Don't believe the hype.
Recently, I've heard a lot of people say that Purdue has the best defense in the Big Ten. Even Kirk Herbstreit has jumped on this bandwagon.
But how can Purdue have the best defense in the conference if Ohio State has the best defense in the country?
If you're looking at the statistics and nothing else, you could make an argument for the Boilermakers' defense. They are first in the Big Ten in total defense (265.6 yards per game) and OSU is second (269.0).
But, if you look deeper than that, there is no comparison.
For starters, Purdue's defense has the luxury of playing on the same team with a good offense. Can't quite say that about the Buckeyes, can we?
Purdue's offense eats up a lot more clock than the Buckeyes' O and scores a lot more points. That will make any defense look good.
Now, does Purdue have a good defense? Yes.
Very good? Yes.
But let's not get it confused with the Buckeyes and what they've been able to accomplish on D.
Every game, the pressure is on Mark Dantonio's unit to perform well. If it doesn't, the Bucks are probably going to lose. On the other hand, Purdue's defense can afford an off week every now and again with such a high-powered offense.
Furthermore, if you go position-by-position, Ohio State has the edge over Purdue.
Linebackers: Even. I favor Ohio State's outside linebackers over Purdue's, but PU middle 'backer Niko Koutouvides is definitely a step up from OSU's Fred Pagac.
Defensive backs: Slight edge to Ohio State. Both teams have good cornerbacks (Purdue: Jacques Reeves, Antwaun Rogers; OSU: Dustin Fox, Chris Gamble). I also think it's a wash between PU safety Stuart Schweigert and OSU's Will Allen. So, it comes down to PU's John Lampert vs. OSU's Nate Salley. A very slight edge to Salley and the Buckeyes there.
Anyway, it's still a few weeks until these teams square off, but can we stop this nonsense that Purdue has a better defense than Ohio State? You could make the argument that Purdue has a better team than OSU, but that's because of its offense and nothing else.
NO CRAMMING FOR ANDERSON
You could say that Tim Anderson is majoring in football this quarter. The fifth-year senior is just five hours away from a degree in history and has no fall classes.
He is just responsible for an independent studies research paper and that is it.
Credit goes to Anderson, who busted his rear end in the classroom and on the football field the last four years. Now, he can just worry about the latter.
B.J. Sander has dropped 20 of his 44 punts inside the 20-yard-line this season. Twenty. Making it even more impressive, Sander has an average of 43.4 yards, despite the fact that he hasn't been cutting loose on most of his punts… And while we're on the topic of special teams, it has to be mentioned that Mike Nugent is 9-of-10 on field goals this year. Now that Michael Jenkins has moved into the punt returner role, Ohio State's special teams are looking better than ever. If the Buckeyes can improve on their kickoff returns (Troy Smith is not the answer), they might have their teams up to the level that Jim Tressel wants to see.
Looking at OSU's offense over the last three years, the one constant has been Jenkins. He is the only one to start all 33 games and he has grabbed at least one reception each time out.
Jenkins is not having the year we expected (28 receptions, 395 yards, three TDs), but there is still plenty of time to turn that around. He needs 396 yards to tie David Boston's career receiving yardage record of 2,855.
It took Jenkins seven games to get 395, can he get 396 in six games?
'95 IOWA GAME…
Was the best half of football in Ohio State football history. The Buckeyes led 56-7 at the half and it actually should have been 56-0. Iowa was awarded a touchdown on the last play of the half that shouldn't have counted.
With all the problems that OSU's 2003 offense is having, it's fun to look back on Bobby Hoying, Eddie George, Terry Glenn and Orlando Pace at their best. We might never see anything like that again. Scratch that. We will never see anything like that again.
ACCORDING TO ESPN…
Former Ohio State teaching assistant Norma McGill originally offered her story to USA Today, the Chicago Tribune and the New York Times. Of course, only the Times bit.
McGill's credibility is now down to zero after she was arrested and jailed for verbally attacking a young girl in a church near her hometown in Kentucky.
EVER NOTICE THAT…
Tressel and Jim O'Brien have similar coaching styles? They both play good defense and have somewhat vanilla offenses. Of course, I don't think that OB would tell you that the punt is the most important play (which we are finding out is true on the gridiron).
DANIELSON CHIMES IN
Television analyst Gary Danielson – who always seems to be dead on with his assessments – recently had this to say about Ohio State after watching them on film:
"If I didn't know they were so good, I'd think they were bad."
That just about sums it up, doesn't it? The Buckeyes don't look pretty, but they get the job done.
PRODUCERS OF BUCKEYE CLASSICS…
Do a great job. I've recently seen excellent pieces on Woody Hayes, Archie Griffin and Chris Spielman. In case you don't know, "Buckeye Classics" is a half-hour long television show which airs weekly during the football season.
ESPN's Chris Berman consistently has the worst NFL picks of anyone. He is now 10-22 after seven weeks. I'm not into betting on football games (fantasy football is a different story), but one of these years I am going to be smart and take the opposite of all of Berman's picks. Would probably make enough cash to take a seven-day cruise.
As for ESPN's Nick Bakay, his NFL picks also stink. But he's hilarious, so it's OK. His weekly "Living the Dream" skit on Sportscenter is a must-see. Not sure if he'll still be married by the time the Super Bowl rolls around, but he cracks me up.
Like most everyone else, I've been pretty hard on the play calling from OSU's offensive staff. But, I saw signs of life against Iowa. Maybe the coaches are coming to the conclusion that the Bucks are not going to be able to run the ball this season and are willing to put most of their chips on the passing game. Craig Krenzel hasn't played up to par yet, but he's going to turn it around. He has two excellent receivers in Jenkins and Drew Carter and the O-line seems to be pass blocking better.
I know the Bucks didn't get many yards against Iowa, but when you give up two offensive possessions because of a punt return TD and a punt block TD, you are going to take a hit in total yards.
LEAVING HIS MARK
Hopefully, Mark Dantonio will be here through the 2005 season. I can't imagine a talent like him being here after that. A good D-I program is going to snatch him up at some point. Look for linebackers coach Mark Snyder to get promoted to DC whenever Dantonio does leave.
LACHEY ON THE LINE
Former Ohio State and NFL lineman Jim Lachey needs to be coaching. He breaks down the O-line like none other. I learn something new every time I listen to him.
And I must say that I like his enthusiasm as an announcer. Some might think he "cheers" for the Buckeyes too much, but that is why he works for the Ohio State Football Network, and not ESPN. Lachey balances out Paul Keels, who is as neutral as they come. I think they make a good radio team.
Steve "Dirty Laundry" Fisher is the head coach of San Diego State – the team Ohio State opens up with in the Maui Classic in November.
You aren't going to find many coaches this side of Dave Bliss more scandalous than Fisher – the coach during Michigan's Fab Five days.
San Diego State must be pretty desperate to keep this guy on. He's not a very good bench coach and he doesn't have a bookie with deep pockets to pay off his players and recruit for him anymore. Well, maybe he does. Wouldn't put anything by that guy. He makes Jerry Tarkanian look like a choirboy.
While we're on the topic of hoops, it should be stated that the 2003-04 version of the Ohio State basketball team is loaded. Period. The Bucks will be in the top 25 (eventually), they will make a run at the Big Ten title and they will have a decent seed in the NCAA tournament.
If anyone has a muzzle for Corey Dillon that I can borrow, please e-mail me and let me know where I can pick it up. As a Bengals fan (pause for your laughter), there aren't many moments when things are going well. Coming off a win over the Ravens, what a good time for Dillon to open his big mouth.
E-mail Dave at: firstname.lastname@example.org