This is the 99th in a series of 100 daily posts, a Countdown to College Football. (Sort of.)
I returned from a semi-earned vacation on Saturday, which means that I am completely in football mode as of right now.
But you still have a day or two before you need to get on my level.
While you are working towards that level, you can enjoy the first day of Big Ten Football Media Days, which gets underway early this afternoon.
We are almost there. Just two days away from the end of the Media Days and the beginning of the College Football Anticipation Season.
Our long national nightmare is almost over.
Today’s nightmare, however, features possibly the best Ohio State defensive end of all time, the most important meaningless game of the year, one of the best overall weeks of the college football season, and a cat and mouse between a Trace and Tuf.
If you would like to check out yesterday’s edition, you can find 3 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
#2 Joey Bosa, 2013-2015
My first memory of Joey Bosa as a Buckeye was watching then-DL coach Mike Vrabel yelling at him as a freshman in practice before the 2013 season. Vrabel was berating him, saying that this wasn’t St. Thomas Aquinas anymore. I laugh now because Bosa sure made it seem like it was.
Bosa was in the rotation at defensive end immediately as a freshman. In fact, when sophomore starter Adolphus Washington went down early in the season, Bosa stepped into the starting lineup and never stepped out. He was named a Freshman All-American following a season with 44 tackles, 7.5 sacks, and 13.5 tackles for loss. He also finished the season with a sack in five consecutive games.
Washington eventually moved to defensive tackle, and when asked why, he said it was because he saw how good Bosa was as a freshman while Washington was injured. He knew that if he wanted to play, he’d have to do it on the interior.
As a sophomore, Bosa bloomed completely, leading the Big Ten with 13.5 sacks and 21.0 tackles for loss. He earned First-Team All-American status and was named the Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year and Big Ten Defensive Lineman of the Year. He repeated two of those accolades in his final season as a junior in 2015, missing out on the Defensive Player of the Year award.
In three seasons, Bosa ranks fourth all-time in OSU history with 50.5 tackles for loss and third all-time with 26.0 sacks.
Bosa was drafted third overall in the 2016 NFL Draft by the San Diego Chargers and continues to make it look like he is still playing at St. Thomas Aquinas.
Best Games This Fall
#2 Auburn at Alabama
It’s the biggest game south of the Mason-Dixon Line and last year it meant absolutely nothing in the national title picture.
A season ago, an 11-0 Alabama team went to No. 6 Auburn and lost 26-14. The Tide was knocked out of the SEC Championship Game, but thanks to Auburn’s loss to Georgia in that very SEC Championship Game, Alabama was granted a berth in the College Football Playoffs.
So yes, Alabama lost its toughest game of the year last year and they were enthusiastically rewarded for it.
The only way to keep the same thing from happening this year is for Alabama to come into this game with a loss. Otherwise, good luck making this game mean something.
I guess it could mean something if Auburn wins the SEC Championship Game in order to prove they are better than Alabama (because beating them doesn’t prove anything, clearly.)
Regardless of the meaningless nature of such a famed rivalry, it’s still a helluva fun game to watch.
And I’ll conclude with a story from my uncle Dan, who was in Alabama recently. He had gotten turned around in the middle of nowhere and stopped to ask an old timer for directions to Tuscaloosa. The old timer asked him why he wanted to go to Tuscaloosa, and my uncle told him he had hotel reservations there.
The old timer looked at him and said flatly, “There’s hotels in Auburn, you know.”
What We Can’t Wait To See
#2 November 3
I’m just going to list the games for you and you can let your heart flutter at a medium pace.
UCLA at Oregon — The Chip Kelly Bowl.
Stanford at Washington — The Pac 12 North Championship Game.
Iowa at Purdue — We’re all Boilermakers at heart.
Michigan State at Maryland — The Terps are gonna get somebody.
Penn State at Michigan — If the Wolverines are going to finish in second in the Big Ten East, they’ll need this win.
Oklahoma at Texas Tech — Do you like shootouts?
Florida State at North Carolina State — When the Noles are feeling their oats, the Wolfpack have a way of making them choke on those oats.
West Virginia at Texas — Tom Herman needs this one.
Nebraska at Ohio State — Urban Meyer vs. Urban Meyer 2.0.
Notre Dame at Northwestern — Chicago’s Big Ten team vs. Chicago’s ACC team.
Alabama at LSU — Joe Burreaux looking to become a hereaux.
Charlotte at Tennessee — 5,000 tickets available on the secondary market, starting at just $8.
Matchup To Watch
#2 Trace McSorley, PSU QB vs. Tuf Borland
Penn State quarterback Trace McSorley may be the most dangerous quarterback in the Big Ten. He can throw on the run and he can run on the run. He will treat linebackers and safeties like a cat owner with a laser pointer treats a cat.
It takes a disciplined defense to contain McSorley, and Ohio State did it better than anybody else in the Big Ten last season. If you’ll recall, that still almost wasn’t enough for the Buckeyes to secure the win.
This year — in Beaver Stadium — the Buckeyes are going to have to be even more disciplined than they were a year ago. That will require middle linebacker Tuf Borland to be completely recovered and up to full speed following his Achilles injury in the spring.
With this being the fifth game of the season, Borland should be all the way back and at the very least rotating in and out of the lineup. The Buckeyes are going to need him at his very best if they plan on defeating the Nittany Lions.