This is the 85th in a series of 100 daily posts, a Countdown to College Football. (Sort of.)
Our countdown to Ohio State football (-ish) reaches 16 today, a number Buckeye fans hold dear to one degree or another.
For the last four years, that number has meant J.T. Barrett. But he’s now in New Orleans backing up the guy whose Big Ten records he broke, so now it means… Cameron Brown?
Yes, prepare yourself for an autumn full of “WAIT, WHY IS J.T. WARMING UP WITH THE WIDE REC… oh, right” moments.
It also means Keandre Jones, but he’s been wearing the number on defense for a couple seasons, so it shouldn’t be as much of a shock to your system.
If you want to get nostalgic for Todd Boeckman and Jalin Marshall, you can find 17 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
#16 Pat Elflein, 2012-2016
We just honored Billy Price a few days ago, so it makes sense that we’re now on to the guy who got his name on the Rimington Award one year earlier.
Elflein was a 3-star recruit out of Pickerington North High School, ranked as the No. 55 offensive guard prospect in his class and the 998th-best player in the nation.
Guys ranked in the 25 spots immediately ahead of him signed with programs like Tulsa, Western Kentucky, Central Michigan, and Utah State. It’s safe to say that Elflein didn’t arrive with massive expectations.
He suffered a foot injury as a true freshman and took a redshirt season. But Elflein quickly turned into a solid contributor for the Buckeyes, and then grew into even more than that.
He played in every game as a backup in 2013, and then started his last three years. He was first-team all-conference three years in a row, a second-team all-American as a junior, and a first-team all-American as a senior.
Elflein was also the second Buckeye to win the Rimington Award for the nation’s top center, one year before Price became the third.
Not bad for the 998th-best player in his recruiting class.
Best Games This Fall
#16 Miami at Virginia Tech, November 17
The Hurricanes were a surprising national title contender in 2017, taking a 10-0 record into Thanksgiving weekend before they suffered a shocking upset loss at Pitt.
The 2018 Miami team won’t take people by surprise, but could once again be in the College Football Playoff picture deep into the season.
They open with a neutral site game against LSU, play a dicey road game at Toledo, and then get Florida State at home. Everything else on the schedule looks like a pretty certain win until this trip to Blacksburg.
Virginia Tech is coming off a 9-4 season and should be solid again this fall. Lane Stadium is considered a tough place for road teams to win. The Hokies have lost only twice there in the last two years.
Plus, the weather in the mountains can get a little unpredictable in mid-November. And Miami has historically performed… not well… when the temperature drops below 50 or so.
Don’t be surprised if another Hurricane national title chase crashes on the road in November again this year.
What We Can’t Wait To See
#16 The USC quarterback race
USC is one of those programs whose hype has typically exceeded its results.
Think of the Trojans and you think of Reggie Bush, Matt Leinart, the band with the sunglasses playing that one stupid song over and over again, and lots of winning.
But they have lost at least three games in eight of the last nine years. The other year, they lost twice.
The other thing you probably think of is lots and lots of good quarterbacks. From Carson Palmer to Leinart to Mark Sanchez to Sam Darnold, USC’s quarterback has generally been a national star for much of this century.
This year, most of the offense looks solid, but quarterback is a big question mark. It’s still a three-way race between sophomore Matt Fink, redshirt freshman Jack Sears, or true freshman J.T. Daniels.
Daniels is the most intriguing of the trio. A 5-star prospect ranked as the No. 2 pro-style passer in his class, Daniels should technically still be in high school. He reclassified from the class of 2019 to 2018 to enroll at USC early.
It will be hard for Daniels to open the season as the starter, but you may remember that Darnold didn’t do that either.
It was Max Browne who played most of the Trojans’ blowout loss to Alabama in the 2016 season opener. Darnold didn’t take over the starting job until later that month. Once he did, he turned a listless USC offense into a Rose Bowl winner.
It’s possible that history could repeat itself this fall.
USC plays at Stanford and at Texas in weeks 2 and 3 of the season. If they lose one or both, Clay Helton may be tempted to see what the talented young kid can do.
If he does, then win or lose, USC is going to be must-see TV very soon.
Matchup To Watch
#16 Ty Summers, TCU MLB vs. Dwayne Haskins
We still don’t know exactly what the OSU offense is going to look like this fall, but it’s probably safe to assume the quarterback position will be running the ball less than it has for the last few years.
Whether Dwayne Haskins is running or throwing it, he’ll have to watch out for Ty Summers.
Summers is entering his fourth year as a starter for the Horned Frogs. In a league not exactly known for defense, he has stood out as an excellent tackler.
He has put up absolutely monster numbers against good competition in his career, including a 23-tackle game against Baylor in 2015.
He had eight tackles for loss and four sacks in 2017.
Summers is a name you might not know if you don’t watch much Big 12 football, but he’s definitely someone to watch out for when the Buckeyes visit Texas in September.