The Buckeyes did what the Hokies, Hurricanes, and Seminoles could not do this past Saturday. They won a football game and kept themselves in the mix for some good Cajun cooking. It might not matter though because many are ready to call off the season and give the Sooners the National Championship trophy right now. They say Oklahoma is unbeatable. Wasn't Miami unbeatable last year?
Before I get carried away with the national scene, I need to bring it back to Columbus, OH. Tressel's Buckeyes played a "solid" football game. They weren't jaw dropping, spectacular or invincible, but they were very solid. We were also solid against Penn State. We weren't awful, weak, or horrible, but we played a solid football game in Happy Valley. When I entered college and had to watch film of every scrimmage, game, seven-on-seven, etc. you learn the golden rule pretty quickly. The golden rule states, "It is never as good as you think, and it is never as bad as you think." Penn State to Michigan State is a perfect example. We played fine against Penn State. We played fine against Michigan State. We need to button up our mental mistakes. We need to play faster and faster. We need to play with confidence.
I look at the Michigan State offense and realize why the coaches emphasize a balanced attack. MSU was one-dimensional. They have an outstanding aerial attack, but they are one-dimensional. Throw to set-up the run? Run to set-up the throw? WHO CARES? Just make sure you have the ability to do both. MSU had five yards rushing. When a team is so lop-sided, you can bring in five or six defensive backs. You can let the Will Smith's of the world rush off that outside edge instead of gobbling up tight ends and tackles to protect his linebackers. Ohio State struggled with the running game early in the season. Tressel and Bollman insisted on sticking with it. They realized a passing game can be out-of-sync on any given Saturday. They realized a running game can be stuffed with eight or nine in the box. You need to have an adequate running and passing game.
Some interesting stats popped out of this game. MSU was penalized nine times in the first half compared to our one penalty. Smoker only passed for 86 yards in the second half (he had 351 for the game). MSU put the ball on the ground five times while OSU had no fumbles (would have been nice to recover some of those MSU fumbles). Ross racked up 114 yards in the second half alone. These stats indicate a team that is playing smart and putting on more steam as the game continues.
The special teams made a major mistake in giving up a 93-yard touchdown. We just cannot have that. These young players trying to earn some playing time need to learn from this. I saw Hawk, Reynolds, Allen and some other defensive players working in on kickoffs. We will put 11 starters on the field if we have to.
I tip my cap to the offense for the second half effort. We had the ball for seven series in the second half. We had nice scoring drives on four of them (8 plays/80yards, 11 plays/72 yards, 10 plays/55 yards, 8 plays/50 yards). Keep in mind, one series involved three straight gives to Ira Guilford as we tried to chew up clock. In addition, the final series had McMullen taking a knee allowing the game clock to expire.
It will be important for the home crowd to get involved as Purdue rolls into town. The defense feeds off the energy. The offense needs to continue making plays. Last year, we only had reason to celebrate for 1:36 in the Purdue game. Purdue was more physical than we were. They commented that our offense appeared slow and predictable. We need to get after the Boilermakers because they truly feel they should win this game. They will watch that 2002 game film over and over. It take that back, they will watch the first 58 ½ minutes over and over.
Purdue is tied with us for the Big Ten lead. Purdue has a nice attack, but we need to intimidate the Boilermakers with our crowd. Since 1967, Purdue is only 1-28 in Columbus and Ann Arbor. This trend needs to continue and a hostile Horseshoe environment will send us to play the Wolverines sitting at 10-1.
Tyler Everett - His interception was huge. The dime back took advantage of the defensive line pressuring Smoker to throw off his back foot. Without question, that was the play of the game.
Lydell Ross - Three straight games over 100 yards. 5.2 yards per carry against MSU. Zero fumbles. Zero fumbles. Zero fumbles.
Craig Krenzel - My coach used to tell me, "Tough times don't last, tough people do." Craig heard his share of criticism following the Penn State game. His maturity is amazing.