What is Dispatches from Blogfrica? Pretty simple: I ask questions of an blogger for an opposing team; he (or she) answers. A truly revolutionary idea, no? Today: Dan from Land Grant Holy Land, SB Nation's fine blog for all things Ohio State.
1) Can you give us an update on the injury situation? Ohio State has had some key guys in and out of the lineup this year, including Hunter Stieber at 149 and Bo Jordan at 165. Has Logan missed some time at 141 too? I thought he had, but I might be misremembering there. Are they good to go now or still working their way back from injury?
DAN: After the Missouri dual three weeks ago Ryan said that Bo Jordan will be back for Iowa assuming "no further issues" came up, so I'm optimistic about him. Hunter Stieber is more of a question mark. He wrestled against Missouri, but looked pretty bad. After the match Coach Ryan suggested that he may have come back too soon. Still, that was three weeks ago, and I imagine Stieber wants to get that bad taste out of his mouth, so I think he'll go. As far as Logan Stieber goes, he's fine. He missed the NWCA All-Star classic because the doctor wouldn't clear him medically, but he hasn't missed a match since. I'm knocking on wood, but it's looking more and more like Ohio State will have its full lineup for the first time all season long.
2) Among the lower weights (125-141), what's the match that you're most looking forward to seeing? How do you think it plays out?
DAN: For me, this is an easy one. It's the 125-pound tilt between Nathan Tomasello and Thomas Gilman. Johnni DiJulilus's matches typically lack fireworks and the only suspense in most Logan Stieber matches is how many bonus points he will earn. Tomasello, on the other hand, seems to always be in exciting matches. He's a bulldog who is always moving forward looking to score. Tomasello has lost three times this season, all to former All-Americans (Joey Dance, Dylan Peters, and Alan Waters). There was a common thread that worked its way through all three of those losses: Tomasello gave up one big move that he couldn't recover from. Against Joey Dance he lost 7-6 after giving up two backpoints on a basic suck-back. Tomasello was dominating Peters but he got a bit careless and ended up on the business end of a cow-catcher. Then there was the Waters match. Tomasello again got sloppy on a shot and ended up on his back. This time he got off of his back, but found himself in a big hole. By the time the third period rolled around Nate had broken Waters, outscoring him 7-3 (the three points came from Tomasello letting him up), but it wasn't enough.
In Gilman, Tomasello will face another stiff test. The two have wrestled one another in freestyle a few times, with Gilman coming out on top. It will be interesting to watch how the switch to folkstyle impacts the matchup. Tomasello definitely has the ability to beat Gilman and claim his first top-5 win, but to do so, he's going to have to prove that he has learned from his mistakes. If he gets too aggressive again, Gilman can put him on his back. But if he tones down the aggressiveness then he isn't wrestling his style. It's a delicate balance and a big reason why this match is so intriguing.
3) Similarly, among the middle weights (149-165), what's the match that you're most excited about? How do you think it plays out?
DAN: Again, let's keep our fingers crossed that both Bo Jordan and Hunter Stieber are wrestling. There are tons of questions surrounding Stieber after he looked so ineffective against Drake Houdashelt. Was it just rust or is he going to find 149 a tougher road to travel than 141? A matchup against Brandon Sorenson has a chance to shed some light on the question.
The 165-pound matchup is another one that's going to be a good measuring stick match. It's redshirt Freshman sensation Bo Jordan versus a very solid senior in Nick Moore. Jordan has been impressive this season in limited action notching a 5-0 record with two pins, a major decision, a tech fall, and the most dominating 4-1 decision that you will ever see over #10 Taylor Massa. Facing Moore after a two-month layoff is a tall order, though. Were this match held back in November, I would've probably picked Jordan without much hesitation. But after watching Hunter Stieber after a long layoff, I'm wondering if Jordan will have some rust to knock off.
4) And finally, what about the upper weights (174-285), what's the match you can't wait to see? How do you think it plays out?
DAN: Kenny Courts versus Sammy Brooks will be an important matchup from a team score perspective, but the bout that everyone wants to see is Nathan Burak versus Kyle Snyder. I know that there's no certainty that the matchup will happen, but if it does, look out. Snyder, a true freshman world champion, has had an impressive start to his career winning 14 of his first 15 matches, earning bonus points in half of those decisions. Burak will represent the second All-American that Snyder has faced. The first, Kyven Gadson, defeated Snyder by a razor-thin 3-2 margin.
For those who haven't seen him wrestle, Snyder is an absolute wizard on his feet. He's always moving forward and can explode and score with a variety of different leg attacks. If he has a weakness, it's probably his top game. Snyder skipped his senior season to train freestyle at the Olympic training center, and it seems he's still getting used to top wrestling again. He has gotten better at riding his opponents, but still rarely scores from the top position. Typically he'll try to turn his man for a little bit, then if it's not there, he'll kick him and take him down again. Wash, rinse, repeat.
5) This looks like a very evenly-matched duel that could come down to one or two swing matches -- what are the key swing matches for Ohio State in your opinion?
DAN: You'll see my predictions for the match in my response to the next question, but I actually filled that out before I wrote a response to this one. The first time that I did my predictions I had Tomasello beating Gilman and the outcome was 20-14 in favor of the Buckeyes. The more I thought about it, though, Gilman probably deserved the pick. Tomasello hasn't beaten a top-five guy yet, and Gilman has the freestyle head-to-head wins, so I switched it. That swung the match score to 17-17. So that's my first answer.
If Hunter Stieber doesn't end up going, he has a capable backup in Randall Languis, but I'm not sure if he has what it takes to beat Sorensen. That could be a six-point swing. Courts versus Brooks is another question mark that could go a long way toward deciding the dual.
The Buckeyes also will need the favorites to score big. They will need five or six from Logan and if Demas or Snyder could get four instead of three, that could be big.
6) OK, prediction time -- how are things going to shake out?
DAN: This is assuming Burak, H. Stieber, and Jordan all go.
125 - Gilman OVER Tomasello (dec.) 3-0 IOWA
133 - Clark OVER DiJulius (dec.) 6-0 IOWA
141 - Stieber OVER Dziewa (TF) 6-5 IOWA
149 - H. Stieber OVER Sorensen (dec.) 8-6 OHIO ST
157 - Demas OVER Cooper/Kelly (dec.) 11-6 OHIO ST
165 - Jordan OVER Moore (dec.) 14-6 OHIO ST
174 - Evans OVER Martin (maj.) 14-10 OHIO ST
184 - Brooks OVER Courts (dec.) 14-13 OHIO ST
197 - Snyder OVER Burak (dec.) 17-13 OHIO ST
285 - Telford OVER Taveanello (maj.) 17-17 TIE
The Buckeyes have lost twice this season on criteria, so I'm going to buck the trend. One of those absurd, strange criteria (maybe first takedown) will swing the Buckeyes way and they will take it 18-17.
Thanks for being a good sport, Brad, but I still hope your team gets mollywhopped on Sunday. You can check out the Land Grant Holy Land crew at Land Grant Holy Land. You can also follow Land Grant Holy Land on Twitter at @Landgrant33 and Dan at @_VestDJ_. The Iowa-Ohio State dual meet is in Columbus, OH on Sunday, January 4, and is scheduled to start at 1:00 pm CT, with streaming coverage from BTN Plus ($$$).