After today's game, that's easier said than done, but I'll try.
Review: The Buckeyes dropped a tough one to UCLA today, 13-6. This game is going to be hard to stomach for a while because there were so many opportunities for the offense to get it done, but it could capitalize on none of them.
The Bruins' defense pitched a shutout today as the only six points OSU scored came on a blocked punt by Mike Doss that was recovered for a TD by Ricky Bryant. The Buckeye offense even got the ball two times inside the UCLA 20 after the D forced a turnover, but no points could be mustered.
The scoring started on UCLA's first drive when they marched 80 yards on 14 plays, capped off by a Cory Paus TD pass to Ryan Smith. UCLA moved the ball well, getting some big third-and-long plays, and they continued to move the ball well throughout the first half, but this was their first and last TD of the game.
OSU did little on their first drive and then punted the ball to UCLA, who got the ball deep in their own territory. The Bruins were stopped by the OSU defense and were forced to punt, but the punt was blocked by Mike Doss and was recovered for a TD by Ricky Bryant. However, the ensuing PAT was missed by Mike Nugent, which seemed to set the tone for the day for both teams.
On UCLA's next drive, OSU looked to keep momentum as Cie Grant picked up a forced fumble by Donnie Nickey and advanced it inside the UCLA 20. However, a personal foul face mask penalty on OSU drove them back 15 yards right away, and the offense could not punch it in for the TD. Mike Nugent then lined up for a 28-yard field goal attempt, which was missed.
On the next drive, the Bruins stormed down the field with the help of a 46-yard bomb to Tab Perry, but the Bruins had some kicking misfortunes of their own as Chris Griffith missed a 40-yard attempt. Griffith would make a 49-yard attempt later in the second quarter, and that made it 10-6 at the half. The stats were lopsided -- OSU only had two first downs in the first half -- but the defense was able to keep the Buckeyes hanging around at halftime.
The second half didn't get any prettier. In the third quarter, the Buckeyes sputtered on their first drive, then the Bruins missed another field goal, and then later on when the Buckeyes recovered a DeShaun Foster fumble deep in UCLA territory, the Buckeye offense once again moved backwards, and the drive resulted in a missed Josh Huston field goal. On the next drive, UCLA was able to drive down and add a field goal, making it 13-6.
The Buckeyes were given chances the rest of the way, but they could not capitalize. DeShaun Foster fumbled again in the fourth quarter, but nothing came of it. Then later in the game, UCLA's Craig Bragg fumbled a punt in UCLA territory, but the Buckeyes could not do anything. OSU got some golden opportunities, but when opportunity knocked, OSU did not let it in.
Not-so-expert Analysis: The stats are ugly for OSU -- 8 total first downs, 166 total yards offense, and Steve Bellisari going 5 for 23 for 45 yards and two INTs. Despite the fact that UCLA turned the ball over four times and gave the ball to OSU three times in their own territory, the Buckeye offense was good for no points today. If the OSU offense was a painting, it would have been something scribbled on a wall by a two-year old. If the OSU offense was a movie, it would have been "Dude, Where's My Car?" If the OSU offense was a rapper, it would have been Vanilla Ice. You get the idea.
UCLA didn't exactly play a great game either. They shot themselves in the foot so many times that they had to reload the gun. But the Buckeyes shot themselves in the foot just as many times.
Let's talk about the defenses for a second though. Give credit to UCLA's defense -- they got the job done in a big way. They answered some of their criticisms and were a big reason why the OSU offense couldn't get anything done. Also give credit to the OSU D. In a bucknutshell, the Ohio State defense did everything they had to do to help this team win. They stopped UCLA when it counted and gave the offense some wonderful opportunities. This defense is going to have a fine season.
Special teams play was ugly on both sides. UCLA had an ugly special teams game all around as they missed field goals, had a punt blocked, and fumbled a punt. As for OSU, the kicking game proved to be a bigger problem than we feared. Not one kick attempt that counted was made today, and each of those kicks were kicks that absolutely must be made. If there is a silver lining, it looks like OSU may have a pretty solid punter in Andy Groom, but there is a lot of work do be done on the placekicking. But while the placekicking hurt this team, the game was lost on offense.
Overall, there's a lot of work to do if this team wants to compete for the Big Ten crown. But don't get down on the Buckeyes, folks. This team that OSU played is going to most likely be the best team that the Buckeyes will play this year, and after seeing all the teams in the Big Ten play, I still see there isn't a team in the Big Ten that the Buckeyes cannot beat. Sure, this is a tough game to swallow right now, but let's keep our heads up. As a matter of fact, let's just throw this game out the window and look to the Big Ten schedule, because this team still has a chance to accomplish some very good things.