Among the many great games college football fans will get to watch in the first couple of weeks of the 2016 season is Oklahoma’s home game against Ohio State on September 17. We now know the Buckeyes and Sooners will clash in primetime, which was to be expected. Oklahoma and Ohio State will play at 7:30 p.m. ET on FOX.
The game could very well be one of the many key games in the College Football Playoff race as the season plays out. Oklahoma is expected to be a Big 12 favorite coming into the season, while Ohio State may have a few wrinkles to iron out before hitting their stride after losing so much talent to the NFL this spring. Still, a Baker Mayfield vs. J.T. Barrett quarterback duo could be plenty fun to watch, and it is clearly deserving of primetime billing.
Ohio State and Oklahoma have faced off just twice before, with each winning a game on the other’s home field. Ohio State won a 1983 meeting in Norman, 24-14, and the Sooners took one in Columbus in 1977, winning 29-28.
Oklahoma’s annual game against the Texas Longhorns also has its spot on the television programming. The game has yet to receive an official kickoff time, but it will be aired on FOX Sports 1. Considering the game has been a fixture on a regular network broadcast for years, the relegation to FS1 is a bit of an oddity. It could be the allure of the game has diminished in recent years with the Longhorns being a bit behind the curve (although Texas did smack Oklahoma last fall), or it could simply be a ploy to put an attractive matchup on a network still trying to make inroads in the ratings game. The game has traditionally kicked off in the early afternoon timeslot, and it likely will remain there in the end.
Few would argue LSU running back Leonard Fournette will be one of the top college football players entering the 2016 season. Fournette appeared to be the runaway Heisman frontrunner for the bulk of the 2016 season until he and LSU ran into a brick wall against Alabama and were knocked off course as a Heisman favorite and national title contender. Fournette ended the season averaging 162.75 rushing yards per game, roughly 15 more yards per game than his next closest competitor, Heisman Trophy winner Derrick Henry of Alabama.
So as we inch closer and closer to the start of a new college football season, many are anxious to see Fournette bounce back and reclaim the frontrunner status for the Heisman Trophy in a race that will likely feature the likes of Clemson quarterback Deshaun Watson and Stanford running back Christian McCaffrey and perhaps even Ohio State quarterback J.T. Barrett. Many have reason to fear Fournette, but one confident commit heading to Nebraska in 2017 showed no such fear behind his computer keyboard.
Avery Roberts , a four-star linebacker recruit in the Class of 2017, responded to a tweet praising Fournette yesterday posted by Keith Miller of XOS. With a picture of Fournette running with the football, Miller asked, “What you gone do when this [tiger] comes around the corner?” Roberts, one who has never faced Fournette on the field and likely never will, showed a bit of confidence in his own abilities and suggested he would make the tackle with authority. He didn’t quite say it that way, but that was the implied response.
“Same thing I would do to anyone else,” Roberts said. “Tell him good night and put him to sleep!”
Roberts later deleted the tweet, which is shame because there was nothing too bad about showing that kind of confidence. Perhaps putting someone to sleep was a bit over the top given the sensitive nature the football world is showing to head trauma, and maybe that was part of the reason for taking down the tweet. But if you are a Nebraska fan, you want to see that kind of confidence and intensity from your incoming players. A player who feels he would make the stop on a talent like Fournette should be praised, not bashed.
Yes, Fournette has a track record of making defenders look absolutely silly, but Roberts showed he is not intimidated to go up against the best of the best college football has to offer. Unfortunately, he will likely never get a chance to back up that kind of talk against Fournette. Fournette is expected to head to the NFL in 2017, just as Roberts is coming to Nebraska, and the two programs last faced each other in 1986, which means it could be a while before we see them on the same field again anyway even with a handful of Big Ten-SEC bowl matchups lined up.
To the winners go the spoils. To the losers? The yard work, at least in Columbus.
In front of a record crowd last month at The Horseshoe, the Gray team defeated the Scarlet team 28-17 in Ohio State’s annual spring game. Fast-forward four weeks, and the losing side got their comeuppance. Or paid their penance.
However you phrase it, the Scarlet squad, led by starting quarterback J.T. Barrett, were forced into some university yard work for being on the losing side of the spring game. Specifically, that side was forced to shovel, haul and spread in the neighborhood of 100 cubic yards of mulch in an effort to spruce up Buckeye Grove.
The first-team offense took part in the festivities, as did the second-team defense. At least one coach joined the fun as well.
It appears the battle to back up J.T. Barrett at quarterback for Ohio State has been pared by one.
While there’s nothing yet official from the school, elevenwarriors.com is reporting that Stephen Collier has a torn ACL in his left knee and will miss the entire 2016 season. It’s believed Collier sustained the injury during the Buckeyes’ spring game two weeks ago.
A program official declined to confirm any information on the player, saying only that an announcement regarding Collier is expected at some point this week.
Collier, a redshirt sophomore, had been part of a competition with redshirt freshman Joe Burrow for the No. 2 job behind the unquestioned incumbent Barrett. Dwayne Haskins Jr., a four-star 2016 signee rated as the No. 7 pro-style quarterback in the country in 247Sports.com‘s composite rankings, will join the signal-calling fray this summer and, presumably, compete with Burrow for the backup job.
A four-star member of the Buckeyes’ 2014 recruiting class, Collier was the No. 17 dual-threat quarterback in the country coming out of high school in Georgia. Collier took a redshirt as a true freshman, then played very sparingly in 2015.
On Tuesday Ohio State had a few updates regarding the status of its defensive backfield. First, the bad news.
Sophomore safety Erick Smith will miss the remainder of the 2015 season due to a torn ACL injury. Smith was a backup safety, so this is a hit to the defensive depth of the Buckeyes. It is also a casualty for the special teams unit, as Smith had been a contributor on in various special teams assignments. Smith joins Cam Burrows on the list of Buckeyes lost for the season. Burrows suffered a season-ending foot injury last month.
Now the good news. Help is on the way.
Urban Meyer announced Tuesday sophomore cornerback Damon Webb has been reinstated from a team suspension. The details surrounding the suspension have not been shared, but his return to the team comes at a time when Ohio State needs some extra bodies to provide depth in the secondary. Webb has not been seen in action since Ohio State’s third game of the season.
“Damon is a guy who was playing well for us, a guy we have a lot of trust in and it’s a big plus as well as having him available for special teams,” Meyer said. Webb returned to the practice field Monday.
Ohio State takes on Minnesota in Columbus this Saturday night. Remember, the Buckeyes are also without J.T. Barrett at quarterback due to a one-game suspension.