This is the 82nd in a series of 100 daily posts, a Countdown to College Football. (Sort of.)
The countdown has now reached the teens!
That means it’s now going to be surly, moody, and probably won’t show up until sometime around 11 in the morning.
Let me guess: Now you want to know what we’re talking about today? (eye roll) Fine.
A national champion Buckeye who also won a Super Bowl, college football’s most self-important rivalry, a quarterback’s last chance at greatness, and TCU’s best chance for big plays against the Buckeyes.
If you’re already nostalgic for the 20s, you can find yesterday’s edition 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
#19 Will Smith, 2000-2003
Will Smith came to Ohio State as one of the most highly-touted defensive line recruits in the nation, and then went out and exceeded all the hype.
Smith was a four-year contributor and three-year starter, recording 46.5 career tackles for loss and 23 sacks.
He was a true big-game player, recording a crucial fumble recovery late in the 2002 Michigan game, and then a pair of huge tackles for loss in the national title game against Miami.
He also had the second most-famous interception of Zack Mills in the 2002 Penn State game. Smith’s set up a field goal.
Smith was named an all-American during his senior season in 2003, following one of the most dominating seasons in OSU history. He had 10.5 sacks and 20 tackles for loss in that year alone.
Smith was a first-round pick by the New Orleans Saints, and earned a Pro Bowl berth and a Super Bowl ring in his 10-year pro career.
Smith was shot and killed following a traffic accident in 2016.
Best Games This Fall
#19 Michigan at Notre Dame, September 1
College football’s most self-important rivalry is back! Roll the grainy highlights of momentous games in the past, and prepare yourself for the “Return To Glory” stories that will follow for the winner.
Both Jim Harbaugh and Brian Kelly desperately need 2018 to be a successful season, but one of them is going to start the year with a big, fat L.
We’ve mentioned Michigan’s difficult schedule before, but the Irish don’t have an easy fall ahead of them, either.
Notre Dame hosts Stanford on September 29, then goes to Virginia Tech the following week.
Later, they play Navy in San Diego, play at Northwestern, then host Florida State in consecutive weeks.
They end the year at USC.
One of these teams is going to end up going 8-4 or worse this fall, and life is going to get very uncomfortable for their well-compensated coach.
What We Can’t Wait To See
#19 Jake Browning’s Last Ride
The Pac-12 has become something of a punchline in recent years. The league missed the College Football Playoff field last year, and then went a humiliating 1-8 in bowl games.
One year earlier Washington made the playoff, but after an early score, never really threatened Alabama again in a 24-7 loss.
This year is quarterback Jake Browning’s last chance to make a run at the national title.
Browning’s career stats are impressive. He’s thrown for more than 9,000 yards and 78 touchdowns in three seasons, but has had quiet games in some of the Huskies’ biggest moments.
He threw for less than 200 yards in each of the Huskies’ last four losses, including the playoff game against Alabama, last year’s Fiesta Bowl against Penn State, and regular season defeats to Stanford and Arizona State.
This year, he’ll get a chance to show what he can do against Auburn in week one.
Win that, and not only will the Huskies will be squarely in the national championship picture, but Browning will be a legit Heisman contender as well.
Matchup To Watch
#19 Jalen Reagor, TCU WR vs. Kendall Sheffield
The matchup with TCU is interesting, because on the surface it seems like the Frogs should present a serious threat to the Buckeyes. But it’s also kind of unclear how they’ll be able to score more than 20 points.
If they do, Jalen Reagor may be one big reason it happens.
Reagor was a freshman all-American last year after catching 33 passes for 576 yards and eight touchdowns.
He had a 93-yard score to help key a comeback win over Stanford in the Alamo Bowl.
He’s fast and a big-play receiver, but he’ll probably have trouble running away from Kendall Sheffield.
Sheffield will be the fastest player on almost any field he steps on this fall. If he can keep Reagor from making any big plays down the field, the Buckeyes should be able to control the Horned Frogs and get out of Texas with a perfect record.