For the second time this season, the Ohio State football team traveled to face a decent, but not amazing Big Ten West team.
That had been a recipe for disaster in previous years. You probably don’t need a reminder about Purdue and Iowa did to the Buckeyes recently.
But things have been different this fall.
Ohio State headed to Nebraska for a primetime showdown with the Cornhuskers. College Gameday was there, Memorial Stadium was rocking, and then the game kicked off.
And then, in a matter of minutes, it was very clear that the home fans were not going to like how it played out.
Friday night in Evanston, the story repeated itself. No College Gameday, but a primetime stage, and a (mostly) full stadium. And then the game started.
OSU received the opening kickoff and marched 70 yards in 10 plays for an easy opening touchdown.
Just like in Lincoln, the home team got a little something going on the ground, but it was snuffed out quickly.
And just like that game, the Buckeyes erupted in a dominating second quarter that completely put the game out of reach.
Friday night, OSU used a deliberate 12-play, 75-yard drive to make it 14-3, then a pair of all-too-easy J.K. Dobbins runs to cover 73 yards in just two plays.
Then, when Northwestern botched a punt and handed them a short field, the Bucks capitalized again, covering 15 yards in two plays.
Then, the defense stonewalled the Wildcats inside their own 5, handing the offense a short field which they converted into a 55-yard field goal at the gun.
Just like that, the Buckeyes had converted a 7-3 lead into a 31-3 halftime blowout. For the seventh straight week, they went to the locker room with a three-score lead or bigger.
A 24-point quarter isn’t normal in college football. Except for this year’s OSU team, anyway. For them, it’s basically a weekly event.
They outscored Michigan State 24-10 in the second quarter, bombed Nebraska with a 24-0 second quarter, and hung a 42-0 second quarter on Miami.
It was merely 23-7 in the second quarter against Indiana, 21-0 in the second against Cincinnati, and 28-0 in the first quarter against FAU.
In all, the Buckeyes have outscored their opponents 158-20 in the second quarter this year.
Ryan Day said the second quarter explosion against Northwestern was just a matter of wearing them down.
“It’s hard going against this defense. They’re good against the run and we knew early it wasn’t going to be easy. Some of those runs were hard,” Day said. “As the game went on, they started to loosen up a little bit and we had to wear on them a little bit.”
This was just the latest supposed test which the Buckeyes passed with shocking ease. After every game, it seems like the next week’s opponent is always going to be the one that pushes this team.
Cincinnati was going to be tricky until it wasn’t. A road trip to Lincoln was a potential trap until it turned into another blowout.
Michigan State? You know they always play the Buckeyes close. And then they didn’t.
Another night game road trip to a Big Ten West team? Ho hum, another blowout win.
“We’re going to try to dominate every game,” said junior defensive end Chase Young. “I feel like right now, this whole team is locked in.”
They certainly look like it. Every week, they dominate their opponents on the ground, averaging 6.3 yards per carry to just 2.6 yards allowed per rush.
Every week, the offensive line opens up good holes, J.K. Dobbins runs hard through them, and Master Teague comes in with fresh legs against a tired defense and rolls up big numbers after halftime.
They’re controlling the game through the air as well, passing for 9.1 yards per attempt compared to only 4.9 per pass for the opposition.
Every week, Justin Fields seems to get just a little bit better, and a little bit more in control. He’s getting time in the pocket, finding his open receivers, and keeping the chains moving with both his arms and his legs.
Meanwhile, an OSU defense that struggled to do much of anything a year ago has simply smothered opponents.
The only thing more remarkable than their consistency is how unremarkable this has all become in the span of just two months.
Add it all up, and the Buckeyes have won by a total margin of 348-56, an average win of 49.7 to 8.0.
Teams don’t just win by six touchdowns week in and week out. But so far, this one has.
Of course, things could get tougher next week when Wisconsin comes to town.
The No. 6 Badgers certainly look like a team who could finally push Ohio State for four full quarters.
But you probably feel like you’ve heard that before, too.
Hank they wont They will be very focused for this game and every game.
They wont! Buckeyes will be focused .
And DOWN go the Badgers! I was really looking forward to a top-5 match up so I wouldn’t hear “Ohio State hasn’t played anyone.” Them crapping the bed did the Big10 no favors!
Very good read, Tom. This article succinctly points out the dominating nature of this year’s Buckeye squad. Go Bucks! Flatten the Badgers!
Who has Wisconsin played? In the past decade I can recall a few times where the Badgers had some terrific stats – until they played the Buckeyes. Jack Coan isn’t anything special. He’s a typical Badger manage-the-game and hand-off to their flavour-of-the-year RB behind their massive OL. Team speed is another issue for Wisky. I don’t have a good feel as yet for a final score, but I’m thinking this one is more pushover than the experts think.
Not sure who those “experts” are but yes this game will be a cakewalk. TOO MANY ATHLETES!!!!!! As usual.
Im a Buckeye fan but what do you mean who have they played. They played and blew out Michigan. By the way, who has OSU played? And It would not surprise me if Wis beats OSU next week. They get upset by a point and they are nothing. OSU gets upset by 30 points 2 years in a row but they overlooked the teams. I just hope the Buckeyes dont take them lightly
I take it from a perspective of what teams do, not what their ‘name brand’ is. Statistically, Cincinnati is a very good team, their only loss to the Buckeyes by blowout. Northwestern would be a good-to-very-good team if they had an offense. Their defense is actually quite good, not having allowed a ton of points or over 350 yards all year – until the Buckeyes. Even Miami, OH has a winning record. Even FAU has a winning record. Sparty’s D was #1 in the nation – until OSU. Name any other top 10 team that’s faced not names, but statistically significant opponents and not only won, but blew them ALL out? That’s who the Buckeyes have played! What will your excuse be when Wisky gets their doors blown this Sat (and it WILL happen. They’re the same old 1-dimensional Badgers Barry Alvarez coached in the ’90s).
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