This is the 87th in a series of 100 daily posts, a Countdown to College Football. (Sort of.)
A week or so ago, Tom let me know that our countdown might be a day off, but I reassured him that since this countdown is a sham anyway, it’s gonna be okay.
So whether we are 14 days away from the end of the Big Ten Football Media Days or 13, is it really going to make you angry enough to write a letter to Tom for not figuring this out sooner? Does he really deserve that kind of abuse for misleading you? I can’t answer that.
In today’s countdown, we cover what many consider to be the best linebacker in Ohio State history, Joe Burrow’s LSU debut, the best player you may have never heard of, and arguably the marquee individual matchup this college football season.
If you missed yesterday’s edition, you can find 15 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
#14 A.J. Hawk, 2002-2005
Ohio State signed four linebackers in the 2002 recruiting class and A.J. Hawk was the lowest ranked of the group. An injury in high school limited his rankings potential, but he was healthy when he arrived on campus and he showed immediately that he was going to be a very good college football player.
Hawk finished with 26 tackles and 3.5 tackles for loss in a reserve role as a true freshman. As a sophomore, however, he exploded with a team-high 106 tackles, 13 tackles for loss, four sacks, two interceptions, and five PBUs. He was named a First-Team All-Big Ten selection for the first of three times in his career.
As a junior in 2004, Hawk earned consensus All-American accolades following a season where he led the Buckeyes with 141 tackles, eight tackles for loss, two picks, and a sack.
In his final go-round as a senior in 2005, Hawk was let loose a little bit. He led the team again with 121 tackles, 16.5 tackles for loss, and 9.5 sacks. He was a unanimous All-American that year and won the Lombardi Award and was named the Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year.
A.J. Hawk is fifth in school history with 394 tackles and 11th in tackles for loss with 41.0.
Hawk was drafted fifth overall by the Green Bay Packers in 2006. He is the all-time leading tackler in Packers history with 1,020 career stops.
Best Games This Fall
#14 Miami vs. LSU (in Arlington, TX)
Joe Burrow’s last game as a Buckeye will take place in the same stadium as his first game as an LSU Tiger, so that’s something.
This game kicks off the season for both LSU and Miami, and everyone will get to watch it because it takes place the Sunday night before Labor Day.
The Canes are 19-6 against current SEC schools since 1986, which won’t help them much in this one. They have national title hopes, so a win against a named program will be helpful.
A stellar performance by Burrow could have Buckeye fans hopping mad depending on how Dwayne Haskins does against Oregon State.
What We Can’t Wait To See
#14 Florida Atlantic Running Back Devin Singletary
Devin Singletary’s career had a pretty typical beginning. He received carries here and there as a true freshman, but then week nine came along and he finally became Florida Atlantic’s workhorse. Over the final four weeks of the 2016 season, Singletary carried the ball 89 times for 721 yards and 10 touchdowns. He rushed for 1,016 yards as a true freshman, and 295 of those yards came over the Owls’ first eight games.
As a sophomore, Singletary continued his trajectory. Despite a slow start and just 94 yards rushing in FAU’s first two games, he ended up rushing for 1,920 yards and 32 touchdowns. Over his last 18 games, he has rushed for 42 touchdowns and 2,641 yards (146.7 ypg).
What will Singletary do for an encore this season? We can’t wait to find out.
Matchup To Watch
#14 Shea Patterson, MICH QB vs. Nick Bosa
There may be no bigger matchup in The Game than Shea Patterson vs. Nick Bosa. Sure, every individual matchup is important, but this might be the one everybody is looking forward to most.
Bosa is the best pass rusher in the Big Ten, and Patterson is tremendous at evading initial pressure. Expect some do-si-dos from Patterson in this game, but also don’t be surprised when Bosa swings his partner round and round as well.