Buckeye Breakdown: Ohio State Outscores UC

Some Buckeyes came of age Saturday night as Ohio State pulled away from Cincinnati thanks to a record-setting offensive performance. The BuckeyeSports.com crew gives our thoughts on what we saw on the Ohio Stadium field in this week's Buckeye Breakdown.

Ohio State run offense: Ohio State would have rushed for 400 yards had a bad snap not resulted in a 20-yard loss on the second-to-last play of the game, which tells you all you need to know about how the Buckeyes fared in that category against Cincinnati. The biggest thing to me is that Ohio State found out, at least to some degree, that it could depend on Ezekiel Elliott to move the chains when it needed to score most. After the Bearcats connected for a 78-yard touchdown to cut the score to 33-28, Ohio State responded by giving the ball to Elliott on the first three plays of the drive for gains of 8, 11 and 12 yards. On the next drive, Ohio State went back to the well on the first three snaps for gains of 2, 9 and 12 yards. Both of those drives ended in passing touchdowns, but that phase of the game was opened up by Elliott’s success on the ground. Fifth-year senior Rod Smith had some much-needed success as well, carrying the ball 11 times for 61 yards. Perhaps the only quibble all night with the running backs unit was a fumble from true freshman Curtis Samuel that put a pretty quick end to his workload. -- Ryan Ginn

Ohio State pass offense: J.T. Barrett is pretty good, especially for a redshirt freshman. On a night that featured Troy Smith being honored as an new inductee to the Ohio State Hall of Fame, Barrett became the first Buckeye quarterback since Smith to record back-to-back 300-yard passing games. Admittedly, Smith did so in 2006 against Michigan and Notre Dame, and Kent State and Cincinnati are hardly world beaters. Even so, four touchdown passes and – more importantly – no turnovers always results in a stellar stat line. Barrett also distributed the ball well, completing passes to 10 different receivers. –- Matthew Hager

Ohio State run defense: Cincinnati didn't come here to run it, and they didn't. The Bearcats finished with juts 19 rushes compared to 33 passes and netted 70 yards, an average of 3.7 per play. UC did have something when it brought rushing QB Jarred Evans into the game at times, using three-back setup to confuse the Buckeyes, but that was used only sparingly and was the only way for the Bearcats to move the ball on the ground. The tape will give OSU some clues if future opponents attempt to bring out the diamond formation again, but I don't really see that happening too much. So this category is a passing grade for sure. -- Jeff Svoboda

Ohio State pass defense: It's a bottom line business, so there is no getting around the fact the secondary had another bad day. Gunner Kiel threw for 352 yards and four touchdowns without an interception while receiver Chris Moore's 221 receiving yards (on only three catches) 6 six shy of the single-game record against Ohio State. Moore is the third receiver to go over the 200-yard receiving mark in a game against Ohio State, and the third to do so in the past calendar year, joining Jared Abbrederis of Wisconsin (207) and Sammy Watkins of Clemson (227). The first two helped inspire a move to a new scheme in the secondary, one that had its sometimes-high-risk nature exposed by the Bearcats, who hit a pair of long TDs on players who were beaten in single coverage and another on a blown assignment. The Buckeyes did avoid a replay of the constant medium chunk plays that plagued them in some games last year, though, so there is some progress even as players continue to learn how to play the new style. -- Marcus Hartman

What We Learned…

Ryan Ginn: The offensive line is coming together. Ohio State head coach Urban Meyer credited the offensive line for the win and particularly for the success of the ground attack. Those words were a far cry from his assessment when the unit that was flat-out mauled by Virginia Tech to the tune of six fourth-quarter sacks. Redshirt freshman quarterback J.T. Barrett was sacked just once tonight and often found himself with plenty of time to scan the field or enough space to make a dash for it. The numbers that the running backs put up speak for themselves when it comes to the play of the big men up front. It's still a work in progress, but tonight's play was a positive step.

Matthew Hager: That Cincinnati’s defense is pretty bad. Also that this game pretty much went as expected. The revamped Ohio State defense had its share of struggles and will have plenty of teachable moments to break down with the game film. Fortunately for the Buckeyes, they will likely not see a quarterback as talented as Gunner Kiel again in the regular season. The offense had little trouble moving the ball against a porous Cincinnati defense, and it’s also becoming undeniable that Barrett is likely going to be a pretty good college quarterback.

Marcus Hartman: The Buckeyes have a plethora of weapons on offense and a quarterback who is getting better and better at using them every week. They also have a growing offensive line that is getting better at setting the physical tone Urban Meyer wants. The defense is still a work in progress, and it does not get a breather next week when the Buckeyes visit Maryland, where the Terrapins have a dual-threat quarterback and multiple talented receiving targets.

Jeff Svoboda: Ohio State might be talented enough to beat every team on its schedule. The Buckeyes aren't gonna be perfect on either side of the ball -- they're too young for that -- but who is gonna stop this offense enough to get a win against OSU if the offensive line gives J.T. Barrett enough time to distribute the ball? Ohio State made some big mistakes tonight and still smashed records. Meanwhile, the defense might give up some big plays, but on the whole, they're good enough to make enough stops to keep opponents under 30 points. And as the offense improves seemingly by the game, that should be enough to keep winning.


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