And so, we draw closer to another season in Ohio Stadium. Senior Day is always special, but this one even more so… and there’s more work yet to be done. Aw, heck… I’m getting all choked up just thinking about it. Here, listen to the soundtrack and enjoy your Thursday.
Playing in Urbana Champaign, the Buckeyes secured their record-tying 22nd straight win over the Illinois Fighting Illini. Playing a game that was a lot more competitive than anyone anticipated, the Buckeyes held off Illinois by a final of 60-35. Braxton Miller struggled a little today throwing the football, connecting on 13 of 29 passes for 150 yards and two touchdowns. He also added 184 yards a touchdown and a fumble on 16 carries. Nathan Scheelhaase had a better day hitting 32/49 for 283 yards, 2 touchdowns, but also 2 interceptions. He picked up an additional 48 yards and a touchdown on 14 carries.
Carlos Hyde was again the star of the game for the Buckeyes. Carlos put together an impressive running day with 24 carries for 246 yards and 4 touchdowns on the ground, along with 2 receptions for 26 yards and a touchdown. While not a 300 yard game, it was strongly reminiscent of Eddie George’s huge game against Illinois in 1995. Corey “Philly” Brown added 7 catches for 49 yards and a touchdown, while Chris Fields picked up 2 catches for 58 yards. On the other side Josh Ferguson carried the ball 15 times for 69 yards and a touchdown, while Steve Hull had 8 receptions for 105 yards and a touchdown.
The Buckeyes started the game with the ball and put the exclaimation point up early. Starting with a strategy that was very similar to the previous two games, Miller began throwing the little dump pass to the outside, once to Dontre Wilson on a short wheel route that he missed, and once to Corey “Philly” Brown on a WR screen. But it was the third play that broke it all open. Miller faked one defender out with the play action, then blew through two defenders that had no idea what was going on. By time the Illinois defense had recovered, Miller was 10 yards past them with a full head of steam on the way to a 70 yard score.
The passing game for the Illini is one of the best in the conference, with Nathan Scheelhaase leading the conference in passing yards. Not surprisingly, Illinois went to it early and found some success moving the ball. On his third pass, Scheelhaase tossed it over the middle into a crowd of Buckeyes that connected squarely with CJ Barnett for a pick. Unfortunately, the Buckeyes screwed up the center to quarterback exchange on first down, and were forced into a 3rd and 19 that they couldn’t convert.
After trading punts that put each team deep in their own territory, the Buckeyes offense got moving again. It was apparent that the wind in the stadium was having a major effect on things. Not only was Miller struggling a little to hit targets down field in the passing game, both under-throwing and over-throwing Devin Smith on long passes, but the entire offensive strategy seemed a little more constrained. Using the short passing game, and taking advantage of the power in the running game, Miller was eventually able to connect on short pass to Hyde in the flat that the runningback was able to put into the endzone from 18 yards out.
We’ve been meeting up with our friends from Champaign a hundred times now; it certainly seems like today’s soundtrack is more than appropriate.
Injury Update- Coach Meyer reported that the team is (finally) healthy, and will be ready for the stretch run. Jordan Hall in particular was pointed out as being active in practice; he’d been struggling with “a knee thing”.
We’ve reached the second bye week and the Buckeyes are on a roll. Coming off a 56-0 win at Purdue on Saturday, the Buckeyes are now closing in on the Leaders division championship and a spot in the Big Ten title game as well as keeping pace at the top of the BCS standings. We’ll look into all of it, play out some scenarios and laugh at TTUN. It’s Wednesday, let’s rumble!
Exorcising the demons
Ross-Ade Stadium in West Lafayette on the campus of Purdue University has been somewhat of a house of horrors for the Buckeye football program over the last decade. Losses in 2000, 2004, 2009 and 2011 have made winning at Ross-Ade tougher for the Buckeyes than winning in Ann Arbor.
Those losses certainly did not go unnoticed by the players and especially Urban Meyer and his coaching staff. When warm-ups weren’t looking crisp on Saturday morning, Meyer told reporters he had strength coach Micky Maroti show some fire in the locker-room to wind the guys up just to be sure nobody was taking the day lightly or sleep walking.
When Doran Grant stepped in front of Boilermaker quarterback Danny Etling’s pass on the second play of the opening series of the game and returned it for a touchdown, the rout was officially on and all thoughts of an ambush or even a tight finish went out the door.
The Buckeyes were dominant racking up 640 total yards. We could see this building since around the mid point of the third quarter at Northwestern and it has blossomed into a point scoring machine that is multifaceted and hits you from all angles. Jeff Heurmann had a breakout performance while Nick Vannett also hit pay-dirt in the best day Ohio State tight ends have had since the mid 90′s. Carlos Hyde did what Carlos Hyde does, he ran over around and through people. Braxton Miller was great hitting on 19 of 23 attempts and four touchdowns. And to think: They didn’t even really try to get the ball deep down the field to Devin Smith, Evan Spencer or Philly Brown.
Brax is back and you’re gonna be in trouble
I said last week after his performance against Penn State that I felt Braxton Miller was finally officially all the way back to his normal self. Against Purdue he left no doubt I was correct in that assertion. He kept plays alive with his feet despite only being credited for one carry. He was masterful in deciding where to go with the ball and several of those passes were balls that are typically described as “lasers” or “ropes”. And when you thought you’d seen it all, he scrambled to the left, avoided some defenders and flipped a touchdown toss to Philly Brown all in a space about the size of a phone booth. All in the first half. Read More
Ross-Aide stadium has been a house of horrors for the Buckeyes in recent years, but it was as friendly a home they could have found outside of Columbus today. Ohio State rode their momentum from the Penn State game last week straight through Purdue on their way to a 56-0 shutout victory and their 21st straight win dating back to last season. Braxton Miller led the way with a 19/23 passing day for 233 yards, 4 touchdowns and an interception. Danny Etling threw a pedestrian 11/25 for 72 yards and an interception in the biggest loss for the Boilermakers to a Buckeye team since the 49-0 victory in 2010 that was later vacated.
Carlos Hyde and Kenny Guiton both had solid days running the football. Hyde picked up 111 yards on only 8 carries, while Guiton gained 98 on 9. Jeff Heuerman led all receivers with 5 catchs for 116 yards and 1 touchdown. Five different Buckeyes caught touchdown passes today, including: Chris Fields, Nick Vannett, Corey Brown, and Ezekiel Elliott. For Purdue, Akeem Hunt gained 23 yards on 6 carries while Gary Bush caught 2 passes for 18 yards. As a team the Buckeyes outgained the Boilermakers 630-116 overall in offensive yardage – the second 600 yard game for Ohio State in a row.
The game started about as poorly for Purdue as they could imagine. Starting with the ball, they did manage to find some running room on the ground. But facing a 2nd and five, Danny Etling tossed the ball straight into the arms of a waiting Doran Grant. Grant returned the ball 33 yards for the first touchdown of the game 57 seconds into the game. Purdue followed that drive with a three and out stopped less than a yard short of the goalline.
Things didn’t go much better for Purdue when OSU had the ball, not that you would expect them to. The Buckeyes opened with the exact same gameplan they opened with last week. The first play was a WR screen on the outside to soften up the interior of the Purdue defense. That was followed by a pass over the middle to the left side where Purdue’s defense had left a massive gap. Jeff Heuerman was the recipient of the gift of a wide open field when the safety bit on the wrong receiver. Heuerman had no trouble taking the pass 40 yards into the endzone to give the Buckeyes a two score lead.
It took their third drive for the Boilermakers to get things unbottled. A handful of good short passes intermixed with solid runs helped to keep the defense honest and the Boilers moving. Noah Spence nearly single-handedly killed what was looking like a promising drive when he charged into the backfield and hammered Etling for a sack and an eight yard loss. Purdue was forced to punt a play later after an Etling pass was batted down under pressure.
Well, you’ve got all day to plan your attack for tonight… personally, I’ve got plans to go to “all the candy is on sale” day tomorrow. We’re digging through our country albums for today’s soundtracks; one goofy, one “creepy”. Country not your thing? Well remember, we used to think this and this were OK as well.
The Iowa Hawkeyes (4-2, 1-1) came calling to Columbus Ohio to take on the Buckeyes (6-0, 2-0), and they came with a fight in them. Both teams traded body blows on the way to a 34-24 final score. Braxton Miller led the way with his passing game, throwing 22-27 for 222 yards and 2 touchdowns while running 18 times for 102 yards. His counterpart, Jake Rudock, connected on 19-34 for 245 yards and 3 touchdowns with an interception.
The real difference was in the running game, as Carlos Hyde again put together a powerful performance. His 24 carries for 149 yards was a continuation of his great game in Northwestern. To it he added the first two running touchdowns scored against Iowa this season. In the passing game, Devin Smith and Corey “Philly” Brown each scored a touchdown and put up 72 yards a piece. Iowa’s key playmakers included RB Damon Bullock (10 carries, 55 yards), RB Mark Weisman (10 carries, 52 yards), and TE Jake Duzey (6 receptions, 138 yards, 1 touchdown).
Starting with the ball first, the Hawkeyes struck fast. They followed excellent blocking through the first few plays, gaining most of their yardage on the ground against the #6 rushing defense in the nation. Once the Buckeyes were forced to commit against the run, they began to strike in the usual soft spot in the zone on the left side. Ultimately, Iowa dinked and dunked their way to the endzone, taking everything the Buckeyes were giving them all the way to a touchdown.
The defense, despite having had a bye week to work on their weaknesses, looked particularly unable to counter what Iowa was throwing at them early. The linebackers, already a weak spot in the defense, looked out of position most of the drive. The secondary continued to give up intermediate yardage plays without a fight. It was obvious Iowa had studied the game film and new that all they needed was to get solid blocks against OSU’s line. After that, everything else would take care of itself.
OSU wasn’t the only team with a great run defense, but the Buckeyes didn’t appear too worried about it. The Buckeyes came out an excecuted their offense their way. Both Carlos Hyde and Braxton Miller found plenty of running room and, along with a solid short passing game, worked the Buckeyes down to the 10 yard line with little difficulty. Iowa’s defense stiffened at the last minute and knocked down a sure touchdown pass at the line, forcing the Buckeyes to take the field goal.
After rolling the overmatched FAMU Rattlers last week, things get a bit tougher this Saturday night as Ohio State hosts B1G/Leaders leader Wisconsin in an 8:00 PM game. The Buckeyes (4-0, 0-0) look to move into 1st place in the Leaders Division by shutting down the Badgers (3-1, 1-0).
First year Badgers Head Coach Gary Andersen was defensive line coach at Utah in 2004, Urban Meyer’s last year as Utah head coach, so there is familiarity between the two gentlemen. After a 4 year stint as Utah State’s head coach, Wisconsin AD Barry Alvarez hired Andersen to replace the departed Bret Bielema, who was banished to coach at Arkansas.
I’m going to gloss over most of the season-to-date statistics for both teams because I don’t think those numbers are relevant for this game. Wisconsin’s wins and “numbers’ were racked up against University of Massachusetts (MAC) who has won 1 of its last 16 games, FCS school Tennessee Tech (2-2) and a not very good Purdue team. Unfortunately, Ohio State’s schedule is pretty similar.
Here are two tables that summarize both teams’ offensive and defensive performances so far this season. As I mentioned above, with both teams having sketchy schedules, use these numbers more for a general indication of performance. The first table, is relative offensive performances comparison between Wisconsin and Ohio State.
Yep, a lot of yards and points against so-so competition.
Here’s the defensive comparison; it’s looks similar.
Now that we really know that Wisconsin and Ohio State took care of their early season opponents, we move on to the game at hand.