Ohio State Buckeyes: California Golden Bears

States of strength: Texas RBs 

May, 15, 2014
When it comes to running backs, the state of Texas is loaded. Ten running backs represent the Lone Star State in the ESPN 300. Of those 10, five are committed. A total of seven running backs in the state have reported FBS commitments.

ESPN 300 RBs from the state:

No. 50 Ronald Jones II: Ranked the nation’s No. 3 running back, Jones is an explosive, game-changing back who -- as scary as it might sound -- will only get better. Jones committed to Oklahoma State on April 6 and finished his junior season with more than 2,400 rushing yards and 39 touchdowns.

Early Offer: Mixon all mixed up 

November, 7, 2013
The Early Offer is RecruitingNation's regular feature, giving you a daily dose of recruiting in the mornings. Today's offerings: Just when it seemed clear on what four-star running back Joe Mixon was thinking, an official visit to Florida State has seemingly brought his decision back to square one; two of the top recruits in Ohio were hoping to make a decision in early January, but the success of their high school teams might change those plans; Missouri and Tennessee made nice climbs in the latest RecruitingNation class rankings.

Mixon mixed up

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Just a few days after stubbing its toe on the field, the Big Ten conference will try to right the ship in the recruiting world.

Larry Scott
Brad Bournival/ESPNESPN Junior 300 running back Larry Scott will make an unofficial visit to the Horseshoe this weekend.
From official visits to commitments, here’s a look at a few programs that highlight a busy time in this week’s Big Ten storylines.

Buckeye leafs

The fact Ohio State opened as 57-point favorites against Florida A&M didn’t scare off some big unofficial visitors, as ESPN Junior 300 running back Larry Scott -- L.J. for short -- out of Hubbard (Ohio) High School will lead a group of three big names with unofficial visits to the Horseshoe.

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Guiton makes most of debut as a starter

September, 15, 2013
BERKELEY, Calif. -- Kenny Guiton had waited -- and prepared -- for the opportunity to start at quarterback for Ohio State for more than four years.

Boarding the plane to California, he sensed that opportunity was upon him -- he had practiced with the first team all week -- but it wasn't until coach Urban Meyer made it official on game day that he knew for sure.

"When I got the nod and everything, I was ready to go," Guiton said.

[+] EnlargeKenny Guiton
Thearon W. Henderson/Getty ImagesKenny Guiton had a career-best passing day in Ohio State's win over Cal.
Was he ever.

Stepping in for Braxton Miller (who remained sidelined with a sprained medial collateral ligament he suffered last week against San Diego State), Guiton turned in a brilliant performance, leading No. 4 Ohio State (3-0) to a 52-34 win over California (1-2).

Buckeyes fans did their part in making it a welcoming atmosphere for Guiton, as nearly half the sold-out crowd of 62,467 at Cal's Memorial Stadium came decked in scarlet and gray.

"That was tremendous," Guiton said. "That's one thing Coach Meyer just told us about. We're blessed. We're all the way on the West Coast, and we have half the stadium filled with scarlet and gray."

It didn't take long for the crowd to sound decidedly pro-Buckeyes.

After Cal opened with a three-and-out, Ohio State needed just two plays to take a 7-0 lead, as Guiton found Devin Smith for a 90-yard touchdown -- the longest play from scrimmage in Ohio State history.

Less than a minute of game clock had ticked away before Ohio State got it back, and again, the Buckeyes needed just a pair of snaps to find the end zone, this one capped by a 47-yard pass from Guiton to Smith.

Four offensive plays, 167 yards of offense and a 14-0 lead less than four minutes in.

By the time it was over, Guiton had completed 21 of 32 passes for 276 yards and four touchdowns without an interception. Not bad for a fifth-year senior who had just 317 career passing yards coming in. He also added 92 yards rushing on 14 carries as Ohio State piled up 608 yards of total offense.

Braxton who?

OK, maybe that's a stretch, but Saturday's result couldn't have been much more lopsided for the Buckeyes if their Heisman hopeful had been on the field.

At minimum, Guiton's play Saturday -- and in long relief in the Buckeyes' 42-7 win against San Diego State -- gives Meyer more to consider when putting together his game plans.

"I think [Guiton] will be in the game a little bit [when Miller returns]," Meyer said. "[Guiton] has been throwing the ball better than he has and throwing the ball downfield, so that's something I'll need to think about."

Despite the loss, Cal true freshman quarterback Jared Goff continued a torrid pace to the start of his career. The nation's leading passer coming in finished 31-of-53 for 371 yards and three touchdowns with one interception. He became the first Cal quarterback since Aaron Rodgers in 2003 to throw for more than 300 yards in three consecutive games.

Afterward, Meyer made a point to find Goff and convey to the 18-year-old just how impressed he was.

"I'm glad we're not playing them for a while," Meyer said. "That quarterback is a good player, and that tempo and style of offense -- you can see why they led the nation at Louisiana Tech and why they lead the nation right now in throwing."

Three games into the Sonny Dykes era at Cal, and the Golden Bears already have adopted the reputation of Dykes' teams at Louisiana Tech: all offense, no defense.

And that doesn't bode well for Cal's first road game of the season in two weeks at Oregon.

Cal has been torched for 556.3 yards and 42 points a game through three games, and those numbers don't figure to improve after a trip to Autzen Stadium, where Cal plays a Ducks team averaging 672 yards and 61.3 points through its first three games.

"It will be a challenge, but our guys will be excited to play, and when you are playing against a good offense, defense or team, you get excited to play," Dykes said. "Your guys are fired up, and we know we are going to be challenged and get better."

Video: Conference Call: Week 3

September, 12, 2013

In the Big Ten Conference Call, Adam Rittenberg says expect Ohio State to use the running game on Saturday to control the tempo of the game and keep Cal's high-flying offense off the field.

Big Ten vs. Pac-12 roundtable

September, 11, 2013
Editor's note: To watch the show on your smartphone, click here.

Week 3 features four Big Ten vs. Pac-12 nonconference matchups: No. 16 UCLA at No. 23 Nebraska; No. 19 Washington vs. Illinois (Chicago); No. 4 Ohio State at California and No. 20 Wisconsin at Arizona State. Join us at 2 p.m. ET as Michigan reporter Chantel Jennings moderates a discussion between Big Ten reporter Adam Rittenberg and Pac-12 reporter Ted Miller.

Fake injuries not part of plan to stop Cal

September, 10, 2013
COLUMBUS, Ohio -- There are a few defensive tricks up Ohio State’s sleeve to slow down an offense that is trying to push the pace.

The Buckeyes can tap the brakes before the snap by shifting formations, sliding around to show different looks up front, faking blitzes and trying to cause confusion.

After the play is over, they can take their time pulling off the pile, a bit of gamesmanship designed to keep teams like Cal from sprinting back to the line of scrimmage and firing off another one as quickly as possible.

[+] EnlargeSonny Dykes
Norbert von der Groeben/GoldenBearSports.comSonny Dykes' Cal offense wants to play at as fast a pace as possible.
There’s also plenty of work that can be done on the practice field well before kickoff even arrives on Saturday to make sure the Buckeyes are equipped to handle the tempo. But those reps are about building depth and changing personnel to make sure they can keep up -- not about learning properly how to fake an injury to bring things to a complete stop.

“When they’re running that many plays, any advantage you can get, any edge knowing what you’re doing going out there is going to help,” linebacker Joshua Perry said. “It’s just going out there and playing the game we play.

“There’s going to be none of that faking stuff.”

The new-look, fast-breaking Golden Bears didn’t waste any time in suggesting an opponent used theatrics to break the stride of an offense that has been averaging 97 plays per game, with first-year coach Sonny Dykes expressing some frustration at Northwestern for what he apparently perceived to be an unusual amount of injuries in a season-opening loss.

And while the Wildcats adamantly denied any acting was involved in knocking off Cal, they wouldn’t have been the first team to try that tactic in an effort to disrupt the flow of a system designed to wear out defenses and exploit mismatches.

But there are more honest ways of dealing with a high-volume offense like the Buckeyes will be facing on the road this weekend, and they won’t be spending any time on the practice field working on how to sell an injury.

“There’s just little stuff like getting off the pile slower, stem around a little bit, make them make checks and stuff,” defensive tackle Michael Bennett said. ““It’s just little stuff. You want to confuse them so maybe they have to call timeout instead of just running it down the field.

“I think in the NFL they would fall down and fake an injury, but we’re not really about that.”

The Buckeyes might have some more subtle ways to throw down speed bumps for an offense. But they won’t be hobbling out of the way to bring it to a complete stop.

The List: Top Big Ten games for recruits 

August, 27, 2013
The 2013 season is right around the corner, which means recruits will be scheduling official and unofficial visits. The bigger the game, the bigger the implications at stake with regards to recruiting.

With a lot of top prospects still on the board for Big Ten teams, here is a look at the top 10 games this season for the conference.

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The Early Offer is RecruitingNation's latest feature, giving you a daily dose of recruiting in the mornings. Today's offerings: Michigan isn’t the only Big Ten team to make waves with 2015 recruits, as Ohio State landed a big junior commitment Monday; Garden City C.C. Dontavius Blair could be the most heavily recruited juco lineman in the nation; and Joe Mixon’s big reveal becomes a social media event.

No need to wait
After watching rival Michigan make a lot recruiting noise in the 2015 class, it was Ohio State’s turn to make news Sunday night. ESPN Junior 300 standout Eric Glover-Williams (Canton, Ohio/McKinley) had been leaning toward Ohio State for quite some time and decided to pledge to the Buckeyes. Glover-Williams, who is ranked 29th overall and fourth at athlete, had double-digit offers, including Arkansas, Kentucky, Michigan State, Tennessee and Pittsburgh, but he said he could only see himself playing at Ohio State. "It means a lot to me, to come in and help them build Ohio State toward winning a national championship," Glover-Williams said. "Most definitely I'll be involved in recruiting. I want the best of the best to come to Ohio State. I'll get the best players I can to Ohio State."

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Big Ten recruiting storylines: Aug. 8 

August, 8, 2013
Big Ten fodder is never hard to find, especially in recruiting. Here’s a look at a few programs that highlighted a busy week in this week in Big Ten recruiting:

Another Wangler on campus

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ESPN 300 RB Mixon trims list to 10 

August, 2, 2013
And then there were 10 for ESPN 300 running back Joe Mixon (Oakley, Calif./Freedom), who narrowed his list of 50 scholarship offers to a more manageable group on Friday.

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LEANDER, Texas — After a late-June and early-July trip to the West Coast that included elite camp appearances and unofficial visits, Houston Lamar four-star safety John Bonney was back with his teammates recently for the Texas 7-on-7 state championships.

The Redskins performed well, going 3-0 in pool play in day one of Division I action, then making a run in bracket play to the quarterfinals before bowing out to eventual Division I tournament champion, Southlake (Texas) Carroll.

Bonney, a 6-foot, 182-pound prospect who has 32 offers, was glad to be back with his team. Now his focus is shifting to the start of fall practice in August and a potential decision on his college future.

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Several players saw their recruiting stock skyrocket this spring, and no discussion of those high-fliers in California is complete without mentioning 2015 defensive tackle Jacob Daniel (Fresno, Calif./Clovis North).

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Christian Kirk has always been ahead of schedule.

This spring, the Scottsdale (Ariz.) Saguaro sophomore went toe-to-toe with the West region's top juniors on the field and on the recruiting trail. But that's nothing new for the 5-foot-10, 190-pound wide receiver.

Kirk began playing football at 5 years old, but don't tell that to the administrators of the league he played for.

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With spring in the books for more than a month, the long march through the offseason and back to football is only beginning. But BuckeyeNation is going to keep doing its part to speed up the journey -- or at least make it more interesting. This week, that means a bunch of countdown lists, wrapping up today with a look at the best offensive players and top defenders Ohio State will be taking on this fall.


1. Allen Robinson, Penn State: As a sophomore, Robinson turned in one of the most productive seasons in program history for the Nittany Lions and comfortably led the Big Ten with 1,013 receiving yards. There were only two targets in the league who even finished within 200 yards of Robinson, who also tacked on 11 touchdowns and drew positive reviews for becoming a more polished route-runner during spring practice. The Buckeyes largely held him check last fall in a win at Penn State, limiting Robinson to 68 yards on five catches. And star cornerback Bradley Roby certainly will have this matchup circled on his calendar.

[+] EnlargeVenric Mark
AP Photo/Matt QuinnanOhio State didn't face Northwestern's Venric Mark in 2012. He'll be a challenge to stop on Oct. 5.
2. Venric Mark, Northwestern: There might not be many stern tests for Ohio State's revamped defense outside of the league, but they'll get a couple quickly when Big Ten play opens. There might not be a better barometer for the fresh faces in the front seven than hitting the road to take on the Wildcats and an attack-minded offense led by a senior tailback coming off a season with 1,371 yards and 13 touchdowns. Mark isn't the only weapon for Northwestern, but shutting down the ground game by wrapping up the leading rusher will be the top priority for the Buckeyes in a critical early conference clash.

3. James White, Wisconsin: The stage finally belongs to White. And while the senior running back has done plenty of damage in the past while playing behind Montee Ball and enters the season as the NCAA's active rushing leader, the spotlight will finally focus on a dangerous rusher who has made the most of his opportunities in the past with 32 touchdowns to go with those 2,571 yards. The Buckeyes had their hands full with Ball a year ago, giving up 191 yards and a touchdown but countering with one memorable forced fumble at the goal line. Now it's White's turn to take a crack at Ohio State and see if he can come up with a better outcome for the Badgers than the loss they suffered at home last November.

4. Brendan Bigelow, California: The numbers for last season were underwhelming for the electrifying running back, but Bigelow showed in one afternoon against the Buckeyes how difficult he can make life for opposing defenses. In fact, it was puzzling enough for one day why the Golden Bears didn't give him the ball more often after he turned four carries into 160 yards against Ohio State, and he only had 40 more carries for the rest of the season -- averaging nearly 10 yards per touch out of the backfield. A new coaching staff figures to ramp up the workload. The Buckeyes will have to be more fundamentally sound against him than they were in 2012.

5. Shane Wynn, Indiana: The pass-happy Hoosiers have a handful of receivers who could make a statistical claim as the top threat the Ohio State secondary will have to contain in November, but the diminutive, elusive junior is the most likely option to explode without warning. Wynn struck from deep against the Buckeyes last year, adding to the fireworks in a high-scoring affair with a 76-yard touchdown, and he finished the season with a team-high 68 receptions for the Hoosiers.


1. Chris Borland, Wisconsin: The responsibilities for the senior linebacker might be changing along with a new scheme for the Badgers, but it's safe to assume Borland will be able to handle them, given his track record of success in the Big Ten over the last couple seasons. From the sheer volume of tackles (308) to the variety of ways Borland has produced game-changing plays with turnovers, few players will enter this season having had a more significant impact in the league already in their careers. The Buckeyes will be well aware of where Borland is and what he can do to wreck a plan of attack, and keeping him away from the football will be critical.

2. Tyler Scott, Northwestern: The pace wasn't quite the same, but the top pass-rusher for the Wildcats in 2012 finished with nine sacks, the same total that Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year John Simon posted for the Buckeyes. Scott will have the full attention of every lineman and blocking schemes will account for him first and foremost as teams prepare for Northwestern, and it will be up to a veteran group of Buckeyes on the offensive line to slow him down in the trenches and ensure that Braxton Miller has time to work in the pocket in what figures to be a hostile environment in October.

3. Khalil Mack, Buffalo: Without a bowl game and without even playing in all 12 games last season, the senior linebacker still finished the season with four forced fumbles, adding to his already impressive reputation for knocking the ball loose before deciding to return for one more season with the Bulls. The program record for forced fumbles (11) belongs to him already, and he's been an absolute wrecking ball in opposing backfields with 56 tackles for a loss in his career. The Buckeyes have no shortage of talent and experience up front, but they could still have their hands full right from the start as they face Mack in the opener.

4. Landon Feichter, Purdue: The Buckeyes were victimized by the sophomore safety last year in a tighter-than-expected win at home, but Feichter provided them with some company that could sympathize. Feichter's interception at Ohio State was his fourth a season ago, tying him for the most in the Big Ten and complementing his team-leading 80 tackles. The Boilermakers have been a pest for Ohio State in the past, and Feichter is certainly capable of making that the case again when the programs hook up in early November in West Lafayette, Ind.

5. James Morris, Iowa: The Hawkeyes had two linebackers rack up more than 100 tackles a year ago, and Morris actually finished behind teammate Anthony Hitchens and Ohio State's Ryan Shazier on the conference leaderboard for takedowns. But the senior more than made up for that by chipping in all over the field, making nine tackles for a loss, intercepting a pass, forcing a fumble and recovering one as well. Iowa has some question marks coming off a rough 2012 season, but linebacker play won't be a concern.


Did Ohio State Cheap Out On Championship Rings?
ESPN sports business reporter Darren Rovell discusses Ohio State's decision to spend less than the maximum allowed on rings for its players.