That's why we now take some time to present the All-Buckeye Beaten team, those who had the least success against the Scarlet and Gray during this run to the BCS National Championship Game. These performances by the Buckeyes were the ones that stood out above all others, so this allows a chance to relive some of the more exciting moments for Ohio State fans throughout the year.
Any opponent faced by the Buckeyes is eligible for the Buckeye Beaten team, but special notice is given to players who were hyped as possible Buckeye Beaters heading into the game but were largely shut down by Ohio State. Without further adieu, your 2007 All-Buckeye Beaten team.
There are plenty of nominees for this category, but the first-team mention has to go to Curtis Painter of Purdue. Come the sixth game of the year, many observers had posited that the Boilermakers' aerial attack would trouble Ohio State, which was "untested" up until that point. In his team's first five games, Painter completed 67.0 percent of his passes for 18 touchdowns and three picks.
Instead, Painter was humbled during a 23-7 OSU win. The Purdue junior completed 31 of his 60 passes (51.7 percent). He threw a touchdown and no interceptions, but the touchdown came with 10 seconds left. As for the interceptions, had the OSU defenders been able to catch, they probably would have had four or five picks.
A trio of other quarterbacks deserves special mention. Chad Henne had another subpar showing against the Buckeyes – completing just 11 of 34 passes for 68 yards and no touchdowns – but he gets a bit of a pass, moving down to the second team, because of a lingering shoulder injury that left him nowhere near 100 percent.
Two Mid-American conference QBs also struggled against the Buckeyes. Akron's Chris Jacquemain was 12 of 21 for just 48 yards before being mercifully yanked from play, while Kent State's Julian Edelman was 4 of 10 for 49 yards and an interception while splitting time with two other quarterbacks.
Both second-team All-Big Ten backs, Michigan's Mike Hart and Michigan State's Javon Ringer, were held to below-average performances, earning each of them first-team Buckeye Beaten mention.
Hart's struggles marked the third time in four years that he finished below his rushing average entering the OSU game. After 61 yards against the Buckeyes in 2004 and 15 yards a year later, Hart ended his career against Ohio State with 44 carries on 18 yards. After earning 37 first-quarter yards on the ground, Hart had 7 yards during the final three quarters.
As for Ringer, the one-time OSU recruit from Dayton Chaminade-Julienne might have wanted to make a good impression during a return to his home state, but he failed in doing so. Ringer averaged 6.0 yards per carry this season, a figure that was hurt by his 2.7 yards per tote (18 carries for 49 yards) against Ohio State.
Honorable mention must go to Ringer's backfield mate, Jehuu Caulcrick. The big back totaled 21 touchdowns on the season, but he had 9 yards on four carries and zero scores in Columbus. Not to be forgotten is Akron's Dennis Kennedy; another former OSU recruit, Kennedy was held to eight rushes for 8 yards in Ohio Stadium. He also caught three passes for minus-9 yards and threw an incomplete pass.
As Marcus detailed in his Buckeye Beaters squad, no full-time wide receiver was able to top 100 yards in catches against the Scarlet and Gray, leaving this category with plenty of options. However, two players distinguished themselves with their struggles against the Buckeyes in 2007.
The first was Purdue's Dorien Bryant. He entered the game averaging 90.0 yards through the air and was described by OSU safeties coach Paul Haynes as a combination of Ted Ginn Jr. and Anthony Gonzalez. But when game time came, the eventual second-team All-Big Ten pick caught two passes for minus-4 yards and was also held to minus-2 yards on the ground.
He's joined on the squad by Mario Manningham. The Michigan wideout and Ohio native caught five passes for 34 yards, but he dropped a number of passes from Henne that came his way. His final drop left him with his hands on his knees, the picture of everything that had gone wrong on that day for the Wolverines.
This was perhaps the toughest position to fill, considering that a number of the Big Ten's best tight ends had excellent days against Ohio State. So this spot will fall to the duo of Louis Irizarry and Derrick Bush of Youngstown State. Irizarry came into Ohio Stadium as a storyline, considering he had started his football career as a Buckeye before legal issues came along, while Bush was an all-conference pick the previous year at YSU. Instead, the two combined for six catches for 31 yards and were non-factors in the Penguins' 38-6 loss.
Marcus was able to break down offensive line performances by player, but for the purposes of this piece we will just honor units that Ohio State was able to overwhelm. However, this category could be titled the Vernon Gholston Beaten Team, as the Detroit native compiled a total of nine sacks and scored a touchdown against the three chosen teams.
First-team honors again must go to Michigan, whose top five linemen had a rough day against the Scarlet and Gray. All-everything tackle Jake Long was beaten twice for sacks, while his opposite tackle, redshirt freshman Steve Schilling, was so overwhelmed by Gholston that the Wolverines were forced to dedicate three blockers to the OSU lineman by the end of the game. For the game, Michigan gained just 91 yards and Buckeye defenders made 11 tackles for loss.
Second-team honors must go to the Wisconsin front, which admittedly was decimated by injury to two starters. Still, not many would have expected a traditionally strong Badger front to allow 10 sacks – four to Gholston – for a total loss of 73 yards.
Finally, honorable mention goes to Northwestern, whose line gave up five sacks and 13 tackles for loss during a 58-7 loss. One of the sacks, which was made by Anderson Russell, resulted in a fumble return for a touchdown for Gholston, who also made two sacks.
Ohio State did not suit up against some of the better defensive tackles in the conference – the All-Big Ten teams were dominated by ends, and first-team tackle honoree Mitch King of Iowa was not on the schedule – but a number of ends were contained by Ohio State tackles Alex Boone and Kirk Barton enough to earn mention on this squad.
The first test for the Buckeye duo came on the West Coast in the form of Washington's Daniel Te'o-Nesheim, Greyson Gunheim and Caeser Raymond. That experienced group had combined for 6.5 sacks heading into the game against Ohio State but could not get to quarterback Todd Boeckman; in fact, no one did, as the Ohio State signal caller was not sacked during the game. The trio combined for 10 tackles, seven by Te'o-Nesheim, but none were even for loss.
A number of other single players receive mention. Penn State's Maurice Evans was year-end first-team All-Big Ten selection and had 18.5 tackles for loss and 10.5 sacks leading into the week nine showdown with OSU, but made four tackles, one for loss, against the Buckeyes. Purdue's Cliff Avril and Wisconsin's Matt Shaughnessy each were second-team All-Big Ten choices, but combined for eight tackles, two for loss.
For those counting, we'll put Evans, Gunheim and Shaughnessy on the first-team front line and go with a 3-4 look.
Receiving an interesting honor is Michigan State's Greg Jones. The freshman earned mention on the All-Buckeye Beaters team, but he will also end up on this squad as well because of the mention given to the entire squad of MSU linebackers. That group of Jones, Kaleb Thornhill, SirDarean Adams and Eric Gordon were victimized by Chris "Beanie" Wells to the tune of what was then a career-high 221 yards for the Buckeye sophomore. It started on the game's second play, when Wells busted over right end for 47 yards, and did not end until he ran for three first downs on the Buckeyes' game-clinching drive.
Yet again, Michigan receives a nod, as the Wolverines allowed Wells to top that mark with 222 yards against the Maize and Blue. Of particular note, freshman Obi Ezeh made 12 tackles but none were for loss, while senior Chris Graham made 10 stops, again with none for loss. Graham also ended up on the wrong side of the highlight reel when Buckeye fullback Dionte Johnson destroyed him on one second-quarter play.
Thornhill and Gordon, who combined for 10 tackles, will join Ezeh and Graham on the first team.
Honorable mention goes to Dan Connor. The Penn State senior won the Bednarik Award at the end of the season, but it might not have been for his performance against Ohio State. Connor made 18 tackles but only one was for loss, and he participated on a defense that allowed the Buckeyes to move up and down the field nearly at will. Connor also had an interception, a gift from Boeckman on his only poor pass of the day. All in all, Connor did not affect the game in the way one would expect a national award winner to do.
Four players will receive first-team mention, and three of those wear purple on game days.
Two suit up for the Northwestern Wildcats, who allowed Boeckman to complete 11 of 14 passes for four touchdowns. The Wildcats got off to a bad start – they trailed 28-0 after one quarter – and safety Reggie McPherson and cornerback Deante Battle did not help the situation. McPherson was beaten for a 42-yard scoring strike from Boeckman to Brian Robiskie just 1:10 into the game, then less than three minutes later Battle was passed by Robiskie for a 28-yard score. As a result, Battle and McPherson were Buckeye Beaten.
Joining Battle at cornerback is the third member of the purple troupe, Washington's Vonzell McDowell Jr. The true freshman was picked on by Boeckman and Robiskie, who hooked up for a 68-yard scoring pass 5:24 into the third quarter, a play that turned momentum to OSU's side for good.
Completing the back four is Michigan safety Brandent Englemon. Not only was he juked out of his shoes on Wells' 62-yard third-quarter scoring run, he had plenty of other troubles tackling Wells on the day. The burly Buckeye from Akron rumbled through Englemon at the goal line for his other score, and on a couple more occasions the senior was left grasping at air.
As Jim Tressel would tell you, no team is complete without special teams. Earning placekicking honors is Washington's Ryan Perkins, whose blocked 46-yarder came two plays before the long hookup between Boeckman and Robiskie. When it comes to punting, no opponent had a worse day than Northwestern's Stefan Demos, who had one punt blocked near his own goal line and averaged just 35.2 yards on the eight kicks he did get off.
In the return game, Purdue's Bryant found a third category in which he could be held to negative yards, and that was in punt return yards; he had minus-4 yards there. And earning kick return laurels is Washington's Curtis Shaw. His fumbled kickoff after Robiskie's game-changing score led to another touchdown by Wells just moments later, nearly sealing the deal for the Buckeyes.