ARLINGTON, Texas — Ohio State’s offense had an opportunity to re-define itself in the Goodyear Cotton Bowl vs Missouri under new starting quarterback Devin Brown following Kyle McCord’s departure. The Buckeyes had a chance to make a statement offensively and build confidence at the quarterback position for next season, and even highlight the young upcoming receivers.
But in Friday night’s 14-3 loss to Missouri, Ohio State’s offense left a lot to be desired and provided even more uncertainty for next season.
Ohio State hit a field goal early in the first quarter, its defense kept the Buckeyes in the game, but Missouri rallied late. One touchdown was all it took. Missouri’s first touchdown to open the fourth quarter was insurmountable.
Brown had an opportunity to begin to form his case for the starting quarterback job next season, but it was cut short as he left the game in the second quarter following a sack from behind, re-injuring an ankle injury from earlier in the season. Third string and true freshman quarterback Lincoln Kienholz came in the game for Brown, but the offense was equally as lackluster and lifeless.
The first half of play featured very little offense and a lot of punts back and forth. Both teams had 563 yards of punting in the first half as compared to a combined 188 yards of total offense.
The Buckeye defense was playing solid and came up big when it was needed — It kept Mizzou contained until the fourth quarter when it began to run out of gas. But when Ohio State had chances to let it loose offensively, nothing was ever unleashed. The Buckeyes had 203 yards of total offense, with 106 in the air and 97 on the ground.
Ohio State’s offensive line did not have a good performance as a unit. It gave the quarterbacks little time and protection and had penalties that either put the offense behind schedule or ended drives entirely. Ohio State also struggled to establish the run.
On the opening drive, Ohio State had an extra lineman and freshman defensive tackle Kayden McDonald on the field for an I-formation and opened up a hole for running back TreVeyon Henderson to burst for a gain for 12 yards. But Ohio State had two false start penalties on that drive to force 3rd-and-21, killing the drive.
Carson Hinzman did not start at center and starting right guard Matt Jones was moved to center, while Enokk Vimahi took over at right guard — something Ohio State has not done all season.
For head coach Ryan Day, Ohio State did not do enough up front to give Keinholz opportunities to succeed, especially considering the fact that he was a true freshman playing in his first game, in a game plan built for Brown.
“I felt like Lincoln [Kienholz] was put in a tough spot there, to say the least,” Day said. “I thought he battled his tail off but clearly we didn’t help him up front — didn’t run the ball well enough.”
” We could have helped him in certain areas and we didn’t,” Day added.
Kienholz completed his first pass in the second half to wideout Xaiver Johnson for 24 yards. But Missouri knew Ohio State had no business or interest in the passing game. Ohio State even had Emeka Egbuka throwing passes to other receivers.
Special teams miscues also held the Buckeyes back and gave the offense poor field position to work with. The offense felt like it was digging itself out of a hole all game. Ohio State had four special teams penalties, three attempted fair catches inside the 10, and missed a 48-yard field goal attempt.
When the pressure was on as Missouri led 7-3, it looked like Ohio State’s offense was given some life, but it still fell short. One touchdown for the Tigers was too much for Ohio State to match, let alone exceed.
After Mizzou’s touchdown to open the fourth quarter, Kienholz completed a 25-yard pass to Egbuka and followed it up with an 8-yard pass to tight end Gee Scott Jr.. On 3rd-and-10, Kienholz hit his target Johnson but it was dropped and Ohio State was forced to punt once again. Missouri followed its touchdown drive with another touchdown drive to lead 14-3 with just over five minutes to play. Ohio State’s next drive ended with a fumble recovered by Missouri.
“They played good enough to win, the defense did… But we just couldn’t put it together on offense and so that’s the story of the game,” Day said.
Photo via College Football Playoff.