This is the 58th in a series of 100 daily posts, a Countdown to College Football. (Sort of.)
Tuesday, as Newman informed us all on Seinfeld, has no feel.
That’s not necessarily true. It feels better than Monday, but not quite as good as Wednesday. And it also feels like you’re now one day closer to the start of college football season. That’s a pretty good feeling.
In today’s edition, we will take a look back at a Buckeye with one of the program’s longest NFL careers, a matchup involving every OSU fan’s second-favorite team, a coach whose name you’ll know a year from now, and one of the keys to beating Sparty this fall.
If you missed yesterday’s edition, you’ll want to remedy that by reading it 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
#43 Ryan Pickett, 1998-2000
You don’t normally see true freshmen making a major impact on the inside of the defensive line. You especially don’t see that on teams loaded with talent like the 1998 Ohio State Buckeyes were.
But Ryan Pickett started nine games for that team, one of the most talented in OSU history. That, more than almost anything else, should tell you how good he really was.
He ended up starting 33 straight games for the Buckeyes, totaling 109 tackles, 20 for loss and eight sacks.
Incredibly, he was the only OSU defensive lineman who wasn’t named to one of the all-conference teams in 2000.
Still, he was impressive enough to leave OSU after his junior season and was a first-round draft pick by the Rams. He played 14 seasons in the league, mostly for the Rams and Green Bay Packers. He was a starter for the Packers team that won Super Bowl XLV over the Steelers.
Best Games This Fall
#43 Appalachian State at Arkansas State, October 9
The transition from FCS powerhouse to FBS Group of Five team has gone pretty well for Ohio State fans’ second-favorite team.
The Appalachian State Mountaineers have won 7, 11, 10, and 9 games in their four seasons in the Sun Belt, and have a 3-0 bowl record to show for it.
They are one of three teams who have made a home at the top of the league, along with Arkansas State and Troy.
The Red Wolves have to be considered a slight favorite this year since they don’t have to play Troy. They also return their starting quarterback, while the other two don’t.
That may be enough to push them over the top, but this Tuesday night game could be their toughest test.
The Sun Belt is one of those leagues that gets totally forgotten about on a busy College Football Saturday, but it has the spotlight to itself for this one.
These are two very good programs, and a game that’s worth your time.
What We Can’t Wait To See
#43 Year Three For Seth Littrell
Go ahead, you can ask: “Who?”
Seth Littrell is the head coach at North Texas, a program located in the middle of one of the best recruiting areas in the nation that seems like it should be a perpetual winner. But somehow North Texas hasn’t ever managed to make that happen.
The Mean Green had won 4 games or fewer in nine of the 11 seasons before Littrell arrived. They were 1-11 in 2015. Littrell promptly won five games in 2016, and then increased his win total by four yet again in 2017, finishing 9-5.
North Texas had only hit the 9-win mark twice since 1978. That was the year a guy named Hayden Fry parlayed back-to-back 9-2 seasons into the head coaching job at Iowa.
They’re not recruiting particularly well, which is odd since North Texas’ campus is located about a 30-minute drive from the talent-rich Dallas-Fort Worth area.
This year, they open with SMU, which has a new head coach, and then play at Arkansas week 3. The Razorbacks have a new coach as well. In their case, it’s SMU’s old coach.
Regardless, those are two chances to take advantage of programs in transition and pick up early upset wins. If the Mean Green can do that, they have a chance to crack 10 wins for the first time in program history.
If they do, Littrell will be in line for a much bigger job. Then every college football fan will know his name.
Matchup To Watch
#43 Joe Bachie, MSU MLB vs. J.K. Dobbins
Ohio State completely ran over the Spartans last fall for 42 carries and 335 yards en route to a 48-3 win.
It was, to say the least, unexpected. MSU had been pretty good at controlling opposing run games all season, and Joe Bachie was a big reason why.
Playing at middle linebacker, he was a breakout star for the Spartans in 2017. He totaled 100 tackles, including 7.5 for loss and 2.5 sacks.
However, with just four tackles against the Buckeyes he was almost a total non-factor in MSU’s blowout loss in Columbus.
If OSU can neutralize Bachie again this fall, they’ll have a chance to control the ball and knock off the Spartans yet again.