72 Days To Football*

This is the 29th in a series of 100 daily posts, a Countdown to College Football. (Sort of.)

To you, dear reader, college football season probably seems like it will never get here.

To others, such as those who cover the sport, it seems like it’s approaching at warp speed.

This dead time in the college football calendar is the time when we get to all those projects we’ve been putting off.

It’s when you actually get a chance to put a dent in the “We Should ____ Sometime” list after eight solid months of just adding to it.

It’s now been four full weeks since the OSU Spring Game and I’ve gotten through… hang on… (checks notes) none of my list.

I guess we should wrap this up so I have a prayer of getting something else done today.

In case you missed yesterday’s piece, you can catch up 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

#72 Kirk Barton, 2004-2007

Kirk Barton Michigan 2007
He never actually got to play in the Rose Bowl, but did make 2 national title game appearances.

Kirk Barton is remembered for being one of the more entertaining and candid interview subjects in recent Buckeye history.

However his prowess in front of a microphone was matched by his play on the field.

Barton was a four year starter along the offensive line, and was the first Buckeye to ever start in four wins over Michigan.

He was a first-team all-American and team captain in 2007, and a two-time all-conference honoree.

Barton was drafted by the Chicago Bears, and was a part of six different teams during a brief, but well-traveled NFL career.

Best Games This Fall

#72 Memphis at Missouri, October 20

This is one of those games that gets more interesting the more deeply you follow college football.

On the surface, it’s non-power 5 team playing at a mighty SEC member.

But Missouri is still very shaky. They finished last season 7-6, but did it by beating an FCS team (Missouri State) a team about to drop down to FCS (Idaho), UConn, a Vanderbilt team that won 1 SEC game, and three teams that fired their coaches either during or after the year.

They got destroyed by pretty much anyone they faced with a pulse, including Texas and Purdue.

On the other sideline, Memphis is always an exciting team to watch. They throw the ball a ton and put up huge point totals.

Last year they knocked off Josh Rosen and UCLA, 48-45. They broke 50+ points five times, including a heartbreaking 62-55 double-OT loss to eventual national champion UCF.

This game is going to be high-scoring and very entertaining.

It also comes a week after Memphis faces UCF. They could be coming in off a huge win and in position to snag a New Year’s Six bowl bid.

What We Can’t Wait To See

#72 Utah Winning A Bowl Game

If you are the type of person that enjoys bowl confidence pools, you already know that Utah is pretty much the free space on that bingo card.

Bowl games outside of the College Football Playoff are usually pretty much a crapshoot.

Is one team more interested in being there? Is one team’s coach out interviewing for other jobs? Did one team spend a little too much time out on the town the night before the game?

Every season produces weird results, which then get shoehorned into whatever your preconceived notions of conference strength are.

Utah is the only constant. The Utes have gone 14-1 in their last 15 bowl games, going back to 1999.

Ron McBride won a pair of Las Vegas Bowls, Urban Meyer won a Liberty Bowl and a Fiesta Bowl, and then Kyle Whittingham took over.

Outside of a clunker in the 2010 Las Vegas Bowl, he’s been perfect. He has 10 bowl wins since 2005.

The vast majority have come in second-tier December games against so-so competition, but he also beat Alabama in the 2009 Sugar Bowl.

Even last year, when the Pac-12 pretty much no-showed their bowl games, Utah won. They knocked off West Virginia in the Heart of Dallas Bowl to be the “1” in their league’s 1-8 postseason.

Just file this information away and pull it out again in December and throw down 30-something confidence points in the Utes.

You can’t rely on anything in bowl season except for them.

Matchup To Watch

#72 Josiah Scott, MSU CB vs. Terry McLaurin

Michigan State’s “No Fly Zone” defensive backfield was reasonably effective against the Buckeyes last fall.

OSU completed 15 passes on 23 attempts for 189 yards. Not exactly “No Fly” but “Not That Much Flying.”

Of course, that was mostly because the Spartans got mercilessly pummeled on the ground instead.

The Buckeyes rushed for 335 yards on 42 carries, an even 8.0 yards per rush.

It’s pretty unlikely the Bucks will be able to do that again this fall in East Lansing. If they can, then the game is over already.

If they can’t, they’ll have to rely more on Dwayne Haskins and the downfield passing game to move the ball.

McLaurin is positioned to be one of the guys who benefits most from Haskins being the quarterback. His speed makes him a legitimate deep threat.

Scott is an Ohio native who saw extensive action as a freshman in 2017. He had interceptions in games against two MAC teams; Western Michigan and Rutgers.

He is pencilled in as a starter this fall opposite Justin Layne.

There’s a decent chance the Spartans have to bring their safeties up in run support to keep from getting pounded into dust by the Buckeye running attack again.

If so, both corners could find themselves alone against OSU receivers. Winning that individual matchup could be the difference in winning or losing the game.