This is the 64th in a series of 100 daily posts, a Countdown to College Football. (Sort of.)
We are now just 37 days away from the end of the Big Ten Football Media Days, which is the federal bank holiday signifying that college football season has essentially pretty much for all intents and purposes begun. Basically.
In today’s countdown we look at a Buckeye who started as a freshman, a great early-season inter-conference matchup, players who were almost Buckeyes, and a significant test for Dwayne Haskins’ blind side.
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
#37 Cameron Heyward, 2007-2010
A four-year starter at strongside defensive end, Cameron Heyward came off the bench for the first five games of his career. He was inserted into the starting lineup in his sixth career game and only failed to start one game after that for the rest of his career.
Because he played the strong side, his job wasn’t necessarily to rush the passer, but instead to hold the edge and be the foundation for the Ohio State defense.
As a freshman, Heyward finished with 33 tackles, 10 tackles for loss, and 2.5 sacks. As a sophomore, he went 36, 4.5, and 3.0
Heyward finally missed a start in 2009, but only because there was no real point in him playing. New Mexico State came to Columbus in late October, one week prior to Ohio State heading to Penn State. The Buckeyes went with three pass-rushing defensive ends in the starting lineup against NMSU’s pass-happy attack.
For the year, Heyward finished sixth on the team with 46 tackles, and also added 10.5 tackles for loss and 6.0 sacks.
As a senior in 2010, Heyward was a captain and was named First-Team All-Big Ten with a career-high 48 tackles and 13.0 tackles for loss. He also pitched in 3.5 sacks and an 80-yard interception return. That interception came against the Miami Hurricanes with OSU leading 26-17 in the third quarter. Quarterback Jacory Harris threw a pass over the middle, which Heyward intercepted at the OSU 5-yard line. He took it back to Miami’s 15-yard line before he was finally tracked down. Terrelle Pryor would score two plays later to put the game away.
Heyward was selected in the first round (31st pick) of the 2011 NFL Draft by the Pittsburgh Steelers.
In 2017, Heyward had a career-high 12 sacks with the Steelers and earned his first Pro Bowl nod. He was also named First-Team All-Pro. He has signed contracts worth nearly $70 million in his time in Pittsburgh.
Best Games This Fall
#37 Clemson at Texas A&M
Dabo Swinney chased Jimbo Fisher out of the ACC, but it doesn’t look like Swinney is ready to be done yet. Bullies are the actual worst.
After winning the last three matchups between the two schools, Clemson doesn’t look like they have any intentions of slowing down against Florida State. Fisher could see that too, that’s why he transferred to a lesser division like the SEC West. But he still couldn’t get away from Dabo and the Clemson Tigers.
This game takes place in the second week of the season and you can watch it on ESPN at 7:00 pm Saturday night. You’ll be able to switch over immediately following Rutgers at Ohio State on BTN.
Texas A&M returns 16 starters and a win here against Clemson would likely force the Tigers to go undefeated in conference play, which Swinney has only done once before (2015). This isn’t a must-win game for the Aggies, so they may play looser than Clemson.
Given the Tigers’ defensive line, however, it may not matter who plays loose or who plays tight. Those guys are gonna keep on coming regardless.
What We Can’t Wait To See
#37 Ohio State’s Decommitments
A couple of days ago, we couldn’t wait to see the new redshirt rule in effect because it was going to allow us to see more freshmen than ever before.
Today, this falls in line a bit with that one, but there’s a twist.
Ohio State had four talented 2018 recruits decommit, and I can’t wait to see what they do this year.
Georgia defensive end Brenton Cox decided to stay home and he signed with the Georgia Bulldogs. Could the Buckeyes even have found room for the nation’s No. 2 strongside defensive end? (Probably.)
Then there is Georgia quarterback Emory Jones, who got too wishy washy, so the Buckeyes moved on and went and got Matthew Baldwin. Jones ended up at Florida where he may or may not be the future for new head coach Dan Mullen.
Jones wasn’t the only former commit to end up with the Gators. Florida defensive end Andre Chatfield opted to stay home and play for his home school. Florida returns both starting defensive ends, and depth behind them. We might be waiting a bit before we see Chatfield on the field.
California safety Jaiden Woodbey was committed to Ohio State forever, but a late offer from Florida State and new head coach Willie Taggart was enough to sway Woodbey to Tallahassee. He could be on the field immediately for the Seminoles this season.
Matchup To Watch
#37 Ben Banogu, TCU DE vs. Thayer Munford
Ben Banogu was a First-Team All-Big XII defensive end last season for TCU. He put up 49 tackles, 16.5 tackles for loss, and 8.0 sacks. He is a relentless pass rusher who will be going up against a sophomore Thayer Munford who has never started a game before.
The best thing Munford has going for him in this game is that it comes in week three and not week one. This won’t be Munford’s first rodeo, but it will be his third, which still isn’t that many.
The Buckeyes are going to need quarterback Dwayne Haskins to remain upright in this game, and Thayer Munford is going to have a lot to say about whether or not that happens.