James Grega: Considering what he has been through in his career and the kind of game he had, for me it is hard not to go with Marshon Lattimore as my player of the game. Two interceptions, ultimately leading to 10 points and three tackles on the outside made him stand out in a defensive masterpiece by the Buckeyes. After suffering through multiple injuries the first two years of his Ohio State career, Lattimore has earned a starting spot and has made the most of it thus far. If he can continue his play into the Oklahoma game, OSU might be able to steal a win on the road against a tough quarterback matchup. I am also going to give a shoutout to J.T. Barrett. While his numbers don't jump off the page, he was able to bounce back from a rough first half, something the OSU offense did not seem to be able to do last season.
Tim Moody: A lot of Ohio State players had decent games against Tulsa, but not many had a great game. One that popped in my eyes from start to finish was defensive end Sam Hubbard. The sophomore came up with a huge third-down sack in the first half and finished the game with six tackles, including two for a loss. Hubbard’s play obviously wasn’t the difference between a win and a loss, but he showed up in a big way after having a very quiet outing against Bowling Green. And, just like last week, Malik Hooker deserves at least a mention – it was his interception returned for a touchdown that put the Buckeyes in a comfortable position. Cornerback Marshon Lattimore earned a shoutout as well, and would’ve been my choice after Hubbard for a Buckeye Leaf this week.
What We Learned
1. The Ohio State Secondary Might Be Better Than We Thought
While the competition hasn't exactly been high caliber, the Ohio State secondary has picked off seven passes in just two games after tallying just 12 all of last season. Don't forget that three members of last years secondary are currently on NFL rosters. While I think many expected Gareon Conley to have a big year, the emergence of Malik Hooker and Lattimore have as a surprise to some so far. If the Buckeyes can continue to get this high of play from the defensive backfield, OSU might be in for a special season.
2. Jerome Baker Is The Next Man Up
It doesn’t come as a huge surprise, but sophomore linebacker Jerome Baker is definitely the fourth option at the position. That would’ve been a good bet going into the season, but when Dante Booker went down with a sprained MCL in the opener, it was fifth-year senior Joe Burger who filled in for most of the game. Baker is a freak athlete for his size – which he showed on a 13-yard fumble return – and he has all the talent needed to be a great linebacker for the Buckeyes. He played very well in his first career start (5 total tackles, 4 solo) and, should Booker be unable to go next week, he seemed ready for a bigger stage. That’s exactly what Ohio State will get in Norman, Okla., on Sept. 17.
3. The Offense Finally Rebounded
A year ago, the Ohio State offense was sputtering. Barrett and Cardale Jones were rotating and the ball rarely moved downfield as the Buckeyes were able to sneak by the likes of Northern Illinois. In the first half against Tulsa, it looked as though we were watching a repeat of the early season offense from a season ago. However, once the halftime rain delay was over, the Buckeyes came out firing on all cylinders and ran the Golden Hurricane out of the stadium. The halftime adjustments made by the coaching staff proved to be effective and that is a good sign for Buckeye fans everywhere.