44 Days To Ohio State Football *

This is the 57th in a series of 100 daily posts, a Countdown to College Football. (Sort of.)

Happy Monday, friends! Let’s rise and shine together and make this a fantastic week!

The unofficial-ish start of college football is now just six weeks away. And once you remember that everyone is going to take the week of the 4th of July off, it’s basically five weeks.

So go into your office with a smile this morning. The kind-of start of college football season is even closer than you think.

One more thing that should bring a smile to the face of any Buckeye fan this morning is the news that Harry Miller, one of the top offensive line prospects in the nation, officially committed to Ohio State over the weekend.

In today’s edition, we will take a look back at an almost completely forgotten Buckeye all-American, a rivalry that lived up to its nickname last fall, one of the greatest unheralded coaches in the nation, and a matchup from the season opener.

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

#44 Damon Moore, 1995-98

If you’re old enough to remember the mid-90s Ohio State juggernauts, there’s a pretty good chance your reaction to Damon Moore’s name was, “oh yeah, I forgot about him.”

Moore was an outstanding player on some extremely talented teams, but was overshadowed by bigger-name teammates. Everyone remembers Orlando Pace, Eddie George, David Boston, Andy Katzenmoyer, Antoine Winfield, and Joe Germaine from that span. But Moore should be in the conversation with all of those guys.

He was named all-American by The Sporting News during his senior season of 1998, and was first-team all-conference in 1997 and 1998.

He had 19 tackles against Wisconsin in 1996, and intercepted three passes in a game against Iowa that year as well.

Moore had another huge interception in the 1996 win at Indiana that locked up the Rose Bowl for OSU. He picked off a pass and ran it back for a game-sealing touchdown. Of course, you probably don’t remember that, either. While Matt Finkes’ fumble return touchdown that day has become part of Buckeye lore, Moore’s pick-six has somehow gotten lost to history.

In 1998, Moore had a 73-yard interception return for a touchdown that gave OSU a 24-9 lead against Michigan State. If you remember what happened after that, you can probably imagine why that huge play has been forgotten.

He was a three-year starter and four-year contributor for teams that won what was then a four-year OSU record of 43 games.

Moore was a fourth-round pick in the NFL Draft and played four seasons in the league.

Best Games This Fall

#44 Oklahoma State at Oklahoma, November 10

The Bedlam rivalry has frequently failed to live up to its name in recent years.

For one thing, Oklahoma has dominated the series, winning 13 of the last 15 meetings. Plus, a lot of games have been lopsided.  But when both teams are loaded with talent and firing on all cylinders, it is a heck of a game.

Last year’s matchup ended with a final score of 62-52, a total of 1,446 yards of total offense (that works out to more than 0.8 MILES).

The over/under for the game was 77 – which is a number that’s insanely high. The teams were one point off of that at HALFTIME with a score of 38-38.

This year’s game figures to be a little lower-scoring with guys like Baker Mayfield, Mason Rudolph, James Washington, and Mark Andrews now playing on Sundays.

But it should still be a fun game to watch, and it could play a big role in settling the Big 12 championship as well.

What We Can’t Wait To See

#44 Wyoming Post-Josh Allen

The Wyoming Cowboys are one of college football’s under-appreciated gems. They wear brown and yellow uniforms, play their home games at the highest altitude of any FBS school (7,215 feet), and they do it in a state that has not produced a prospect rated at more than two stars since 2015. It’s a unique program to be sure.

The last time the Cowboys signed a 3-star player from their home state was 2010. There’s not much mystery why this is considered one of the toughest jobs in college football.

And yet, they’ve won. The Cowboys won eight games in each of the past two seasons. While quarterback Josh Allen grabbed all the headlines, the guy who probably played the biggest role was a bald guy in his late-50s.

Craig Bohl built an FCS dynasty at North Dakota State from 2003-2013. The Bison went a combined 43-2 in his last three seasons, winning the national title each year, before he took the Wyoming job.

His first two seasons in Laramie were rough, 4-8 and 2-10. But with Allen at the controls, the Cowboys upset two ranked teams on their way to an 8-win season in 2016, and then blew out Central Michigan in the Idaho Potato Bowl in 2017.

Now, Bohl has to try to do it again without his star quarterback.

Bohl is the kind of coach who could probably turn a crappy low-level Power 5 conference program into an interesting perpetual bowl team if he ever got the chance.

But this fall it’s going to be interesting to see if he can keep Wyoming at anywhere close to that level.

Matchup To Watch

#44 Oregon State QB vs. Baron Browning

The Beavers are still not completely sure who will take their start snaps at quarterback this fall.

Sophomore Conor Blount was impressive during their spring game, putting him squarely in the middle of the race for the job. A former walk-on, Blount led the offense to three touchdowns that day.

Senior Jake Luton and JUCO transfer Jack Colletto are also fighting for the position.

Whichever one of them wins the job will have to look out for the guy wearing the scarlet No. 5 jersey on the other side of the line.

The Buckeyes aren’t totally sure where Baron Browning will play this fall. But just as someone is going to be under center for Oregon State, Browning is almost certainly going to be out there somewhere – whether it’s at the MIKE or WILL linebacker position – waiting to stop them.

Browning was impressive during the spring, and has won repeated praise for his talent, effort, and leadership abilities. He came to Columbus as a 5-star recruit, so he has the physical tools to succeed as well.

The Oregon State game will be his first real chance to show what he can do.