(Photo courtesy TV10, game stats courtesy OSU Athletics Department)

Well, that game was certainly a ‘keeper’, wasn’t it? The #2 Buckeyes, despite being out played for 3 quarters, surged in the final quarter and Overtime to edge #3 Michigan. I’ll spare you the gory detail; game recaps are here, here and here (thanks to my good friend Joe Dexter on the last one) .  And it looked pretty grim through 2 1/2 quarters. Fortunately, the Buckeye defense was doing whatever they could to keep hopes alive for a win, regardless of the offense’s performance. To that point.

Before I get started, I want to tip my hat to the Wolverines (players, not coaches) for their effort. Yes, they were also flawed in their play, but they helped make this a memorable edition of The Game, Midwest Edition ©.

Offense

Don’t let the late-game heroics lull you; watching this Ohio State offense is not for the faint of heart.

  • Curtis Samuel has seven carries on the day. Seven. He had his first two carries on OSU’s first two plays – 16 yards. He had 2 carries in 2nd quarter (-4 yards, not too good). On OSU’s third series of the 3rd quarter, Curtis has a 9 yard carry. Curtis does not touch the ball, rush or receiving, in OSU’s 26 4th quarter plays. (This is UFB). Finally, in OT, Curtis gets two carries, gains 33 yards and gets the game-winning touchdown.
  • The passing game was suspect, but I think a lot of it had to do with RT Isaiah Prince’s inability to pass-block anyone. This is the same nonsense we saw in the PSU game. For Christ’s sake (Urban, Chuck, Ed, Tim) if you insist on playing Prince, then give the poor kid some help with a tight end to chip block. We know that A.J. Alexander’s rear end can slow people down, give him a shot at it… Barrett’s accuracy was pretty random. Samuel was open on a couple crossing/seam routes but the ball was no where near being catchable.
  • The wide receivers, when they did get the ball thrown ‘catchably’ to them rarely made plays. Notably, Parris Campbell was Superman’ish when a Barrett Bullet bounced off his chest late in the game. That was the problem; if Campbell had tried to catch the ball with his hands, and not his body, I believe he’d been fine.
  • Noah Brown was the exception to this mess. Noah had 3 receptions for 40 yards and a couple jarring downfield blocks. Notably the 4th quarter crack back de-cleater block on Dymonte Thomas, allowing Mike Weber to turn the corner for a handful of yards and, in the 1st overtime, the seal/shield block to allow Curtis Samuel to cut upfield enroute to his 18 yard gain to set up JT’s touchdown run.

 

This was my thought after the OSU-MSU game regarding the number of carries that J.T. Barrett had in that game. Cut-n-paste is easy…

I’ll be blunt; a quarterback, regardless how talented he is, should not be carrying the ball on over half the running plays. Especially when the Buckeyes have talented play-makers in Mike Weber and Curtis Samuel.

Last week, in ghastly conditions, Barrett ran the ball 53% of the time. This week, in good conditions, Barrett ran the ball 60% of the time. Ohio State might as well have Jabrill Peppers playing quarterback for them.

I’m not sure what Beck/Warinner were thinking, if anything, at this point. I’m  weary of seeing the recruited talent having their performance “sub-optimized” by inept play calling. Barrett has regressed as a thrower. Beck and Warinner need to be “re-assigned” after this season.

 

Defense

Plainly, the Silver Bullets made significant contributions to this win. Linebackers Raekwon McMillan, Jerome Baker and Chris Worley had very productive games; they combined for 42 tackles, 19 of them solo. Malik Hooker and Baker had key interceptions. Hooker’s was a pick-6 and Baker set up a very short field that led to a Buckeye touchdown.

To me, the defense played well all game. During the first three quarters they did enough to keep a struggling OSU offense within striking distance. When it came down to “game” time, the Ohio State defense was superb. After Baker’s interception (that led to an OSU touchdown late in the 3rd period) the Wolverines could only put together 6 plays, 12 yard and not quite 4 minutes of possession time in the 4th quarter. The Silver Bullets made sure that crunch time belonged to the Buckeyes.

 

Special Teams

I really don’t know what quite to say here. I’ll just leave it that special teams play was…. spotty.

Young Tyler Durbin had a bit of an up and down day. He couldn’t quite reach the end-zone on a late 2nd quarter kickoff  which jump-started a 44 yards Jabrill Peppers return, which begat a Wolverine 11 play, 55 yard touchdown drive just before halftime.

Yes, Tyler did miss his first two FG attempts (to the left) to OSU fans’ chagrin. Making either one of those kicks and the Buckeyes would have won, just in a less dramatic fashion. But don’t forget, he did convert his PAT’s and kick the game-tieing FG. Considering the day he was having, missing any one of those kicks would not have been unexpected.

Actually, I can understand his FG misses. A “sidewinder” kicking motion is similar to a golf swing in that both require a firmly planted front leg accompanied by a synchronized body rotation. I know (more than a few times) when I’ve been in pressure situations, my rotation will be out of sync and I’ll hit a pull hook. It’s not as onerous as missing FG’s in The Game, Midwest Edition ©, but still pretty damn annoying.

Cam, oh Cam. What in the hell were you thinking on the fake punt? I understand the possibility of a “go” call to fake a punt if you see a particular coverage formation, but you really should have taken field/game situation into consideration. If you’re going to pull that audible, do it at midfield, not when the LOS in inside your opponent’s Red Zone.

And??

OK, the Buckeyes did their part by beating the Wolverines. All they can do now is wait upon outcome of the Big Ten CCG between Wisconsin and Penn State. If the Committee considers a season’s overall body of work, the Buckeyes should be in the Championship Playoffs. The next-to-last, and frankly, sort of meaningless CFB Poll comes out Tuesday. The meaningful one will be Sunday, December 4th after the Conference Championship games.

This young Buckeye team is flawed and need improvement in several areas, but no doubt in my mind they are one of the top four teams in the country. We’ll find out in less than a week.