You would think that a week like this one would make for an easy Monday Morning Optimism column, and you’re right. The only thing that complicated the situation was that come Saturday afternoon I had to piece together what had happened during the game the night before thanks to Eat Too Brutus, Little Bar, the Thirsty Scholar, whatever the hell Old School is called now, and anywhere else that I may have stopped along the way. Fortunately, my DVR stepped up and I was able to sit down Sunday and watch a little more closely.
I’m going to begin this by saying that I could easily go 10-deep this week. I’m a stickler for format, though, and I’m only using three. Oh, and one last thing before we get started. Dudes. We dropped 63 on a top-25 team in prime time in front of 106,000 screaming fans (and several dozen very impressed recruits). Can you believe that s***? As Bert Bielema would say, It’s a good day to be a Buckeye.
1. 3-for 3 – Offense, defense, special teams. It’s a simple game, there are three phases and if you play well in all three, you’re probably going to win. This Saturday, the Buckeyes did just that. It was the most complete game that we’ve seen this season. After its signature slow start, the offense went off dropping a total of 7 touchdowns, all but one coming on the ground. Braxton Miller set the OSU QB rushing record, Carlos Hyde scored four touchdowns, and Rod Smith ripped off one of the prettiest 30-yd touchdown runs that you’ll ever see. The special teams were great. There was the obvious Corey Brown punt return, and the kickoff coverage team played great as well (lord knows they had enough attempts). Even the defense got in on the act. This isn’t a great defense, but it has a handful of great players and a tendency to make great plays. John Simon set the tone early and then closed the game out late with a strip sack. Bradley Roby scored the first points of the game for the Buckeyes with a beautiful pick six. The total yardage numbers weren’t great, but the D still made more than enough plays to win.
2. Simon Being Simon – It’s pretty cliché for a Buckeye Blogger to praise John Simon, but how can you not after a game like yesterday. He’s not going to be the first Buckeye drafted this year (heck, he won’t even be the first D-Lineman drafted), but the impact he has on the Buckeye Defense is undeniable. Playing at full health for the first time in weeks, and benefitting from Nebraska’s decision to focus on Nathan Williams and Jonathan Hankins, Simon had what was easily his best game of the season. In total, Simon racked up 7 tackles, 5 TFL , 2 sacks and a forced fumble. This season most of the talk about Simon has been about his off-field leadership. This week his play on the field said everything.
3. Good Lord, that Run Game – With Mike Adams, Michael Brewster, and J.B. Shugarts graduating last year, the Ohio State offensive line was supposed to take a step back. As of today, the Buckeyes are 10th in the nation in rushing, averaging just under 250 YPG. This week the offensive line was working overtime helping the Buckeyes rack up 371 yards rushing at a7.7 YPC clip. Braxton Miller’s 72-yard run was a thing of beauty, and he was just as busy the rest of the night carrying the ball 16 times for 186 yards and a touchdown (11.6 YPC). Carlos Hyde was just as good. With Jordan Hall out, Hyde carried the ball 28 times for 140 yards (5.0 YPC) and four touchdowns. It was the sort of tailback performance that Buckeye fans haven’t seen since Beanie Wells left Columbus for Arizona. Even Rod Smith got in on the action. Smith made the absolute most of his two carries racking up 38 yards and a touchdown.
I don’t want to get too hyperbolic, we’re only 6 games into the season after all. But each week the Buckeye offense is better than the one before. I can’t wait to see what it does this Saturday in Bloomington!