Braxton Miller

Buckeyes (somewhat) easily extend nation’s longest winning streak

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With football program immortality just off on the horizon, it’s 13 down and 11 to go for Urban Meyer’s Ohio State Buckeyes — but not after a bit of a scare.

A 35-point(ish) favorite over MAC member Buffalo, OSU came out strong, stumbled a bit in the middle, then ultimately trudged away from Buffalo in a 40-20 win.  The margin of victory is not exactly a surprise as the Bulls were coming off a 4-8 season that included seven double-digit losses; the fact that it was as close as it was late into the third quarter was.

Braxton Miller, the preseason Heisman favorite, was particularly sharp in the passing game, completing 15-of-22 passes for 178 yards and two touchdowns.  Known more for his legs than passing acumen, the junior had just 17 yards on 12 carries before a 41-yard run early in the fourth quarter; he finished with 78 yards on the ground.  Jordan Hall, starting in place of the suspended Carlos Hyde, more than shoulder the running-game load, rushing for a career-high 159 yards and two touchdowns.  Hall’s two scoring runs came from 49 and 37 yards out.

As a team, the Buckeyes totaled 458 yards of offense (259 rushing, 199 passing) while a defense that featured nine new starters held the Bulls to 265 yards.

The win wasn’t as easy as some had expected and the way final score seemed to indicate, however.

Trailing just 30-20 in the middle of the third quarter, the Bulls recovered a Miller fumble at OSU’s one-yard line on a third-and-eight play.  That game-changing turnover, though, was negated by a Buffalo personal foul; the Buckeyes took the fortuitous call and turned it into a 91-yard touchdown drive that pushed the lead to 37-20 and, effectively, put the game out of reach — well, that along with the fourth-quarter goal-line stand by the OSU defense and Miller’s 40-plus-yard scamper a couple of plays later.

Despite that mild mid-game stumble, the Buckeyes have now won a nation’s best 13 consecutive games, a streak that stretches back to the first game of a 2012 season that saw the Buckeyes go undefeated but bowl-less thanks to NCAA sanctions.  OSU now stands just 11 wins shy of breaking the school record of 23 set back in the late-sixties, and could potentially set the new program mark… in The Game against Michigan in the regular-season finale.

While such talk is premature at the moment, the Buckeyes have a very “manageable” schedule that finds them as one of five FBS teams that are, at the moment, favored in every game this season.  Still, though, there are plenty of areas to work on before the Buckeyes can even begin to think of making history — and you can be certain that Meyer and his staff will stress that over what was an expected “W.”

Notre Dame-Ohio State Fiesta Bowl produced 19 NFL draft picks

GLENDALE, AZ - JANUARY 01:  Defensive lineman Joey Bosa #97 of the Ohio State Buckeyes during the BattleFrog Fiesta Bowl against the Notre Dame Fighting Irish at University of Phoenix Stadium on January 1, 2016 in Glendale, Arizona.The Buckeyes defeated the Fighting Irish 44-28.  (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
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In the run-up to the Notre Dame-Ohio State Fiesta Bowl following the 2015 regular season, many a pundit pounded the pulpit on the plethora of potential next-level players* who would litter the field that night. At least in this instance, said pundits absolutely nailed it.

As the dust has settled in Chicago and the 2016 NFL draft has been put to bed, the tally is official: a whopping 19 Buckeyes and Fighting Irish players who took part in or were on the roster for OSU’s 16-point win in the desert were selected in the seven rounds of the annual selection meeting.

The Buckeyes, who entered Day 3 with a record 10 players drafted the first two days, finished with 12 players plucked by various NFL clubs. While that total is impressive, it falls just short of the record of 14 set by… the 2004 Buckeyes.

They did, though, set one record on the day, and at their own expense.

The Irish, meanwhile — and if you can calculate at a third-grade level — saw seven players selected in the draft.  While it was a good haul, it was tied fourth, along with Alabama and Florida, behind OSU’s 12, Clemson’s nine and UCLA’s eight.

There were nine schools that had five players each drafted: Arkansas, Georgia, LSU, Michigan State, Ole Miss, Penn State, Stanford, TCU and West Virginia.

(*Alarmed at a little alliteration?)

Al-Quadin Muhammad, Miami’s leading sacker, takes to social media to reveal surgery

MIAMI GARDENS, FL - SEPTEMBER 21: Al-Quadin Muhammad #98 of the Miami Hurricanes sacks Antonio Bostick #13 of the Savannah State Tigers on September 21, 2013 at Sun Life Stadium in Miami Gardens, Florida. (Photo by Joel Auerbach/Getty Images)
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While Miami had not yet confirmed it, one of the most talented Hurricanes on the defensive side of the ball, Al-Quadin Muhammad (pictured, right), underwent a successful but unspecified surgical procedure recently.  And just how did we know that initially?  Because the player posted a picture of himself laying in a hospital bed and clothed in hospital garb, that’s how.

Subsequent to Muhammad’s social media revelation, the university confirmed that the lineman had undergone “a small surgical procedure… on his knee.”  Muhammad is expected to resume football activities in a couple of weeks.

The redshirt junior played in 12 games in 2015, leading the team in both tackles for loss (8.5) and sacks (five). He’ll enter summer camp, provided he doesn’t suffer a setback, as arguably the Hurricanes’ top pass rusher.

Motorcycle accident claims life of Troy DB Nathan Harris

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Sadly, tragedy has hit the college football community yet again.

Troy confirmed in a press release that Trojans football player Nathan Harris has passed away due to injuries sustained in a motorcycle accident earlier Saturday.  Harris was just 19 years old.

Other than the accident occurred in Gulf Shores, Ala., no details were made available.

“This is an unthinkable tragedy and the thoughts and prayers of the Troy Athletics Department and the Troy University community are with Nathan’s family and friends,” Troy athletic director Jeremy McClain said in a statement. “It is devastating to see a young life end in such a heartbreaking way, and we will provide support and comfort for his teammates, friends and coaches as they go through the grieving process.”

“Nate was a tremendous person and a very caring young man,” a statement from Troy head coach Neal Brown said began. “While his time here at Troy University was brief, his impact was felt by many. He was loved by his teammates and had a positive effect on our team’s culture in a short time.”

Harris, who starred as a quarterback at Gulf Shores High School, joined the Troy football team as a walk-on this past semester.  During the course of spring practice, Harris had worked his way up to being the Trojans’ starting holder.  He was listed as a safety on the school’s online roster.

The sudden passing is hitting the Gulf Shores community particularly hard.

“We are struggling here,” Harris’ high school coach, Ben Blackmon, told WALA-TV, adding, “He has gone to live with God.”

Our thoughts, prayers and condolences go out to all of those impacted by Harris’ passing.

B1G gained ground, but SEC still reigned in NFL draft

CHICAGO, IL - APRIL 28:  NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell announces Leonard Floyd of the Georgia Bulldogs as the #9 overall pick by the Chicago Bears during the first round of the 2016 NFL Draft at the Auditorium Theatre of Roosevelt University on April 28, 2016 in Chicago, Illinois.  (Photo by Jon Durr/Getty Images)
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In each of the last two years, the Big Ten was barely within 20 of the SEC in total draft selections.  In the 2016 version of the annual selection meeting, the former conference gained significant ground on the latter — but couldn’t quite get over that Southern hump.

With three days and seven rounds officially in the books, the SEC led all conferences with 51 players selected in the 2016 NFL draft.  That total is down from the 54 a year ago, but up from 49 in the 2014 draft.

The past two drafts, the Big Ten had gone from 30 picks in 2014 to 34 in 2015; thanks in large part to 12 from Ohio State, that conference made a B1G leap to 47, second-most of any other conference in college football this cycle and the closest any league has come to unseating the SEC in a handful of years.  The last two years, the ACC, No. 2 in 2014 and 2015, got to within seven of the SEC — 47 picks in 2015 for that conference, 42 the year before.

This year, the ACC’s 26 selections were tied with the Big 12 for No. 4 among conferences.  No. 3?  The Pac-12, with a whopping nine picks in the seventh and final round, with 32.

No Group of Five conference could come close to the Power Five leagues, with the AAC and Conference USA pacing those “mid-majors” with 10 draft picks each.  The Mountain West was next with nine, followed by the MAC with six and the Sun Belt with three.

Independents saw eight players drafted, with Notre Dame accounting for all but one of those (more on the Irish later).

From the lower divisions of college football, 21 FCSers were drafted while two from Div. II were scooped up.  And, internationally, there was one player each from Canada and Germany who heard their name called.