Nine Days To Ohio State Football*

9 Days to Ohio State Football Buckeyes

This is the 92nd in a series of 100 daily posts, a Countdown to College Football. (Sort of.)

Single. Freaking. Digits.

We’ve done it!

It seems like just yesterday we started this countdown, and now to look back on it you can’t help but ask, “What the hell were we thinking?”

We are now just nine days away from the conclusion of the Big Ten Media Days, which is the scientific declaration of Ohio State football season being essentially underway. In just a small period of time following Media Days, the Buckeyes will kick off fall camp, and then one month later, we’ll be under way in the Battle to Find Out Who the Real OSU Is against Oregon State.

It will make a great t-shirt, trust me.

But that’s still a ways off. First we have to get through the rest of these countdowns, and in today’s edition we are looking at one of the most ballyhooed linebackers in school history, a monster Pac 12 North showdown, a star being born, and Boiler ‘backer vs. a Buckeye baller.

If you would like to check out yesterday’s edition, you can find 10 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

#9 Andy Katzenmoyer, 1996-1998

People may not remember, but 1996 was just an amazing season. As Tom and I talked about on last week’s Accost the Field, there was just so much fun that year with the new blood Buckeyes. Perhaps the most fun was watching Andy Katzenmoyer at middle linebacker and the path of destruction he left every single week.

Katzenmoyer was a national name as a high school recruit and then immediately lived up to his hype as a freshman. With veterans all around him, he was essentially let loose to wreak havoc, and he was very, very good at it.

In the season opener against Rice, Katzenmoyer led the Buckeyes with eight tackles, three tackles for loss, and two sacks.

He finished with 85 tackles that season, which was just four off of the team lead (Damon Moore). He also led the team with 23 tackles for loss and 12 sacks. His five TFLs in the Rose Bowl against Arizona State is still tied for the school record. The first of his three All-Big Ten nods came that year as well.

As a sophomore Katzenmoyer was named a First-Team All-American and Butkus Award winner following a season where he had 97 tackles, 13 tackles for loss, and two sacks. In his final season in 1998, Katzenmoyer finished with 74 tackles, 14 tackles for loss, and four sacks.

He is 15th in school history with 17.5 career sacks, second in pick sixes (2), seventh in career solo tackles (197), and fifth in career tackles for loss with 50.0.

Best Games This Fall

#9 Stanford at Washington

Despite Mike Leach’s best efforts at Washington State, this is the game that will likely decide the Pac 12 North this season.

Washington has lost three of the last four in this series, but the home team has won the last three games, so everything here is screaming Huskies.

These teams finished tied in the Pac 12 North last year with identical 7-2 marks, but it was Stanford’s 30-22 win over Washington at home last year that was the difference.

This year, Stanford running back Bryce Love may once again be the difference, but the sledding will be much more difficult this time around in Seattle.

What We Can’t Wait To See

#10 Unveiling a New Buckeye Star

Last year at this time, you were excited to see what Ohio State running back Mike Weber could do in his second season as the Buckeyes’ starter. Instead, freshman running back J.K. Dobbins stepped in and set a school freshman rushing record.

While everybody assumed Dobbins was going to be good, nobody had him pegged for 1,400 yards as a true freshman.

Somebody else is going to step forward in a similar manner this year, and that’s one of the great things about college football.

Will it be a linebacker or a defensive back? Is it time for Chase Young to go “Full Bosa”?

And not that Dwayne Haskins is an unknown, but could he be even better than Ohio State fans are expecting?

Some Buckeye, young or old, will emerge this season as a star, and it’s always fun to see it happen.

Matchup To Watch

#9 Markus Bailey, PUR LB vs. Mike Weber

Purdue middle linebacker Markus Bailey played high school football 10 miles from Ohio Stadium, but never really got a sniff from the Buckeyes. Bailey redshirted as a true freshman, and then led the Boilers with 97 tackles in 2016. Last season, he put up another 89 tackles, with 11.0 tackles for loss and 7.0 sacks. As a junior, even more is expected of him.

Speaking of redshirt juniors with expectations, Buckeye running back Mike Weber is embarking on his third season of playing time at Ohio State, and he is fully expecting another 1,000-yard season. And this is the kind of game where he might be able to make something happen.

As Purdue’s middle linebacker, Bailey will be charged with keeping Weber in check. He will also be charged with keeping J.K. Dobbins in check.

Not many middle linebackers will be able to handle both this season, let alone one or the other.

If Purdue is going to pull off the upset, however, Bailey has to keep Weber from hitting the home runs that he was making routine last season once he got healthy.