When Ohio State’s offense is in a groove like the one it found against Purdue on Saturday, the Buckeyes don’t just look like the team to beat in the Big Ten. They look like the team to beat in all of college football — the only squad explosive enough to potentially make anything happen against Georgia’s stonewall defense.

Then the Ohio State defense trots back onto the field. And at that point, it’s unclear as to whether the Buckeyes will even represent the Big Ten East at Lucas Oil Stadium on Dec. 4.

For as much as folks have declared Ohio State’s defense “fixed” since play-calling switched from Kerry Coombs to Matt Barnes, reality doesn’t match those hopes. This defense remains highly suspect when facing quality offenses.

Purdue was the third straight team to gain more than 350 yards on the Ohio State defense, finishing with 481 in a 59-31 Boilermakers defeat. Purdue’s 6.8 yards per play were the most allowed by the Buckeyes since Oregon averaged 6.9 yards per play when it beat Ohio State in Week 2.

Considering that the Buckeyes still have the No. 2 (Michigan State) and No. 4 (Michigan) B1G offenses as measured in yards per play left on their schedule, there should be considerable concern in Columbus.

With this offense, maybe it won’t even matter

At this juncture, Ohio State’s defense is what it is. And maybe gettingĀ  3-4 stops per game is actually enough to get the job done thanks to the Buckeyes’ offense.

From a historical perspective, most would consider the past two national champions to have the best offenses ever assembled.

Last year, Alabama averaged 48.5 points per game and 7.81 yards per play. In 2019, LSU averaged 48.4 points per game and 7.89 yards per play.

This Ohio State offense may end up eclipsing both of those teams. The Buckeyes are now averaging 46.3 points per game and 8.02 yards per play.

Perhaps the 2020s will give rise to the mantra that offense wins championships. But history shows that’s unlikely.

Oklahoma is Ohio State’s precedent

There are two teams to reach the College Football Playoff with a similar profile to this version of Ohio State. Or rather two different versions of the same team.

Like Ohio State, Oklahoma averaged better than 8 yards per play in 2017 and 2018 on its path to the CFP. But the Sooners were 67th and 114th in total defense in those seasons, and thus lost a pair of explosive CFP semifinal games.

Ohio State came into the week 47th in total defense. That ranking will probably take a tumble. And while LSU and Bama didn’t have great defenses in their title runs — the Tigers were 31st and the Tide were 32nd — they were certainly a cut above where Ohio State appears to be defensively.

If Ohio State wins the Big Ten championship — or even more — the formula will be quite unlike any we’ve seen.