Even worse, tailbacks Maurice Hall and Lydell Ross combined to net just 3 yards on 17 carries against the Wolfpack. And, even worse, last week's top rusher, quarterback Craig Krenzel, was sidelined with an elbow injury as the Buckeyes prepared to play Bowling Green.
But the OSU offense came to play, racking up 205 yards on the ground in the 24-17 win over BGSU. Hall enjoyed his first career 100-yard game with 107 yards on 19 carries. Ross added 94 yards on 22 attempts with two touchdowns. Ross was actually over 100 yards until a pair of losses late in the game.
"It was better than last week, I know that," said Hall, whose previous best was 93 yards last year against Minnesota. "It was some good improvement and I think we have to keep getting better. I know last week we were both frustrated."
Hall said sharing the load with Ross, who started the game, is no big deal, especially if they can each get close to 20 touches and the running game clicks.
"Lydell made a lot of big runs," Hall said. "I felt like I had to step up and make some big runs, too. It's kind of like a competition and we both want to help this team. We did pretty good today. Our offense feeds off the running game. For us to get those carries and get those kind of yards, it will definitely help our offense."
Hall was asked if it felt like a 100-yard game: "Not really. I felt like I made a couple good runs. I didn't know how many yards I had. I'm not satisfied. I want to get into the end zone and there were a couple of reads I missed."
But he said he would gladly take his first century mark as a Buckeye -- and the team's first since Maurice Clarett ran for 119 yards last year against Michigan.
"This is my third year and finally I'm there. I just need to keep getting better and hopefully have more of them," he said.
Hall said the offensive line delivered the blocking he and Ross needed to make an impact.
"The line came to play today," he said. "All week, they were working hard. I saw it with them all week and I knew today was going to be a good day because they were working hard. All we could do was follow them.
"The offensive line definitely stepped it up. They got a big push and that's why we were able to get it going."
Hall did especially well on runs to the outside, something the OSU offense had been missing to date.
"We wanted to try and get outside a little bit instead of just going inside," he said. "I'm not really that big of a guy. Running outside is better for me, I think. I can run inside but I think outside is better. I was trying to run hard and let people know I can run hard. I can run over you or around you.
"We came into practice this week and wanted to get outside a little bit. Coach Tressel tried to put some pitch plays in to see if they could work. They worked pretty well so hopefully we will continue to run it. I think it keeps the defense on their toes because they don't know if we're going to run inside all the time."
Hall was relieved when the Buckeyes had finally held off the upset-minded Falcons.
"We're getting better, but we have to stay focused the entire game," he said. "Those turnovers allow teams to come back on us. We have to play a full 60 minutes. There were three or four drives where we turned it over."
Hall, a product of nearby Columbus Brookhaven, was not surprised to see BGSU quarterback Josh Harris, a former rival at Westerville South, have such a big day.
"I know Josh really well," Hall said. "We played against hm in high school. He's a good player. I knew he would be successful in college. They definitely came to play, especially in a big game like Ohio State."