The Michigan game may have taken place on Saturday, but it still feels like we’re in postgame mode.
Or maybe it’s just me.
This game was one for the ages, albeit for only one side of the battle, which may make things even better for Buckeye fans.
Ohio State not only demolished the Wolverines, they ended their title hopes and put them back in their place, one step below the Buckeyes.
If OSU has a say, good things are not allowed for Michigan, and they had four quarters of say on Saturday and it was all a very stern, one-sided conversation.
What did we learn from that conversation? Namely, that Ohio State is still Ohio State and Michigan is still Michigan.
But also some other things as well.
1. Chris Olave is a natural.
When a true freshman looks this smooth and game-ready, it’s easy to project great things for him. The way he adjusted to the football on his second touchdown is something that you don’t see some veterans do. He was aware of everything around him and didn’t make his move until he knew his man wouldn’t be able to recover. The punt block was tremendous as well, and it was designed specifically for him. More than all of this, however, is his willingness to do whatever he is asked to do, and then his ability to come through and make an impact. This is not typical, even if he makes it look like it is.
2. Davon Hamilton deserves some love.
As the Buckeyes’ No. 2 nose tackle, there isn’t always an opportunity to talk about Davon Hamilton, but he was instrumental in keeping Michigan’s offensive line off balance. He finished with four tackles and made some key plays. He created more havoc than his four tackles, and his presence in the backfield kept Michigan’s interior busy. The pocket got popped several times on Saturday and it starts up front and inside. Hamilton and Robert Landers were a constant nuisance for Michigan’s offense and ruined their timing throughout the game.
3. Amazingly, Michigan came in cocky.
The Revenge Tour was a great way to bring unity throughout the Michigan football program, but if another (better) band is already playing in the venue on that date, things might not go so great for you. Great teams aren’t supposed to come into a game expecting to lose, but they should come into every game expecting that things won’t be given to them. Michigan came into Ohio Stadium expecting an easy time. They thought OSU was going to offer up some charity, and they also then expected to be thanked for accepting it. The Buckeyes figured they had been charitable enough this season, I suppose.
4. The offensive line dominated Michigan.
Dwayne Haskins was protected so well on Saturday and stayed upright so often that teachers in the 1950s will use him as the example of perfect posture. Ohio State’s entire offensive game plan relied on the offensive line giving Haskins time, and they did it better than anybody had the right to expect. They kept Haskins so clean that this game has been cleared by the FDA to be used as hand sanitizer.
5. This was the final home game for a lot of people.
Even aside from the seniors, there were people who were on the field or the sidelines for the final time as Buckeyes. That includes some underclassmen who have decisions to make, as well as members of the coaching staff who will have announcements forthcoming. Change is coming, and no matter what you think of this 2018 team, they put the hammer down on Michigan and then put another hammer down on top of it. For that they should always have a special place in your heart.
6. Michigan played right into Ohio State’s hands.
I mentioned this on one of our six episodes of the Buckeye Weekly Podcast last week, but any time Michigan kept the ball between the tackles, it was a win for the Ohio State defense. Even if the play gained yardage, it was still a play that the Buckeyes were comfortable dealing with. Michigan’s offense kept things simple, which is exactly what this Ohio State defense can excel against. There was very little confusion by the Buckeye defense, and every formation with multiple tight ends and a fullback for Michigan was automatically a win for Ohio State because that was not a lineup that was going to go the distance. Defensively, the Wolverines also helped out the Buckeyes. Granted, the OSU offensive line was key, but Michigan’s man coverage couldn’t handle OSU’s slot receivers. The east-west action was too much for them to follow. Ryan Day, Kevin Wilson, and Urban Meyer came up with an offensive game plan that every team moving forward should use against Michigan. Those teams won’t have OSU’s talent, but it will at least give them a fighting chance.
7. Teams are now looking for pass interference against the Buckeyes.
“Hey, it’s third and long, what should we do?”
“Let’s just throw it deep, but a little short and off line and see what happens.”
This is apparently a growing and effective plan of attack against Ohio State’s cornerbacks. It’s not a good idea when there are safeties hanging around, but when there is no deep help, it’s as effective as a back-shoulder fade. In fact, it’s probably more effective because the pass doesn’t have to be close for the Buckeye corners to get flagged.
8. There are always players waiting to be discovered.
Where would this defense be right now without Brendon White being thrust into action due to an injury and a suspension? Austin Mack’s injury opened the door for Chris Olave to get into the rotation as well. Do the Buckeyes beat Michigan without these two players? Yes, easily, but let’s not gloss over the impact that both players had on Saturday. And now with right guard Demetrius Knox out with a foot injury, it is time for redshirt freshman Wyatt Davis to do what both White and Olave have done.
9. Demario McCall is just getting started.
You know how I know the Ohio State staff wants Demario McCall on the field? Because when he muffed a kickoff in the biggest game of the year, he was right back out there after that to field another kickoff. The ball was being thrown to him as well. It would be impossible for anybody to get serious minutes when you’re stuck behind Parris Campbell and KJ Hill at one position and JK Dobbins and Mike Weber at another. Eventually, however, McCall’s time is going to come and you are going to love it.
10. This was a good season for the Buckeyes.
Regardless of what happens from here on out, Ohio State got a win against Michigan that will never be forgotten. Most years, a season is remembered by what happens in The Game. It paints the ultimate portrait that fans see in their mind’s eye. This portrait is admittedly a bit bloody, but the smiles make it seem less violent.