Round up the usual suspects for Round 9

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Each week on our "Bucknuts Radio Hour", the three of us are asked to make a prediction for the upcoming game. And give the score, as well. Kirk and Jerry always have thoughtful predictions with scores that sound like they have been submitted through an econometric modeling system. Mr. Bucknuts? Well, I go more for whimsy and my infallible intuition.

Last week, I asserted that we would beat Penn State by four points. Why? My reasoning was that "Big players make big plays in big games" and that Ohio State had nine "big players" while PSU only had five. Therefore, we should win by four.

Let's look again at that somewhat glib and superficial analysis. My five Big Players for the Nits included Zack Mills, Larry Johnson, Bryant Johnson, Jimmy Kennedy and Coach Paterno. For our Buckeyes, I singled out Krenzel, Clarett, Jenkins, Gamble, Will Smith, Matt Wilhelm, Doss, Groom and Nugent.

How did that all work out? Well, as far as PSU went, Mills threw three INT's and had less than 100 yards passing. Larry Johnson gained 53 yards on his first four carries and then 13 yards on his final twelve carries. That's two very big "wows" for us. Our DB's covered Bryant Johnson brilliantly and although Jimmy Kennedy played great, I still think that Joe Paterno had the best hit of the night – on a sideline ref in the second half.

And how about our Big Guys? Krenzel played the game of his career despite the two picks (only one that counted…). He was masterful at getting the job done. And for those out there that might disagree, I'll mention two small words that should send shivers up your spine: Steve Bellisari. How would Steve have handled the game? Clarett, of course was taken out early. Jenkins was steady but unspectacular, as was Will Smith. But – hey, what about the super studly game brought to you by Matt Wilhelm? And the continuing kicking phenomena known as "Andy Groom and Mike Nugent"? Plus, Mike Doss was the heart-and-soul of that stout defense. Finally, we've run out of superlatives for Chris Gamble, who took over the game and made it into his own sandlot affair.

So our big players out-played their big players. But it goes beyond that. I short-changed two guys: Dustin Fox gets a huge "BP" nod from me and unwrap another one of those "BP" awards for freshman AJ Hawk, who blew up every play on his side of the field and got an interception, to boot.

Lastly, we out-coached the other guys. Now, when was the last time you heard that for an OSU staff? The adjustments made at halftime continue to be dazzling and Penn State could never come up with an answer to an OSU defense that played as-good-a-game-against-as-good-a-team as I can ever remember.

So, we had six more "big players". That's probably why we won by six… We also had 15 more minutes in time-of-possession. That's perhaps the biggest reason we won at all!

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Red zone to dead zone…Before Saturday, this remarkable Ohio State team was basically perfect in the red zone. Basically? Well, they were 34 of 36, but the two no-scores were on late "knees" we took while running out the clock. Against Penn State, we weren't quite as basically perfect. Krenzel's fumble, as he was stretching to score, was our first misfire of the year. And then Chris Vance laid one down inside the 20 later in the game. With Nugent's infallibility this season, you have to assume we would have scored between 6-10 points on those two drives. Sure would have helped my nerves a lot as the game wound down…

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Never enough running backs…A few weeks ago, we were bemoaning the fact that one or more of our RB's would transfer because they couldn't get enough game time. Then MC goes down and Ross plays on a gimpy wheel and Maurice Hall is rumored to have a hand problem and…Hey – remember when Tressel played walk-on Roshawn Parker in the San Jose State blow-out? He might have known something. Parker could become our back-up  behind starter Ja Ja Riley…

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A bet you would have lost…Here it is: who (did you think) would have the most interceptions on the team after nine games this year? Doss? Nickey? Fox? How about Heisman candidate Richard McNutt? "None of the above" is the correct answer. Super hero Chris Gamble actually leads the team with three (and one sensational touchdown off an INT). Who is second? True-freshman and part-time starter AJ Hawk with two. And another TD run after snagging his first INT of the year…

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The AP Beauty Pageant…We all know that the BCS stinks on ice. And that the AP stinks without the ice. In fact, it had to be the on-going historical performance by the twits who "vote" at the Associated Press that lead to the mess we call BCS. But do any of the AP voting masterminds actually watch these games? Obviously they don't watch the West Coast games (too late) or the secondary games (no cable), but how about the obvious big games? Case in (poll) point: Miami is dominated by FSU and wins only because the field goal goes wide. They stay #1. Miami gets run over like road kill by an average West Virginia offense. The AP votes? Miami is still #1. Virginia Tech beats a Temple team 20-10 (a Temple team that couldn't beat Warren Harding in a high school match-up). Do they slip in the polls? No way. Now, Ohio State dominates a powerhouse Penn State team in a masterful defensive game while PSU is ranked in the Top Twenty. Result? OSU is penalized two places…

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Whenever someone points out to me some West Coast or WAC finesse team and wonders why the Buckeyes can't play like that, well…Saturday's match-up was Exhibit A: a true Big Ten slugfest, a slobber-knocker straight from the Old Days. Do you think a finesse team would have survived Wisconsin/Penn State back-to-back? No way. There were a lot of beat up people on both sides yesterday. And in the Big Ten, the next week (Minnesota) will be just as tough physically.

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It's a great time to be a Buckeye. We've already won more games this season than in any full season since 1998. And we still have five games to go. So in this particular round up, let's not forget that championships here, in the heavyweight division, go a full 14 rounds this year.

So go Bucks!

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