Members of the OSU offense attempt to move the ball downfield during the 2013 Big Ten Championship Game against Michigan State on Dec. 7. at Lucas Oil Stadium. OSU lost, 34-24.Credit: Lantern file photoFor the majority of the Ohio State offensive line, facing the Michigan State Spartans will be a whole new experience.Three of the Buckeyes’ five starting offensive lineman were not starters against the Spartans last season, and none were starters two years ago, the last time OSU played in East Lansing, Mich.Despite the inexperience, junior offensive lineman Taylor Decker said he is looking forward to Saturday.“I think it will be a really good test of where we are because I definitely think we have improved throughout the season but the few tests we have had, we haven’t played well as a unit,” Decker said Monday, referencing the Virginia Tech and Penn State games. “While I do think we have improved a lot, and we have grown a lot as a unit and as individual players, I think this game will be very telling of where we are at as an offensive line.”OSU coach Urban Meyer said he believes the key to a successful program is the ability of a team’s line play, something he believes both the Buckeyes and Spartans have.“I think the programs are somewhat similar,” Meyer said Wednesday. “Not just our two programs, but any really good team, if you watch them play, they are driven by very good line of scrimmage players.”OSU senior tight end Jeff Heuerman agreed with his coach, adding that Michigan State is very talented up front.“They have a good front, four (or) five guys and they blitz a lot. They are very sound on defense,” he said Wednesday.One of those players for the Spartans is redshirt-junior defensive lineman Shilique Calhoun, who was named a Chuck Bednarik and Lombardi award semifinalist this week.Calhoun is tied for fourth in the Big Ten in sacks with six and is tied for 13th in the conference in tackles for loss with 8.5.Against the Buckeyes last season, Calhoun accumulated just four total tackles, including half a sack.Decker said he is relishing the idea of going up against Calhoun for the second straight season.“I’ve been looking forward to playing against him all year. I know for me personally, its going to be a good challenge and a good gauge of where I am as a player,” Decker said. “I remember playing against him last year and … I’m sure he has only gotten better.”Meyer echoed Decker’s comments but added he has confidence in his linemen, both offensively and defensively.“They are very good on defense, (but) I like to think our defensive front is very good against their offensive line,” Meyer said. “These kind of games, which I have been a part of games like this for a long time, it’s a line of scrimmage game.”A member of the Buckeye defensive front, sophomore defensive end Joey Bosa, was also named a semifinalist alongside Calhoun for the Bednarik and Lombardi awards.Bosa has dominated the Big Ten this season, leading the conference in sacks with 10 and tackles for loss with 14.5.Bosa started the 2013 Big Ten championship game against the Spartans last season and recorded OSU’s lone sack and led the team in tackles for loss with two.MSU redshirt-sophomore offensive lineman Jack Conklin said in a Tuesday press conference that he is excited to not only take on Bosa, but the Buckeye defensive line as a whole.“Obviously he’s a great player, see him this season and last season, he bounces around a lot so the whole line is going to have to be ready to play against him. Obviously I’m excited to play such a great player,” Conklin said. “I mean, you come to Michigan State to play the best teams, and obviously I’m excited to play against Bosa and the whole offensive line is excited to play one of the best D-lines in the nation.”The battle in the trenches is scheduled to kick off at 8 p.m. from East Lansing, Mich.
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Redskins’ Josh Norman runs with bulls in Pamplona, Spain: It was ‘crazy’ “Walt never wavered in his belief that Don Shula was responsible for the uncovered field,” longtime Jets beat writer Rich Cimini tweeted in the wake of Michaels’ death.That turned out to be Michaels’ final game with the Jets; he resigned under pressure a short time after the loss.He would go on to coach the New Jersey Generals of the USFL in 1984 and ’85, going 25-11 in two seasons. Walt Michaels, a five-time Pro Bowl linebacker and former Jets head coach who was a key figure in one of pro football’s biggest upsets, died Wednesday, his daughter confirmed (via the Wilkes-Barre Times-Leader). He was 89.Michaels, who played 11 seasons in the NFL, became a coach after his retirement as a player and was the Jets’ defensive coordinator in their stunning victory over the Colts in Super Bowl 3, the first time the AFL defeated the NFL in the young championship. Hue Jackson hopes to be an NFL head coach again A native of Northeastern Pennsylvania’s coal country, Michaels never forgot his roots, as a player or coach.”His work ethic did come from this area,” said his daughter, Mary Ann. “My father understood what hard work was. He never missed work — no sick days and no personal days. He never forgot his roots.”Teammates and players alike respected that in Michaels.He spent most of his playing career with the Browns and was part of two NFL championship teams with Cleveland, which made it to the NFL title game five times during his stint with the team.Michaels left the Jets to become the Eagles’ defensive coordinator before returning in 1976 to New York, where he was promoted to head coach the next year.In six seasons as the Jets coach, he went 39-47-1 and presided over a “Gang Green” team whose defensive line grew to fame as “the New York Sack Exchange.” During his tenure, the Jets advanced to the AFC championship one time, after the strike-shortened 1982 regular season. New York suffered a controversial loss to the Dolphins, 14-0, in a game dubbed “The Mud Bowl.”The controversy sprung from the fact that the Dolphins never covered the Orange Bowl field during a 72-hour rainstorm that hit Miami ahead of the game. Field conditions limited Jets star running back Freeman McNeil and put the offensive onus on inconsistent quarterback Richard Todd as New York was held scoreless.Nearly four decades later, the Jets remain winless in AFC championships (0-4) and haven’t reached a Super Bowl since their historic win in January 1969. Ironically, Don Shula was the Colts coach in that game, and later as the Dolphins coach he’s the man Michaels blamed for the sloppy conditions in Miami in the ill-fated AFC title game. His defense held the 13-1 Colts to a lone touchdown in what became a 16-7 victory for Joe Namath and the Jets, who entered the game as 18-point underdogs.Michaels’ defenses — as a coordinator and later the Jets’ head coach — were a reflection of the man himself. Related News