tom Herman in his dust.

If he can do it one more time, it could have a huge impact on the Big 12 title race.


What We Can’t Wait To See

#63 Chad Morris at Arkansas

It’s not quite the transition from Lloyd Carr to Rich Rodriguez, but going from Bret Bielema’s brand of BERT Ball to Chad Morris’ pass-happy attack is going to be an adjustment in Fayetteville.

Under Morris, SMU threw about 10 more passes per game than Arkansas did, and averaged about 100 more yards per game through the air.

Longtime starting quarterback Austin Allen is gone, but Cole Kelley returns after a promising freshman season.

Kelley threw for more than 1,000 yards with an 8-4 touchdown to interception ratio after Allen suffered a shoulder injury last fall.

However, Kelley was also arrested for DWI and suspended late in the year.

This is going to be a transitional year for the Hogs as just adjust to Morris’ new system and try to get personnel in place to implement it.

If Kelley can make that adjustment – and stay out of trouble – he could a player to watch in the coming years.


Matchup To Watch

#63 Karan Higdon, MICH RB vs. Baron Browning

Karan Higdon was the best of a “just okay” group of Michigan running backs in 2017. He started the year slowly, and then put up massive numbers against lousy competition. He racked up 200-yard days in wins over Minnesota and Indiana, and another 158 yards against Rutgers.

But by the end of the season, he seemed to wear down. He had just 20 yards against Wisconsin and 55 against Ohio State in a pair of losses.

The OSU linebacker lineup is still somewhat up in the air, especially with presumptive starting middle linebacker Tuf Borland out with an Achilles injury.

Borland is expected back by the end of September, and so he should be one of the guys tasked with stopping Higdon in November.

However, Baron Browning will probably have something to say about that as well.

Browning came in with a 5-star pedigree, and is constantly discussed in glowing terms by the OSU coaching staff.

He’s going to be on the field somewhere on the Saturday after Thanksgiving, and he’s going to run into Higdon out there.

The team that averages more yards per carry has won The Game in every season since 2002.

If Browning and his fellow linebackers can keep Higdon under wraps, the Buckeyes should win this year’s edition as well.

 

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