Aug. 25, 2014

Senior DL Michael Bennett is one of seven returning starters on defense.
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#5/6 Ohio State vs. Navy
Saturday, Aug. 30, 2014, Noon ET
M&T Bank Stadium (71,008), Baltimore, Md.

TV: CBS Sports Network
Verne Lundquist (play-by-play)
Gary Danielson (analyst)
Allie LaForce (sidelines)

Radio: WBNS (FM 97.1 The Fan) is the flagship station for the 64-station Ohio State Radio Network. The Urban Meyer pregame show airs 30 minutes prior to kickoff. Paul Keels will call the play-by-play with former Buckeye Jim Lachey in the booth and Marty Bannister on the sidelines. The game can also be heard nationally on Sirius-XM College Sports Nation, Channel 91.


  • Ohio State enters Saturday with the nation’s longest regular-season winning streak at 24 games.
  • Ohio State is meeting Navy for the first time since 2009, a 31-27 Buckeye win in Columbus.
  • Ohio State is 4-0 all-time vs. Navy.
  • Ohio State is 33-2 in its last 35 season-openers. Both of those 0-1 starts took place in the Kickoff Classic at the old Giants Stadium – 1999 to Miami, Fla., and 1986 to Alabama.
  • Ohio State’s preseason No. 5 ranking in the AP poll represents the 26th consecutive season it has appeared in the preseason poll.
  • After the injury to Braxton Miller, OSU returns just 11.5 percent of its total offense from a year ago.
  • Redshirt freshman QB J.T. Barrett is expected to be just the second freshman in the modern era (1950-on) to start a season opener for Ohio State.
  • Ohio State’s offensive linemen have combined for just 20 career starts, the second-fewest in the country (Tennessee 6).
  • Head coach Urban Meyer is 47-4 in his career in games played in August/September.
  • Meyer is 12-0 in season openers as a head coach.

The Midshipmen are coming off a 9-4 season that ended with a 24-6 victory over Middle Tennessee in the Armed Forces Bowl. Navy had its share of close defeats last season, including a 45-44 double-overtime loss at Toledo and a 38-34 loss at Notre Dame.

Navy returns eight starters on offense and seven on defense, highlighted by junior quarterback Keenan Reynolds, who helped Navy’s offense rank second in the NCAA in rushing last season with 325.4 yards per game. Reynolds rushed for 1,346 yards and 31 TDs and had six games with at least 100 yards rushing, including two 200-yard games.

Senior linebackers Chris Johnson and Jordan Drake return to lead the Navy defense. Johnson recorded 84 tackles, 3.0 TFL and three interceptions last season while Drake led the team with 3.0 sacks and 43 total tackles.

As a team, Navy ranked first in the NCAA last season in fewest penalties (2.6) and fewest penalty yards per game (21.6).

Ken Niumatalolo is in his seventh season as the head coach. He is 49-30 overall after posting at least eight victories in five of his six seasons. Niumatalolo’s tenure at Navy began in December 2007, when he took over for Paul Johnson, who left to become the head coach at Georgia Tech. Niumatalolo coached Navy in the Poinsettia Bowl that season, falling to Utah 35-32.

Ohio State is ranked No. 5 in the preseason Associated Press and No. 6 USA Today/Coaches Top 25 polls of the 2014 season. The Buckeyes, who have been ranked by the AP more times (822) than any other school, are appearing in the AP preseason poll for the 26th consecutive season, the longest streak in the nation. It also marks the 47th consecutive season Ohio State has appeared in the AP poll, tying Alabama for the longest active streak.

Since the start of the 2002 season, Ohio State has been ranked in the AP Top 10 more times than any other school (144). Oklahoma and LSU are tied for second with 121.

Urban Meyer, the two-time national champion coach who has the highest winning percentage – .837; 128-25 – of any active coach with at least 10 years of experience, is in his third season as Ohio State coach. He is 24-2 overall and 16-0 in Big Ten Conference games. His Buckeyes set a school record with a 24-game winning streak (fourth-longest in Big Ten history) and Meyer became the first coach in major college history to win 20-or-more consecutive games on three different occasions. His teams have finished atop the Leaders Division in the Big Ten in each of the past two seasons.

Head coach Urban Meyer is 12-0 all-time in season openers with an average margin of victory of 30.3 points.

Ohio State’s 24 consecutive wins in 2012 and 2013 rank among the Top 5 longest winning streaks in Big Ten Conference history. It was the longest winning streak in the Big Ten in 64 years, or since Michigan won 25 consecutive games between 1946-49.

29 – Michigan, 1901-03
26 – Michigan, 1903-05
25 – Michigan, 1946-49
24 – Ohio State, 2012-13
24 – Minnesota, 1903-05
22 – Ohio State, 1967-69
21 – Minnesota, 1933-36
20 – Iowa, 1920-23

Ohio State’s all-time winning streak may have ended, but the 2014 Ohio State team can make additional winning streak history. The Big Ten Conference records for regular season wins (28; Michigan 1901-03 and Ohio State 2005-07) and regular season Big Ten wins (20; Ohio State 2005-07) are each in play with Ohio State idling on 24 consecutive regular season wins. These won’t be easy streaks to top: unbeaten Ohio State would have to win at Maryland Oct. 4 and at Michigan State Nov. 8 to set new marks.

Last season Urban Meyer became the first head coach at the highest level of the collegiate coaching ranks (major college, Division I, FBS, etc.) to have three winning streaks of at least 20 games. A total of 40 head coaches at this level have lead a team to a winning streak of at least 20 games. Nine of those coaches have had two winning streaks of at least 20 wins. Meyer is the first to add a third such winning streak to his name.

Senior quarterback Braxton Miller re-injured his right shoulder attempting a short pass in practice Aug. 18 and will miss the 2014 season. Miller, who was not hit on the play, was in the process of returning from off-season surgery in February for an injury sustained in the 2014 Discover Orange Bowl.

“My thoughts and prayers are with Braxton and his family,” Coach Meyer said. “This is an unfortunate injury to a young man who means so much to this program and to Buckeye nation.”

“I love Ohio State and Buckeye nation, and my goal is to come back from this injury stronger and better than ever,” Miller said. “I am on course to graduate in December and I want to attend graduate school, and then return to lead the Buckeyes next season. In the meantime, I want to give all the support I can to my coaches and teammates as they chase a championship this season.”

Miller, who has yet to take a red-shirt season, entered his senior season with 5,292 career passing yards and 3,054 rushing yards to rank ninth and eighth, respectively, in school history and with the prospects of holding close to 20 school records. His 8,346 total yards and 84 touchdowns responsible for are each second in school annals. His 52 touchdown passes are fourth at Ohio State and just six from the school record.

Miller, 26-8 as a starting quarterback, also entered his senior season as a viable contender for all of the major national awards. His seven Big Ten Conference individual awards, including consecutive Chicago Tribune MVPs, Griese-Brees Quarterback of the Year awards and Graham-George Offensive Player of the Year awards, are the most in conference history.

Redshirt freshman J.T. Barrett — the first quarterback recruited and signed by Urban Meyer and offensive coordinator/QBs coach Tom Herman to Ohio State in 2012 — is expected to start at quarterback Saturday. he would be the fifth freshman (redshirt or true) to start a game at quarterback for the Buckeyes in at least modern history (1950-on). The others include Art Schlichter (1978), Jim Karsatos (1983), Terrelle Pryor (2008) and Braxton Miller (2011). Barrett also would be just the second freshman to start a season opener (Schlichter; 1978 vs. Penn State).

Barrett, a native of Wichita Falls, Texas, took his last snap from scrimmage in a high school game in October 2012. He injured his knee, had surgery and missed rest of the season. He enrolled at Ohio State in January 2013.

Recent first collegiate starts by Buckeyes:

Sr. Kenny Guiton vs. California (Game 3; 2013) – 21 of 32 for276 yards with 4 TDs, including school-record 90-yard TD pass toDevin Smith; 92 rushing yards; named Walter Camp national offensiveplayer of the week Fr. Braxton Miller vs. Colorado (Game 4; 2011) -5 of 13 for 83 yards and 2 TDS; 17 for 83 rushing Sr. Joe Bausermanvs. Akron (Game 1; 2011) – 12 of 16 for 163 yards and 3 TDs Fr.Terrelle Pryor vs. Troy (Game 4; 2008) – 10 of 16 for 139 yardswith 4 TDs and 1 INT Jr. Todd Boeckman vs. Youngstown State (Game1; 2007) – 17 for 23 for 225 yards, 2 TDs So. Troy Smith vs.Indiana (Game 7 2004) – 12 of 24 for 161 yards with 2 TDs and 58rush yards So. Justin Zwick vs. Cincinnati (Game 1 2004) – 14 of 26for 213 yards with 1 INTs and 1 TD

Ohio State’s roster now includes 37 returning lettermen from last season’s 12-2 team that played in the Big Ten championship game and the Discover Orange Bowl. After the injury to Braxton Miller August 18, a total of 11 starters off the 2013 team’s offense (four) and defense (seven) return.

Returning starters from an offense that set a Big Ten record for most rushing yards (4,321), ranked fifth nationally in rushing (308.6 yards per game) and shattered school records for points scored (637), touchdowns (87) and touchdown passes (38) are senior quarterback Braxton Miller, senior tight end Jeff Heuerman, senior receivers Devin Smith and Evan Spencer, and junior tackle Taylor Decker.

The seven returnees on defense include everyone who started along the front line – senior Michael Bennett, juniors Noah Spence and Adolphus Washington and sophomore Joey Bosa – plus linebackers Curtis Grant, a senior, and junior Joshua Perry (who shared starts with nickel back/safety Tyvis Powell), and senior cornerback Doran Grant.

Sophomore punter Cameron Johnston, who led the Big Ten in punting with a 44.0 average, also returns.

The Buckeyes have powered for 7,228 rushing yards – a 278.0 yards per game average – and 82 rushing touchdowns in two seasons under Urban Meyer, a rush total that only seven schools can top. The foundation of this success has been an offensive line that is now void of four upperclassmen – all of whom graduated and are in NFL training camps – and their 135 combined starts. It’s time to restock up front.

Junior Taylor Decker started all 14 games at right tackle last year and is the new leader of the pack at left tackle. Sophomore Pat Elflein, who played well in three quarters vs. Michigan and in a start against Michigan State in the Big Ten championship game, is tested and proven at one guard position. Jacoby Boren and Darryl Baldwin have some game experience the last two seasons at center and tackle, respectively. Nine additional scholarship linemen will be vying for playing time, including Antonio Underwood, who is returning after missing the 2013 season, Kyle Dodson, Billy Price and Joel Hale, who has moved from the defensive line. Also: Chad Lindsay, a 20-game veteran and four-game starter for two-time national champion Alabama, has arrived at Ohio State after graduating from Alabama last year.

Ohio State’s offensive linemen have just 20 career starts combined entering the 2014 season. That is the fewest in the Big Ten and the second-fewest in the nation behind Tennessee:

Rk. School Starts
1. Tennessee 6
2. Ohio State 20
3. Arkansas State 22
4. San Jose State 23
5. Army 24
Louisiana Tech 24
7. Temple 26
Boise State 26
9. Purdue 30
10. Colorado State 31
Kansas 31

With the injury to Braxton Miller, Ohio State will be without more than 3,100 yards of total offense returning, on top of losing top playmakers Carlos Hyde (1,521 yards rushing) and Corey “Philly” Brown (771 yards receiving).

The Buckeyes now return just 11 percent of its total offense from a year ago, the leading men being sophomore RB Ezekiel Elliott (262 yards rushing) and sophomore H-B Dontre Wilson (250 yards rushing; 210 yards receiving). The Buckeyes do, however, return two senior wide receivers in Devin Smith and Evan Spencer and senior tight end Jeff Heuerman, who have more than 160 catches, 2,500 yards and 27 TDs between them.

As noted above, Devin Smith and Evan Spencer return as starting wide receivers with 22 and 15 starts, respectively, but the juice will be loose with this position group that is loaded with talented players eager to play and who either red-shirted (Michael Thomas, Corey Smith and Jalin Marshall), sat out (Jeff Greene) or were in high school (Johnny Dixon, Curtis Samuel, Noah Brown, Parris Campbell and Terry McLaurin) last season.

Smith has speed and experience – 88 receptions for 1,572 yards and 18 touchdowns – on his resume and Spencer, although he won’t play this spring, has consistently been lauded for his downfield blocking and football awareness. He has 37 career catches and four touchdowns.

Ohio State boasts two outstanding, veteran tight ends in senior Jeff Heuerman (22 starts; 35 receptions for 585 yards and five touchdowns) and fourth-year junior Nick Vannett. Both are in the 6-6, 250-pound range.

Defensive coordinator Luke Fickell has a couple new assistants on his side of the ball to work with and a line that will anchor the defense. Every lineman returns from a 2013 unit that registered a combined 53 tackles for loss, including 31 quarterback sacks.

Tackle Michael Bennett (11.5 TFLs and 7.0 sacks) is the only senior among this group and he is a force on and off the field. First-team all-Big Ten junior end Noah Spence (14.5 and 8.0, respectively) is a 12-game starter and junior Adolphus Washington (4.0 and 2.0, respectively) is a formidable performer at 6-4 and 295 pounds. Physical sophomore Joey Bosa (13.5 and 7.5, respectively) was a freshman All-American during a 2013 season in which he started 10 games.

Senior Steve Miller and juniors Tommy Schutt and Chris Carter have all played well and had their moments in back-up rolls.

Linebacker and the defensive backfield areas each lost an All-American performer to early application into the NFL Draft: Ryan Shazier and Bradley Roby. Both standouts and their incredible playmaking abilities will be missed.

Senior Curtis Grant is the man in the middle at linebacker and is coming off his most productive season with 10 starts, 52 tackles, including four tackles-for-loss, and a pair of pass break-ups. Joshua Perry, fourth on the team with 64 tackles last year, has significant experience – 10 starts – at outside linebacker and the junior continued to improve as the season progressed. Junior Camren Williams and sophomore Tre Johnson also had game action, with Williams in on 10 tackles in a start at Illinois.

Young players have already started making noise at linebacker. Having fine springs were second-year peformers Darron Lee and Chris Worley and true freshman Raekwon McMillan, the nation’s No. 1 middle linebacker recruit last season.

The secondary will feature a talented senior and 15-game starter in cornerback Doran Grant, and a quartet of young players eager for more time. Grant was second on the team last season with three interceptions and 10 pass break-ups, and he was a top five tackler on the team with 58 stops, including 43 solos.

Junior Armani Reeves, who started the first two games of the season and the Discover Orange Bowl in place of Roby, played plenty in between and is the only other cornerback with game experience, now that Cam Burrows, who played in 12 games last season but mostly on special teams, has moved to safety. Reeves had seven pass break-ups and an interception last season, in addition to 26 tackles.

Sophomores Tyvis Powell and Vonn Bell are poised to make noise at safety this year. Powell played 732 snaps from scrimmage last season and started five times while playing as the team’s nickel back. He made 48 tackles plus the game-deciding play against Michigan: intercepting a two-point conversion attempt with seconds left to play. Bell was an outstanding special teamer last season who managed a modest 70 snaps on defense through the first 13 games. And then he started against Clemson in the Discover Orange Bowl and performed well: registering seven solo tackles and an end zone interception while playing 78 plays from scrimmage.

Burrows, who played 124 snaps on defense as a freshman cornerback last season, will vie for playing time at safety along with fourth-year junior Ron Tanner, considered among the best tacklers on the team. Tanner had his first significant action on defense last season – 56 snaps – and had an interception against Buffalo.

Cameron Johnston had an outstanding freshman season punting, leading the Big Ten in average but also leading the nation in percentage of punts downed inside the 20 (31 of 49; 63 pct.). He returns, as does Bryce Haynes, who has shared long-snapping duties the past two seasons. A battle for Drew Basil’s kicking responsibilities will take place among third-year walk-on senior Kyle Clinton and freshman Sean Nuernberger.

Coach Urban Meyer’s staff will feature two new assistant coaches: Chris Ash is the team’s co-defensive coordinator and safeties coach and Larry Johnson is assistant head coach and defensive line coach. Ash spent the past year at Arkansas and the previous three years at Wisconsin. Johnson has coached collegiately for the past 18 years at Penn State.

Maryland and Rutgers are now members of the Big Ten Conference and a new East/West divisional format replaces the Legends and Leaders divisions. New division alignments will feature Indiana, Maryland, Michigan, Michigan State, Ohio State, Penn State and Rutgers in the East Division and Illinois, Iowa, Minnesota, Nebraska, Northwestern, Purdue and Wisconsin in the West Division. Each school will play the other six schools in its division plus two teams from the other division in 2014 and 2015 before moving to nine-game conference slates in 2016.

Seven prospects from the 2014 recruiting class (of 23) enrolled in January. Those seven were:

QB Stephen Collier, from Leesburg, Ga., and Lee County HighSchool; WR Johnnie Dixon, from West Palm Beach, Fla., and DwyerHigh School; OL Marcelys Jones, from Cleveland’s Glenville HighSchool; LB Raekwon McMillan, from Hinesville, Ga., and Liberty Co.High School; Kicker Sean Nuernberger, from Buckner, Ky., and OldhamCounty High School; Hybrid RB/WR Curtis Samuel, from Brooklyn,N.Y., and Erasmus Hall High School; and OL Kyle Trout, fromLancaster (Ohio) High School.

The seven early arriving Buckeyes continue a trend of high school seniors electing to graduate early/complete requirements to graduate and enroll at Ohio State for a winter or spring academic session. Ohio State has a total of 21 players who have left high school early. Those players, in addition to the class of 2014 enrollees, include:

2013: CB Eli Apple, QB J.T. Barrett, CB Cam Burrows and DL Tyquan Lewis;
2012: OL Jacoby Boren, OL Taylor Decker, RB Bri’onte Dunn, QB Cardale Jones, LB Joshua Perry, DB Tyvis Powell and WR Michael Thomas; and
2011: OL Joel Hale, TE Jeff Heuerman, QB Braxton Miller.

Capacity at Ohio Stadium has risen to 104,944 from 102,329, meaning attendance figures can expect to reach 107,000-plus this season. An $8.9 million project at Ohio Stadium added 2,615 seats near the south stands’ stadium tunnels. The project will include a new players’ tunnel and it will also add rows of permanent MUSCO sports lighting atop the stadium’s east wall and above the press box. Upon completion, the south stands will hold just over 17,300 students (an additional 9,000 students will continue to have seats in the north end of the stadium).

Urban Meyer’s teams are 21-0 since the 2005 season when blocking a punt. Last season Ohio State blocked three punts: Bradley Roby (2) vs. Indiana and at Northwestern and Doran Grant vs. FAMU.

Urban Meyer-coached teams, from 2001 to the present, have blocked 60 kicks. Meyer’s Buckeyes have blocked nine kicks over the past two seasons. (Source for the first 51 blocks: University of Florida stats)

Buckeyes Building Blocks:
1. Adolphus Washington (PAT vs. UCF)
2. Orhian Johnson (PAT vs. UAB)
3. Bradley Roby (Punt vs. Michigan State)
4. Travis Howard (Punt vs. Indiana)
5. Garrett Goebel (PAT vs. Purdue)
6. Johnathan Hankins (FG vs. Purdue)
7. Doran Grant (Punt vs. FAMU)
8. Bradley Roby (Punt vs. Northwestern)
9. Bradley Roby (Punt vs. Indiana)

Devin Smith has caught 18 career touchdown passes at an average distance of 39.6 yards per score. Smith, who has 88 career receptions for 1,572 yards, is seventh all-time at Ohio State with his 18 TD receptions.

Devin Smith TD Receptions
2011 – 14 from B. Miller vs. Akron
2011 – 32 from B. Miller vs. Colorado
2011 – 17 from B. Miller vs. Colorado
2011 – 40 from B. Miller vs. Wisconsin
2012 – 23 from B. Miller vs. Miami
2012 – 25 from B. Miller vs. Cal
2012 – 72 from B. Miller vs. Cal
2012 – 63 from B. Miller vs. Michigan State
2012 – 60 from B. Miller vs. Indiana
2012 – 46 from B. Miller vs. Indiana
2013 – 47 from B. Miller vs. Buffalo
2013 – 90 from K. Guiton vs. Cal
2013 – 47 from K. Guiton vs. Cal
2013 – 5 from K. Guiton vs. FAMU
2013 – 26 from B. Miller vs. Wisconsin
2013 – 14 from B. Miller vs. Iowa
2013 – 39 from B. Miller vs. Indiana
2013 – 53 from B. Miller vs. Michigan

Two of the very best players to play their respective positions at Ohio State University — quarterback Troy Smith and cornerback Antoine Winfield — have been elected into the Ohio State Athletics Hall of Fame and will be honored this fall during weekend celebrations centered around the game against Cincinnati on Sept. 27. They join Ralph Wolf and Frank Vogel

Smith and Winfield are part of a 13-member Ohio State Sports Hall of Fame class that includes two other football players: Bob Vogel (1959-62) and Ralph Wolf (1935-37). The class also includes hockey player Tessa Bonhamme, women’s basketball coach Nancy Darsch, fencer Boaz Ellis, track and field performer Rosalind Goodwin, golfer Ralph Guarasci, wrestling coach Russ Hellickson, synchronized swimmer Becky Kim, track and field performer Tami Smith and tennis player Jeremy Wurtzman.