The Ohio State Buckeyes finally lost to Big 10 rival Michigan State on a last second field goal. The loss may bump Ohio State from the College Football Playoff, as they were ranked number three before the loss. The defending national champs had a win streak of 24 going into the rain soaked game. After the loss, two key players announced that they were leaving the program for the NFL after the year. Star running back Ezekiel Elliott and quarterback Cardale Jones announced via Twitter that they were heading to the NFL.
Both players entered the spotlight last year during the run to the national championship. Elliott rushed for over 1,800 yards last year, including 696 over a three game stretch that included the national championship game win over Alabama. Zeke was having a great year until the game vs Michigan State. He had rushed for over 100 yards in every game, but only managed 33 yards against a tough Spartan front seven. Elliott still found a way to get into the end zone, and has scored in all but one game this season.
Following the loss, Elliott blamed the coaching staff for the play calls. He even went on to say “What happened today, it was kind of like a bad, bad dream. Offense had a rough day, and I’m disappointed. I’m disappointed in the play calling, I’m disappointed in the situations we were put in, and I wish it all played out differently.” Elliott also said “There’s no chance of me coming back next year.” After those comments, I’m not sure Urban Meyer and his staff want him back.
As for his NFL stock, it may have taken a hit following tonight’s game. Elliott was a borderline first round prospect, as scouts love his 6’1, 220 pound frame. He’s not the fastest running back, but has solid speed and can run through defenders. His news isn’t too surprising, but Jones’ decision is a slight head scratcher.
Cardale Jones is one of the more interesting players in college football. He blew up in the playoffs and lead the Buckeyes to a National Championship. He was a third stringer to start the season, but following injuries to Braxton Miller and J.T. Barrett, the keys of the offense were handed to Jones. In just three games, Jones went from an unknown to a potential first round prospect. He’s 6’5 250, with a cannon of an arm (his teammates call him 12-gauge, as he’s number 12).
Jones made the wise decision to return for his junior year. His decision started to spark some debate between who should start for the Buckeyes: Jones, Barrett or Miller? Miller eventually wound up at wide receiver and Jones and Barrett would run a two quarterback system, with mixed results. Jones has started six out of the ten games for Ohio State. Jones has eight touchdowns and five interceptions, average at best. But coaches will love his size and arm along with his surprising mobility. There’s no doubt that these guys will get drafted to the NFL, but they still need to work on their game and continue to build their stock.
Ohio State is an immensely deep football team. There are NFL prospects all over the field. Players such as Joey Bosa, Vonn Bell, Michael Thomas and Eli Apple are just some of the many names that could be thrown in the conversation. But the thing is, they haven’t announced that they are leaving for the NFL. The bottom-line is that this will create tension in the locker room. Following a loss to a hated rival, this will be a fire storm for the rest of the year, no matter what bowl game the Buckeyes get. Now everyone knows that these two players are playing strictly for themselves and not for their team. There’s still an outside chance for the Buckeyes to make the playoff, but there needs to be a healthy locker room for that to happen. With these announcements, the locker room, from the coaches to the players, has to be fractured. Once a national title contender, the Buckeyes now look like a team without direction.