82 Days To Football*

82 Days to Ohio State Football Buckeyes

I think counting is probably one of my favorite things to do because I’m really good at it. I can count people, things, small bills, animals, pretty much anything.

Counting backwards, such as this countdown, is a little tougher, but I still have yet to screw up, so I must be pretty good at counting backwards as well.

I love learning new things about myself.

Today’s countdown has us at 82 days away from the end of the Big Ten Media Days, which is the official unofficial start of the college football season. Tomorrow’s countdown will put us 81 days away. Look at me showing off.

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

#82 Alex Stepanovich, 2000-2003

Alex Stepanovich was one of the rare offensive linemen who didn’t redshirt as a true freshman. He played in seven games in 2000, but got his first starting experience as a sophomore against UCLA and South Carolina in 2001. He then emerged as the Buckeyes’ starting center for their national championship team in 2002.

Stepanovich moved to guard in 2003 to make way for Nick Mangold. He was named First-Team All-Big Ten in 2003 for his play.

In 2004, Stepanovich was drafted in the fourth round by the Arizona Cardinals. He started all 16 games for the Cardinals at center as a rookie. He started games over the next two seasons as well before injuries began to take their toll on his playing career.

Best Games This Fall

#82 Washington at Washington State

Unquestionably, this is the best rivalry named after a side dish in a school cafeteria.

Washington head coach Chris Petersen is 4-0 against Washington State, with the Huskies winning by an average score of 41-14.

Washington State and head coach Mike Leach would love to spoil a playoff spot for Washington this season, and with the game in Pullman, there’s a possibility that it could happen.

Don’t ever put faith in Wazzu to get it done, but sometimes when you’re not watching, they’ll surprise you.

What We Can’t Wait To See

#82 Michigan’s Wide Receivers

It may be sacrilegious to say these words here, but I am looking forward to watching Michigan’s wide receivers this year, particularly their four second-year players.

Tarik Black (6-3 206) only played in three games last year before suffering a season-ending foot injury, but he was the Wolverines’ best receiver from day one. He is a talented deep threat who is a throw back to the big, outside receivers under Lloyd Carr.

Sophomore Donovan Peoples-Jones had Ohio State coaches driving through a blizzard to recruit him, but he ended up a Wolverine and will be used all over the field this season. He is already one of the most dynamic play makers in the conference. As a freshman last season, Peoples-Jones returned 40 punts for 320 yards and a touchdown, caught 22 passes for 277 yards, ran the ball four times for 57 yards, and even had a tackle.

Nico Collins played a little bit last year and Oliver Martin redshirted. They will both be counted on to complement Black and Peoples-Jones. Getting them the football shouldn’t be a problem because Shea Patterson is quite possibly the greatest football player ever.

Matchup To Watch

#82 Jalen Reagor, TCU WR vs. Jeff Okudah

Jalen Reagor and Jeff Okudah are both true sophomores who played high school football about 30 miles away from each other.

Reagor played in all 14 games for TCU last year, starting twice. He was named Co-Offensive Freshman of the Year in the Big XII last season following a year where he caught 33 passes for 576 yards and eight touchdowns.

Jeff Okudah played in all 14 games for the Buckeyes last year as well, and his role on the team grew later in the season. Okudah will be in the cornerback rotation for the Ohio State defense this season, so we may only see him and Reagor matched up here and there, but it will have been an interesting journey to finally see it happen.

They played high school football a half-hour away from each other, but never played against each other. That will change in September, however, now that one of them left for Ohio State and the other went to TCU. And they’ll get to do it at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, which is less than an hour from where they both earned their high school football stripes.