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Buckeyes’ defense props up mostly lethargic offense in shutout win over Hawaii

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As good as Ohio State looked in Week 1, they were 180 degrees from that in Week 2.  And the “days between games” excuse can only go so far, especially at home against a team that has lost 14 of its last 20 games.

Thanks in large part to a suffocating defensive effort from the Silver Bullets, top-ranked Ohio State was able to go home with a more-impressive-than-it-looked 38-0 win over Hawaii.  The win marked the defending national champion’s 15th straight, the longest such streak in the country.

If the Buckeyes are once again a unanimous pick for top spot in the Associated Press poll — and that may depend on how the Oregon-Michigan State game plays out tonight — a large percentage of the credit should go to the defensive side of the ball.

One week after dropping Colorado 28-20 on the strength of Max Wittek‘s three touchdown passes, UH could manage just 165 yards and no points against the talented, swarming OSU defense.  The Rainbow Warriors couldn’t crack the century mark in either rushing or passing yards, managing 80 in the former and 85 in the latter.

The Buckeyes’ defense punctuated its dominance with a fourth-quarter touchdown, a 14-yard Vonn Bell fumble return that essentially put the game out of reach, as if there was any doubt leading up to the return.

One of the few positives offensively was Ezekiel Elliott, who extended his streak of 100-plus yard rushing games (a workman-like 101 on 27 carries) to seven straight and scored three of the Buckeyes’ five touchdowns on the ground.  The offense as a whole totaled 356 yards, it’s lowest output since the loss to Virginia Tech in Week 2 of last season.

Where the most angst may come for Urban Meyer and staff, and where his focus will likely be with a full week of practice, is the passing game.  The old adage of “if you have two quarterbacks you don’t have any” was true for at least a week as Cardale Jones and J.T. Barrett combined for 20-of-35 passing for 181 yards, no interceptions but no touchdowns.

Neither quarterback could seem to find a rhythm, and it might be time for Meyer & Company to pick one signal-calling horse, saddle him up and ride him for the rest of the season.  Both appear to be playing tentative, afraid to make a mistake that could either drop them down the depth chart or prevent them from moving up.  Certainly Meyer has experience in successfully using a two-quarterback system; Chris LeakTim Tebow at Florida, however, was another animal entirely as each had specific roles and knew them entering each and every game.

Other than Jones is the starter, neither seems certain what his role is or should be.  The good news for this situation if you’re Meyer is the Buckeyes likely won’t be tested until at least a Nov. 7 game at home against Minnesota, so there’s plenty of time to sort it out.  Still, the sooner the most important position on the field is settled, the better off the team as a whole will be — especially one with back-to-back title aspirations.

Former 49ers executive reportedly joining Jim Harbaugh in Ann Arbor

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Jim Harbaugh is reaching back to his NFL days for the latest hire at Michigan.

Veteran Bay Area journalist Tim Kawakami reports that recent San Francisco 49ers personnel executive Tom Gamble is headed to Ann Arbor to join the Wolverines staff.

According to the fine folks over at sister site ProFootballTalk, Gamble left the 49ers in February shortly after John Lynch was hired by the franchise as general manager. He worked with Harbaugh when their tenures with San Francisco overlapped in 2011 and 2012 before Gamble eventually departed for a two-year stint with the Philadelphia Eagles.

It’s unclear what role specifically Gamble will take with the Wolverines as Harbaugh already hired a new director of player personnel this year by bringing Sean Magee over from Navy. The former 49ers executive doesn’t have much college experience in the past few decades beyond scouting so it will be interesting to see what his official title at Michigan will be once formally announced by the school.

Either way, it seems like Harbaugh is fully investing in off-the-field roles like his peers at Alabama, Clemson and Ohio State and he is not shying away from reaching into the NFL ranks to do so.

Big Ten media poll picks Ohio State to win league, Wisconsin to capture West Division

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The Big Ten conference office turns their nose up at doing an official media poll to pick the winner of the league like all of their other peers in college football but the fine folks over at Cleveland.com have been filling in the gap for the past several years so fans, coaches and others can get a sense at which teams are the favorites to hoist the trophy at the end of the year.

The site just released the latest edition of their annual media poll and (surprise, surprise) Ohio State was picked by 29 of the 38 voters to win the Big Ten this season, including 34 first-place votes for the Buckeyes to capture the rugged East Division title. Penn State drew seven first place votes while Jim Harbaugh’s Michigan squad received just one person’s confidence in winning the division.

Wisconsin was the heavy favorite to represent the West in Indianapolis with 31 first place votes, followed by Northwestern (five) and Nebraska (two). Fittingly,  22 media members from around the league picked the Buckeyes to beat the Badgers in the conference championship game, compared to just three who reversed the outcome. Not surprisingly, 34 of the 38 voters said at least one Big Ten team will make this year’s College Football Playoff, with Ohio State being the overwhelming pick to represent the league with 26 votes.

A word of warning however as Cleveland.com notes that the poll has never successfully picked the Big Ten winner in six preseason polls and Ohio State has only ever won the conference when they were not the choice by the media.

Walter Camp releases 2017 Player of the Year Watch List

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Another day, another watch list for a major college football world.

The Walter Camp Foundation released their preseason watch list for the annual Player of the Year award and not surprisingly it has all of the usual stars from around the sport, including last year’s winner Lamar Jackson and the favorite for just about every award in 2017, USC’s Sam Darnold.

The foundation didn’t just stick with quarterbacks and pass rushers however, they also did the noble thing and included one kicker and one punter on their watch list. Kudos for recognizing that special teams players are watch list candidates too. The full list is below.

Quarterbacks

Josh Allen, QB, Wyoming, Jr.

Jake Browning, QB, Washington, Jr.

JT Barrett, QB, Ohio State, Sr.

Sam Darnold, QB, USC, Soph.

Luke Falk, QB, Washington State, Sr.

Quinton Flowers, QB, USF, Sr.

Deondre Francois, QB, Florida State, Soph.

Jalen Hurts, QB, Alabama, Soph.

Lamar Jackson, QB, Louisville, Jr.

Baker Mayfield, QB, Oklahoma, Sr.

Mason Rudolph, QB, Oklahoma State, Sr.

Trace McSorley, QB, Penn State, Jr.

Josh Rosen, QB, UCLA, Jr.

Brett Rypien, QB, Boise State, Jr.

Mike White, QB, Western Kentucky, Sr.

Running Backs 

Saquon Barkley, RB, Penn State, Jr.

Nick Chubb, RB, Georgia, Sr.

Bo Scarbrough, RB, Alabama, Jr.

Jarvion Franklin, RB, Western Michigan, Sr.

Royce Freeman, RB, Oregon, Sr.

Derrius Guice, RB, LSU, Jr.

Justin Jackson, RB, Northwestern, Sr.

Jalin Moore, RB, Appalachian State, Jr.

Rashaad Penny, RB/KR, San Diego State, Sr.

Mark Walton, RB, Miami (Fla.), Jr.

Wide Receivers/Special Teams/Lineman 

Daniel Carlson, PK, Auburn, Sr.

Quadree Henderson, WR/KR, Pittsburgh, Jr.

Billy Price, OL, Ohio State, Sr.

Calvin Ridley, WR, Alabama, Jr.

James Washington, WR, Oklahoma State, Sr.

Mitch Wishnowsky, P, Utah, Jr.

Defense

Minkah Fitzpatrick, DB, Alabama, Jr.

Rashan Gary, DT, Michigan, Soph.

Derwin James, DB, Florida State

Arden Key, LB, LSU, Sr.

Harold Landry, DE, Boston College, Sr.

Dexter Lawrence, DT, Clemson, Soph.

Tyquan Lewis, DL, Ohio State, Sr.

Ed Oliver, DT, Houston, Soph.

Christian Wilkins, DT, Clemson, Jr.

Lane Kiffin trolls Ole Miss with latest Twitter follows

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Lane Kiffin is back in the news for doing Lane Kiffin things.

Just hours after Ole Miss head coach Hugh Freeze resigned after discovery of phone calls to escort service, the Florida Atlantic coach decided to pop up into everybody’s timeline and subtly troll the Rebels with some recent Twitter followers. Some will interpret following the Ole Miss accounts as being a subtle way to send interest in moving to Oxford after the season but in reality this is more of Lane being Lane, especially considering his brother is wrapped up in the school’s NCAA infractions case.

We’re sure the rest of the SEC (outside of those in Oxford) will enjoy a little chuckle over the move but something says at least a few Ole Miss fans will now be intrigued about the prospect of Kiffin taking over the program.