Ten Things We Learned from Ohio State’s 48-3 Win Over Michigan State


COLUMBUS — If you would have predicted a 48-3 win over Michigan State for Ohio State, it is likely that you would have been asked to pee in a cup shortly thereafter.

While Saturday’s outcome was surprising, it wasn’t unbelievable. After all, with this Buckeye team, any outcome is seemingly possible, so we can’t be overly shocked by anything we see the rest of the way out.

Because of this bizarro nature, we are still learning things about this football team.

What did we learn this week? Plenty.

1. The Buckeyes’ playoff hopes are still alive.

Tom Orr has already spelled it out for you, but if the Buckeyes win out impressively, and Alabama, Miami, and Oklahoma win out, Ohio State could be looking at a No. 4 seed and a matchup against Miami or Alabama in the first round of the playoffs. At the very least, OSU would be going up against the Pac 12 champ in a beauty contest as the final entrant. One week ago, OSU’s playoff scenarios may have sounded like a pointless brain exercise, but here were are. There is nothing like college football. Ever.

2. Teams still think throwing on Denzel Ward is wise.

The Ohio State cornerbacks have been pretty good over the last seven games, but it is clear that Denzel Ward is the best of the bunch. Despite this understanding, teams like Michigan State still think throwing on him is their best opportunity to complete a pass. It’s like ignoring the open road and waiting for a speed trap to see what your car can really do. There is a time and place to throw the ball, and where the Buckeyes are concerned, those times and places generally aren’t against Denzel Ward.

3. Chris Worley needs to stay outside.

Chris Worley had a rough couple of minutes to start the game on Saturday, but he responded well for the other 56 minutes or so. He was a relentless spy on quarterback Brian Lewerke and wasn’t a slouch on the blitz either. Worley’s season has been up and down, marred by injuries mostly, but maybe he has been playing out of position this whole time. He was excellent last season as the team’s Sam linebacker, and the move to Will this week worked out for the entire defense. The two outside linebacker spots are interchangeable, so he was able to pick things up very quickly. Keeping Worley on the outside also keeps Tuf Borland in the middle. Borland led the team with 11 tackles. I was concerned as to how he would defend a pass-happy Spartan offense, but he was fine. After the game, Urban Meyer said there would be discussions about keeping Worley outside. That then leaves a decision at Sam, which might be perfect for Jerome Baker, who would better be able to focus on coverage and not bite too hard on play actions.

4. Ohio State can still run the ball when they want to.

Earlier in the week, OSU offensive coordinator Kevin Wilson basically said, “Sure, we could pound the football, but then we’d be facing third-and-eight, and then what?” It was a nice game of possum by Wilson, who took Urban Meyer’s mandate to run the ball — and Greg Studrawa’s blocking attack — and pounded the Michigan State defense for 335 yards on just 42 carries. Rich businessmen usually have to pay upwards of $500/hr for domination like that. After abandoning the run early and often against Iowa, the Buckeyes stuck to their guns against Michigan State and riddled the Spartans with bullet holes.

5. Mike Weber is what Urban Meyer said he was.

Urban Meyer kept telling us in spring and fall camp how much better Mike Weber was now compared to where he was a year ago. A hamstring injury in camp made Meyer look like a liar…up until about 12:30 pm on Saturday. Weber tore off up the middle for 47 yards and looked every bit as good as he ever has. One quarter later, however, Weber took a hand-off out of a draw play and sped 82 yards up the middle once again, splitting the Michigan State defense, and looking faster than he ever has before. Meyer and Tony Alford tried to tell us that Weber was legitimately fast now, but Weber wasn’t satisfied with word of mouth, so he went and showed us with his own two feet. And right now, defenses have to be very concerned with the combination of Weber and J.K. Dobbins. Calling the two of them a “1-2 punch” sells somebody short. It’s actually a “1-1 punch.”

6. Kick coverage looks fixed.

That’s two-straight games following personnel changes after Penn State that the kick coverage has been pretty outstanding. The Buckeyes kicked off nine times, with three of those returns being stopped inside the 20-yard line. Three times the Spartans managed to get out past the 25-yard line, with two returns going to the 27-yard line and one all the way out to the 35-yard line. Two of those three came late in the game when there was no battles left to fight. The wide lanes that we saw against Penn State have disappeared the last two weeks, so without declaring things absolutely fixed, they do look pretty much okay.

7. We might be done seeing Parris Campbell on kick returns.

Parris Campbell was full go this weekend against Michigan State, but he was not back on kickoff returns. I don’t know if Urban Meyer has decided to bring Campbell back slowly, or if they are just trying to limit the opportunities where he could take a significant shot to the head. Mike Weber has been his replacement, which raised some eyebrows against Iowa. After seeing his top speed against Michigan State, however, maybe now we understand why Weber was Option No. 2.

8. Targeting is a good rule applied stupidly.

I realize we learn this just about every game for every team every week, but humor me here please. Targeting was implemented to protect the players’ skulls and brains, so I’m still puzzled as to why Dre’Mont Jones was ejected for a forearm shiver to Brian Lewerke’s shoulder. And I have no idea how the call can be reviewed and merely “stand.” If you cannot confirm targeting, then it should be waved off. The call on the field is supposed to lean to targeting, but the review is supposed to lean towards getting it correct. If targeting cannot be seen via replay, then it shouldn’t be upheld. This was a terrible implementation of a great rule.

9. The staff still feels more comfortable with Jordan Fuller in nickel than bringing in a freshman corner.

When Darmon Arnette left with a thigh bruise, the Buckeyes went with Jordan Fuller as the team’s nickel back and then brought in Erick Smith as the strong safety. They did this earlier in the season when Denzel Ward was falsely accused and ejected for targeting. They do it because right now they feel better about adding Smith to the back end and sliding Fuller inside than they do of sliding a corner inside and bringing in freshman Jeff Okudah. I don’t expect that to change during the regular season if it happens again.

10. Damon Webb has some range.

On the Ohio State practice fields, you will sometimes see a red line running the length of the field between the sideline and the numbers. Greg Schiano says it is rare for a safety to be able to cover from red line to red line, but it was something that Malik Hooker excelled at. I asked him a couple of weeks ago if Jordan Fuller is getting there, and he said he’s not there yet, but that Damon Webb was pretty close. On Webb’s interception, he went from the opposite hash to the numbers, which was still a nice little jog.


13 Responses

  1. It’s great to see tOSU looking like tOSU instead of the Purdue of Joe Tiller, but the issue remains, will the coaches continue to call running plays? It’s odd, I’m not really worried about the players. It’s the coaches. Especially the thinking that the only way to attack a team crowding the line and covering the wide outs in bump and run, is to go over the top.Watching Mike Webber run away from the safeties who were too wide was just as good if not better.

    1. Yep Norman- this team’s most glaring weakness is the guys who aren’t wearing pads.

  2. #9, Victor is 6-4, has very long arms & can jump out of a the gym. Easily reaching 10-11 ft up! I love JT. He is a great representative of the university, but he hit #9 in the waist three times in the end zone. C’mon, learn as you go!

  3. Apparently the team finally got mad and played some hard hitting, mean football and THAT is why they dominated MSU. They were angry and determined to prove that the Iowa debacle wasn’t who they are. If they go back to sleep and their passive nature then Illinois will be another adventure. And Michigan would love to knock them off their pedestal and ruin what’s left of the season. So stay hungry Buckeyes because if Saturday’s game filled you up expect more misery.

  4. Lots of folks already knew number 4- except, apparently, for our offensive coaches. Hope the old amnesia bug doesn’t hit them in 2 weeks in Ann Arbor, because that’s OSU’s best chance to win.

  5. The targeting rule is horribly crafted and utterly brainless in application. The Big 10 officials are the most spineless and inaccurate gaggle of tweeting birds in the history of football AT ANY LEVEL. The clowns in the replay booth are pure morons.

    They have had rules in place that deal with helmet to helmet and leading with your helmet for decades. It’s called spearing. The refs under this stupid new targeting rule take EXTREME liberty to pussify the game. Force and even extreme force is what makes football such a great and exciting game. That’s why I went into football and mixed Martial Arts. There’s a thrill in pitting skills against skills, force against force. There really are very few players or fighters who intentionally go out of their way to cause serious injuries. Of course the players need to be protected, but, they also need to be protected against effeminate refs. and replay officials.

  6. JTB is still the weakest link. Too up and down. Now his downs have become disastrous. 6 picks in 2 games. The last in the end zone Saturday was awful. How many times are receivers falling down, slowing down, or over extending to catch his passes?

  7. Iowa was simply the mother of all hangovers–nothing more, nothing less. An outlier of a game. But for it being ULM (?), Auburn would likely have been afflicted with the same condition this week.

  8. A one word description of the Buckeyes has to be schizophrenic. I know of no other way to describe this team. How in God’s name can you lose to a crappy Iowa team by 31 and then beat the crap out of a good Michigan State team by 45?

    1. I have to think the answer to both parts of the question is Penn State. OSU and MSU had tough, draining, down-to-the-wire wins over the Lions the week prior to their respective debacles. It’s similar to the overtime win at Wisconsin last year that preceded the loss to PSU. It’s just psychologically very difficult to get back up for an entire game, especially a tough road game (playing at Iowa is seldom easy), after a nail-biting win.

      They at least partially solve the problem in the SEC by shamelessly scheduling FCS cupcakes the week before a big game. The importance the SEC places on integrity matches what they place on academics.

    2. That’s exactly what I said in another article yesterday. I seriously don’t believe that it’s the players. It’s 100% coaching failures. You have 2 beast runningbacks, with 2 other backs who can cause defenses fits. While I DO understand gameplanning to try to stretch the field vertically, you cannot abandon your fundamental identity. This is the Big 10. That means it’s old school bust you in the face rushing the football. Our will against their will……….and THEY WILL LOSE. Until the Buckeyes have a quarterback with the consistent arm strength to stretch the field, trying to force a strictly RPO quarterback to deliver that consistency with pass heavy gameplans from weak to weak, is just plain dumb.

      Pass pro is not, and never will be a strong suit of JT Barrett. It’s obvious that intermediate and deep passes are never going to be something he can deliver., BUT, when you can pummel a defense into do what YOU want them to do with a potent rushing attack, it will open up windows naturally for an RPO quarterback without trying to force a square peg into a round hole. This might sound crazy but it’s what I’ve seen with the Buckeyes. They have PLENTY of receiver speed to stretch the field against anyone. But they might just be too fast to compliment JT Barretts arm. CEO Meyer wants to force the deep game. JT isn’t a deep passer and never will be a deep passer. BUT he CAN be lethal enough in the passing game when the fundamental rushing game is the focus. Establish the back and JT’s rush option keeps are pure deadly. Give him that success in games and suddenly he becomes a more proficient and consistent passer.

      Yep. CEO Meyer was right. The Buckeyes needed to fix the passing attack. The best place to make that happen is was a dangerous rushing game. Drive and trap blocking are also easier on the health of the linemen. Me against you and our runningbacks will make your unblocked, or chip blocked linebackers look foolish.

    3. Im tired of hearing it. MSU is not a good team. The last 2 times they played Alabama, they lost by 42 and 38. They were 3-9 last year. They were blown off the field by ND this year. Big Ten is weak. I agree with everything in this article except for #1. They have been blown out twice this year and they humiliated the commitee last year by getting blown out. They arent getting in. Because of how Barrett plays against good defenses I wouldnt be surprised to see Mich beat them. But I think they will be in anyways because Wisconsin will beat Michigan. They will not beat Wisconsin. I live here in Wisconsin and this defense is for real. Jim Leonard is the best defensive coordinator in the Big Ten and Cryst has the best offensive mind.

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