Road2Arlington: Ohio State Buckeyes – Championship or Bust, No Excuses. No Apologizes.

12 n 0THE Ohio State Buckeyes have had two unblemished regular season finishes, but no national championships to show for it. At programs like that SCHOOL UP NORTH a 23-game win and a Big Ten Conference is something to be proud of, but in Columbus where excellence is expected NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP are all that matter.

This year the Buckeyes are stacked and the gap separating them from their Big Ten peers is gaping. After three years Coach Urban Meyer has well stocked roster that has both speed and talent galore. Despite the Buckeyes abundance of riches the national championship hopes of Buckeye Nation rest squarely on the surgically repaired shoulder and previously strained MCL of Heisman favorite senior quarterback Braxton Millerbraxton miller injury

When Miller was on the field he was nearly unstoppable, which is why he has two Big Ten Player of the Year Awards in his trophy case. Although Miller will always be a threat to run he continues to grow and mature as a passer. Each time Miller pulled the ball down fans were both amazed and horrified hoping that he would get up unscathed. Although there is no shortage of talent, replacing an entire offensive line for an injury prone quarterback is a bit unsettling.

However, the Buckeyes saving grace will be their defense, which will rank as one of the best in the country. Despite the losses of first rounders Bradley Roby and Ryan Shazier, the defense will be nothing short of dominant. The defensive line will be downright scary and opposing quarterbacks and OC will be terrorized in their dreams osu dand on the field by Michael Bennett, Joey Bosa, and Adolphus Washington. At Ohio State they don’t replace, they simply reload, FS Vonn Bell, CB Doran Grant, and LB Curtis Grant are all poised to be premier play-maker that will not be a secret for much longer.

Although no team will ever rival Meyer’s 2008 Florida Gators, Meyer may have assembled his best team yet in Columbus. The offensive line holds the key to the Buckeyes championship fate. Since they practice against the nation’s best defense there may be hope after all. If talented play maker Dontri Wilson finally live up to his Percy Harvin expectations which he is more than capable of doing then the Road2Arlington will be an easy one. But if Miller misses time due to injury all bets are off. Stay tuned…I know I will.

Anthony Denmark is a writer for Follow him on Twitter@eatdrkslpsprtz2, “Like” him on Facebook or add him to your network on GoogleListen to eatdrnkslpsprtz radio  Subscribe to podcast



Road2Arlington: In MG2k Wisconsin Badgers Trust

Melvin Gordon Wisconsin BadgersThere are fourth constants that neither waver but simply stand the test of time – (1) Life (2) Death; (3) Taxes; and (4) Wisconsin Badgers dominant running game. The Badgers running game has been a staple that has survived three coaching changes, a few wars, 20 million births, and a handful of U.S. Presidents.

And as expected in 2014 the Badgers mammoth offensive line will pave the way for another premiere rusher in Melvin Gordon who is blessed with a rare combination of size and speed. Last season Gordon rushed for 1,609 and 12 touchdowns but his production could double since his partner in crime from last year James White is getting paid to play in the NFL.

Since Jared Abberderis has finally exhausted eligibility the Badgers will be relied on like never before. Although starter quarterback Joel Stave has shown glimpses of promisebadgers big uglies his inconsistency and questionable decision-making may pave the way for the more mobile Tanner McEvoy who may be a better fit for Coach Gary Andersen‘s offense.

No matter whose under center the Badgers receiving corp is the great unknown. Their big and nasty offensive line will be relied to not only opening up holes for Gordon and friends but to their inexperienced receivers a few more seconds to get open.

On the defense the Badgers return both talent and experience but replacing All-American linebacker Chris Borland will not be easy. In an effort to get more big plays on defense the Badgers sacrificed size for speed. Although only three starters return from a defense that allowed the fifth fewest offensive touchdowns due to depth and wisconsin dexperienced gained from last season little drop off is expected in 2014.

The experience of the Badgers secondary will compensate and occasionally save the day as the talented but experienced front seven gets up to speed. Despite the loses to graduation anything less than eight wins would be considered a disappointment.

Do the Badgers have holes? A blind man could see their holes. Can the Badgers win the Big Ten Conference? DOUBT THEM IF YOU DARE, their schedule says HECK YEAH! Can the Badgers make it to Arlington? WHY NOT THEM!  Year in and year out the Badgers are overlooked, ignored, dismissed as a title contender. And every year the Badgers transform walk-ons and under-the-radar recruits like Abberderis and Borland, JJ Watts, Joe Thomas, Jamar Fletcher, Montee Ball and so many others into not just All-Big Ten performers but into All-American playmakers and game changers. The Badgers have proved us wrong before, led by a dominant running game and Heisman contender Melvin Gordon why should 2014 be any different? Stay tuned…I know I will.

Anthony Denmark is a writer for Follow him on Twitter@eatdrkslpsprtz2, “Like” him on Facebook or add him to your network on GoogleListen to eatdrnkslpsprtz radio  Subscribe to podcast


Road2Arlington: Michigan State Spartans, Big Ten Champions and Beyond?

you shall not passLast season the Michigan State Spartans led by a record setting defense was one of the hottest teams in the nation. The Spartans gave Urban Meyer and the Ohio State Buckeyes their first lost in two years in route to a Big Ten Championship. And if that was not enough they out toughed and out muscled the bullies from the west the Stanford Cardinals to win their first Rose Bowl Championship since 1945. 2013 was truly a banner year for the Spartans but with expectations heightened what will they do for an encore?

The new kings of the Big Ten Conference must replace their two All Americans shilique calhounlinebacker Max Bullough and Thorpe winner Darqueze Dennard but the cupboard is far from bare. Two-time assistant coach of the year Pat Narduzzi continues to turn unheralded recruits into prime time play makers and former basketball player Shilique Calhoun is his latest discovery. Calhoun and his 8.5 sacks 16.5 career tackles for loss will be relied on to terrorize opposing quarterbacks as the newest members of the no fly zone Trae Waynes and company get their feet wet.

Unlike in years past the Spartans offensive cupboard is far from barren returning 8 starters on offense. Quarterback Connor Cook confidence grew in the latter part of the season displaying pinpoint accuracy and mobility to extend plays. Running back Jeremy Langford was a human pinball whose punishing style led to big runs in the fourth quarter. Tennessee transfer Deanthony Arnett joins a deep stable of ball-hawking big receivers led by senior Tony Lippett.

jeremy langford and ryan shazierExpectations in East Lansing could not be higher. In 2012 the Spartans were everyone’s darkhouse  BCS title contender but they finished 7-6. Is another disappointing encore on the horizon or is there another Big Ten Championship and a trip to the College Football Playoffs in Arlington to play for a National Championship in the cards? Stay tuned…I know I will.

Anthony Denmark is a writer for Follow him on Twitter@eatdrkslpsprtz2, “Like” him on Facebook or add him to your network on GoogleListen to eatdrnkslpsprtz radio  Subscribe to podcast