What about recruiting? Is there any positive news at all? Is it time to start weekly Urban Meyer stalk-lists? Are any freshmen playing better in practice? Read on.
URBAN LEGEND: I guess it's now officially open season on Urban Meyer to School-X, and he will be mentioned for every job not manned by Nick Saban or Bob Stoops going forward. This week's hot ticket is Meyer to Penn State. Not happening. Why not? First off, last time I looked Joe Paterno was still the head coach and not going anywhere. My guess is he won't be stepping down soon, and they will not assassinate him, Bobby Bowden/Florida State-style. Meyer will not have blood on his hands for executing JoPa, so the only way he looks at Penn State is if Paterno retires gracefully and asks Urban to succeed him. That isn't happening. Another loss for Mack Brown and it will be Hook 'Em Urban-Time. After that could come USC or Georgia, and the Buckeye rumor will never die. Regardless, as the next King of college football, Meyer will be able to name his school and price. And it looks like he WILL be coaching next season.
Ohio STATE RECRUITING: It's currently raining three-stars and that might come to a close in the next month or so. Adolphus Washington and teammate Dwayne Stanford just might be getting ready to announce their selection(s). Once you set a date that means you have made up your mind, and you can take that to the Bank. There are visits left to be made, like Washington to Michigan State this weekend, but unless someone absolutely blows him away, look for the Diesel to be headed to Ohio State. With teammate Dwayne Stanford. That would be huge news for Buckeye fans. Whether it happens on November 9th, or on Signing Day, I expect Adolphus Washington to be a Buckeye. And Washington has separated himself from the rest and is the CLEAR choice as the best player/prospect in Ohio, and one of the best defensive ends in America. He will contribute as a true freshman wherever he goes.
Doran-Doran: Doran Grant has been kind of forgotten this season among the true freshman at Ohio State. The weekly suspension bug has now bitten Dominic Clarke, and that has opened the door for Grant to possibly see time as the nickel back this week. He is playing much better in practice, so Grant seeing the field might have happened anyway, but he will be someone to watch for against Illinois. He could be a kid that once he gets on the field, you can't get him off.
Michael Brewster: Watching Ohio State struggle on the field, off the field, in the media, in recruiting, and in just about every area imaginable makes people overlook Michael Brewster. In four years at Ohio State, Brewster positively impacted Ohio State on the field, off the field, in the media, in recruiting, and in just about every area imaginable. One of the downsides to this year-long nightmare is the fact that people such as Brewster get overlooked, as others draw headlines for negative reasons. Hopefully, Buckeye history will be very kind to Mike Brewster, and it's a shame he doesn't get to walk to midfield before EVERY game this season as the Ohio State captain. Sometimes life ain't fair kid. In an era of fake Buckeyes, Michael Brewster is a TRUE Buckeye.
Heuerman is Higher...Man: One of the pleasant surprises has been the play of true freshman tight end Jeff Heuerman, and he was good from the first workout last January. It was thought that he might be a year away from contributing on a regular basis, but he is ready to play now. Once he adds more bulk and strength, he is going to be a devastating tight end. He is headed toward an NFL career, and would be playing far more if he weren't stuck behind Jake Stoneburner and Reid Fragel.
Braxton's Ball: He has not been comfortable throwing the football since getting to Ohio State, so the Buckeyes have switched to a football that is more similar to what Braxton threw in high school. Piece of cake, right? Not exactly. The receivers hate it. If it gets the ball to them spiraling, instead of end over end, maybe they learn to like it? Oh yah, the other quarterbacks don't like it either. Stay tuned.
MORE LINEBACKERS? Ohio State is currently looking at two senior linebackers in-state, Mason Monheim and Joe Burger, and both have been told the Buckeyes want to add at least one more. It's hard to see Ohio State offering both players, but I think one of them will receive an offer. If I had to bet, I would go with "Steamroller" Monheim.
DOES THE COLLAPSE MOTIVATE, OR DEFLATE? A week after snatching defeat from the jaws of victory in a manner unlike anything we've seen out of Ohio State in the past decade, how does the team respond? Will they be motivated to save the sinking season? Or crushed under the weight of all the negativity, suspensions, coaching changes, etc. etc.?
For the first time all year, going back to the original Tressel press conference, Ohio State finally showed signs of cracking. There were no signs through winter workouts, spring practice, fall camp or in the first five games of the season. Even when the execution was poor, the effort was great. And I'm still not ready to list the collapse against Nebraska as poor effort, but that sure wasn't Ohio State football.
Basically, without being overly dramatic, this week's game with Illinois is a season-maker. Or breaker. A victory over the Illini could be the springboard to returning home and playing the socks off Wisconsin, which could lead to a nice bowl game. However, a loss to Illinois and Ohio State falls to a losing record, a three-game losing streak for the first time in forever, and the fight to win enough games to get to the Poulan Weed-Eater Bowl. So, where does it go for Ohio State?
BOLD PREDICTION TIME: It's hard to get that four-drive sequence against Nebraska erased from memory. Seeing Ohio State turn into Akron within an hour was startling, to say the least. The offense will struggle with Illinois, especially in a stadium where Ohio State rarely plays well on that side of the football. The defense has been on the field too long all year, and under so much pressure weekly, that we might have seen the result of that last week. They cannot be average and beat Illinois, and I'm not sold that they will play great.
FINAL SCORE: Illinois 24 Ohio State 13.