No. 1 Buckeyes get some offensive mojo back in win vs. WMU
Final: No. 1 Ohio State 38, Western Michigan 12
Telling stat: 33 pass attempts for Cardale Jones
Urban Meyer came out and officially declared Jones the starter this week, all but eliminating any chance that we were going to see J.T. Barrett in the first half Saturday, barring injury. The 33 passes seems pretty standard for a starting quarterback. For Jones, however, that was 14 more passes attempted than any game this season. Only once had he thrown more than 23 times. Meyer wanted Jones to get his confidence back throwing the ball after last week’s nine-attempt, two-interception abbreviated disaster. Jones wasn’t perfect, but he did throw a pair of nice TD’s to pace the Buckeyes’ fast start. Buckeye fans will take it.
Key play: Michael Thomas 38-yard TD
Speaking of Jones, he got some early momentum when his go-to guy hauled in a pass dove into the end zone on the Buckeyes’ first possession. Thomas’ athleticism surfaced once again on an important early drive for Ohio State. It’s hard to say that calmed Jones down, because nobody knows if he even needed to calm down. But for him to step into a throw and celebrate a score had to be big for the junior signal-caller. It was also the first of 24 first-half points for Ohio State, which was their best effort of the season. Adolphus Washington’s pick-six could’ve been the play of the game, too.
-Raekwon McMillan was everywhere
McMillan usually isn’t the Buckeye linebacker to garner headlines, but he earned them on Saturday. He racked up a career-high 16 tackles and a sack to keep Western Michigan from breaking breaking plays open. He was unofficially credited with 16 tackles and unofficially credited with the best game of his young career. Joshua Perry also did everything and more to contain the WMU ball-carriers. You know, just in case you were wondering.
-Ground game gets rolling
For all the talk about the Buckeye offensive struggles, Ezekiel Elliott hasn’t been the face of that. The Heisman candidate continued his stretch of eight straight 100-yard games and took pressure off the Buckeye passing game. He even hurdled another hopeless defender. The highlight reel play came from Curtis Samuel’s 40-yard scamper that put the exclamation point on the Buckeye victory. This team needs balance like what it got on Saturday, especially if accuracy issues continue to hurt Jones from leading the offense.
What it means: The Buckeyes aren’t losing No. 1
You could’ve made a very good argument that the Buckeyes didn’t deserve their No. 1 ranking had they struggled yet again to a mid-major at home. But the game wasn’t close after the second quarter. The Buckeyes still didn’t cover the spread for the third straight game, which will only upset Vegas. For the rest of the world, this is still the toughest team to beat in the country.