This is the 90th in a series of 100 daily posts, a Countdown to College Football. (Sort of.)
College football is now three months closer than it was when we started this series.
Exactly 10 days from now, Urban Meyer will be talking to the media about the upcoming season.
Exactly 11 days from now, this countdown will be over and the unofficial start of the season will be here.
Exactly seven weeks from now, the Buckeyes will be kicking off their season. We’re almost there.
Today, we’ll talk about a 3-time all-American, a B1G showdown that usually comes down to the wire, the lunacy of recruiting, and the most dangerous weapon Michigan has had in years.
If you want to relive one of the great goal-line stands in Buckeye history, you can find 12 Days To Ohio State Football 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
#11 Mike Doss, 1999-2002
If you remember Mike Doss, your only question right now is whether he should be higher on this list.
If you don’t remember Mike Doss, he was a three-time all-American at safety who helped lead the Buckeyes to the 2002 national title. And now you’re wondering whether he should be higher on this list.
Doss made some of the biggest plays in OSU history, including an early interception against Miami that set up an Buckeye touchdown in the 2003 Fiesta Bowl.
Another early interception and long return set up a short Ohio State touchdown drive in the 2001 Michigan game.
Doss led the Buckeyes in tackles in both 2000 and 2001.
Most people expected him to bolt to the NFL after that year, but Doss decided to return because he wanted to win a national championship.
One year later, he did just that.
He was named the Big Ten’s Defensive Player of the Year in 2002, and won the Defensive MVP award for the Fiesta Bowl.
Best Games This Fall
#11 Ohio State at Michigan State, November 10
For years, this was one of the most predictable games on Ohio State’s schedule. It would be close, very physical, and likely pretty low-scoring.
Then the Buckeyes beat the Spartans 48-3 last fall. Don’t expect a repeat of that performance this year.
Two of the last three games in East Lansing were determined by identical scores of 17-16. That perfectly encapsulates the most OSU/MSU game imaginable.
Low-scoring, probably with more field goals than touchdowns, and a game where one play will swing the outcome.
MSU has ruined potentially great Ohio State seasons every bit as often as their buddies in Ann Arbor.
The 1974, 1998, 2013, and 2015 Buckeyes were all on track for national titles before losing to the Spartans.
MSU has only beaten the Bucks five times in the last 30 years, but three of those were absolute season-killers.
This year, they play exactly 20 years and three days after one of the most shocking upsets in OSU history.
A loss this fall would fit right in with that pattern, and likely deny the Buckeyes a shot to return to the College Football Playoff.
What We Can’t Wait To See
#11 Recruiting Craziness
Recruiting is the lifeblood of a college football program. If a coach can’t recruit, he’s not going to win consistently enough to keep his job.
Since coming to Ohio State, Urban Meyer has consistently recruited better than virtually any other program in the nation.
Not coincidentally, he has consistently put a better team on the field than virtually any other program in the nation as well.
But even better than the importance of recruiting is the ridiculousness of recruiting.
The ritual “hat dance” that inspired Gerd to invent #HatScience to predetermine the outcome of any hat lineup.
Schools driving their equipment trucks nearly 1,000 miles just to park them outside a recruit’s home.
— Demetris Robertson (@d_rob4) January 28, 2016
Coaches holding sleepovers at players’ houses.
— Connor Murphy (@CMurph_90) January 20, 2016
Last year, Jaiden Woodbey committed to Ohio State in February and was considered a lock to sign with the Buckeyes in December.
But then, a little over a week before the Early Signing Day, a Florida State fan tweeted at Woodbey, which led to the player mentioning that the Seminoles has never offered him a scholarship.
— ⚡️THOR ⚡️ (@JaidenWoodbey) December 12, 2017
Less than six hours later, he had an offer.
— ⚡️THOR ⚡️ (@JaidenWoodbey) December 12, 2017
Four days later, he visited FSU, and four days after that, he flipped his commitment and signed with the Noles instead.
Years of relationship-building with the OSU coaching staff and fellow recruits gone, all because one tweet.
Earlier this year, Ryan Ginn summed things up perfectly:
Recruiting is a parody of itself at this point pic.twitter.com/5aUGnOdd6g
— Ryan Ginn (@rmginn) March 4, 2018
Recruiting is one of the most consistently absurd and most entertaining things about being a college football fan.
Please respect my decision.
(But don’t tweet at recruits.)
Matchup To Watch
#11 Donovan Peoples-Jones, MICH WR vs. Jordan Fuller
Donovan Peoples-Jones is Michigan’s most dangerous wide receiver threat since… honestly… I don’t even know.
It’s been a long time since the Wolverines have had a player with the awareness and physical tools that DPJ has at the receiver position.
He had only 277 yards receiving as a true freshman, but with another year of experience and a competent quarterback throwing to him this fall, that number should skyrocket.
You probably remember Peoples-Jones for a fantastic punt return in the first half of last year’s OSU/Michigan game. He took it all the way down inside the Buckeye 10, setting up a short drive that gave Michigan a 14-0 lead.
This year, he will mostly line up in the slot on offense, which will match him up frequently with Jordan Fuller.
Fuller is moving from the boundary safety position to the field safety. As we explained in this segment yesterday, the boundary safety is the Malik Hooker role, roaming the field and picking off deep balls.
The field position means a lot more man-to-man coverage against slot receivers like Peoples-Jones.
Fuller had a fantastic 2017 season, making a number of touchdown-saving tackles.
Now, how he adjusts to his new position will go a long way toward determining how well the Buckeye defense plays this fall.