For the second week in a row, the Buckeyes entered a game against a solid, if unspectacular opponent favored by roughly 17 points. And for the second week in a row, they absolutely obliterated that opponent, thanks to dominating play along both the offensive and defensive lines.
Saturday, Ohio State jumped out to a 30-3 lead in the second quarter and cruised to a 51-10 victory.
All you need to know about the game is contained in the average gain per rush for each team.
Ohio State: 7.7 yards
Indiana: 1.7 yards
You can’t do that without consistently controlling the line of scrimmage on both sides of the ball.
After suffering through a sophomore slump, J.K. Dobbins exploded for 193 yards on just 22 carries, an average of 8.8 yards per carry.
Backup Master Teague’s numbers were even more impressive – 10 carries for 106 yards, a smooth 10.6 yards per rush. After the game, OSU head coach Ryan Day was impressed.
“I thought we ran the ball well, controlled the line of scrimmage on both sides of the ball,” Day said.
That other side of the ball left Indiana without many good options. They couldn’t run, and for stretches of the game, couldn’t protect their quarterback either. Their only touchdown all day came on a double-pass.
The Buckeyes finished the day with five sacks and 12 tackles for loss.
“I think we showed dominance today,” said junior defensive end Chase Young. “Obviously they had the one trick play on us, but other than that, we showed that our defense can be dominant. I think we just set the tone for Big Ten play coming in.”
It’s hard to believe the lockdown Buckeye defense of 2019 is made up of almost all the same players as the disastrous 2018 unit. An almost complete turnover of the coaching staff helped, obviously, but having a healthy Young up front has made a big difference, too.
Through three games, Young has five sacks, and is on pace to break the single-season school record of 14.
But Day knows the pressure they created Saturday led to more than just those sacks.
“The D-line has controlled the line of scrimmage as well. They’ve created some sacks, created some turnovers, and if we can get teams in a throwing situation, I think it’s an advantage to us,” he said.
It’s not new to watch one of Larry Johnson’s lines imposing its will on opponents. But it has to be exciting for Buckeye fans to see the offensive line return to form after a middling year on the ground in 2018.
Offensive coordinator Kevin Wilson says that’s a result of the mentality that Thayer Munford and new starters Jonah Jackson, Josh Myers, Wyatt Davis, and Branden Bowen have brought.
“We’ve always had some talented guys. This group is just physically, the way they’re wired, a little harder,” Wilson said.
In a position group loaded with “toughest guy wins” cliches, it’s easy to roll your eyes at that kind of talk, but so far the results speak for themselves.
It was particularly important on a day when quarterback Justin Fields was occasionally a little off his game.
“The O-line did a great job today and I think that’s definitely going to make us more dangerous in the future,” said Fields. “Just having the running game there to pick me up and carry the team, that was great to see.”
Wilson knows the offensive line still isn’t a finished product, but so far he likes what he sees.
“There are still some things every once in a while that aren’t as clean, as perfect as you’d want,” Wilson said. “But they play clean. They play hard, they battle and fight and scratch.”