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Big Ten morning links

1/5/2015

The list of surprise contributors on Ohio State’s run to a potential national title just keeps growing.

Does Urban Meyer have any more aces up his sleeve for Oregon in the College Football Playoff National Championship Presented By AT&T?

Steve Miller became the latest stunner after the defensive end returned an interception for a touchdown in the win over Alabama, which came shortly after wide receiver Evan Spencer put his name down under two separate categories with unexpected depth -- “unlikely hero” and “passer with a touchdown.” Given the amount of players the Buckeyes have trusted in big moments and had deliver, maybe it’s time to start giving them more credit for depth than they’ve been receiving.

There has been no questioning the impact Meyer has had as a recruiter, but typically the conversation about Ohio State’s legitimacy as a contender compared to, for example, an SEC program came down to the fact that it wasn’t fully stocked and reloaded at every position. And maybe there’s some truth to that at a position such as linebacker or the second-team offensive line.

But every time the Buckeyes have needed somebody to step up and fill a void this season, it has happened -- and not just at quarterback. There was a seamless transition from Dontre Wilson to Jalin Marshall at H-back in November. Miller and Rashad Frazier had already been serviceable at defensive end in place of Noah Spence before Miller's score in the Allstate Sugar Bowl. After Rod Smith was dismissed, the Buckeyes still had Curtis Samuel ready in reserve.

So who else is ready to make a splash when Ohio State has to have it? One potential option: Freshman linebacker Raekwon McMillan's name was nowhere to be found in the box score against Alabama, and the Buckeyes may need all hands on deck against Oregon’s offense.

More national championship chatter

Leaving the Valley: With another Penn State player bypassing eligibility and jumping to the NFL Draft, it might be time now to wonder just a bit about what exactly is causing Jesse James, Deion Barnes and Donovan Smith to take early exits from the program. Players always have different motivations, and coaches certainly do as well, so perhaps any sort of speculation is unfair and maybe it’s merely a coincidence that the Nittany Lions are losing three players who aren't early round slam dunks -- with neither Barnes nor Smith even have draft grades from ESPN.com at this point. That made it surprising when they made themselves available for selection, though James might make more sense because he's regarded higher as a prospect. But whether or not they become pros next spring, this certainly looks like a negative at this point from the outside looking in at the program, if for no other reason than an already thin roster is losing experienced veterans.

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