Ohio State’s football season might be over, but a handful of Buckeyes are preparing for the biggest sporting event of the year. On Sunday, five former standouts from OSU will be competing in Super Bowl 50 between the Carolina Panthers and the Denver Broncos.
Wide receivers Corey “Philly” Brown and Ted Ginn Jr., safety Kurt Coleman and left guard Andrew Norwell are suiting up for the Panthers, while cornerback Bradley Roby plays for the Broncos. All are key contributors and could very well be deciding factors in Sunday’s highly anticipated showdown.
Looking at the former Buckeyes, each have played integral roles in helping their conference champion squads to this point. The Panthers had big questions surrounding their offense before the season began, but those have since been answered in large part thanks to Brown, Ginn and Norwell.
In an offensive system that likes to spread the ball around, Brown and Ginn served as two much-needed playmakers, combining for 75 receptions, 1,186 yards and 14 touchdowns. In the NFC Championship Game, Brown reeled in a career-long 86-yard touchdown catch, while the nine-year veteran Ginn provided an electrifying 22-yard run in Carolina’s 49-15 rout of the Arizona Cardinals. Both Buckeye wideouts will try to take the top off the Broncos defense, something the former OSU receivers have been able to do throughout the season.
Down in the trenches, Norwell helps anchor an offensive line that was supposed to be the weakest link on the team. Thanks in part to the much-improved second-year guard, the Panthers have one of the strongest rushing attacks in the league, and it has kept quarterback Cam Newton upright (hit only 61 times, third-fewest in the NFL) and “dabbing” on the way to what should be his first MVP award.
Coleman, in his first year with the Panthers, was signed in the offseason with the goal of reigniting a career that many thought was nearing its end after just six years. Not only did he silence that talk, but the Clayton, Ohio, native led the team with seven interceptions and recorded two more picks in Carolina’s victory over Arizona.
Joining Coleman in the defensive ranks is Roby, who was Brown’s college roommate. Roby has been fantastic for the Broncos since arriving in 2014, collecting three interceptions with 23 passes defended, including a game-winning scoop-and-score in Week 2 this season against the Kansas City Chiefs. Although he’s officially Denver’s third cornerback, he is rarely ever not on the field. Roby will likely line up across from Brown at times on Sunday, a matchup that’s worth keeping an eye on.
From the look of it, this Super Bowl has all the makings of a classic, especially in the eyes of the OSU faithful. It’s a rare occurrence to have five starters from one school competing for a championship, and it’s not something that should be taken for granted.
The Scarlet and Gray’s football season might have ended back on Jan. 1, but their season comes back to life on Sunday beginning at 6:30 p.m. thanks to their former star players.