There is good and bad in every game.
Some games have more good than bad, and some games have more bad than good.
And some games require an actual running game in order to win.
This feature is about acknowledging both the bad and good, or whichever stood out to us most.
Borrowing from Ohio State’s practice of handing out Buckeye leaves for good plays, we will do the same. But unlike OSU, we are also going to include some peeves.
If a peeve was a sticker, it would have a picture on it of a wolverine with a smirk. And there’s no way you want too many of those on your helmet.
So we — staff, contributors, and hangers-on — are handing out some leaves and peeves following Ohio State’s 56-27 win over Michigan.
My Buckeye leaf goes to J.K. Dobbins. He broke so many records Saturday and reaching 4,000 career yards is a big big deal. And look at what he’s done in the Buckeyes’ biggest games this season: 172 yards, one touchdown against Michigan State, the No. 4 rush defense; 163 yards, two touchdowns against Wisconsin, the No. 1 rush defense; 157 yards, two touchdowns against Penn State, the No. 4 rush defense; and 211 yards, four touchdowns against Michigan, the No. 13 rush defense.
The Buckeye offense has been balanced and successful because of his efforts on the ground and his consistency in moving the ball. Saturday just looked like a casual day for him and he had over 200 yards rushing. He even dribbled the ball and picked up his own fumble and still picked up 30+ yards on that run. His performance Saturday was impressive.
There are so many players deserving of Buckeye leaves after another drubbing of Michigan. I have to give one to both J.K. Dobbins and Justin Fields for being an unstoppable combination all day on Saturday and I don’t think you can give them to just those two because the offensive line made it possible for them to shine, so add one each for Thayer Munford, Jonah Jackson, Josh Myers, Wyatt Davis, and Branden Bowen. The five guys up front allowed Dobbins to become Ohio State’s version of Tim Biakabatuka in this rivalry. The Wolverines were powerless to stop him.
Peeves go to (once again) an officiating crew that refuses to enforce obvious holding penalties committed against Chase Young, which helped Michigan score its second touchdown. Another peeve to freshman Garrett Wilson for the muffed punt (clean that up, rookie!) which momentarily shifted momentum in the second half. A final peeve to the John Cooper years for continuing to affect my predictions as I’m the idiot who talked himself into thinking the Wolverines had a shot at winning. Never leave us, Jim Harbaugh!
Justin Fields would be my first choice, but I’m sure everyone will pick him. J.K. Dobbins would be second, but again, I’m sure he’ll be a popular choice.
So I’ll go with Jeff Hafley and Greg Mattison. After a rocky first half, and playing without their “Swiss Army Knife” of Shaun Wade, the Buckeyes’ defensive coordinators changed things up in the second half and totally flipped the script for The Game.
By making several adjustments, including switching to more man coverage, they helped turn a 14-for-19 first half for Shea Patterson into a 4-for-24 second half.
Any time you can turn a quarterback playing like Joe Burrow into one who looks like Joe Bauserman, you’ve earned a leaf.
My first leaf goes to JK Dobbins, who has proven to be the most reliable and explosive running back for Ohio State since…well, Ezekiel Elliott, so it’s not that long ago, but Dobbins certainly deserves to be mentioned right alongside Zeke. He doesn’t get tired and only gets better. When you combine that with a tired defense, you’ve got something special.
Another leaf to Jeff Hafley and Greg Mattison for fixing the problems at halftime with their defense. They have so many pieces and moving parts, and some of the first half featured confusion in the secondary. The dramatic change in passing yardage between the first half (250) and the second half (55) is perhaps the stat of the year.
My Buckeye leaf goes to Jordan Fuller. On a day where the secondary was missing key guys, Fuller stepped up and made play after play on passes where the younger guys were beat. Fuller played with an aggression we have not seen from him because it’s never really been needed.
Peeve goes out to me for immediately going worst case scenario mode after Fields went down. I may or may not have sent no less than five messages to people saying the season was over.
Eight straight has a great ring to it. What a weekend to be a Buckeye! And this team has the potential to go down as one of, if not THE, best team of my lifetime.
My leaf this week goes to the man, as I imagine many others will give theirs to, Mr. JK Dobbins. He produced 211 yards rushing with a 6.8 ypc average, another 49 yards through the air, and four touchdowns. JK was simply unstoppable. He is the reason Ohio State won Saturday. We’ve witnessed an amazing game. Well done, JK!
My peeve this week is: How is the college football regular season over already? The sport I and many of you love so much is basically over. I hate that the season is so short and I’m legitimately sad we won’t see these Buckeyes in a regular season game ever again.
I mean, what can I be mad at from a beat down of TTUN? Go Bucks!
Leaves to head coach Ryan Day for realizing success in his initial foray into THE GAME. The emotion displayed by Day after the win demonstrated how well he understands the significance of winning this rivalry game and should have Ohio State fans feeling relieved that the football program is in very capable hands going forward.
Leaves to Justin Fields and J.K. Dobbins. Fields successfully piloted the Buckeyes against a solid defense on the road – coming back after sustaining a knee injury, then throwing a touchdown pass which was the final dagger that seemed to truly take the life out of the Wolverines. Dobbins was the hammer that continually pounded the Wolverines all day long and his steadying play was precisely what Ohio State needed to knock out That Team Up North.
Peeves to the poor coverage schemes that allowed the Wolverines to move the ball down the field through the air. The inability to cover tight ends is tremendously frustrating. Yes, I feel comfortable heading into The B1G Championship Game against Wisconsin, but it will not be surprising if the Badgers try to use some of the same plays that confounded the Buckeyes. Ohio State has to figure out its coverage personnel better, with tougher opponents on the horizon in The B1G Championship Game, as well as its probable (definite?) playoff opponent(s).