This is the 53rd in a series of 100 daily posts, a Countdown to College Football. (Sort of.)
Happy Thursday! We put out a new edition of Accost The Field yesterday. It includes a deep dive on why Michigan is having a ton of trouble recruiting consistently. You know… if you know anyone who likes hearing about Jim Harbaugh struggling.
Download that and then let two solid hours of college football talk soothe your nerves as you watch the idiots next to you driving backward up exit ramps.
In today’s countdown we’ll take a look at a national champion with an up-and-down pro career, an ACC game that could ruin someone’s promising season, a once-elite coach who could be trending back up, and one of the bigger mysteries on OSU’s 2018 schedule.
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
#48 Eli Apple, 2013-2015
Eli Apple arrived at Ohio State as one of the highest-ranked members of one of the greatest recruiting classes in Buckeye history.
Apple rated as the No. 52 player overall nationally, placing him just behind Joey Bosa in OSU’s class.
Despite growing up in New Jersey, Apple was a big Ohio State fan, and got his picture taken with then-head coach Jim Tressel as a kid.
He sat out his freshman season due to an iron deficiency, but quickly lived up to his recruiting rankings once he finally got onto the field.
He played in all 15 games for the 2014 national title team, recording 53 tackles and three interceptions. The last one came on the final play of the National Championship Game win over Oregon.
He put up another solid season as a redshirt sophomore in 2015, and then jumped to the NFL.
The New York Giants made him the 10th overall pick in the 2016 NFL Draft.
Apple earned a starting job that fall and won a spot on the NFL’s all-Rookie team.
In 2017, Apple struggled somewhat on the field, and was suspended after arguing with coaches.
He will look to rebound this year under a new Giants coaching staff.
Best Games This Fall
#48 Notre Dame at Virginia Tech, October 6
This clash of ACC rivals pits two teams who should enter the season ranked.
This will be a tough spot for Notre Dame, which has to travel to Blacksburg one week after hosting Stanford. The Cardinal are the type of physical running team who can leave opponents battered. That’s not a great condition to be in when you have to face the Hokies the following week.
The Irish open their season at home against Michigan, and then have that home date with Stanford looming at the end of September. That means there’s a chance Notre Dame could enter this game with two losses already on their record.
In a year when Irish fans already aren’t thrilled with Brian Kelly, that could make things very uncomfortable for the Purple-Faced Menace.
The Hokies will battle Miami for the divisional title in whichever ACC Division it is that they play in. The names don’t matter. The only thing that’s important is that it’s the one without Clemson and Florida State.
Thanks to a fairly soft schedule, if the Hokies can make it through their opening-week showdown with the Seminoles, they should enter this game unbeaten.
If they survive this one as well, they could roll into their November 17 home date with Miami at 10-0.
What We Can’t Wait To See
#48 Jeff Tedford’s Fresno State Renaissance
There was a time when former Cal head coach Jeff Tedford was considered one of the best college football coaches in the nation.
He took over a Bears program that averaged just over three wins a year under Tom Holmoe and immediately turned things around.
Tedford won 7, 8, 10, 8, and 10 games in his first five seasons in Berkeley, earning enough adulation to get Cal fans to dub themselved ‘Ted Heads.’
The program backslid from there, but still played in four bowl games in his final six seasons.
He was fired after a 3-9 year in 2012.
Tedford then spent time in the NFL, CFL, and as a college assistant before getting another chance to run his own program at Fresno State last fall.
Prior to his arrival, the Bulldogs had cratered from 11 wins to 6 to 3 to 1 in their previous four seasons.
Just as he did at Cal, he immediately brought the program back to life.
After early-season losses to Alabama and Washington, they won eight of their last nine regular season games and claimed the Mountain West’s Western Division championship.
They wrapped up the year with an Aloha Bowl win over Houston and a 10-4 record.
This year, they return most of their team and should be Mountain West title contenders again.
It seems like he’s been around forever, but Tedford is only 56 years old. He could be one or two more good seasons away from getting another crack at a Power-5 conference job.
Matchup To Watch
#48 Adrian Martinez, NEB QB vs. Keandre Jones
Adrian Martinez might be the biggest mystery on Ohio State’s 2018 schedule.
A true freshman, Martinez visited OSU last fall but ended up signing with the Cornhuskers.
Now a guy with no college track record will be tasked with running an offense directed by a first-year coaching staff.
Scott Frost’s 2017 national championship season at UCF should give you some idea where his system’s ceiling is, but they certainly won’t be there this fall.
Still, Martinez is talented enough to pose something of a threat with both his arm and his legs.
Keandre Jones figures to see time at the WILL position for the Buckeyes this fall, meaning that he will be tasked with keeping Martinez under wraps.
The Cornhuskers probably won’t seriously threaten Ohio State this fall. But as Martinez and Frost spend more time together, this could be a very dangerous matchup for OSU in the coming years.