OVERALL SUMMARY: Once again, Ohio State did what they needed to do and they totally destroyed Rutgers in a very methodical manner Saturday at home. This is exactly what good teams should do to bad teams, and Rutgers never had much hope of competing in this game. Last week they hung with Iowa to the end, but Ohio State was not about to let that happen this week. This was a surgical procedure gone wrong for Rutgers.
THE COACHING: It ALWAYS starts at the top. ALWAYS. When you're 54-4 you get and deserve lots of praise. Through four games, this has been a complete 180 from last year, where the record looked great and NFL draft picks were produced, but I don't think Meyer did one of his better coaching jobs at all. He screwed up the offense with the QB derby. He could never find the right mix on offense to get plays called. He could never decide if they were pro-style or zone read. That team was rarely motivated, and won games by out-talenting the opposition. It all culminated with the embarrassment against Michigan State, and Zeke Elliott deciding he would get his team motivated and playing well after that. Fast forward to four games this year, and look at areas of attitude, motivation, work ethic, execution, player development. It's only October, but Meyer has been Urban Meyer at his best so far.
THE OFFENSE: Again, this group is doing what they're supposed to do, but maybe a little bit better than anyone could have expected? This offensive line has moved everyone off the ball they've faced. There have been a few pass-pro breakdowns, but nobody throws perfect games in college football. With new starters in Jones, Prince and Jordan, AND a new O-line coach in Greg Studrawa, this group has been an A+ to date. To me, this is the key to this offense. Mike Weber has been asked to do a lot in this offense, and he has come through beautifully so far. He might be the one player they cannot afford to lose off this side of the ball, because the offense needs a pounder between the guards. The receivers were unknowns coming in to the season, and they still are to me. Noah Brown is a possession guy, but the rest need to build off their Rutgers performances. J.T. Barrett can still get loose with the football in the passing game, but he's a master running the zone read.
THE DEFENSE: I was actually worried about the defensive backfield coming in, which shows my football intelligence level, because these guys have been nothing short of great. We all knew Gareon Conley was special, but I sure never saw Hooker, Webb, Lattimore, Ward and Arnette doing the things they did Saturday. Rutgers completed three passes against Ohio State, and I'm shocked they got those three done. I also thought the outside linebackers could be a concern, but Chris Worley continued his outstanding play Saturday. The D-line flat dominated. Rutgers ran only 54 plays, and gained a whopping 116 yards. Hats off to Greg Schiano for the way this defense has played since the opening play of the season against Bowling Green. The points scored are fun for the offense, but this is a defensive team in my mind right now.
LOOK AHEAD TO INDIANA: They are much better than Rutgers and they're not awful by any means. And they've had some good efforts against Ohio State in the past few years. There "could" be a letdown next week with the two big road games coming up, and that will be Meyer's biggest concern at practice this week. Look for Meyer to be a little nasty this week to keep the foot on the gas, as he will want this team to be primed and sharp heading to Wisconsin and Penn State.
LOOK AHEAD TO THE REST OF THE SEASON: I believe the only way to beat Ohio State is still the only way anyone has either beaten them or come close during this 54-4 run. Unless you have Tahj Boyd, Sammy Watkins and Martevous Bryant on your team, and with those guys you can try to win a shootout. Without those guys, and who has them, you need to make it a street fight. You need to make it a low scoring, highly physical, WAR. You must stop either Hyde, Elliott or Weber first and foremost. Then you make Braxton, Cardale or J.T. prove they can throw the football consistently. You make them keep the ball as you take away the inside run, and whack them hard every time they run. You take a team that is used to low stress and lots of points, and you make it HIGH STRESS with a game in the 20's. You hope a team that has never had to throw the football and has been in very few close games, can't handle the pressure and cracks. That is a slim path to take to win, and that's why Meyer is 54-4. Can Wisconsin do this? Maybe. Can Penn State? Probably not. Michigan State? Not a chance. That's my guaranteed OSU win game. That leaves Michigan. And that one is going to be a lot of fun, especially if both are undefeated.