Ten Things We Learned

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Last updated: 11/24/2013 8:23 PM
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Football
10 Things We Learned from A Record-Setting Victory
By Brandon Castel

Move over Super Sophs, the Urban Meyer Express is coming through. Meyer’s Buckeyes won a school-record 23rd-straight game on Saturday with a 42-14 victory over Indiana. It was the 69th win for Ohio State in this series, the most of any opponent they have face in the program’s history.

It wasn’t much of a battle, although Ohio State didn’t post another 60-point performance as many expected. Here’s a closer look at 10 Things We Learned from Saturday’s record-setting victory.

1. Things usually take care of themselves. Ohio State will get to play Michigan State in the Big Ten championship game, Baylor won’t be a part of the BCS and the only thing standing between the Buckeyes and a shot at the title is Alabama’s trip to Auburn and a possible SEC title bout with Missouri or South Carolina. After all the talk of Oregon, Stanford, Baylor and a half dozen other teams jumping Ohio State, it’s become a clear three-team race for the title. That doesn’t mean the Buckeyes have the inside track at a chance to dethrone ‘Bama in January, but all it will take is one slip by either Alabama or Florida State. Both seem unlikely at this point, but so did a lot of things that have happened already this season – like Oregon losing twice in a row, USC turning things around or Florida losing at home to an FCS school. Well, maybe not that last one, but my point is that every year people worry and stress about all these undefeated teams and every year it comes down to a few teams fighting for their lives at the end.

2. Ohio State deserves a title shot as much as anyone. I think we can get over all the talk about who is deserving of what based on our perception of teams. Based on perception, Baylor doesn’t get housed by Oklahoma State and Oregon doesn’t get blown out by an Arizona team that had lost back-to-back games at home. Perception is fickle. It changes week to week, but the facts remain unchanged. Ohio State, Alabama and Florida State are all undefeated. They all deserve a chance to prove they’re the best team in the country. Only two of them will get that chance, but if they all take care of business the next two weeks, they are all deserving of a shot. That’s a fact, regardless of what perception we might have of the Big Ten, the ACC, or even the SEC. Whatever we think we know this week, it will probably change next week.

3. Carlos Hyde is putting together one of the all-time great seasons. It may not go down in the record books, because Hyde missed too much time due to his suspension, but Hyde is leaving his mark on OSU football program this season. With 117 yards on Saturday, Hyde topped the 1,000-yard mark for the season, becoming Urban Meyer’s first thousand yard back in his head coaching tenure. He’s played in 7.5 games as a senior, racking up 1,064 yards on the ground and 15 total touchdowns. He’s on pace to rush for nearly 1,500 yards and score close to 20 touchdowns, and while he may not exactly put up the same numbers against Michigan State that he did against Illinois, Hyde has been one of the most unstoppable running backs in the country since he returned from his early-season suspension. I probably wouldn’t put this quite on par with Eddie’s Heisman-winning season or the year Maurice Clarett put together as a freshman in 2002, but there aren’t too many backs who have had this kind of year wearing the scarlet and gray.

Carlos Hyde
Photo by Dan Harker
Carlos Hyde

4. Braxton Miller is still Braxton Miller. Not much more needs to be said here. Braxton makes people look silly, it’s just what he does. When he’s healthy and confident, he can go 70 yards in a hiccup, which he showed a number of times on Saturday. Along with 160 yards passing, Miller tallied 144 yards and a pair of touchdowns on the ground. He ripped off a 37-yard touchdown run in the first quarter and a 5-yard touchdown dive in the second on his way to another Heisman-caliber type day. For the season, Miller is now completing nearly 68% of his passes – up from 58% last season – and 19 touchdown passes to just four interceptions. Miller has also rushed for 738 yards despite missing a large chunk of time with a knee injury.

Braxton Miller
Photo by Jim Davidson
Braxton Miller

5. Dontre Wilson is ready for more touches. This is regular topic in this column, but every time we see Wilson in action it screams for more touches. He had the football seven times on offense Saturday and turned that into 58 yards. That included a 24-yard touchdown catch where he was finally able to show off some of his jets in the open field. Meyer has always talked about finding playmakers who can take a short pass and go 60 yards for a score. Wilson is that kind of player. We haven’t see him do that yet, but only because he’s had such few opportunities. My guess is he breaks off a big one before the end of the year, if they’ll let him.

Dontre Wilson
Photo by Jim Davidson
Dontre Wilson

6. This offensive line has been a joy to watch. After a number of years of suspect play on the offensive front, it’s been a pleasure to watch Jack Mewhort and the five guys up front open holes for Braxton Miller and Carlos Hyde this season. It has really been a remarkable turnaround for all of those guys – especially Corey Linsley and Marcus Hall – and the four seniors are really going to be missed next season. Mewhort in particular might be the single hardest guy for this team to replace next season, unless of course Ryan Shazier and Braxton Miller are gone. The Buckeyes rumbled for 311 yards on the ground against Indiana Saturday and they are now the top rushing offense in the Big Ten at nearly 315 yards per game. That’s good enough for top 5 in the country, and they have allowed just 13 sacks all season after allowing 29 last season.

Marcus Hall, Taylor Decker, Ed Warriner, Andrew Norwell and Jack Mewhort
Photo by Dan Harker
OSU offensive line

7. Ryan Shazier has officially taken his game to another level. This kid has been really good for quite some time now, but Ryan Shazier is finally reaching superstar status as a Buckeye linebacker. With his 20-tackle performance on Saturday against Indiana, the junior out of Florida is now the top tackler in the Big Ten at 109 total stops this year. His 78 solo tackles are 18 more than any other player in the Big Ten and he also leads the conference with 20.5 tackles for loss. Shazier is currently tied for 3rd in the country in solo tackles. He's also tied for 2nd in the country with 20.5 TFL, but it’s more than statistics that define Shazier. He’s the best player and most important player on Ohio State’s defense. He’s the one guy that consistently makes plays and he’s been better than ever over the last three weeks. Some of that is the opponent, but there might not be a better linebacker in the country right now than Ryan Shazier.

Ryan Shazier
Photo by Dan Harker
Ryan Shazier

8. Bradley Roby continues to make plays. Roby was supposed to be that consistent playmaker for the Buckeyes this season, and while the consistency hasn’t always been there – watch the Wisconsin tape – he continues to make big plays in big moments for Ohio State. Roby came up with another big punt block on Saturday, he tallied 10 solo tackles in the win, and the Buckeyes are really going to miss his ability to turn a game with a big play. Maybe he never quite lived up to the superstar status fans were hoping for this season, but I have no problem with them celebrating Roby’s career on senior day. He put together a fine college career and my guess is he still has a few more big time plays left him this season. Maybe even championship caliber players, and you always need those guys who can turn a big game with a single play.

Bradley Roby blocks the punt against Indiana
Photo by Jim Davidson
Bradley Roby

9. Cam Burrows looks like a capable replacement. The loss of Roby will hurt the OSU defense in 2014, but maybe not as much as we thought before Saturday’s game. While Armani Reeves hasn’t exactly looked like a viable replacement for Roby this season – a lot could change before next year – freshman Cam Burrows certainly looked the part on Saturday. After Doran Grant left with an injury, Burrows stepped in and played admirably across from Roby. Officially, he had two pass breakups against Indiana, including one in the end zone, but it was  more the fact he simply didn’t look out of place out there in the first real first-team action of his young career. Burrows was one of the top recruits in the state of Ohio this past season and he’s been on campus since January, so it should come as no surprise but I think now there is reason to believe he could be the front-runner to replace Roby in the starting lineup next fall.

Cam Burrows
Photo by Jim Davidson
Cam Burrows

10. We still don’t know enough about this team. That’s not going to change until Indianapolis, so long as they don’t get caught overlooking Michigan on Saturday. It sounds absurd, but this team is desperate to make a statement and beating this Michigan team isn’t going to change any perception of Ohio State or the Big Ten. The Buckeyes have beaten Iowa, Penn State, Purdue, Illinois, and Indiana in the last five games and we still haven’t learned much about this team since the back-to-back wins against Wisconsin and Northwestern. We’ll find out a lot on the next two weeks, however.

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