Football

80 Days To Football*

This is the 21st in a series of 100 daily posts, a Countdown to College Football. (Sort of.) 

Happy Sunday morning to you. Hopefully your fünfter Mai parties didn’t get too crazy last night.

If you’re not familiar with that holiday, it’s a German celebration honoring the fact that you won’t hear anyone saying “May the Fourth be with you” for another 364 days.

Plus, now you’re only 80 days from football* which is cause for celebration as well.

If you’re looking to kill another five minutes of the offseason, don’t forget to check out yesterday’s installment if you haven’t yet.

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

#80 J.K. Dobbins, 2017-present

J.K. Dobbins Wisconsin Big Ten Championship Game
If he stays on track, he may get to make a few more trips to Indianapolis, too.

Yes, he has only played one year as a member of the Buckeyes, but it was a HECK of a year.

Dobbins rushed for 1,403 yards and 7 touchdowns as a true freshman last fall. That’s more rushing yards than Maurice Clarett’s freshman season (1,237) or Robert Smith’s (1,126), or Mike Weber’s (1,096).

That year alone earns him a spot on this list. If he can avoid the off-field issues that derailed the first two guys’ careers, he could rocket up this list next year. If he can avoid the injuries that have plagued Weber, he could finish near the top two seasons from now.

The production he’s already shown is stellar, but his potential is close to limitless.


Best Games This Fall

#80 Oklahoma State at TCU, November 24

The regular season finale for both teams could serve as a play-in game for the Big 12 title game.

Both teams face a difficult challenge out of conference. The Cowboys host Boise State, and the Horned Frogs face Ohio State in Arlington. If one or both win those games, there’s a decent chance at least one of them will still be in the College Football Playoff picture this week.

The road team has won this game each of the last two years. TCU won this game 44-31 in Stillwater last year, and the Cowboys smoked the Frogs 31-6 in Fort Worth in 2016.

Whoever wins this game could find themselves just one more win away from a playoff bid this fall.


What We Can’t Wait To See

#80 Michigan and Notre Dame Playing Again

If you’ve had your “Let’s Go Meteor” foam finger in cold storage since 2014, it’s time to get it out.

College football’s most unjustifiably self-important rivalry is back after a three-year hiatus.

The best part of this game is the produced opening on the broadcast. That’s the recorded segment where they talk in serious tones about the history of the rivalry and the two programs.

It’s fun to watch how they delicately avoid pointing out that all of the footage of great players and coaches is all in grainy standard definition.

It’s also a guarantee that one of these programs will see its College Football Playoff hopes on life support before Labor Day. And that’s something any Buckeye fan can get excited about.


Matchup To Watch

#80 Morgan Ellison, IU RB vs. Justin Hilliard

Ellison has the opportunity to show Urban Meyer up close that he’s “one that got away.”

The Pickerington native rushed for 704 yards and 7 touchdowns as a freshman. That’s not at J.K. Dobbins’ level, it’s still very impressive for a true freshman in the Big Ten.

Ellison had just 7 carries for 24 yards the last time these two teams met, although that was in last year’s season opener.

He was up and down last year, rushing for 5.9 yards per carry against Penn State and 4.9 per rush against Michigan, but falling short of 4 YPC in seven other games.

This year, the Buckeyes and Hoosiers play on October 6, the week after OSU travels to Happy Valley. That’s right around when projected starting MLB Tuf Borland could return from an Achilles injury.

Assuming Ohio State takes its time working Borland back into the lineup, Hilliard would likely be the MIKE linebacker tasked with keeping Ellison under wraps.

If he can, and the Buckeyes can make Indiana one-dimensional on offense, it could turn this into a much-needed blowout following the Penn State game.