Ohio State Buckeyes: Big Ten

The latest version of the ESPN class rankings is out, and there are seven Big Ten teams within the top 40 classes.

With movement happening across the board, there are trends and stories developing, so Big Ten recruiting writers Tom VanHaaren and Brad Bournival give you a look at what to watch within the conference:

Trending up

Awards watch: Bucks named All-Big Ten

November, 26, 2012
COLUMBUS, Ohio -- There's more hardware to give out, but Ohio State has already landed a decent haul of trophies from the Big Ten.

The Buckeyes might also have a few snubs to complain about as well.

[+] EnlargeJohn Simon
Greg Bartram/US PresswireJohn Simon was named the Big Ten's best defensive lineman.
The offensive and defensive player of the year honors and the coach of the year trophy will be handed out on Tuesday, but the all-conference teams and position-specific awards were announced Monday by the Big Ten.

The only unbeaten team in the league had plenty of players earn recognition, though there were a few selections that were a bit puzzling. Did the coaches and the media get it right?

Here's a quick rundown:

Coaches' first-team picks
Coaches' second-team picks
Coaches honorable mention: Cornerback Travis Howard, center Corey Linsley, left tackle Jack Mewhort, left guard Andrew Norwell, safety C.J. Barnett

Media first-team picks
  • Quarterback Braxton Miller
  • Left guard Andrew Norwell
  • Defensive end John Simon
  • Linebacker Ryan Shazier
  • Cornerback Travis Howard
  • Cornerback Bradley Roby
Media second-team picks
  • Running back Carlos Hyde
  • Left tackle Jack Mewhort
  • Defensive tackle Johnathan Hankins
Media honorable mention: Right tackle Reid Fragel, safety Christian Bryant, safety C.J. Barnett, wide receiver Corey "Philly" Brown, linebacker Etienne Sabino, center Corey Linsley

Cal tries to right itself at Ohio State

September, 12, 2012
If you go by what should happen, California is shortly going to be 1-3. The Bears are a substantial underdog at No. 12 Ohio State on Saturday, and they will be a substantial underdog at No. 2 USC on Sept. 22.

A month ago, what was supposed to happen was a 2-2 start. The Bears were expected to open renovated Memorial Stadium with wins against Nevada and Southern Utah before taking on the role of underdog. The dispiriting loss to Nevada in the opener means they are below expectations.

That's never good, but it's particularly worrisome for coach Jeff Tedford, who is trying to regain the faith of a disaffected fan base that surely is aware of the uptick that occurred across the conference last weekend. Three teams, Arizona, UCLA and Oregon State, beat ranked teams and are, at present, exceeding expectations. The same also could be said of Arizona State. Teams that are ahead of expectations make the Bears' present standing more notable. And not in a positive way.

[+] Enlarge Jeff Tedford
Mark J. Rebilas/US PresswireCal and head coach Jeff Tedford face daunting challenges in the next two games.
Yet momentum swings wildly in college football. Teams that are up topple over. Teams that are down seemingly rally from nowhere. While it doesn't seem as though standing opposite the Buckeyes and uber-coach Urban Meyer in front of 100,000 fans in the Horseshoe is a likely place to turn a frown upside down, you never know.

Tedford, for one, isn't embracing the idea of being the scrappy underdog.

“We’re not going to play to that,” he said. “We’re going there to win a football game. ... We understand the level of competition, but that’s not something we’re backing down from.”

The Bears' history under Tedford crossing time zones in road nonconference games isn't good. In 2006, Cal, ranked ninth in the preseason, was humiliated 35-18 at Tennessee (it was 35-0 late in the third quarter). In 2008, No. 23 Cal fell behind early to a middling Maryland team and lost 35-27.

The problem in both cases was horrid starts, sometimes attributed -- lamely -- to playing in Eastern Standard Time. The good news this go-around, Tedford pointed out, is the Bears have been practicing at 8 a.m. in Berkeley. So what amounts to a 9 a.m. PT kickoff in Columbus shouldn't feel so odd. The Bears' bodies will be used to morning football. Further, Cal will arrive on Thursday, thereby giving itself an extra day to get acclimated to the time change.

Of course, the Bears have started terribly in PT the past two games. They were outscored by Nevada and Southern Utah 17-0 combined in the first quarter. Falling behind in the Horseshoe with a young team is not advisable.

Ohio State stacks up in a predictable way. It runs the ball well (275 yards rushing per game) and stops the run well (51 yards per game). It's banged up at running back, but quarterback Braxton Miller is the Buckeyes' most dangerous running threat, both on designed option plays and as a scrambler.

Still, Cal's athletic front seven should like its chances. Last year, the Buckeyes' offensive line was woeful. It gave up 3.54 sacks per game -- 118th in the nation -- despite Miller's mobility and despite throwing just 245 passes. And that line welcomed back just two starters this season.

So, yeah, the idea is to force Miller to throw and get after him. He's completed just 51 percent of his passes last season. He's presently fourth in the nation in rushing with 151 yards per game, and 44th in passing efficiency. His legs are far more dangerous than his arm, though he seems much improved as a passer.

Easier said than done. The Bears' struggles against Nevada's pistol offense bode well for Miller and the Buckeyes' spread-option looks.

On the other side of the ball, Cal quarterback Zach Maynard also will need to throw -- a lot and well -- for the Bears to have a chance. They will again be without their best offensive lineman, tackle Matt Summers-Gavin, and the Buckeyes boast a stout front seven. Don't count on the Bears hitting the century mark running the ball.

Maynard will need his half-brother, receiver Keenan Allen, to make an All-American statement. And he will need his true freshman receiver combo of Chris Harper and Bryce Treggs to grow up quickly and not be wide-eyed by the atmosophere.

"I think our guys are ready for that test," Tedford said.

The Pac-12 went 3-0 last weekend at home versus the Big Ten, defying expectations. It resonated nationally in terms of perception. Cal now represents the conference as a road underdog. A victory would mean a lot for the conference, but it would mean a great deal more for Tedford.

It could right a listing ship and restore faith. It could transform a season.

Rank 'em: Top Big Ten players, teams

August, 21, 2012
Which team will play its way to a Big Ten championship? There's stiff competition for the title of the Big Ten's best player, as many have been named to preseason watch lists for awards such as the Doak Walker, Davey O'Brien, Butkus and Lombardi. So how do the league's top players stack up against each other?

Make your choices and see what others have picked on SportsNation.

Rank 'Em: Top 10 Big Ten football players

Rank 'Em: 2012 Big Ten football teams


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.