This is the 67th in a series of 100 daily posts, a Countdown to College Football. (Sort of.)
We are now just Raymont Harris days away from the end of the Big Ten Football Media Days and the start of the beginning of fall camp for the Buckeyes. So with that in mind, let’s quietly storm our way one day deeper into the longest-running countdown of any kind ever.
In today’s chapter, we look at college football’s version of one-and-done, a Pac 12 South matchup between title contenders, the millionaire outfielder replacing the Heisman winner, and a matchup as old as time.
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
#34 Marshon Lattimore
Marshon Lattimore has battled more injuries than most Buckeyes, and arguably come back better than any of them before him.
A member of Ohio State’s 2014 recruiting class along with the likes of Raekwon McMillan, Malik Hooker, Curtis Samuel, and Sam Hubbard, Lattimore ended up redshirting due to a season-ending surgery on his hamstring prior to the 2014 season.
The injury stemmed from high school and OSU finally decided that it wasn’t normal for something to linger for so long, so he went under the knife, missing his entire freshman season.
As a redshirt freshman, Lattimore spent some time at nickel back, but missed half the season once again due to hamstring issues.
Eventually, between the end of the 2015 season and the start of spring camp, Lattimore found a healthy pair of hamstrings. He chalked it up to Ohio State’s rehabilitation program, as well as a little bit of yoga.
During the spring of 2016, cornerbacks coach Kerry Coombs said he was holding his breath every time Lattimore had to run full tilt to defend a deep route. Every single time.
Why? Because Coombs knew how good Lattimore could be. And in 2016, as a redshirt sophomore, he proved it to everyone. He started all 13 games that year, earning an All-Big Ten nod. He was selected with the 11th pick in the 2017 NFL Draft. Lattimore had an outstanding rookie season and was the second-consecutive Buckeye to be named the NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year (Joey Bosa).
Best Games This Fall
#34 USC at Utah
This is a Pac 12 South matchup between arguably the top two teams in the division. The home team has won the last five meetings, with the average margin of victory being just eight points. The last two games have been decided by just five points total.
Now that Sam Darnold is gone, USC is going to have to find somebody else to throw interceptions and fumble. An interesting possibility here is freshman J.T. Daniels, who at one point was the No. 1 quarterback in the 2019 class. He then decided to skip his senior season of high school and reclassify to the 2018 class. It would be asking a lot for him to come in and win the job, but freshmen have done well at USC before.
Utah quarterback Tyler Huntley returns for his second season as a starter. He managed nearly 3,000 yards passing and rushing combined last year as a sophomore. He presents some difficulties for an undisciplined defense. Fortunately for USC, their defense is loaded with experienced seniors who shouldn’t fall for too much fakery.
The Trojan offense, meanwhile, will be going up against an inexperienced Ute defensive line. This will be Utah’s seventh game, however, so they’ll be experienced by the time USC comes to town. The Utes will also have one extra day to prepare for this game, as they play on Friday the week before.
Could it be the difference? Not likely, but it’s always nice to have something to blame stuff on.
What We Can’t Wait To See
#34 Kyler Murray and the Oklahoma Offense
If you can believe it, there were people last year who wanted to see Kyler Murray on the field for the Sooners because they thought he gave the Oklahoma offense more potential than Heisman winner Baker Mayfield.
Murray was drafted by the Oakland A’s with the ninth overall pick in the MLB Draft last month and signed a contract with a $4.66 million signing bonus. He will play this season for Oklahoma and then forego the rest of his eligibility to join the A’s in spring training in 2019. Until then, however, he should be fun to watch.
Murray is a 5-tool quarterback, but will only need to use two or three of those tools in football. He is an athletic dynamo, but not that big (5-11 190), so he will work to avoid getting hit.
He’s not just a runner, however. Murray completed 18 of 21 passes for 359 yards and three touchdowns in seven games last year. He also added 142 yards rushing on 14 carries.
The Sooners averaged 45.1 points per game last year. Don’t expect Kyler Murray to get the offense back to that number, but it’s still going to be a powerful group to watch this season.
Matchup To Watch
#34 Devin Bush, MICH MLB vs. Mike Weber
With 1:50 to play in the fourth quarter of last year’s Ohio State-Michigan game, and the Buckeyes up 24-20, Mike Weber took a hand off from quarterback Dwayne Haskins and immediately headed up the middle. There was no room there, however, so he kicked it out over the right side and raced into the end zone from 25 yards out. Michigan middle linebacker Devin Bush slid over to the opposite side of the play before the snap due to motion into the slot by H-back K.J. Hill.
The UM linebackers had no shot, and Bush chased Weber into the end zone. The touchdown secured the victory for the Buckeyes — their sixth in a row over the Wolverines.
Weber had 12 rushes for 57 yards in that game. Bush, meanwhile, had a season-low five tackles against Weber and the Buckeyes. Considering that Ohio State ran the ball 48 times, that’s not a whole lot of tackles.
Both Bush and Weber will come into this game wanting to do more than they did last year, and both will be more than capable of fulfilling these desires. It’s going to be a fun matchup to watch, especially now that the linebackers won’t have to worry as much about a running quarterback.