Bank Blog: Quick Thoughts Offense

Ohio State escaped with a 21-14 win over Wisconsin Saturday, capturing a needed victory on a day when the offense was nonexistent. What happened to the Buckeye offense?

- My first thought after the game was not so much that Tom Herman and Urban Meyer couldn't solve Wisconsin's defense, as much as I truly think Wisconsin deserves much credit for how they played the Buckeyes. In the media, the easiest thing to do is look at the score and frame your article around that. If the team wins 55-54, praise the offense and rip the defense, and you have your story. To me, it's just not that easy. It's true the offense struggled all game long, but this game became a field position, head-knocker midway through the first quarter, and you could see how this was going to go. If you've followed Ohio State football the past decade, you've seen this movie before. It's just that Urban Meyer and Luke Fickell played the lead roles previously filled by Jim Tressel and Jim Heacock. With the same result.

- Wisconsin is so well-coached and their goal is first and foremost to get you to play the game the way they want it played, and they succeeded. Wisconsin and Northwestern do the most with the least in the Big Ten, and you see it on a weekly basis. Mostly by sticking to what they do best, and not varying from their plan. Wisconsin wants, no needs, each game to be a street-fight, and that's what they got. Unfortunately for them, Ohio State was more than ready to meet the challenge, and slug with them all day long. Blame the play-calling and execution all you want, but from the 8-minute mark of the first quarter this was predictably not going to be a 55-54 game, and you could see it was going to be a physical battle.

- I've said for a long while that Urban Meyer is the best coach in college football, and what was once a terrible opinion to have in Ohio is now quite popular. In football, at every level, you simply have to be able to win games 55-54, or 17-14. Urban Meyer has done that over his career, and he has won games consistently by whatever means necessary. Defense getting shredded? We'd better score 50. Offense not having a clue? Don't let them score. The special teams have been risk/reward most of the year, and the negative plays are so not like Urban Meyer, but the Wisconsin game was SO Urban Meyer. Punt return for a score wins the game basically. And do not discount Ben Buchanan's punting when looking at keys to winning. Hit them long when he needed to, and dropped a few inside the 20. And nothing close to being blocked.

- Did the offensive line control the game? Not really, but they battled all day long and dominated the overtime when they absolutely needed a touchdown. Taking the first possession of an overtime game is not an advantage at all, UNLESS your offense jams the ball into the end zone with ease. That puts tremendous pressure on the opposing offense, which Wisconsin couldn't answer. Before killing the O-line, give them credit for coming through in overtime. (Although just ONE first down after the Ball fumble would have been nice).

- Braxton Miller wasn't very good, either passing or running the football, and the entire Wisconsin game plan was to let him throw all he wanted, but cut off every running lane. And it worked. This is probably where you're supposed to say Ohio State will never win a national title until they develop a better passing attack. Then again, maybe not.

- One minor criticism I would have from the Wisconsin game is that I wish they would have called more running plays for Carlos Hyde. They were going to stone the read option every time, and maybe not having Zach Boren on offense prevented them from jumping into the "I" and getting the lead blocker ahead of Hyde. Other than that, my thought was to play "Tressel-ball" (imagine that), and grind out a tough win. It was the type of game where one turnover could make the difference, and in the end that one turnover did make the difference.

- Urban consistently tells them to stick to the plan, and the end result will be the AP national title. He has laid out the scenario every week how to accomplish that goal. He predicted losses by the top teams at the end of their seasons, and maybe this message wasn't totally grasped until last week when Alabama lost. That brought "The Plan" into focus. This week's theme was that they had to go to Wisconsin and win, because at least one and possibly two, of the undefeateds were going down. Urban got his win. And then he got two. "The Plan" will be listened to intently this week, BANK THAT.

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