68 Days To Football*

This is the 33rd in a series of 100 daily posts, a Countdown to College Football. (Sort of.)

Happy Friday! Congratulations on basically making it through another work week.

Now you just need to stare at your computer screen for a few more hours, pretending to be busy before you sneak out the side door and head to Happy Hour.

And lucky you, this article should kill at least five minutes of your work day.

Real pros know they can double their time-killing by also reading yesterday’s piece, which you can find right 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

#68 Bobby Carpenter, 2002-2005

Bobby Carpenter Drew Stanton Sack
A “SPARTY, NO” moment from the golden age of “SPARTY, NO”

Bobby Carpenter started his Ohio State football career with the most immediate possible impact he could have had.

On the opening kickoff of the 2002 season opener against Texas Tech, the true freshman raced down the field and tackled the Red Raider returner at his own 8.

That set the tone for that game (a 38-7 blowout), that season (you probably remember how it ended), and Carpenter’s whole career.

Carpenter was a two-year starter at linebacker. His best season was as a junior in 2004, when he had 93 tackles.

As a senior in 2005, he had 10.5 tackles for loss including eight sacks.

His Buckeye career ended with a broken leg in the Michigan game in 2005. He was replaced that day by a guy named James Laurinaitis, which worked out okay.

Carpenter was a first round pick in the 2006 NFL Draft. He played seven seasons in the league, and now works as a radio host in Columbus.

Best Games This Fall

#68 Alabama at Tennessee, October 20

This rivalry, known as “The Third Saturday in October” hasn’t been much of a contest for quite a while.

Alabama is on an 11-game winning streak, and only two of those games have really been competitive.

Odds are, that’s not going to change this year.

New Tennessee coach Jeremy Pruitt is digging out of a deep hole left behind by Butch Jones, and it’s going to take him a while to get back to solid ground.

This is also the third brutal game in a row for the Vols, who play at Georgia, then have an off week before traveling to Auburn and coming home to face Alabama.

Yes, they’re probably going to lose all three. But one of them will probably be kind of close.

There’s a pretty good chance that this team won’t totally fold at the first sign of adversity like some of Jones’ recent vintages did.

So maybe they can keep this rivalry interesting for a while this fall. Maybe.

What We Can’t Wait To See

#68 A One-Point Safety

I have made my love of stupid college football minutia known throughout this countdown.

From Idaho’s absurd stadium to ridiculous referees, the dumbest parts of college football are also its most strangely beautiful.

The one-point safety is one of those beautifully stupid things.

As the name suggests, it’s a safety that’s only worth one point. How can this happen?

Let’s sat a team attempts a PAT and it gets blocked. The defending team scoops up the ball and tries to run it back, but somehow gets tackled in their own end zone. That is a one-point safety.

The concentrated level of failure required within a single play is almost unfathomable.

One team has to give up a block on what should be an automatic kick.

The other has to misjudge its chances at a return by more than 100 yards.

Needless to say, they don’t happen often, but when they do, it’s idiotic college football magic.

Matchup To Watch

#68 Ambry Thomas, MICH CB vs. Johnnie Dixon

Johnnie Dixon had one of the quietest explosive seasons in recent history in 2017. Or maybe he had the most explosive quiet season.

Dixon was one the nation’s best big-play receivers partway through last fall.

He averaged 32.5 yards on two catches against Indiana. He averaged 38.5 on three grabs against Rutgers.

He had three different games with two touchdowns catches in each (Rutgers, Penn State, and Iowa).

And then he had a total of one catch for nine yards after November 4th.

Dixon is the type of receiver who figures to benefit most from a strong-armed quarterback taking the reigns of the Ohio State offense.

If he can use his speed to get open deep, Dwayne Haskins has the arm strength to get the ball to him.

Ambry Thomas is entering his true sophomore season and figures to be a contributor on the back end for the Michigan defense.

What Thomas lacks in experience, he makes up for in speed and athleticism. On raw ability, he should be able to hang with receivers like Dixon.

But Dixon will be a fifth-year senior and has been around the block a time or two. He has a chance to take advantage of the young corner getting aggressive and possibly make a game-changing play over the top.