Ohio State boasts an impressive 3.33 turnover margin - tops in the nation - and the defense deserves much of the credit. The unit as a whole has created five turnovers via fumble, intercepted seven passes and stopped several opponent drives on downs. Short fields have been the norm for the Buckeye offense, averaging a starting spot of the OSU 40-yard line through the first three games of the year.
Saturday afternoon's victory against in-state for Ohio University was more of the same for the Buckeye defense. Both teams threw two interceptions, but the Bobcats fumbled the ball five times and lost it on three occasions. Ohio State's offense also took advantage of most of OU's miscues. The five turnovers by the Bobcats resulted in 17 points, all coming during the Buckeyes' dominant first half.
Senior defensive end Cameron Heyward had one of the turnovers against Ohio University, recovering a Vince Davidson fumble in the second quarter. He didn't have an answer as to why the defense has had so much success forcing turnovers.
"I don't know what it is, but we'll take it for what it's worth," Heyward said. "Our defense really wants to make big plays, and I want to make big plays. When we're getting off the field in two plays, that's amazing. It gets our offense back on the field in great territory, and we've been able to convert on them too."
Heyward also described his big plays – the fumble recovery and his tackle for a safety in the third quarter – as plays in which he was in the right place at the right time. Fellow defensive lineman John Simon said being where you're supposed to be on a play is half the battle.
"If everyone does their job then someone's going to be there to make the play," Simon said. "We work as a team. We don't have individuals trying to go out there and make plays. When everyone does their job, one guy is going to make a play."
That was a sentiment echoed by two players who had a hand in some of the turnovers on Saturday. Junior Orhian Johnson, a safety who not only made his first career start on Saturday but also had a hand in a turnover. He forced a fumble on a Dallas Brown reception that OSU cornerback Devon Torrence recovered in the third quarter.
"If you're in the right place at the right time, the athleticism will just take over," Johnson said.
Senior linebacker Ross Homan forced a fumble and intercepted a Bates pass.
"It's just been the scheme that we play and everybody doing their job," Homan said. "If one person breaks down and doesn't do their job we won't get that position or that guy won't be there to get that fumble recovery."
The turnovers have also helped Ohio State set the tone early in its first three game. The first offensive series for Miami (Fla.) and Ohio University ended in a turnover. Hurricane quarterback Jacory Harris threw an interception, as did OU's Phil Bates. The defense did not force a turnover on Marshall's first possession, but the Thundering Herd did fumble away the opening kickoff.
"You have to get momentum early in this game, get our offense the ball and go from there," Homan said.
The efforts of the Ohio State defense have not been lost of the members of the offense, either.
"You can't ask for anything more," Stoneburner said. "We never have to feel like we have to exert ourselves by having an 80-yard drive. We can score in two plays because of our field position. We have the best defense in the country, and if they keep doing that, the sky's the limit."