Spring Game Attendance Signals That Football isn’t …

OSU
OSU

The Buckeyes saw nearly 100,000 people attend its' Spring Game. I'd say football is doing fine.

There were almost 100,000 people in Ohio Stadium yesterday and there wasn’t even an actual football game being played. There wasn’t even a Rolling Stones concert either. On the turf of the Horseshoe in Columbus, Ohio Saturday the Ohio State Buckeyes played the… Ohio State Buckeyes.

That’s an awful lot of people for a game that means little other than “who solidified himself as a starter at said position.” To be sure, the defending national champions have holes to fill and Spring Football is where coaches start to recognize just who is capable of being the “next man up.”

At two other Big Ten schools, Nebraska and Penn State, the Spring Game crowds were around 77,000 and 68,000 respectively. At Michigan, where prodigal son Jim Harbaugh has returned, the Wolverines had 60,000 in attendance.

Top schools in the Southeastern Conference like Auburn and Alabama saw Spring Game attendance marks around 60-65,000 as well. For them, that’s not really anything too surprising.

What’s hard to make sense of is that football is supposedly a dying sport. From concussion lawsuits, players behaving badly off the field and an overall condemnation of the game from more and more parents, you’d think the game was in rapid decline.

Tell that to the tens of thousands that attended Spring Games this season already.

The game of football isn’t struggling nearly as much as many think it is but there are worse times ahead. Participation in many states across the country is declining as more and more parents fear for the future of their children. Far be it from me to tell parents how to raise their children but I want parents to be educated and I don’t want them to done so with a biased approach.

Both soccer and hockey are facing concussion problems yet we hear little about those statistics and the reason for that is simple. Any time you are the top dog everyone wants to knock you off of your perch. That’s where football finds itself today.

The National Football League has problems. It has a former player off to jail for life with a murder conviction and it has players being arrested from everything from marijuana possession to domestic violence. Yet, it finds itself as the premier professional sport in North America. No sport is watched more by more people and of different genders and ethnicity than any other right now.

With the growth of fantasy football as well, the NFL is doing fantastic business so how can it or college football possibly fail?

If you follow football closely, then you may have noticed a new trend defensively that is making the game a little bit safer. What many call “Hawk tackling” because of the Seattle Seahawks’ use of it, the method of tackling aims to take the head out of the process. The style actually takes its’ roots from rugby where as you know, there isn’t any equipment used by the players.

There are still big hits and great tackles, but the form is much safer in terms of potential head injury. Will it make such a difference that the game is ultimately without problems? Of course not, but at the very least all levels of football are addressing the concerns of safety whether traditionalists like it or not.

Football isn’t going anywhere anytime soon as we can tell from the attendance at Spring Games, but it still has plenty of issues to address.

 

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Bucks and Ducks Battle Tonight for the NCAA Football Title

Mariota
Mariota

Marcus Mariota's legs may be more important than his arms tonight.

You’ve probably heard this little trivia tidbit by now but in case you haven’t here it is… Following the first-ever NCAA Basketball Tournament in 1939, the two teams that met for the title were Oregon and Ohio State. The Ducks would claim their one and only national championship in men’s basketball.

Now, these same two universities meet in the first-ever college football playoff title game and again, the Ducks enter having won zero national championships in football. Both teams enter at 13-1 and both won their respective conference titles.

Each school offers intriguing storylines as the game kicks off tonight. Who do I like and why? Read on.

College Football National Championship

Ohio State (+7) vs Oregon (O/U 75) -

By the Numbers: Points per game Ohio State 45.2, Oregon 46.3… Points allowed per game Ohio State 21.2, Oregon 22.5

Jones

The Ducks will look to frustrate Cardale Jones early tonight in Dallas.

Why Ohio State Wins: As good as Oregon Head Coach Mark Helfrich has been, Urban Meyer is a master game-planner who rarely is out-prepared by his opponent. Meyer’s experience heading into this game is significant as well and should be an advantage to the Buckeyes.

The defensive line for OSU has been dominant all season and eventually overwhelmed the Alabama offensive line. The Oregon offensive line is very good and is more aggressive than they are given credit for so this should be an excellent match-up.

I think the Buckeyes defensively have recognized the fact they will give up yards to Oregon but can they limit the Ducks in the red zone where Oregon has had some struggles? I think the Buckeyes can also bank on the fact that they aren’t going to turn the ball over as many times as Florida State did and that’s important for their confidence.

Why Oregon Wins: There is going to be no secret as to what the Ducks are going to do. They will go at a high rate of speed and they will not relent. If they can find some success early running the football against a good OSU defense then that will make Marcus Mariota all the more dangerous.

The loss of wide receiver Darren Carrington due to suspension is going to hurt a lot but if the Ducks can find someone to step up that isn’t necessarily expected to then the Ducks will be fine. That’s a tall order however and I’m worried about this situation which is why I think they look to the ground game even more often.

Defensively, the Ducks must stop the run and force the game into the hands of Cardale Jones. Alabama was unable to do that and what was even worse is that the Tide weren’t able to contain Jones when he ran either. If Oregon can force Jones into some early mistakes and force him to play from behind then things can swing in their favor dramatically.

Trends: Ohio State is 5-0 straight up in their last five games… Oregon is 5-0 SU in their last five games… The total has gone OVER in 12 of Ohio State’s last 13 games… The only common opponent for each team is Michigan State and both trailed by at least a touchdown before coming back to win by double digits.

Key Injuries: OSU QBs Braxton Miller and J.T. Barrett/OUT, Oregon CB Ifo Ekpre-Olomu/OUT

The Pick: I was liking the Buckeyes all week but now I like them even more with Carrington out for Oregon. Don’t be surprised to see a defensive game for most of the first half before the offenses settle in but either way I love Ohio State and the UNDER.

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Oregon vs. Ohio State Line, Trends and Prediction

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Monday night, the inaugural College Football Playoff Championship Game, will kick off from AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas.

The Oregon Ducks led by Heisman Trophy winner Marcus Mariota will face the Ohio State Buckeye led by quarterback Cardale Jones.

In its semifinal game, Oregon defeated the Florida State Seminoles 59-20, easily covering the spread. At the same time, Ohio State defeated Alabama 43-35, winning outright as an underdog.

The last time the two teams met was in the Rose Bowl in 2010 with Ohio State winning 27-16 and covering a 4.5-point spread by winning outright as the underdog.

This is the first time in eight seasons that no SEC team will by for the national championship.

Oregon on the season is 13-1 straight up and 10-4 against the spread. Ohio State is 13-1 SU and 9-5 ATS.

The over-under for Oregon this season is 7-7 and for Ohio State 12-2.

Oregon is 9-0 SU and ATS, since is only loss earlier in the regular season to Arizona. In each of the 9 games, the Ducks covered a spread of seven points or more on eight occasions.

According to Bovada and betonline, Oregon is 5-1 SU against schools from the Big 10 since 2007.

Ohio State ended the season with a run of 8-3 ATS and since 2007 is 13-2 against the number while an underdog and covering six straight when receiving 7 points or more.
According to topbet and sportsbook.com, the line opened at Oregon -6.5 and has fluctuated between there and -7.5 the past 10 days.

The point total opened at 72.5 on most sites, but has gone as high as 75.

Offensively, Oregon has the nation’s No. 2 offense scoring 47.2 points per game against the No. 27 ranked defense of Ohio State that is allowing 22.1 points per game.

The Ducks passing game averages 311 yards a game, while the Buckeyes allowed 191.5 yards per game through the air.

Trends

  • Ohio State has covered the spread in 8 of its past 12 games overall.
  • Ohio State has won 5 consecutive games straight up.
  • Oregon has won straight up and covered the spread in each of its past 9 games overall
  • Oregon is 4-0 against the number in its past four bowl games.
  • The OVER has cashed in 12 of the past 13 games played by Ohio State.

Prediction

 Both teams will score and often. The OVER even though it seems high, looks to be a good play.

Between the teams, they average 92 points per game, which should make for fireworks on the offensive side.

The Ducks do not matchup as well with Ohio State as they did with Florida State. The spread seems high. I like the OVER and Ohio State covering.

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Saturday Bullets for the First Weekend of 2015

Bryant
Bryant

Kobe Bryant's comments about AAU basketball are accurate and need to be heard.

How in the world do I settle on just one or two topics with so much going on? My bullets are back and it’s time to pull the trigger!

-Kobe Bryant recently ripped on the AAU basketball program saying that European players are more skillful than are kids who come from the American feeder system. ”Teach players the game at an early age and stop treating them like cash cows for everyone to profit off of,” he said. “That’s how you do that. You have to teach them the game. Give them instruction,” said Bryant. I could not agree more.

-Rajon Rondo returned to Boston for the first time since being traded to Dallas. He tossed in 29 points in the Mavs’ 119-101 win over the Celtics.

Kelly

Chip Kelly has more control of his players in a shake-up in Philadelphia.

-Following the Philadelphia Eagles’ late-season collapse, the team has re-structured the front office with Head Coach Chip Kelly gaining control of player personnel and General Manager Howie Roseman has been elevated to Executive Vice-President of Football Operations. Rarely do these situations work well when a coach is given so much power. Wonder if the team has an Assistant to the Traveling Secretary?

-As of right now, Oregon is a seven-point favorite over Ohio State in the National Championship Game and I like the Buckeyes getting those points. I just don’t see the Buckeyes making the same mistakes that Florida State did in the Rose Bowl and I think the OSU offense can be more dynamic than the Seminoles.’

-Speaking of the College Football Playoff I think there are a couple of important notes coming out of the first-ever semi-final games. The television numbers were outstanding for both games and I’ll get to the point on that in a second, but where the “powers that be” need to focus on is time. The Rose Bowl,which was a blowout, scored better ratings than the Sugar Bowl which was a highly competitive game. What this proves is that people just won’t stay up until 1am Eastern no matter how important or good the game.

-The second part of the CFB Playoff scenario is that it’s popularity across the country means that playoff expansion is coming. I think we are about five or six years away from an expansion to eight teams but the TV numbers were just too good not to discuss it. The one issue here is where to play the games. The Rose Bowl had trouble filling seats and I think an argument could be made to play these games on campus in the first-round at least.

-I had no idea former Buffalo Bills’ coach Doug Marrone was such a hot commodity. Days after opting out of his contract, he’s rumored to a favorite in several cities. His Bills took a step forward by going 9-7 this year behind an aggressive defense but the offense was really flat. Not sure what the draw is here.

-For all the dislike of Jameis Winston because of his off-field problems and immaturity, my concern about his potential pro career is his pocket presence and long delivery. Seems to me that he gets very discombobulated in the pocket when there’s any significant pressure and his throwing motion is not what I’d call “quick and efficient.” Almost reminds me of Byron Leftwich.

-One note on the National Hockey League’s Winter Classic… I think the NHL has to consider moving the game for two reasons. Number one is that it can’t compete if college football continues its’ playoff semi-finals on the same day. Also, the NHL should re-consider the start time as well to get a more optimum viewing audience. I love the Winter Classic but the NHL has to do a better job of making its’ stars available at better times.

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Ohio State laying just three points to Clemson in Orange …

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The Orange Bowl kicks off on Friday night in south Florida between the Ohio State Buckeyes and the Clemson Tigers.

No. 7 ranked Ohio State experienced one of its toughest losses in the history of its football program when Michigan State shocked them to win the Big Ten Championship.

The Buckeyes were 5.5-point favorites over the Spartans and lost 34-24 to end their chance of taking on Florida State in the BCS National Championship game.

Ohio State is 12-1 SU and 6-6-1 ATS, but is 0-4 ATS over its past four games played.

Urban Meyer the head coach for Ohio State has a record of 128-24 in this career including winning two national championships with Florida. Prior to the loss to Michigan State, Meyer was 24-0 with the Buckeyes. It will be hard for the Buckeyes to bounce back from that loss.

Meyer did not coach in a bowl last season, as the Buckeyes were banned, but in his career as a coach Meyers is 7-1 AU as well as ATS.

The Tigers are 10-2 SU and 6-6 ATS. Clemson started the season 6-0 and had national title hopes as well. However, the Tigers were embarrassed against Florida State at home 51-14 and lost to South Carolina.

The total points on Bovada are sitting at 70.5 and for good reason. The Buckeyes average 46 points per game, while the Tigers score 40 per game. Both are in the top 10 in the nation in that category.

On most books including topbet, sportsbook.com and betonline, the line is currently -3 for Ohio State. The Buckeyes opened at -5, but money for Clemson quickly lowered it to its current 3.

Ohio State has the No. 3 rushing offense in the nation thanks to Carlos Hyde who has 1,408 yards and Braxton Miller their dual threat a quarterback who has 1,033 yards.

The Buckeyes should be able to pound the ball against Clemson, which has a must smaller defensive line than Ohio State’s offense.

Miller will be a dual threat on the ground and through the air that Clemson must contain or he can turn the game around by himself in minutes.

Clemson is ranked No. 11 in the nation in passing offense averaging 329 yards per game. Tajh Boyd the team’s senior quarterback is one of the best in the nation. His favorite receiver is Sammy Watkins who had over 1,235 yards receiving and 10 touchdowns.

Motivation could be a problem for Ohio State in this matchup after losing to Michigan State. It appears that same thing happened to Alabama in their loss on Thursday in the Sugar Bowl to Oklahoma.

Nevertheless, I am leaning toward the Buckeyes and this and definitely taking the OVER.

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Buckeyes look to avoid Upset against Northwestern

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The No. 4 ranked Ohio State Buckeyes enter their game against Big 10 rivals Northwestern on Saturday undefeated and as confident as ever.

The Buckeyes are 5-0 SU and 3-1-1 ATS. Ohio State has won four straight matchups with Northwestern both outright and against the spread.

However, this season Northwestern is ranked No. 16 and the Wildcats come in as prepared as ever to take on one of their biggest nemesis’ the Buckeyes.

Ohio State has covered the last four meetings with Northwestern by over 23 points a game. However, this season should be different, the Wildcats should give Ohio State all they can handle and could even upset the Buckeyes.

Most online sportsbooks such as Bovada and betonline have the Buckeyes as 7-point favorites after opening at 5.5.

Online sites topbet and sportsbook.com have had most of the action come in for Ohio State, with very little if any Northwestern money. The Buckeyes are a popular public team and most think of Northwestern as the doormat of the Big 10.

Most smart money bettors believe Northwestern is a good team, but have not faced any team with the kind of strength Ohio State possesses and will be a test for the Wildcats.

Ohio State on offense has fast receivers against an average secondary for the Wildcats. Both Devin Smith and Corey Brown have five catches each for touchdowns for Ohio State.

One advantage that Northwestern might have is they are well rested and that could help late in a close game. The Wildcats had last weekend off, while the Buckeyes defeated a talented Wisconsin team.

The Wildcats will also be getting Venric Mark back. He ran for 12 touchdowns and 1,366 yards last season, but has missed two games due to a turned ankle.

Northwestern has averaged nearly 250 yards per game on the ground, but against must less talented defenses. Treyvon Green has a 7 yards per carry average on the ground, and has scored five rushing touchdowns.

However, the Buckeyes were able to hold Wisconsin, which is a running team, to only 104 yards on the ground. Ohio State is ranked No. 8 nationally, allowing just 85 yards on the ground per game.

Ohio State offensively is averaging 48 points a game and will face a defense that is No. 87 in the nation in points allowed. Braxton Miller returned under center last week and threw four passes for touchdowns.

Ohio State loves the first quarter, outscoring their opponents this season 116-21.

Northwestern has a 6-0 ATS record in its past six games against conference teams. The Wildcats are also 9-2 ATS over their past 11 games at home and 14-3 ATS over their past 17 games overall.

Prediction: Ohio State 42-28

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Ohio State is a solid choice versus San Diego State

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The Ohio State Buckeyes are ranked No. 3 in the nation and face the San Diego State Aztecs at home today.

San Diego State had a solid season last year winning nine games and making another appearance in a bowl game.

The Aztecs were supposed to win handily against Eastern Illinois last week in their opener but were shocked by the FCS team losing by three touchdowns. The Aztec loss was to a team that over the past three seasons had won a combined 11 games.

San Diego has now become a 28-point underdog on most sportsbooks including Bovada, topbet, betonline and sportsbook.com in today’s matchup against Ohio State. Those online sites offer bettors an array of different betting options from what team scores first, to the score at halftime to what play will be run next.

San Diego State is trying to focus their thoughts on one thing; one game does not define their entire season.

However, that could come true, if they were to defeat the Buckeyes. An Aztec win would end the hopes of the Buckeyes reaching the national championship game and give San Diego State their biggest upset of the season.

San Diego State, regardless of their hiccup last week, is a formidable opponent. The Aztecs put 35 points on the board per game last year. The up tempo offense ran 99 plays for the Aztecs last week, which was tied for the most in any game played.

The Aztecs threw 66 passes, which is far more than last season when they averaged just 24 per game, but much of that was due to an injury to their leading rusher Adam Muema and playing catch-up football. Muema had 1,500 yards last season and was expected back for the game today.

Ohio State took on the lowly Buffalo Bulls last week and won 40-20. The Buckeyes looked sluggish, disinterested and complacent after the first quarter. Ohio State jumped out to a 23-0 lead early in the game and just set the control to cruise, instead of putting the pedal to the medal.

The Buckeyes scored in three straight possessions to start the game with 117 yards through the air and 99 on ground in just over six minutes. After that, Buffalo outscored the Buckeyes 20-17 over the last three quarters of the game.

Urban Meyer the head coach of Ohio State was clear with his players this week that mental lapses and easing up is not acceptable.

This game should be dominated from start to finish by the offensive power of Ohio State, but look for San Diego State to perform better and have a stronger rushing attack than last week.

The current line has the Buckeyes favored by 28 points with the point total on 56. Smart money takes the Ohio State and the OVER.

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