Ohio State football: Got offense? Buckeyes do & that makes them different
College football runs in cycles. It’s passing games galore, then defenses adjust. Then ground game get strong. And defenses adjust again. A couple of years ago, you couldn’t get two top teams together without 80, 90, or 100 points going on the board. But the tide has turned. Georgia definitely has something to do with it, with a dynamic, game-changing defense.
But even many of college football’s allegedly toughest offenses can come up dry. Alabama had 20 against LSU and 31 against Florida. Michigan is coming off two straight sub-30 point performances. Oklahoma had 14 points on Saturday.
But then there’s the Ohio State Buckeyes.
It’s not hard to figure why many on the national scene wondered if Purdue could upset Ohio State on Saturday. The Boilermakers already had a pair of top 5 upsets to their credit. And there’s that big play passing game, and all those points.
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And the people who said Purdue could score on Ohio State weren’t exactly wrong. Purdue put up nearly 500 yards and 31 points. Aidan O’Connell went 40 for 52 for 390 yards and 4 touchdowns. Those are upset-worthy stats. But nobody told the Ohio State offense.
The Buckeyes are absolutely running a fantasy football kind of offense. Best QB in the game? You could vote for Bryce Young or Matt Corral. But why not CJ Stroud? He was 31 for 38 for 361 yards with 5 touchdowns against Purdue; that production is hard to argue with.
At running back? TreVeyon Henderson is among the nation’s best. See his 57 yard TD run or his effortless looking 98 yards and 2 rushing scores. And Miyan Williams eclipsed 100 yards rushing off the bench.
Receivers? Everybody knows Chris Olave (9 catches, 85 yards, 1 TD) and Garrett Wilson (10 catches, 126 yards, 3 TD) are perhaps the best receiver tandem in the nation. But that’s leaving out Jaxon Smith-Njigba (9 catches, 139 yards, 1 TD), who might be a top 10 national receiver himself. The offensive line? They’ve allowed just 11 sacks in 10 games, and have helped the backs pick up nearly 6 yards per carry.
So yes, Purdue got points. Again, had you told the Boilermakers they’d end up with almost 500 total yards and 31 points, they’d have been pretty happy with that. But, of course, Ohio State had 45 points at halftime.
The Buckeyes didn’t punt until the middle of the third quarter. They ran 69 offensive plays for 624 yards. And after taking control of the game late in the first quarter, the Buckeyes never again led by less than two scores.
All the hand-wringing about OSU’s defense? Overrated. The shift in defensive playcallers? Interesting, but probably not game changing. What Ohio State is slowly realizing is that its defense isn’t world-beating, but it doesn’t have to be. College football is flooded with teams like Georgia and Texas A&M and Iowa. They grind, the roll up a few yards, and they try to beat you with defense. But not the Buckeyes.
If Ohio State gives up yards and points, frankly, so what? OSU has at least 466 yards in every game so far, and in only 3 of their 10 games have the Buckeyes been held under 40 points. They’re talented, they’re deep, and they’re capable of carrying a defense that’s just okay.
The remaining games on OSU’s schedule pit the Buckeyes against a couple of capable and even dangerous offenses in Michigan State and Michigan. But worrying about the defense? So long as OSU’s offensive roster of stars are healthy and ready, it probably won’t matter. In an era of college defenses, OSU has what might be the sport’s last great offense. And that will carry the Buckeyes a long way.