Buckeye Breakdown: Ohio State Beats Its Rival

As Urban Meyer said, a lot happened during Ohio State's win vs. Michigan to close its third straight undefeated Big Ten season. We try to make sense of it all in this week's Buckeye Breakdown.

Ohio State run offense: Michigan made the Buckeyes work for their 233 yards, but ultimately Ohio State had too much talent to contain. Ezekiel Elliott was able to break the Wolverines’ backs with a sprint up the middle on a dive play on which middle linebacker Jake Ryan appeared to be the only defensive player who had entertained the idea he might get the ball. The rest flowed to the option action and were caught out of position when Elliott ran through Ryan’s diving tackle attempt. -- Marcus Hartman

Ohio State pass offense: Ohio State will have a lot of work to do next week to get sophomore quarterback Cardale Jones ready, especially given all the success redshirt freshman J.T. Barrett had against the Wolverines. It wasn’t his best game by any stretch of the imagination, but Barrett didn’t make many mistakes while completing 13 of 21 passes for 176 yards and a touchdown. His 52-yard pass to Devin Smith that set up a rushing touchdown was also a thing of beauty. With Ohio State leading the entire time he was in, Jones only attempted three passes and completed two of them for 7 yards. The one incompletion, though, was wayward enough to give Ohio State fans concern that he might not be able to replace Barrett as well as Barrett replaced preseason Heisman candidate Braxton Miller. -- Ryan Ginn

Ohio State run defense: Well, the numbers were better for Ohio State, but I'm not sure people will feel all that great after Michigan had some success running the football. This wasn't Minnesota, Wisconsin or Indiana, yet Michigan was able to create holes in the running game throughout the day. Michigan finished with 121 total yards and 3.2 yards per carry, but a large part of that was five sacks on U-M quarterback Devin Gardner; take those out and U-M had 33 rushes for 162 yards, a much more palatable total. Too many times, Michigan blocked up the line and also got linemen to the second level to get in front of linebackers Joshua Perry, Raekwon McMillan and Curtis Grant. The Big Ten title game will be a big task for OSU in this realm -- Jeff Svoboda

Ohio State pass defense: Things started beautifully for the pass offense as Vonn Bell intercepted Devin Gardner on the first drive of the game, but the Wolverines had much more success in the air from there. Gardner finished with 233 yards and two touchdowns. Unsurprisingly, Devin Funchess was his favorite target and the wide receiver hauled in seven balls for 108 yards. Funchess proved too big for Doran Grant who was tasked with one-on-one coverage on the big-bodied receiver for most of the evening. Grant wasn’t in bad position on the 45-yard bomb that set up Michigan’s first touchdown, but he simply couldn’t go up and get the ball from Funchess. The Wolverines also had some success on gimmick passing plays, one with a four-tight end formation and another on a running back toss. The Buckeyes did record five sacks in the game, so the pressure was there, but the coverage left something to be desired. -- Blake Williams

What We Learned…

Ryan Ginn: In the grand scheme of things, this is a game. What happened to J.T. Barrett was unfortunate, but the more time walk-on Kosta Karageorge remains missing, the more worry sets in that an actual tragedy may have taken place. Listening to junior defensive tackle Adolphus Washington talk about the past week, both before and after Karageorge went missing, was a gut-wrenching dose of perspective after wondering how Barrett’s injury might affect Ohio State’s playoff chances.

Marcus Hartman: Rivalry games still bring out the best in teams, and Ohio State still has questions on defense. Coupled with the loss of Barrett, bringing home the Big Ten championship is going to be no easy task regardless of the opponent. I don’t doubt the Buckeyes’ ability to withstand the loss mentally, but their launch back into serious playoff talk coincided with Barrett becoming a dynamic weapon, not just a distributor. They’ll again have to find someone to make the plays they lost with his fractured ankle.

Jeff Svoboda: That Urban Meyer coaches gutty football teams. There wasn't much doubt about that anyway -- his teams have responded from punches in each of his first two seasons as well -- but this one seems kind of special in that regard. There's been a few times this year it seems like the Buckeyes have really seen the odds stacked against them, and this Saturday was no different. Down two Heisman contenders at quarterback, the Buckeyes increased their lead on their rivals by two touchdowns in the final 10 minutes. I don't know how this season will end -- or how the CFP committee will react to this loss -- but I do know these Buckeyes deserve a lot of credit, and this is a win to savor.

Blake Williams: This just isn’t Ohio State’s year. With all due respect to Cardale Jones, the injury to Barrett pretty much ends any hope of a Buckeye national title. Yes, many thought that after Braxton Miller went down, but Barrett had been taking first-team reps in practice while Miller was recovering and had a season of maturation under his belt. Jones has neither of those advantages. Coming back from an injury to a Heisman-contending quarterback to be a nationally relevant team is tough to do once. The Buckeyes won’t be able to do it twice. Football works that way sometimes and with this injury, it’s clear this just isn’t Ohio State’s year


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