There was no shortage of players to choose from for the 2008 All-Buckeye Beater Defense. In fact, unlike the offense yesterday, we have a full first and second team at every position.
That we begin up front should not come as a surprise considering Ohio State allowed 29 sacks, a total that tied for 83rd in the nation.
We start off with a pair of defensive linemen from Penn State who helped the Nittany Lions keep the Buckeyes from getting much established all night. While end Aaron Maybin (two tackles, including a sack) caused havoc from the outside, tackle Jared Odrick prevented Terrelle Pryor from having anywhere to step up in the pocket. Odrick also managed to get penetration on a number of running plays, forcing Chris Wells to search elsewhere for room to run.
Odrick might have been following the lead of Purdue tackle Ryan Kerrigan, who seemed unblockable at times when the Boilermakers held the Buckeyes without an offensive touchdown Oct. 11. Ohio State won that game 16-3, but Kerrigan posted two sacks among his six tackles.
Rounding out the defensive line is Michigan end Tim Jamison, who tied for his team's lead in tackles with eight when the Buckeyes trounced the Wolverines 42-7 to end the regular season. Three of Jamison's tackles came behind the line of scrimmage, including a sack.
There were plenty of deserving candidates at linebacker, too, which probably should not come as much of a surprise given how many defensive linemen were able to get push and penetration against Ohio State throughout the year.
Three players managed to stand above the rest, beginning with Navorro Bowman of Penn State. He would have made the list even if he did not recover Pryor's crucial fumble in the fourth quarter. The 6-1, 230-pound sophomore had 10 tackles and seemed to be everywhere Wells or Pryor went.
His performance was the third in as many weeks that we will highlight here.
One week earlier, Michigan State's Greg Jones was the man looking ready to take James Laurinaitis' mantle as best linebacker in the Big Ten next season. The sophomore from Cincinnati Moeller had a game-high 13 tackles, including a sack as part of 2.5 tackles for loss, against the Buckeyes on a mostly dreary day to be a Spartan.
We finish out the ABB First Team linebackers with Anthony Heygood of Purdue, who was very impressive with 12 tackles – 11 solo – and showed good athleticism in corralling Pryor in the open field a couple of times.
Illinois cornerback Vontae Davis leads off the group of defensive backs. Davis, a 2006 All-Buckeye Beater as a freshman, had five tackles, including one for loss, and broke up a pass during Ohio State's 30-20 win against the Fighting Illini on Nov. 15.
The other cornerback on the squad is Mark Parson, an Ohio Bobcat who made four solo tackles and broke a pass in the Buckeyes' surprisingly difficult 26-14 win at Ohio Stadium on Sept. 6.
First Team: Aaron Maybin, Penn State; Jared Odrick, Penn State; Tim Jamison, Michigan; Ryan Kerrigan, Purdue
Second Team: Brandon Graham, Michigan; Eric Small, Minnesota; Ryan Baker, Purdue; Brian Orakpo, Texas
Honorable Mention: Jameson Hartke, Ohio; Maurice Coleman, Troy; Clay Matthews Jr., USC; Kevin Mims, Northwestern
First Team: Navorro Bowman, Penn State; Greg Jones, Michigan State; Anthony Heygood, Purdue
Second Team: Rey Maualuga, USC; Boris Lee, Troy; Brian Cushing, USC
Honorable Mention: Noah Keller, Ohio; Bear Woods, Troy; Eric Gordon, Michigan State
First Team: Vontae Davis, Illinois; Mark Parson, Ohio; Kevin Ellison, USC; Mark Rubin, Penn State
Second Team: Earl Thomas, Texas; Jay Valai, Wisconsin; Brandon King, Purdue; Thad Turner, Ohio