For the first time in this column’s history, I will admit I was wrong! I spent the last week, after picking Michigan to win The Game, trying to not buy into Ohio State winning.
I had all the signs in front of me: OSU was a home underdog, under Urban Meyer, in The Game, with a Michigan “guarantee” for victory. Every sign pointed to Ohio State coming out on top.
I made the mistake of continuing to trust my eyes and not my heart. I’m wrong, you all, and I apologize. I am guessing that you’ll forgive me, with that win over Michigan and a Big Ten East championship!
Ohio State dominated Michigan yet again. The Team Up North was out of it from the first drive. Ohio State shut down Michigan early and scored often. It was the most glorious of things to watch. When you add Dwayne Haskins breaking even more records, like his newly captured Big Ten Single Season Touchdown record, to a blocked punt returned for a touchdown, add in a pinch of shut down defense and top it off with the most amped crowd in Ohio Stadium this season, and it makes for a delicious end to the regular season in Columbus.
Now, before moving onto Indy next week to take on Northwestern, lets take one more look back at Michigan Week.
There were so many things to celebrate on Saturday. The aforementioned record for Haskins, Chris Olave’s coming out party, and Chase Young returned as the MONSTER he has flashed at times this season. This all added up to a great win for the Buckeyes.
However, the player of the game, in my eyes, were the five guys who kept Haskins upright. The five slobs had the best game of their long season. We’ve often complained about their performances this year, and they certainly answered the call.
I can recall, for all the “bad snaps” we’ve seen this year, maybe one semi-bad snap from Michael Jordan. Isiah Prince returned to the 2017 version, instead of the 2016 version we’ve seen. Even the tight ends were playing better.
To give you an idea of how well they played, the line did not give up a single sack to Michigan. Add in that Ohio State had 249 yards rushing [Ed. Note: 78 of those yards will be redacted as Parris Campbell’s 78-yard touchdown run has now been ruled a catch], and you no longer have Michigan looking like the number one defense in the country.
To the slobs up front, great job this week!
I fully expected to have more than a few options for this week’s Cannon Fodder. There should have been, based on the eye test and play coming into Saturday, many things wrong with Ohio State’s performance.
Despite the win, there are things that the coaching staff with want to work on for Northwestern and beyond. You can’t have Demario McCall fumbling a kickoff. You simply HAVE to catch that. There were still plenty of penalties, and the team knows that is unacceptable if you want to continue winning.
But the biggest weakness in The Game Saturday has to be the play of Kendall Sheffield. The redshirt junior from the Houston, Texas area has been crowned the fastest guy on the team. He has started all season. But his play on Saturday was less than stellar.
Sheffield is credited with four tackles, of which two were solo. However, his coverage skills were less than spectacular. And when placed up against better coverage, which could be seen on both sidelines, it made Sheffield stand out more.
I am dumbfounded, as a non-coach, how more people do not attack Sheffield each week. If I had to game plan against Ohio State, I would find #8 and throw there. I’d be willing to accept the few plays he might make in exchange for the ones he simply doesn’t.
I am a big fan of Sheffield. I hope he is able to improve, but his performance on Saturday deserves to be Cannon Fodder!
Just as everyone expected, Northwestern rolled through the Big Ten West and locked the division down early. Northwestern has always, under Pat Fitzgerald, played smart football. They are often undersized and under-talented, but they play real Big Ten football.
Expect the Wildcats to try punching the Buckeyes in the mouth early and often. Expect them to play smart football. And expect Paddy Fisher and the defense to annoy the crap out of Ohio State.
However, even if the Ohio State team that played Maryland shows up instead of the team that BEAT Michigan, Ohio State is the more talented and deeper squad.
Super early prediction?
Urban Meyer gets handed another Big Ten Championship Trophy.
Ohio State 35 Northwestern 17.
Go Bucks! O-H!
“Hayes Gaze and Cannon Fodder” is the weekly look at the good and bad for Ohio State football from Mike Meals. Each week, Mike will look at the good of the week with a loving Hayes Gaze, and at what was the Cannon Fodder at best. You can also catch Mike along with Hayes & Cannon Content Manager/Writer Brandon Zimmerman on the weekly episodes of “The Sons of Schmidt” podcast on the Ozone Radio Network. Follow Mike on twitter (@mmeals)