Q&A With The Buckeye Battle Cry

So this week we have decided to throw caution to the wind and cross the southern border to do a little Q&A with tOSU blogger Jeff from THE Buckeye Battle Cry. He was gracious enough to provide some insight into the Buckeye's season and field my questions about this weekend's matchup.

Head on over to their site to see my drunken retorts to their carefully thought-out probing questions. Yes...I just said "probing". I've been probed.


MBN: 1) To the casual observer, this game seems like a mere formality...but most of us know that anything can happen. How does Ohio State win this game? How do they lose?

tBBC: A lot of Ohio State fans think it's a mere formality. Those are the fans who don't understand the rivalry. They're also the same fans who wanted Jim Tressel fired and Terrelle Pryor benched. They're idiots. Joe Bauserman and Jim Bollman will not lead this team to glory, despite some of our "fans" declaring disaster for the first 9 weeks (before going strangely silent after PSU and Iowa).

This game is NOT a formality. It requires more focus and intensity than anything we've faced all season. USC at 8pm on national TV? Worthless. Penn State in Happy Valley? Not a chance. Iowa for the Big Ten title? Meh. This is Michigan, in the freaking Big House. Formality? Never.

Ohio State wins this game with ball control. Tresselball, as we call it. We do not need to break the big play to win (but it would be exciting for us). 8-12 play drives that eat up yardage and time of possession will do nicely. Your offense can move the ball well when they're clicking, but taking them out of rhythm has proven effective against Forcier. He'll slash down the field on the opening drive (like he always seems to do), and if we respond to that drive with a long one for a score, it'll chill off his hot hand. Forcier's got a talented future, but he still doesn't know how to recapture momentum.

Our defense can get the stops, and we'll bend a few times during the game. It's up to Pryor and the offense to keep your D on the field as long as possible, because we are confident that they'll break often.

How do we lose? Overconfidence (I'm allowed to have it, my players cannot). If we lose focus, or get drawn into a pissing match, we'll lose. If we go down on the scoreboard early, we cannot panic.

In other words, stay inside our own heads. We'll win if we get out of our mindset.

BUT - we can also lose simply because it's The Game. No team is truly safe in this rivalry, ever. See 1969, see 1987, see 2004.

MBN: 2) What has been the biggest surprise for Ohio State this season?

tBBC: The all-around depth in the backfield. This team is used to one solid RB leading the team and gaining 1,000 yards by themselves, and we lost that with the early NFL withdrawal of Beanie Wells, and we were not sure what that would mean for our rushing attack.

We expected to see Daniel "Boom" Herron and Terrelle Pryor run the ball relatively well, and we hoped that Brandon Saine would return to form after a subpar and injury-filled season last year. But beyond that, we had no idea what we'd find. Freshman Jordan Hall (a high school teammate of Pryor) has seen a bit of action (48 carries) and made the most of them (248 yards), and freshman Jermil Martin bulldozed his way into the hearts of a lot of Buckeye fans.

Of our top five ball carriers for the year, only Herron is averaging under 5 yards per carry. The five combined have logged a total of over 2,000 yards...and they will all return next season. To make your readers cringe even more, only Saine is older than a sophomore, so these are the names that you'll be seeing over and over again, carrying the ball as late as January of 2012 wearing scarlet and gray.

MBN: 3) Biggest disappointment?

tBBC: I personally feel we have the best Head Coach possible, considering who we are and what our history is. Jim Tressel is the coach that has and will continue to lead us to greatness. But for some reason, he's been apprehensive to use Terrelle Pryor to his full potential. Now I know the kid's just a sophomore and the odds are increasing looking like we'll get him for two more full seasons instead of just the one we originally planned....but the time came a long while ago that we start using Pryor's legs as a weapon. Designed roll-outs and quarterback draws have worked for big big yardage in the past, but there seems to be very few times that the play has been sent in.

This is what killed us against USC, and it nearly cost us the game against Iowa last week.

Pryor's only got 22 carries in the last three games combined. For a quarterback who runs that fast and strides so well, that's inexcusable.

MBN: 4) Ohio State has looked dominant in wins against sub-par teams this year. But they've also struggled in a few games. Now that they've secured their Rose Bowl berth, which team do you suspect to show up in Ann Arbor this weekend?

tBBC: You already know the answer to that question. No season is complete until the Great Yellow Satan has been destroyed.

Two main reasons for a ferocious showing from the Buckeyes on Saturday;

- We don't want another "shared" Big Ten Championship. A win gives us an outright title, our third in the last four years.
- It's "The Game", man. Nothing else matters. John Cooper didn't get it, and we don't think that RichRod gets it. Both of them were quoted as calling it "just another game". Woody rolled over in his grave when Cooper said it, and I'm sure Bo did the same when RichRod said it.

MBN: 5) What unit matchup do you think Ohio State will win, which will they lose?

tBBC: Your readers are going to hate me for this, but I think we're going to win the special teams matchup. Zoltan Mesko is the best punter in the Big Ten with that booming leg. But when Ray Small gets a spot of room in front of him, he's VERY dangerous. Ask Penn State. Hell, ask Mesko from 2008. If Mesko can get HIGH kicks and not deep kicks, Small is forced to fair-catch it, and he's had slippery fingers in those situations. Otherwise, he's a bullet waiting to be shot.

Also, I expect to see our rushing attack dominate the LB corps, especially when we run away from Brandon Graham. Graham looks like he's going to be on a mission to smack Justin Boren, so I wouldn't be surprised if we threw a misdirection to decoy Graham away from the ball carrier a few times.

If Ohio State goes to a zone-read defense (which they will, often), I expect to see us lose the matchup between our DBs and your WRs. If you use a lot of slot receivers (which you will, often), they'll find PLENTY of space on quick-hitters off the line, and you'll find success in whoever Anderson Russell is lined up against.

MBN: 6) The Big Ten has been in a slump these past few years in terms of national respect...all the while Ohio State has shinned against the rest of the league racking up Big Ten titles. Aside from 2006, do Ohio State fans feel their success is largely been uncontested?

tBBC: Not really, no. We expect to win the Big Ten every year because that's what good teams should expect. "Uncontested" is what Boise State sees in the weak WAC. We've got battles week in and week out.

- Penn State has been battling us throughout our 5-year Big Ten title run, winning twice
- We've only faced Michigan once during your "down phase"
- Purdue, for some reason, always gives us grief
- Iowa returned to AP Poll glory after a two-year absence (ironically, we didn't play Iowa during their two-year slump)

And as for the other six teams in the league...well, let's just say that when you're on top, you are going to get the best game possible out of your opponent, no matter who they are. You guys know that, that's the downside to being an elite team. Everybody can claim their season is a success when they beat you.

So no, I don't think we've been uncontested. Just the opposite, actually.

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