Mr. Bucknuts Bucket of Bullets

Mr. Bucknuts checks in with his weekly personal opinions on OSU football, including a look at the Big Ten.

The Big Two and the Little Eight? Remember those days? Well, now it doesn't add up for a number of reasons. First off, we've got to come up with the sum of "11" somewhere. Secondly, there are some teams that would struggle just to be in the Little Eight.

It still seems to me that Ohio State and Michigan are at the top (yes, still crazy after all these years…). And Illinois, Indiana and Northwestern are playing in a league of their own. I'm sure there are times they wished that were truly the case. But what do we do with the rest of the gang?

Purdue can beat you so we will withhold comment. Penn State looks like it fields a team bad enough that Paterno could be forced to walk toward the light. And just as I was ready to write off Michigan State, they beat a moribund Notre Dame squad before squashing an allegedly good Iowa team.

The three left to scare us pundits the most could be Minnesota, Wisconsin and Iowa. Minnesota has finished its annual barnstorming tour through the larger high schools of the south. And then beating Penn State establishes that…well, they can beat Penn State! Wisconsin lost big to a small team but they will pound you if you underestimate them. Iowa has looked terrific (last year and earlier this year) but I can't say for sure until October 18.

So, for the 100th year, it is Ohio State and Michigan. If we can just scrape by all that flotsam and jetsam prior to November 22, the Big Two should square off when it really matters…

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Decisions, decisions…Say what you want about Scotty the Gunslinger at quarterback (quick release, good arm, etc.) but when you really miss Krenzel is in those fleeting nanoseconds in which a quarterback has to make up his mind. Krenzel has a gift for making good decisions. He might even have a divine gift for not making bad decisions. McMullen looks unusually mortal. It's not just the hesitation (we all get a little rusty after five years of inactivity…); it's his staring right into a defense and choosing poorly. Hey – we are truly blessed to have a back up the caliber of Scott McMullen but when I want true bullets in my gun, my gunslinger vote goes back to Consistent Craig…

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I have a vision…I had a dream, but Ohio State exceeded that last year! My vision is to find a Buckeye running back that can see the field as a fast-motion chess board and then make the right moves. Lydell Ross seemed to have that vision as a freshman. Perhaps his injuries – and a little extra weight – have diminished the good look. Maurice Hall does not seem to have that vision. You give him a hole and it looks like a crease. You give him a cutback opportunity and, well…he doesn't seem to see it. Ironically enough, Ira Guilford had the best vision of our three tailbacks Saturday. And how is that possible? Because vision is something a running back is born with. Clarett has it (despite some poor insights elsewhere). But our other guys are still looking…

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Not such a shiny finish…If Louis Irizarry hadn't dropped that long touchdown pass from Zwick, if OSU had opened it up in the fourth quarter, if the Buckeyes had something that resembled a rushing attack (now last in the Big Ten…)…any of those variables would have made a bold statement for a team that has garnered a reputation for not "finishing" a game. We barely put away an over-achieving San Diego State squad and we let back in both NC State and Bowling Green after squandering identical 24-7 fourth quarter leads. And we needed at least one more field goal to cover the spread on Saturday! (Yes, it was 20.5 for those inquiring minds that need to know). Maybe we were looking past Northwestern to our bye week…

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Stats over time…There's something inherently unfair about including overtime stats in regular old statistics. And with the spate of overtime games college football has seen lately, it's getting unfairer and unfairer. Need examples? Look at the defensive stat of "points allowed". A great defense holds another team to, say, 10 points the whole game, then each team scores touchdowns in the first two overtimes before your team finally

prevails. And you get a big "24" against your average instead of the "10" you deserved. Not fair. Baseball doesn't include World Series stats to determine the batting champ, right? Ohio State's defense is going to live hard with the 38 points they gave up in four hours and seventeen minutes against NC State in three overtimes. Hey – maybe that's the answer. Reduce the calculation to points per minute…

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Stats over easy…And another thing. For those of us who follow the categories like "points allowed", it always burns my toast at the end of the year when the Buckeyes are maligned by unthinking Talking Heads (read: ESPN videots) for those defensive points given up that were absolutely the responsibility of either the third team or offensive mistakes or special team gaffes. In our opening game this year, Washington's first string scores a meaningless touchdown against a collection of our walk-ons and future graduate assistants. It goes against the defensive average. And in subsequent games, the defense performs heroically after either the offense or special teams turns the ball over deep in our own territory, but the "D" gets the ultimate blemish. I think of those things because our defense is just so darn good. Maybe those of us with too much time on our hands need to come up with some new special statistical categories. Ah, the luxury of a bye week…

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Handicapping the quarterback derby…The biggest handicap to our quarterbacks so far seems to be our ground "attack". When McMullen and a third-string-true-freshman-actually-defensive-back seem to be our best threats, that speaks volumes. And the volume gets louder when we pass on fourth and short. Both Zwick and Troy Smith saw some action Saturday. And who will be the QB of the future? As soon as Dr. Recruitnik finishes his traditional four-day tailgate binge, I will put that question to him. Look for his answer this Thursday here on the Bucknuts website…


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