(Image courtesy of -( well I don’t remember, honestly, sorry), game information courtesy ohiostatebuckeyes.com, cleveland.com, espn.com)
The #10 (I can’t believe it either) Buckeyes came off an off-week and pulled out a 36-31 win over Nebraska. Ohio State is now 8-1, 5-1 while Nebraska is 2-7, 1-5. I’m sure you watched it or read about it, so let’s move on…
There were still a few flaws, but this was a much more “decisive” offense that we saw against Purdue. Ohio State re-balanced their offense between rushing (40 attempts, 229 yards, 5.7 avg, 3 TDs) and passing (32, 252, 6.7, 2).
The extra week to prepare seemed to give the offensive linemen, and coaching staff time to basically, get down to basics. Apparently, the offense greatly reduced / eliminated the use of the run-pass option (RPO) and were more straightforward in their play calling. If you call a run, then run the damn ball. If you want to pass, don’t mickey mouse around with gimmickry – drop back and throw the damn ball. I think the same applies to read options, as well. Especially with a quarterback like Dwayne Haskins. Dwayne is a heck of a passer, but not much of a running threat. He doesn’t create much of a hesitation in the defense due to “will he keep or hand off?” since the answer is nearly all hand off.
This straightforwardness is really the way to go. The running back knows he will get the ball and can gear himself mentally (watch out for where the hole opens) and physically (brace for impact). The linemen know what’d going on behind them (the running back will get the ball)
And, surprise(!) the more aggressive running game approach paid dividends in the red zone offense. The Buckeyes were in the RZ four times and scored three TDs. Two were running plays (JK Dobbins) and one was a touch pass to Parris Campbell, which is almost like a run play.
I do want to point out another benefit, at least against Nebraska, to a more aggressive, straightforward running game. The running backs (Dobbins/Weber) had 32 carries and all of them went for positive yardage. Dobbins (42 yds) and Weber (37) had two of Ohio State’s three longest plays from scrimmage.
The defense still continued its trend of looking pretty average in the first half, then looking much improved in the second half. They game up an opening drive of 12 plays for 75 yards. They did stiffen, forcing a safety, a fumble and 2 punts before giving up 2 TDs late in the 2nd quarter. In less than nine minutes, Ohio State’s 16-7 lead turned into a 21-16 deficit.
In the second half, they played very well, forcing five punts until they gave up two late Nebraska scores. Very little resistance was offered in the late Husker TD drive.
However, there was a bright spot in the play of Sophomore safety Brendon White. Young Mr. White led the team with 13 tackles (8 solo) and 2 TFLs. This sort of play should come naturally to Brendon; his father is former OSU captain, William White.
I thought they looked ragged enough to keep a decent Nebraska team in the game, yet good enough to coast in with a two TD lead to secure the win. The performance of the running game is encouraging for a couple reasons. First, it allows OSU to still be a “dual threat” offense against two tough opponents coming down the home stretch. The other reason is that game day forecast for East Lansing is in the low 30’s; B1G weather…
Ohio State is one game behind UM in the B1G East. UM plays Rutgers this weekend, so the Buckeyes need to beat MSU to keep that margin. Most likely, UM will be up a game in the standings going into The Game. Ohio State’s margin for error is zip.
The offense looked more efficient than they have in the last 2-3 weeks based on the BuffaloBuckeye Plays/Point Table©, below. Ohio State needed 2.00 plays per point scored versus Nebraska, their best showing in about a month.
The Buckeyes travel to East Lansing, MI to play the Michigan State Spartans (6-3, 4-2). The game is scheduled to kick-off at 12:00 noon Eastern. You can watch it on FOX, listen to it on 97.1 The Fan, or both. At the time of this article, the wiseguys have the Buckeyes at -3.5.