This is the 74th in a series of 100 daily posts, a Countdown to College Football. (Sort of.)
Exactly four weeks from today, this countdown will be over and Urban Meyer will be standing at a podium in the McCormick Place Hyatt, talking about the upcoming football season.
Unless he starts yelling about a doctor falsifying research on some experimental medicine, it won’t be the best speech ever given in a Chicago hotel ballroom, but it should be interesting.
The Big Ten Football Media Days mark the unofficial start to a college football autumn, and friends, they’re now getting tantalizingly close.
But first, we have to get through today’s countdown. We’ll talk about an automatic kicker, a rivalry that drives one fanbase to drink, the best way to watch the most obscure games of the year, and the biggest unknown in this year’s version of The Game.
If you missed yesterday’s edition, you can find it 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
#27 Mike Nugent, 2001-2004
It’s hard to say what’s stranger: having a placekicker listed as the 27th-best player of the last 21 seasons at Ohio State, or the fact that he might actually be too low on that list.
Mike Nugent’s career started somewhat unimpressively, as he missed half of his field goal attempts (7/14) as a freshman in 2001.
After that, he was almost automatic for three straight seasons.
He was 113-for-114 on extra points and 65-for-74 on field goals. Many of those three-pointers weren’t chipshots, either.
He hit five field goals of 50+ yards in 2004 alone, and was named the team’s MVP that season.
He was named an all-American in 2002 and 2004, and won the Lou Groza Award as the nation’s top kicker as a senior.
Nugent was a second-round pick by the Jets in the 2005 NFL Draft. He has hit 81 percent of his field goals so far in a 161-game pro career.
Best Games This Fall
#27 Georgia vs. Florida (in Jacksonville)
The World’s Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party has driven a lot of Georgia fans to drink over the past two decades. From 1990 to 2010, the Bulldogs won this game exactly three times.
Georgia finally appeared to be turning the tide after Urban Meyer left Gainesville, winning three straight in the series. But Florida won the next three after that.
The Bulldogs won 2017’s edition, 42-7, and will be heavily favored in this year’s game as well.
Kirby Smart has quickly established his program as a national title contender and a destination for many of the nation’s top recruits.
Meanwhile, Dan Mullen takes over a Gators program that has fallen hard talent-wise since Meyer’s departure. It’s going to take a few years of good recruiting to close the gap with Georgia again.
But this is one of those weird neutral-site rivalries like Oklahoma/Texas that tends to generate unpredictable results. In 2002, 2003, 2005, and 2014, top-10 Bulldog teams lost to lower-ranked Florida squads.
If it happens again this year, it could have a major impact on the national title chase.
What We Can’t Wait To See
#27 Checking The TV Schedule Every Week
College football season is full of occasional moments of joyous insanity like the Kick Six or Hail Marys. But there are much lower-key times that can fill you with excitement as well.
One of those is the first time you check out the TV schedule on LSUFootball.net for the week.
If you’re not familiar with this glorious slice of the college football internet, it’s an LSU fan site that has somehow morphed into the most comprehensive version of the sport’s TV Guide.
Want to know when and where the Michigan/Notre Dame game is being televised? They have that.
But they can also tell you where to find a live stream for Nichols at Kansas, Delaware State at Buffalo, and Monmouth at Eastern Michigan as well.
Most importantly, they can tell you when you can find a midnight kickoff of a Hawaii home game to stretch your college football Saturday well into Sunday.
One word of warning: the site is based in Louisiana so all games are listed in Central time. Just add an hour to bring things up to code.
Matchup To Watch
#27 Shea Patterson, MICH QB vs. Tuf Borland
Talk to any Michigan fan about the 2018 season, and the first thing they’ll mention is their schedule. Road games at Notre Dame, Michigan State, and Ohio State, plus home dates with Wisconsin and Penn State will make their run at a championship a tricky one.
But the second thing they’ll tell you is that Shea Patterson will help get them over the top.
Patterson transferred to Ann Arbor from Ole Miss, where he said coaches lied to him about pending sanctions. That was enough to get the NCAA to waive its usual requirement for a player to sit out a season after transferring.
Patterson played seven games for the Rebels last fall, putting up huge numbers against weak competition and so-so numbers against teams with a pulse.
He completed 73 percent of his passes for 1,269 yards, 13 touchdowns and 1 interception against South Alabama, Tennessee-Martin, and Vanderbilt.
He hit 63 percent of his throws for 709 yards, 4 touchdowns and 3 interceptions against Cal and Auburn.
Against Alabama and LSU, he completed 45 percent for 281 yards, no touchdowns and 5 picks.
If that first Patterson is the one who takes the field this fall in Ann Arbor, the Wolverines could have a season to remember. If it’s the third one, they’ll be very glad they turned down a second season of “All Or Nothing.”
Patterson was the top-ranked pro-style quarterback coming out of high school and the No. 4 prospect overall, so he has a pedigree that suggests he could be great.
He was active on the ground as a true freshman in 2016, rushing for about 4 yards per carry, but the Ole Miss coaching staff didn’t let him run much last fall.
Containing Patterson through the air and on the ground will be a team effort, but middle linebacker Tuf Borland figures to be a key to making it happen.
Borland had six tackles in Ann Arbor last fall, and should be even more active this November.
The dominating OSU defensive line should keep Michigan’s offensive line occupied, which would potentially give Borland some free runs at Patterson and Wolverine running backs.
A big day from Borland could keep Michigan’s offense from moving the chains, and help the Buckeyes continue their dominance in the series.