THE OBVIOUS: Good win for Ohio State and it sets up this team to go into Norman on a high of confidence. Tulsa is not a bad football team, especially offensively, but Ohio State made them look like one. Was it a perfect win? Defensively it was close to that. Offensively? There are some questions remaining to be answered this coming Saturday.
THE COACHING: This was basically a tale of two football games, and I don't mean before the storm and after the storm. This game changed after THE TRAP. When Tulsa had the ball in their own territory with less than a minute to go, the weather was starting to get ugly. The Golden Canes were only down 13-3, AND SHOULD HAVE BEEN THRILLED TO GO TO HALFTIME DOWN BY TEN POINTS. But then Urban Meyer called a timeout after first down and Tulsa head coach Phillip Montgomery had time to think about the opportunity Meyer just presented him. Which was just what Urb hoped for. The trap was set, Montgomery went for the cheese, and died after eating the poison. That pick ended the game for all intents and purposes, A great coach baited a lesser coach and this game was over instantly. Montgomery should have ran out the clock and headed to safety obviously, but Meyer out-foxed him. Credit one to the Master.
THE QUARTERBACKS: J.T. Barrett was efficient and ran the offense better in the bad weather than he did when it was nice outside. He made good reads on the option and checked the ball down to let the receivers make yards after the catch. No major mistakes, but he seemed to struggle in the first half against a pretty suspect defense. Barrett was better in the second half, as was the offense in general. He was pressured against Tulsa, where he stood back and took all the time he wanted against Bowling Green. He is probably going to have to make throws under pressure next week. Can he do that? He will also need to run the football 20 times next week, as I anticipate Oklahoma taking away the first option on the zone read to make Barrett carry the ball and take hits.
THE RUNNINGBACKS: Really liked the physicality of Mike Weber, and he will be needed heavily next week. This offense only runs well against good teams by establishing the middle of the field. When the inside run gets stopped, Ohio State ends up being too much east/west, which works against Bowling Green and teams like them. In the past, to stop the Meyer offense teams had to stop Carlos Hyde and then Zeke Elliott. If you could do that, Ohio State became stoppable. Weber will have to be a Man on the inside next week, because he's the only power threat. He will be a player to watch early on next week against the Sooners.
WIDE RECEIVERS: I'm still not sure what Ohio State has with the outside guys as pass receivers. They all block well, but who is the deep threat? Who can get open consistently? Who's going to make the tough catch over the middle on 3rd-and-12? Is this group really good, or above average? Against Tulsa, it was mostly short dumpoffs to Curtis Samuel and Dontre Wilson, who were both really good in the open field. I think the wideouts will have to make plays down the field to beat Oklahoma, and guys like Johnnie Dixon, Noah Brown, Terry McLaurin, Austin Mack and Corey Smith need to come to play.
THE OFFENSIVE LINE: They were much better in the second half, as they should be against this porous defense from Tulsa. In the first half, there were pass protection breakdowns and they often failed to get a push running the football. After the break, this line played really well in both pass protection and in the run game. This is probably to be expected with Michael Jordan, Jamarco Jones and Isaiah Prince learning as they go. They should get better with each game played, and I think they got better last Saturday. They will need to take a step forward to handle the Oklahoma front.
THE DEFENSIVE LINE: I wrote in my preview that I expected these guys to be a lot better after Meyer chewed on them at practice for being soft against Bowling Green. The defensive line really got after quarterback Dane Evans, and completely took him out of the game. He was only sacked twice, but they harassed him all game long. They caused the picks, and remember this guy is a good QB. Sam Hubbard was Sam Hubbard again, and that's great news for this defense. Jaylin Holmes is getting to be a force as well, and Tyquan Lewis is solid as heck. Michael Hill was the best defensive tackle, in my opinion. They will need this type of effort against Baker Mayfield. Were they perfect? No, and Tulsa was able to run it a little between the guards. Brewer and Flanders had 30 carries for 98 yards, which is not like OSU got gashed, but it wasn't 30 carries for 42 yards either. Can Perrine and Mixon establish the inside run, and open things up for Mayfield? The team that has the most pass attempts will lose next Saturday. Which team stops the run? That team will win, because neither Barrett or Mayfield can just sling it up and down the field all day. They both need a running game to let them throw when they want to, not when they have to. There's your early key to victory for the Oklahoma game.
THE LINEBACKERS: Raekwon McMillan is so good that I think people under value him as a player. He is a complete, three-down linebacker, and those guys are rare today in college football. He can be a difference maker for Ohio State next week, and Oklahoma better have him accounted for on every play. Really liked the effort and intensity of Chris Worley Saturday, and he was much better than he was against Bowling Green. This group was very active in pass coverage, tipping balls and altering throwing lanes. Great day for the linebackers.
THE DEFENSIVE BACKS: The Malik Hooker Show was not as flashy as the first week, but he played even better if that's possible. If he keeps this up we are looking at a top-40 pick in next April's NFL draft. He has as much athleticism as any safety in the league, but his football IQ is amazing. He's never out of position, and he makes plays on the ball in the air. His hands are wide receiver quality, and he has everything needed to be a star. Vonn Bell was drafted early second last April. Hooker is bigger and just as good in coverage. I never thought this kid could be this good, this fast. He is very inexperienced, but plays the position like a four-year starter. The cornerbacks were all over some really good wide receivers, and shut them down. This is a good pass offense for Tulsa. The longest pass completion was 15 yards. I'm not sure the Oklahoma wideouts are all that dangerous, and this is going to be a key matchup in next week's game as well.
THE SUMMARY: This was another good win for Ohio State and when you look at highly ranked teams struggling with bad teams, you appreciate two blowouts and move on. I don't think Ohio State could be in a better position to defeat Oklahoma than where they sit today. The Sooners will be desperate, because this is an elimination game for them realistically, while a loss would not kill the Buckeyes at all. Will Oklahoma be tight? Or play their best game with their backs to the wall? Will Oklahoma's best be good enough to beat Ohio State's best? Next week sets up as a great game and why we all love college football so much. Going to be fun.