Rough start to 2017 for Ohio State fans, Michael Thomas is a stud and more

Colin Gay

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Today is Monday, Jan. 2, and this is your Ohio State Wake-Up Call. 


Wait ‘til next year

As confetti rained down onto the University of Phoenix Stadium turf Saturday night, fans were stunned. No one, from the Ohio State faithful to national college football talking heads, could have expected the No. 3 Buckeyes being shut out 31-0 by No. 2 Clemson.

This playoff game was very reminiscent of a College Football Playoff matchup from a year ago, when Alabama blanked Big Ten champion Michigan State, 38-0.

That Michigan State team, like Ohio State this year, came into the semifinal struggling to score. In the first three quarters of last year’s Big Ten championship game, the Spartans only had three field goals, scoring their first touchdown of the game with 27 seconds left in regulation to secure the 16-13 win over Iowa. In the playoffs, Alabama shut them down completely, allowing only 239 yards, including just 29 yards rushing on 26 attempts.

The question for Ohio State going into Saturday night’s game against Clemson was its passing game and pass protection. In the Buckeyes’ Nov. 26 win over Michigan, QB J.T. Barrett threw for only 124 yards on 15 completions on 32 attempts with an interception. Barrett was also sacked eight times, yet the Buckeyes won anyway.

Clemson’s defense thrived against the Ohio State passing offense. Barrett had only 127 yards passing with two interceptions, completing just 57 percent of his passes. Even though Barrett was only sacked three times, the offensive line continued to be terrible, allowing 11 tackles for loss.

For Michigan State, the aftermath of their semifinal appearance last year was not so good. The Spartans, losing 15 players to the 2016 NFL Draft, had only three wins in 2016, going 1-8 in conference play, including a 17-16 loss to Ohio State. After coach Urban Meyer’s first shutout of his head coaching career, this is a collapse that Buckeye fans are hoping Ohio State can avoid.

With all the talent coming back next year, the Buckeyes probably will. Like this season, it’s the combination of leadership and the continuous pipeline of young talent that makes the Buckeyes so good.

There are many things for the Buckeyes to fix, especially on offense (wide receiver, offensive line, replacing Curtis Samuel). However, with a head coach who doesn’t lose very much, Ohio State will be looking forward, not backward, on Aug. 31.


Catching Up

Here is your weekly look at how a few former Ohio State Buckeyes are doing at the next level.

Cardale Jones: When it comes to Week 17 in the NFL, there are many surprises. For former Ohio State QB Cardale Jones, Week 17 turned into his first opportunity to prove himself at the pro level.

Playing the entire fourth quarter of a 30-10 loss to the New York Jets, the Buffalo Bills QB figured out that the pro level is nothing like the college game. Jones completed nine of 20 passes for 96 yards, leading the lowly Bills in passing. He also threw his first interception after a pass intended for WR Justin Hunter fell into the hands of veteran Jets CB Darrelle Revis.

However, there were glimpses of the quarterback he was in the 2014 College Football Playoff, leading a five-play 71 yard touchdown drive late in the fourth quarter. The big play was a 64-yard bomb to Hunter that led to a 1-yard touchdown rush by RB Mike Gillislee.

No one knows what the future may hold for Jones in a Bills uniform, but Ohio State fans should be excited that he finally got the chance to prove himself at the next level.  

Michael Thomas: Speaking of player who have had the chance to prove themselves, former Ohio State and current New Orleans Saints WR Michael Thomas has been doing that all season. He came out for the final time in his rookie season and had the best game of his young career.

In the 38-32 loss to the Atlanta Falcons, Thomas had 10 catches for 156 yards and a touchdown. This caps off what is to go down in history as one of the best rookie seasons in not only Saints history, but NFL history.

RB Ezekiel Elliott isn’t the only Buckeye player breaking records in his first season.


Tale of two halves

Ohio State (10-4, 0-1) fell short against Illinois (11-4, 1-1) 75-70 in the first Big Ten game of the season.

The Fighting Illini came out of the gate swinging offensively, trying to regain confidence after a dreadful loss to Maryland, and Ohio State came out sluggish defensively. The Buckeyes allowed Illinois to put up 40 points, including a 19-2 run in the first half.

Coming out of halftime, the Ohio State defense regained composure, with Illinois shooting 36 percent from the floor and 30 percent from behind the 3-point line. However, the deciding factor was from the charity stripe. Illinois made 14 free throws on 19 attempts in the second half.

Another issue that Ohio State had in the five-point loss was that Illinois played bigger. In nonconference games against teams like Western Carolina and Jackson State, it was normal for players, like forwards Keita Bates-Diop and Jae’Sean Tate, to control the boards. However, Illinois outrebounded the Buckeyes 42-35 with Leron Black recording 15 rebounds. That’s one aspect that Ohio State needs to work on if success is on the horizon in a tough Big Ten schedule.

Ohio State will next take on Purdue (12-3, 1-1) in Columbus on Thursday.


Thankful Buckeyes

After Ohio State’s crushing loss to Clemson, the players understandably are going through many emotions. With the end of the season upon them, and with some ending their career at Ohio State, many Buckeyes were in a thankful mood.

 


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