81 Days To Football*

81 Days to Ohio State Football Buckeyes

This is the 20th in a series of 100 daily posts, a Countdown to College Football. (Sort of.) 

The difficult thing about having a series that runs for 100 days in a row is coming up with 100 different intros. Fortunately, since Tom Orr and I are doing this thing together, that only means 50 a piece. And I’m pretty sure I can get away with running the same intro twice, which cuts my total number of intros down to 25, which is still a whole hell of a lot.

I’ll probably have to wait a while before re-running this one, however, because it has turned out pretty good so far.

Anyway, 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

#81 B.J. Sander

If the punt is the most important play in football, what does that make the punter?

B.J. Sander came to Ohio State from Cincinnati Roger Bacon. He was part of the famed 1999 recruiting class which featured Matt Zahn, Richard McNutt, Craig Krenzel, and Mike Doss.

Sander redshirted as a freshman, then became the Buckeyes’ No. 1 punter in 2000. He averaged 41.9 yards per punt that season. He lost his job the next two seasons thanks to the amazing Andy Groom.

As a fifth-year senior in 2003, Sander averaged 43.3 yards per punt and won the Ray Guy Award as the nation’s top punter. He was then drafted in the third round of the NFL Draft by the Green Bay Packers.

Best Games This Fall

#81 Michigan at Northwestern

Michigan and Northwestern is one of the more underrated college football rivalries because it has a way of bringing out the weird.

The 2000 masterpiece is still one of the greatest games ever played. Michigan lost it 54-51 thanks to some late-game broken plays and a fumble by Anthony Thomas as the Wolverines were running out the clock.

Michigan is 10-1 against Northwestern since that game. Last year they put it on the Wildcats to the tune of 38-0. The three games prior to that, however, were all decided by one score.

This game will take place in Week 5 of the season (Sept. 29). The Wildcats have a bye before Michigan comes to town. The Wolverines, meanwhile, will be dealing with Nebraska that week.

If Michigan is going to win the Big Ten East — or even finish as high as second — they cannot lose the trap games, and this is a little bit more than a trap game.

What We Can’t Wait To See

#81 Scott Frost at Nebraska

Speaking of the Cornhuskers, I personally can’t wait to see what Scott Frost does in Lincoln. I expect him to do very, very well. It will take some time to build the culture and the roster, but he should improve the program immediately.

Wisconsin has built a solid program in the Big Ten West. They should be the model example for all other West division programs. There is no reason Nebraska can’t do everything that the Badgers have done, and they have more willingness to spend their B1G money.

How much progress the Huskers can make this year remains to be seen, but there are reasons to be excited. One of them is freshman quarterback Adrian Martinez, who was a star this spring. Ohio State offered him last year, if that gives you an idea of his talent level.

Putting too much pressure on a freshman quarterback is bound to cost the Huskers a game or two this year, but if he does win the job, watch out in a year or two when everything starts coming together for Frost and his Nebraska program.

Matchup To Watch

#81 Kenny Willekes, MSU DE vs. Thayer Munford

Kenny Willekes led Michigan State with 14.5 tackles for loss and 7.0 sacks last season as a sophomore. He is a former walk-on, but don’t let that fool you. He came back even stronger this spring and has now emerged as a leader on the Spartan defense.

When the Buckeyes head to East Lansing in November, it could very well be sophomore left tackle Thayer Munford watching the blindside of starting quarterback to be named later.

Every yard is going to matter in this game and a sack is likely going to end up in a punt. This will be a matchup that the Buckeyes must win.