This is the 28th in a series of 100 daily posts, a Countdown to College Football. (Sort of.)
Can you believe it? Sixteen Sundays from right now, you’ll be able to wake up and react to an Ohio State football game.
You’ll get to second guess Urban Meyer for choosing to punt once against Oregon State. You’ll also get to praise Kevin Wilson and Ryan Day’s usage of tight end Luke Farrell, who caught 14 passes for 237 yards. And using Rashod Berry in the wildcat? A stroke of genius.
Oh yes, it’s going to be a good Sunday. But we still have 73 days to go before we are just 40 days away from that day, and one of those days is today. Also, 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
#73 Matt Finkes, 1993-1996
Ohio State’s 1993 recruiting class wasn’t the most star-studded group in OSU history, but it did have legendary players like Shawn Springs, Mike Vrabel, and Matt Finkes. Greg Bellisari, Stanley Jackson, Nicky Sualua, and Dimitrious Stanley were a few other names as well. The freshman who made the biggest impact that season was Finkes, who posted 20 tackles, 4.0 tackles for loss, and 3.0 sacks as a rookie.
But it was the 1994 season where Finkes fully announced his presence to the college football world. That was the year that “Finkes and Vrabel” joined the Ohio State lexicon and never left. Finkes tied for third on the team with 71 tackles, tied for first in TFLs with 20, and finished one sack behind Vrabel for the team lead with 11. Lorenzo Styles was the only linebacker who finished with more tackles than Finkes in 1994.
As a junior in 1995, offenses caught up with Finkes, “limiting” him to just 19 tackles for loss and five sacks. As a senior, Finkes put up another 71 tackles, with 16 tackles for loss and six sacks. He probably would have had more TFLs and sacks, but that was the same year a freshman named Andy Katzenmoyer showed up and tallied 23 TFLs and 12 sacks.
Finkes was named First-Team All-Big Ten in 1994 and 1996. He is second in OSU history in TFLs (59.0) behind Vrabel (66.0), and fourth in sacks (25.0) behind Vrabel (36.0), Jason Simmons (27.5), and Joey Bosa (26.0).
Best Games This Fall
#73 Wisconsin at Northwestern
The Big Ten West title goes through Evanston this year. Or at least it does when Wisconsin shows up for the game on October 27.
The good news is that Northwestern quarterback Clayton Thorson should be good to go from his ACL tear last year by then. The bad news is that the season might already be in the tank by the time October rolls around.
Interestingly, the week after the Wisconsin game the Wildcats host Notre Dame, though I don’t think they’ll be looking past the Badgers. They can’t afford to.
Wisconsin does have a fairly difficult road schedule this season (at Iowa, at Michigan, at Northwestern, at Penn State, at Purdue), and this is one of those games that makes it difficult. It’s not impossible, especially when you look at it game-by-game. As a collective, however, you wonder if it will catch up to them.
What We Can’t Wait To See
#73 The Florida Quarterback Battle
The Gators are foolishly down to just three scholarship quarterbacks this season, and only one of them has any experience. Could you ever imagine something like this happening to Ohio State?
Florida does return redshirt sophomore Feleipe Franks, who threw for 1,438 yards last year, but never really looked that good doing it. They have another redshirt sophomore on the team in Kyle Trask, but he has yet to find his name in a box score.
What I’m most interested to see is freshman — and former Ohio State commitment — Emory Jones. Jones waffled late last year, so the Buckeyes went out and landed a commitment from Matthew Baldwin and said goodbye to Jones. Is he a better fit for the new Gators’ offense under Dan Mullen?
Of course, the really interesting part will be if Joe Burrow gets involved here. Either way, the Mullen Era is underway, and the SEC East might eventually have two decent programs for the first time in a long time.
Matchup To Watch
#73 KaVontae Turpin, TCU WR/KR vs. Jordan Fuller
KaVontae Turpin is a dynamic slot receiver and kick returner for TCU. He’s much more dynamic as a returner, averaging 30.8 yards per kickoff return last season with a touchdown. He also averaged 16.2 yards per punt return with a touchdown there as well.
As a receiver, Turpin tied for first on the team with 41 catches, but averaged just 9.6 yards per catch for 394 yards total. He also notched a touchdown there as well.
With Buckeye safety Jordan Fuller now at field safety in the OSU defense, he is going to be matched up quite a bit with Turpin in the slot. Just because Turpin hasn’t averaged more than 10 yards per catch in the last two years doesn’t mean he isn’t explosive. The return yards will tell you that. Also, as a freshman in 2016 he caught 45 passes for 649 yards and eight touchdowns, so the potential is there.
If Fuller is going to be an All-American this season, he is going to need to show it in this game.