A Healthy Debate: Season Preview Red vs Blue

Jake and I decided to have a healthy email debate this week to start the season. We did our best to keep it friendly and discussed Michigan/OSU, the rest of the B1G and Twinkies on your pizza, enjoy…

Michael: Alright Jacob, let’s get this party started. Your Buckeyes are ranked #2 and have tons of hype and lots of hope for their fans. What are your thoughts heading into the season?

Jake: GAME WEEK BABY! Your blue bellies going to be ready for this year?

Like most of my fan base, confidence is high right now. Almost to the point where it’s too irrational (kind of like JR Smith shooting a basketball). With that being said, I’ve been known to be a level headed Bucks fan and there are a few areas i’m concerned about which we’ll get to later. For now in starting off this conversation and really the thing that all OSU fans should be resting their head on is that this is exactly where you want to be starting a season:

  • #2 in the countryOhio State vs. Michigan

  • Top 5 preseason heisman contender at QB

  • Urban Meyer as your head coach

  • Roster deep Bill Gates’ checkbook

The best part about this for us starting as #2 is that for the last 9 years it has been a curse to start out as the preseason #1. No team that has started #1 has won the title which bodes well for OSU and every other team for that matter. I’m curious as a UM fan, what do you think of the Bucks this year?

Michael: The two major factors why the Buckeyes will be successful this year is their offense and their schedule. This year Braxton won’t have to do it all by himself as he has a stable of RBs, some shiny new toys in Wilson and Marshall and they may in fact, GASP, throw to their Tight Ends. I expect the offense to hang half a hundred the first few games and will be the best offense in the Big Ten. Braxton has a great shot at winning the Heisman and that is annoying.

The other factor is the schedule and I must admit I am a sucker for how a team’s schedule lays out for how I think they will do. While SDSU could give you a decent game the Cal game sets up perfectly as the Bears are breaking in a new system and starting a freshman at QB. The toughest stretch is at the beginning of the B1G schedule with a home game vs Wisconsin and then a night game the following week at Northwestern. If they get through that the defense should have all of October and November to gear up for Michigan and the Big Ten Title game. I still expect a loss because the defense has some questions but that assumption is also 40% because I want them to lose a game. Such is life when predicting rivals wins and losses.

Being the grandson of a Michigan grad I know you have some good part of your dark heart, how do you expect Michigan to do?

Jake: This feels like too much of a love fest, I have to be honest. Yes I am the grandson of an all Big 10 football player who was team MVP (now known as the Schembechler award). The saddest part for me and most likely all other males in my family to come is that he had the athletic genes at the right time. Anyways, I digress…

For UM this year I have a hard time pinpointing things exactly like you do about OSU because I admit to following UM less, mainly because of the rivalry and aligning my priorities. I am putting together my Top 25 (your idea) list of ‘OSU headlines to watch in 2013’ article to come out this week and believe it or not one of my biggest headlines was “Devin Gardner at QB for scUM”. I want to talk about Gardner because your season rides on whether he can live up to the hype that he gained to the end of 2012. I personally was very impressed with him at times last year when he proved that he can be both a traditional pocket passer but also a guy that can elude defenses with his feet (a power held by few). But at the same time, I really wasn’t impressed with him in the OSU game last year. He looked young and intimidated last year in the second half. I know that Michigan fans are high on this guy, but can he really be that guy for you? What do you think and what am I missing?

I also think with Michigan, like you said with OSU, is the schedule. Michigan’s schedule is tougher than Ohio State’s in part because you have your last year with Notre Dame (at home), Michigan State on the road, Nebraska & Northwester in Chicago. Now the latter team, Northwestern, is a game that all OSU fans are both excited and scared for Northwestern. They went 10-3 last year, have an awesome head coach in Pat Fitzgerald and have the most returning starters of any Big 10 team this year. That being said Michigan has the pleasure of playing the Cats exactly one week after the Bucks do in Chicago. I don’t see Northwestern going 0-2 in these weeks so that means one of two things. Either we lose or you lose…I think it’s you…

In all honesty, it’s a bit absurd to predict an undefeated season for both of us. Let’s be fair and predict one game that you think your team will lose. Where do you see Michigan losing and why?

Michael: I hate that I agree with you but we are on the same page about Northwestern. I think Michigan losses to NW one because they give our defense fits but also because we play MSU and Nebraska the two weeks prior. That is a tough three game stretch and I doubt Michigan can get through it unscathed.

The two other key non Ohio games for Michigan will be Notre Dame and MSU. The ND game is always a tone setter for the year and two years ago Michigan won a wild one on the way to an eleven win season as ND stumbled all year. Last season ND won and ran to an unbeaten regular season as Michigan went on to lose 5 games.

The MSU game is on Nov 2 and Michigan will be coming off a bye week so they will be able to gameplan for 2 weeks for the game. Outside of the obvious the game is so critical because it will be MSU’s first game against a top team from the B1G. They should be unbeaten in conference play and if they win Michigan will take the control of the division out of their hands. That happened last year with Nebraska and Michigan was never able to leap frog back over them. If Michigan wins that game it gives them flexibility if they drop one later on in November.

Because of MSU’s schedule I actually think they are a pretty good pick to win our division (whatever it is called) and I assume OSU wins the other division. What games scare you for you OSU before that title game in Indy?

Jake: Correction to my last e-mail but we play Northwestern a full month in advance of you playing them so i’m not sure if that affects your prediction or not.

That being said, my bold prediction for an OSU loss comes from a game that no OSU fans are talking about and that is Purdue on the road. I hope everyone that reads this article is saying “PURDUE, WTF”. Well if anyone in the national media is paying attention, not only have the Bucks LOST their last two trips to West Lafayette, they also should have lost to Purdue in 2012. That being said this is another classic look over game that stumbles the Bucks every year. Think about it, this will be the beginning of the November lull that lurks for both teams prior to the GAME. That being said, it could work out where Ohio State and UM lose on 11/2 if we are both right.

I’m not in the business of talking about where the losses are going to come from. Let’s talk about something real. What do you think is more factual, the amount of ribs Brady Hoke has eaten this morning or the amount of Michigan wins in 2013?

Michael: Ribs eaten 105 and Michigan wins 10 games. I am being a bit generous with the later but I am buying the Devin Gardner hype. I think he will make Michigan a legit offense and there a whispers of an elite defense.

What do you have for your beloved Buckeyes?

Jake: Looks like a win win situation for your guys.

I think the Bucks are going to have a strong year but i’m cautious to predict a 14-0 season with a crystal ball at the end because that would be wrong for all of Buckeye nation. That being said, I think 12 wins in the regular season and a Big 10 Championship game is a very fair prediction for a very strong team with an elite coach and an easy schedule. I think the biggest key to all team’s success, let alone OSU’s is how they respond to key situations where a loss looks imminent. For us it happened multiple times last year. Honestly, thinking about what the season could have easily become versus what it actually was could be defined by a play, a drive or a single quarter.

What game has you most excited this season beyond the Ohio State game? I have to imagine that it’s got to be ND at the Big House right?

Michael: The ND game for sure. I will be up in Ann Arbor for the game running around pretending to be a college kid all weekend and night games are always a good time.

Notre Dame is starting Tommy Rees again and this makes me smile for so many reasons. They had their “magical” regular season get brought back to reality by Alabama in the title game, Alabama can have this effect. Still, I expect their defense to be elite and their run game solid. It will be up to Tommy to win them a few games though.

I will also be heading to Happy Valley for the Michigan/PSU game in October and probably back to AA in November as well. How about you, what games are you heading back to be with your Red people for?

jryan

Jake: This year is going to present some challenges in my schedule for getting back but i’m sure i’ll make it happen. The real game I want to go to is when we play Bucky at home. I’ve always hated Wisconsin just as much as I hate Michigan, in large part to my high school friends being belligerent Bucky supporters. Outside of that the key games I’m keying are Northwestern in Chicago for the easiest in my travel schedule then i’ll ideally go back to the Mecca for the Penn State game right after my birthday and finally I would absolutely love to travel to Ann Arbor to watch Braxton have his Heisman moment in the Big House.

Thoughts on a rendezvous in Indy for the Big 10 Championship game? I can’t wait to contend for that experience this year after Wisconsin made a mockery of it last year with their terrible season but still making it there.

Michael: I am all for meeting in Indy for the rematch. We spoke about this before but I already put $20 down on 2 tix just in case. If I were a Buckeye (thanks to the heavens Im not) I would go ahead and do the same thing because if you win that Wisconsin game your division is all wrapped up and over with.

I am not a huge fan of the idea of playing each other twice since it diminishes the first game but since that can’t happen after this year then I am all for it this year. As John Bacon said it would be like seeing Halleys comet, something we would all remember and would just add to the history of the rivalry. That being said though the idea of losing to OSU twice in one year makes me sick.

Anything stand out to you in the B1G? Any teams intrigue you or is everyone going to be terrible?

Jake: WOAH you’re talking about two losses to OSU like it’s imminent?? Talk about confidence check right there. Do I think we lose to UM twice, absolutely not but it’s a possibility. That being said, there is no way I’ll even consider that an option right now.

Things that really get me going about the Big 10 right now are really revolving around the following:

  • Wisconsin’s new faces – Two things with UW that I really like. The first, is their coach Gary Andersen. I know he’s a bit of a no-namer at this point but I think he’s going to be a great hire for them (case and point, barely losing to UW in Camp Randall last season). The other is Melvin Gordon. I’d be shocked if most outside of UW nation knows the power of Gordon, other than Nebraska fans. For anyone that watched the Big 10 Championship game last year, you know that Gordon is the truth and is easily my preseason pick as the RB of the year for the Big 10 despite being someone probably 5 or 6 on the ballot preseason

  • Penn State – Despite the scare the remains from Sandusky, Bill O’Brien to me is the real deal. Their training camp episode on ESPN 2 was awesome and they could play spoiler to every contending team in the Big 10 this year. I’m curious to see how true freshman Hackenberg does this year, if he learns quickly then they’ll be dangerous.

How about you?

Michael: I am not saying it is imminent just a possibility. You have to be ready to for every scenario Jacob. I am intrigued by Wisco and PSU as well but I am going in an opposite direction. I am interested in the perennial bottom dwellers to see if they can make a bowl game:

  • Indiana: Here me out here, Kevin Wilson is entering his third season as coach and his offense will actually be functional. Now I have no idea if their defense can stop anyone but if they can steal one game they aren’t supposed to win they may actually may a bowl game. The key will be the final game against Purdue.

  • Minnesota: I am not just appeasing Vose here but I see a bowl game again for the other U. The Gophers are also in their third year with coach Kill and bring back Sophomore QB Phillip Nelson. They have four cakewalk non cons and Iowa to start the B1G season. If they can win that beautiful pig trophy then they should be able to make a bowl game.

  • Purdue: I like Hazel but I have a tough time seeing anywhere close to six wins with this schedule.

  • Illinois: Nojerrykill

All in all I see the B1G getting six for sure bowl teams with PSU having a winning record as well. Minnesota goes bowling too and Indiana blows a lead to Purdue in the final week to get left off the bowl docket. (Iowa doesn’t go bowling either, not shocking.) Hopefully the Big Ten doesn’t get embarrassed in the bowl games. How do you see the conference staking up nationally?

Jake: I don’t want to tease my SEC vs. Big 10 article which should come out later this week but I’ll stick my toes in the water. I think top to bottom the Big 10 is improving but I still think we are pretty far away from comparing to the SEC or the PAC 12. Honestly the biggest difference to me is the amount of outstanding and just short of outstanding coaches a conference has. The issue with the Big 10 is outside of Meyer, who else can you say really has a shot of winning a national title? Right now I would honestly only say that Hoke has a shot and I wouldn’t say that he is that great of a coach but rather he has access to more resources in the form of program tradition & recruiting. MSU, Northwestern, & Wisconsin have really pretty good coaches (assuming you factor in Barry at UW), but are these programs going to compete for a title? Not even close.

Overall, the Big 10 needs a Rose Bowl win, a BCS Championship and for teams to stay out of NCAA trouble before it’s considered a 1A or a 1B conference. Which brings me to my next point…When the f@#k are we going to see and SEC team actually be sanctioned for egregious infractions that we all know exist. You and I had one of the more intriguing conversations about cheating in NCAA football last year that still sticks with me to this day. The fact that the SEC is seen as this holy conference and that the Big 10 is seen as the repetitive NCAA violators is just beyond me. Thoughts?

Michael: Predicting when and where sanctions pop up is tough to pin down and its even more difficult to understand how the NCAA will reprimand such offenses. The SEC has had brushes with with the NCAA (See Auburn 2010) but no program has been hit with any major penalty. A&M and Manziel are interesting story but there hasn’t been enough evidence brought forth to say this is going to be tatgate 2.0. (I guess this would be autographgate.)

I honestly doubt that we actually see any major scandal at an SEC school for the simple reason that any/all of the shady on goings in recruiting or anything else is institutionalized in almost all of the schools. So if they are all doing it then why would they want to turn each other in for anything. Its better to just be able for all of them to silently agree to their own set of rules and keep on churning out top team after top team.

But then again who really knows? There could be some story tomorrow on how Les Miles writes romantic love letters to Mike the Tiger and it wouldn’t surprise me. What are your thoughts on the issue?

Jake: Really tough to comment on it without feeling like i’m contradicting myself. I have owned the topic with OSU and totally understand why we were penalized. But then again the infractions themselves were so petty that it really shouldn’t compare to anything seen as grave punishment. My whole thing with Meyer and OSU moving forward is that it can’t happen again. I think that all schools have their own issues that they sweep under the rug. However, everything that happened with Auburn was blatant cheating and a huge slap in the face and I believe that goes on south of the Mason Dixon line a lot more than it is governed

Michael: Last question: for or against: putting Twinkies on your pizza?

Jake: Well really there is two parts to this question. Because you didn’t specify the type of pizza, i’m assuming that dessert or breakfast pizza is fair game. If that is the legit option that I think it is, for f@#king sure i’m allowing Twinkies on my pizza. If there must be tomato sauce and cheese on my pizza, then only when i’m drunk, in Columbus, on campus after 1:00pm screaming #YOLO (which rarely happens) all night will I allow twinkies on my pizza. So to answer your question, in most situations i’ll allow it.

How about you?

Michael: Being overweight is a brotherhood and if Kenan Thompson says don’t put Twinkies on your pizza then he means it. You have to trust his experience on the matter and I heard his warning and would vote not to combine the two food superpowers. It seems their powers are too great.

I enjoyed debating with you Watts and until next time take it easy.

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