Monday Musings debates bad OSU losses, looks at future offense and more

Welcome back from the first weekend of summer. We’ve got lots of football on the agenda today…

Over at, a discussion broke out about the most painful losses Ohio State has suffered this decade.

That’s interesting for a few reasons, not the least of which is that one can fit a list of all of Ohio State’s losses in 16 years into a reasonably sized message board post.

Also there is more than one way to judge a loss. They seem to inflict more pain if there is no or little explanation for why they happened. Obviously the stakes are a major factor, too. 

To me, Ohio State’s toughest loss to swallow since the turn of the century happened in Michigan in 2003.

I’m sure many will say the national championship game against Florida in January 2007 or last year’s Michigan State game, but while those were both shocking, they played out in ways that actually made sense by the time it was all over.

Urban Meyer’s Gators dominated to the point it was hard to imagine how Ohio State could win more than once if they played 10 times. That inevitably takes some sting out of a loss.

(As an aside: The sheer amount of change in perception wrought in the span of about three hours is really amazing. Ohio State went from overwhelming favorite, a team expected to be merely arriving for another desert coronation, to a team that would have to fight perceptions of inferiority for almost a decade.)

Michigan State came to Ohio Stadium as an underdog last season, but the Spartans won in large part because of offensive (and perhaps motivational) problems Ohio State hadn’t solved all year. Even though it was a close game, there was no feeling the Buckeyes deserved to win. And there were lots of ways to explain how they ended up with the result they did. 

Coincidentally, the Spartans’ prevailing in that game depended in no small part on Mark Dantonio’s ability as a motivator, and this game might be No. 1 on the list if his defense hadn’t laid an egg 12 years earlier in Ann Arbor. But Jon Navarre and Braylon Edwards lit them up early, allowing Michigan to take the pressure off its error-prone QB and lean on Chris Perry and a good offensive line the rest of the way. 

While talk of making the College Football Playoff continued even after the loss last season, the ’03 Michigan game officially ended Ohio State’s chances to repeat as national champion and sent the Wolverines to the Rose Bowl, where they would be soundly beaten by AP national champion USC. 

Meanwhile, Ohio State finished both the ’03 and ’15 seasons with meaningless Fiesta Bowl wins… 

Speaking of Ohio State offense, Xs and Os guru Ross Fulton took some time to answer readers’ question at (premium link) recently.

The whole thing is worth your time, but one of the most interesting is a reference to the possibility of Curtis Samuel to threaten defenses the way Percy Harvin did for Meyer at Florida from 2006-08.

That is not just on the edge but also up the middle. While several players have done damage from the slot in various ways, no one has quite replicated what Harvin did for the Gators.

Like Percy Harvin, Samuel will also likely receive inside handoffs as well. Such a system not only utilizes Samuel and Wilson’s talents – it also fits (QB J.T.) Barrett’s. Barrett strength is playing up-tempo and optioning off the defense. By using the H as a third ball carrier it permits the offense to threaten the defense on more fronts.

Having multiple players — the quarterback, “H” and running back — on the field who can run not only outside but between the tackles can create more pressure points a defense has to worry about and make the Buckeyes less predictable and harder to defend… 

Pro Football Focus published its top 101 college football players for 2016, a list that includes only two Buckeyes. Senior offensive lineman Pat Elflein checks in at No. 29 overall while junior linebacker Raekwon McMillan comes in five spots later. Former Ohio State DE Jamal Marcus, who transferred to Akron following the 2013 season, ranks 56th. 

PFF ranks Cincinnati quarterback Gunner Kiel No. 73, one spot ahead of UCLA wunderkind Josh Rosen.

Jake Replogle, a defensive lineman from Centerville, Ohio, is No. 63. 

Michigan landed five defensive players on the list — CB Jourdan Lewis is No. 7, DB-turned-LB Jabrill Peppers is No. 16, tackle Maurice Hurst is 27th, tackle/end Chris Wormley is 31st and nose tackle Ryan Glasgow is 72nd…

Who is the most overrated Bengal since 2000? I have to agree with James Rapien of WLW/ESPN radio in Cincinnati and Bill Bender of Sporting News: It’s T.J. Housmandzadeh (whose name I can still spell!). Obviously he was a productive player, but a lot of his numbers were fairly empty. He was also the beneficiary of playing with very talented teammates. Didn’t help his most productive year came in one of the most disappointing seasons of the Marvin Lewis era…

Before Alex Erickson starred at split end for Wisconsin — I don’t think they’ve really have had wide receivers for a few years — one of the newest Bengals stayed sharp playing flag football in college. In all seriousness, it will be interesting to see how the roster shakes out with the departure of Mohamed Sanu and Marvin Jones gone. Erickson is one of five rookies receivers on the roster, and he has shown he has a knack for getting open and moving the chains…

Erickson’s new quarterback, Andy Dalton, was selected the 35th-best player in the league for this season, and PFF rated his contract the fifth-best for a QB in the NFL…

And finally, recent Reds first-round draft pick Nick Senzel is already rated the No. 3 prospect in Cincinnati’s system by I guess that doesn’t say much for team’s recent drafting and/or development, but hopefully it bodes well for the former Tennessee Volunteer. He is hitting .143 with three RBI and one extra-base hit through seven games in rookie ball.

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