Skull Session: J.T. Tuimoloau Wants to Make History, Ohio State’s Defensive Line Play Has Been Excellent and Terry McLaurin is Undefeated at Lucas Oil Stadium


If yes, you’ll probably be a fan of this clip from FOX College Football describing Ohio State’s undefeated 8-0 start to the regular season:

 A GOAL IN MIND. J.T. Tuimoloau’s dominance against Penn State has been well-documented to this point, but to recap quickly: He recorded every statistic possible on Saturday, putting together the best individual defensive performance in Ohio State history, and he is now the talk of the town.

The buzz surrounding Tuimoloau’s performance caught the attention of the college and professional football world. That attention brings him closer to a goal former Ohio State defensive lineman and current co-host of The Football Fever Show Jay Richardson said Tuimoloau had before he even put pads on for the Buckeyes.

For Tuimoloau to become the first person of Samoan descent ever to be taken No. 1 overall in the NFL draft would be an incredible accomplishment. If he has even half of the stats – maybe even a quarter of the stats – he produced against Penn State in each game for the rest of his career, that dream will not remain a fantasy. It could quickly become a reality.

Let’s make it happen, J.T. We are all rooting for you.

 DOMINANT D-LINE. With Tuimoloau’s dominant Penn State performance and Zach Harrison’s tremendous showing against Iowa the game prior, an Ohio State defensive lineman has now graded out as Pro Football Focus’ top defender in back-to-back weeks.

 SCARY TERRY. In my time writing the Skull Sessions, I’ve probably written more about Terry McLaurin than any other Buckeye in the pros. That’s because the one they call Scary Terry is unbelievable.

On Sunday, McLaurin made his NFL debut at Lucas Oil Stadium as his Washington Commanders team faced the Indianapolis Colts. However, that was hardly his first foray into the venue. In fact, he’s played there an impressive seven times during his football career.

Even more impressive? He’s never lost at Lucas Oil, and Sunday was the first time he left without a trophy to symbolize his victory.

Talk about an incredible résumé.

McLaurin, a graduate of Indianapolis’ Cathedral High School, was a four-time state champion in the state of Indiana. He was named the 2013 Indiana Mr. Football as a senior, finishing that year with 58 receptions for 953 yards and eight touchdowns and 744 yards rushing and six more scores on the ground.

His Buckeye exploits are well-known around here, but perhaps we haven’t fully acknowledged the four receptions for 170 yards and three touchdowns he put up against Wisconsin and Northwestern in back-to-back Big Ten title games in 2017 and ’18.

And, of course, the six-catch, 113-yard performance against the Colts is nothing to shake a stick at either. He’s called Scary Terry for a reason, and he showed everyone why with a clutch outing in his team’s 17-16 win on Sunday.

 WIN AND GET IN. The season’s first College Football Playoff Top 25 poll will be released at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, and if I were a betting man, I would say the Buckeyes probably won’t be the No. 1 team in the nation.

But should that make Ohio State fans upset?

The Buckeyes are currently ranked second in the Coaches Poll and tied for second in the AP Poll with Tennessee. In both polls, they rank behind Georgia. However, that’s not how Andy Staples of The Athletic sees the top-three teams. The college football senior writer examined the résumés of 13 teams he believes can make the playoff without knowing the program that produced the numbers, which led him to make a different conclusion.

Even though I know enough about these teams to make educated guesses as to their identities based on their numbers, I stripped the team names off my spreadsheet before I started sorting stats. My hope was that I would forget which team corresponded to which letter. That way, I could rank based solely on what the team had done this season and not on brand name, past success or failure or conference affiliation.

Does that make this ranking objective? Of course not. Rankings are by their nature subjective. At a certain point, I have to look at two (or three or four) data sets that seem quite similar and decide which one to place above the other(s).

Staples then compiled several data sets, including Bill Connelly’s SP+ predictive ranking, strength of schedule (FPI), strength of record (FBI), SP+ Quad 1 and Quad 2 wins, net points per drive rank, yards per play rank and yards allowed per play rank.

SCHOOL RECORD SP+ SOS (FPI) SOR (FPI) Quad 1 Wins Quad 2 Wins PPD YPP YPP Allowed
TEAM A 8-0 2 75 5 1 3 2 4 9
TEAM B 8-0 1 52 2 2 3 1 1 8
TEAM C 8-0 5 19 1 3 2 5 3 39

Using only these metrics, Staples put the teams in this order:

  1.  Team B
  2.  Team A
  3.  Team C

Attach the school name to these teams, and Staples’ rankings would look like this:

  1.  Ohio State (Team B)
  2.  Georgia (Team A)
  3.  Tennessee (Team C)

Therefore, Staples believes Ohio State has the best résumé in college football – that is, without the subjective nature of the brand name, past success or conference affiliation. 

But, again, the committee will likely put the Buckeyes at No. 2 or even No. 3 in their first poll, and you would technically be in the right to be upset. But the good news is that Ohio State doesn’t have to stay there if it continues winning, beats Michigan and defeats the Big Ten West representative in the conference championship.

The bottom line is this: Win and get in. That’s always been the mantra of the CFP, and it rings especially true for Ohio State in 2022. Best résumé or not – No. 1 team or not – just get a seat at the table, and then you can win the whole dang thing.

 SONG OF THE DAY. “Someone Like You” by Noah Kahan ft. Joy Oladokun.

 CUT TO THE CHASE. Does adversity make you stronger? Scientists say not always… Instagram trying to reconnect users locked out of accounts… Small businesses brace for cautious holiday shoppers… Here’s how to properly charge your phone’s battery.

DON’T FORGET: Vote for Ohio State women’s ice hockey defenseman Sophie Jaques to win the AAU James E. Sullivan Award (Click here).





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