Buckeye Breakdown: A Michigan Beatdown

Ohio State played what might have been its best game of the season, dismantling Michigan 42-13, and we break down what we saw in the big win.

Unit Breakdowns

Ohio State Run Offense: What a difference a week makes. Going with tempo, and being able to set up somewhat of a passing game, the Buckeyes offensive line steamrolled Michigan up and down the field for most of the game, and really the entire second half. It took a while to get going, but once Ezekiel Elliott broke a 66 yard run up the sideline to set up Ohio State’s first score, it seemed there was nothing the Buckeyes couldn’t do when it came to running the football. Zone reads, and counter trey run plays worked to perfection again just like they did down the stretch a season ago, and it all goes back to temp and timing with Warinner up in the box. – James Grega

Ohio State Pass Offense: There wasn’t much to see here, but J.T. Barrett did well with the limited amount of passes he threw. The Texan completed 9 of 15 passes for 113 yards and finished with one touchdown on an impressive grab from Jalin Marshall. The most important part of his stat line was the 0 in the interception column. Barrett did enough to thin out the box and help the running game and didn’t give Michigan a lifeline with turnovers when he did throw.  – Ryan Ginn

Ohio State Run Defense: Heading into the game I expected Ohio State to shut down Jake Rudock, but give up enough rushing yards for Michigan to be in the game late. Turns out I was wrong. Instead, the Buckeyes allowed Rudock to throw for 263 yards and a score, but held the Wolverines to just 57 rushing yards on 25 attempts — a 2.3-yard average. And 29 of those yards came by way of Jabrill Peppers, who plays defense. Other than Peppers, only Sione Houma averaged 4 yards per carry for Michigan, and he only touched the ball three times in the game. Stopping De’Veon Smith proved to be huge for Ohio State on a day when the offense could do little wrong.  – Tim Moody

Ohio State Pass Defense:  While the entire team played well against the Wolverines, this was probably the weakest link of any unit.  The Buckeyes allowed Jake Rudock to continue his improved play of late and throw for 263 yards and a touchdown without an interception. That’s just the Michigan quarterback’s fifth 200-yard passing day of the season. While it didn’t end up burning them in the blowout, the Buckeyes struggled at times in coverage and didn’t get enough pressure in the first half. That changed after half, however, as both of Ohio State’s sacks came after the break. The Buckeyes got better as the game went on and the Wolverines became more and more one dimensional, but surely the pass defense will address some issues in coverage and some poor penalties. – Blake Williams

What We Learned

Ryan Ginn: It took too long, but the Ohio State coaching staff learned from its mistakes and put together a brilliant plan to beat Michigan. Offensive coordinator Ed Warinner went to the press box to oversee the game and left tackle Taylor Decker said the end result was a tempo-driven offense the linemen have been begging for all season. A Michigan State win would make it a case of “too little, too late” but Ohio State will always be able to look back at this performance and know that at least for one game it finally lived up to its impressive preseason billing.

James Grega: Ed Warinner up in the box seems to work well. With its offensive coordinator up in the press box for the first time all season, the Buckeyes were able to move faster and with tempo as the Wolverine defense seemed to get gassed as the game went on. It seemed to be the missing link to an offense that was supposed to be world-beaters before the season began and seemed largely pedestrian until this game against Michigan. Assuming Warinner does not leave for another job, I expect this to be the plan moving forward.

Tim Moody: It turns out this team can, in fact, put everything together. That’s not to see there weren’t low points against Michigan — namely the pass defense — but the Buckeyes finally found a way to play a complete game and showcase their talents against a comparable opponent. While the game plan was certainly improved since the loss to Michigan State, Ohio State was able to dominate the Wolverines because it executed from start to finish. Buckeye fans might say it came a week late, but the team needed a performance like that to keep its aspirations alive — even if that simply means a chance to win a prestigious bowl game on New Year’s Day.

Blake Williams: Not so much what I learned as what I was reminded -- this team can be excellent. Ohio State played its best game of the season, and though it is likely too late for them to accomplish everything they hoped for this season, I was reminded Saturday that the Buckeyes are probably the most talented and complete team in the country. It helped that Michigan's front seven had been decimated by injuries, but the Buckeyes blocked as well as they have all season and that opened everything up offensively. When that happens, the Buckeyes are a pretty fun team.

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