Ten Things We Learned from Ohio State's 45-24 Win at Oklahoma
COLUMBUS — What did we learn from Ohio State's 45-24 win over Oklahoma? Man, whatdidn't we learn? Much like Michigan State in 2014, this game pretty much told us everything that we needed to know.
We all had questions about this team, and I don't think any of those questions went unanswered in this game. It was probably like that feeling that people other than me have when they prepared really well for a test and then just crush it. This was no cram session by the Buckeyes. They were ready for this one.
So what did we learn? Only all we needed to.
1. I'm convinced about the front four now.
Questions are questions until they're answered and I think the defensive tackles answered the questions last night. Davon Hamilton, Robert Landers, and Dre'Mont Jones all made madness last night, and Michael Hill was his usually-steady self. Together they clogged up the middle of the defense and made Samaje Perine a non-factor. And it wasn't just the defensive tackles because Tyquan Lewis, Sam Hubbard, and Jalyn Holmes were all heavy in run support and they were outstanding. Oklahoma ran for 178 yards, but 86 of those yards came on three carries. The Sooners are talented and they are going to get their yards, but a defense can't allow an offense to simply beat them up right down main street, and the Buckeyes closed off that part of town last night. And now they are only going to get better.
2. Jerome Baker should never not be on the field again.
What more needs to be said? When Jerome Baker got the start at the Will last week against Tulsa, I asked in my Buckeye Watch if Dante Booker had just been Wally Pipped. It's going to be hard for Luke Fickell to keep Baker out of the lineup now. He finished with seven tackles and 1.5 sacks and had a pick six. The guy just makes plays, and at this point he is more experienced than Booker. He brings a Ryan Shazier-like ability to the position that Shazier used to play. Booker was obviously starting for a reason, and they don't like to have starters lose their jobs to injury unless the new player comes in and leads them to a national title, but I'm not sure you can convince me that Baker isn't one of the best 11 on defense. Perhaps this becomes another rotation? Regardless, there's going to be a bunch of Jerome Baker the rest of the season.
3. J.T. Barrett undersold Noah Brown's hands.
I mean, come on, just look at this.
4. This secondary might be the single best unit of any in the country.
You know those stunt driving shows at amusement parks where these dudes drive those fast little cars and they're sliding all over the place and jumping their cars on ramps and they look totally out of control but their precision could not be anymore calculated? I think that's the Ohio State secondary. Granted, sometimes the math is a little bit off here and there, but these guys are fast and aggressive and they are full speed until the very last second. Malik Hooker and Damon Webb each had eight tackles, and they say you don't want your safeties leading your defense in tackles, but that's not always true in this defense because of their proximity to the line of scrimmage. I obviously have seen just a few, but I can't imagine a cornerback playing better than Marshon Lattimore so far this year. And Denzel Ward stepped up huge last night when Gareon Conley went down.
5. Denzel Ward isn't just a fast guy playing football.
Let's spend some more time on Denzel Ward because I think he really proved something to a lot of people last night. Once Gareon Conley went down with his stinger, there could have been a drop off in production because their three-man rotation ended, but there wasn't. Ward was solid all night long. He really showed me something when he laid out Mark Andrews — all 6-foot-5 and 250 pounds of him. Keep in mind that Ward is listed at 5-foot-10 and 185 pounds. He is going to gain so much confidence from this game and he will come back in two weeks an even better player.
6. Jalyn Holmes is a complete player.
I can't count the number of times that Jalyn Holmes was forcing Baker Mayfield out of the pocket or peeling himself from the bottom of a pile after a running play. He was also responsible for tipping a Mayfield pass that turned into Ohio State's fourth pick six in three games. It surprised a lot of people before the season when Holmes was the defensive end who would be sliding inside on passing downs, but he has shown that he's just so versatile that it was a no-brainer for Larry Johnson. He's big, fast, strong, and long, which makes him a tough matchup for any kind of offensive lineman you want to wheel out in front of him. And I'm running out of slots, so I'll just use some of Holmes' time to mention that Nick Bosa isn't that far behind anybody on this defensive line. He's going to have Big Ten offensive coordinators reaching for the Tums. Nobody should have to deal with six years of Bosas. Not even Michigan...
7. Curtis Samuel and Mike Weber are trouble for everyone.
To call them "Thunder and Lightning" is wholly inaccurate because thunder doesn't run you over and lightning strikes are pretty rare. These two guys need to be nicknamed something more tangible, like "Death and Taxes." Mike Weber rushed for 123 yards on 18 carries (6.8 ypc) and Samuel managed 98 yards on 11 carries (8.9 ypc). Samuel actually would have finished with 100 yards, but he lost two yards on a carry. Last night Weber showed that he's not just a power runner. He was patient, he picked his spots in the scrum and then was able to use his vision to find open areas. And Samuel showed that he's not just some fast guy with the football. He used his power more than once to break a tackle. This was an incredibly impressive performance against one of the best defensive fronts the Buckeyes will play this season. They passed this test with room to spare. They didn't even need to look at the second page of the test.
8. They can still play much better.
That was one of the things that Urban Meyer said after the game, and he's absolutely right. The kickoff coverage team continues to have issues that need to be fixed, and I bet there is quite a bit of time spent on that over these next two weeks. The Buckeyes also committed 11 penalties and their clock management and play-calling speed weren't championship caliber last night. Everyone has something that they can work on over the next couple of weeks. Even Noah Brown wasn't perfect. One of his catches didn't go for a touchdown. He's probably being made to run stadium steps right now because of it.
9. Maybe Parris Campbell is the guy at kick return.
As far as my recollection allows, this was the first time Parris Campbell was back to return kickoffs, and he only managed to rip off a 42-yarder, so that's not a bad start. Of course, Dontre Wilson's first career kickoff went for like 52 yards, so it might all be downhill from here on out for Campbell. Wilson told me before the season that he prefers punt returns over kick returns, so maybe this is Urban Meyer lightening his load. Or maybe this was just a response to Wilson being a little sore this past week. Whatever the reason, Campbell stepped up in his place and did what was asked.
10. The offensive line is just getting started.
We've seen it seemingly every year. The Ohio State offensive line starts a bit slowly, but by the middle of the season they are pushing opponents around for 330 yards rushing for weeks at a time. Last night they managed 291 yards on 48 carries (6.1 ypc), which is well beyond a winning average yards-per-carry mark and better than any team did on the Sooners last year. Ohio State is rushing for 306 yards per game, which is good for No. 7 in the nation. After three games a year ago, the Buckeyes averaged 234.3 yards rushing per game, and that was with a season-opening 359 yards rushing at Virginia Tech. They followed that game up with 182 yards against Hawaii and 162 yards against Northern Illinois. Their start this season would seem to be the proper way to go about things. Oh yeah, and they're doing it with three new starters and a freshman on the inside. Pretty impressive.
Ohio State looks dominant in road win over Oklahoma
Ohio State marched in front of a raucous crowd at Oklahoma Memorial Stadium on Saturday night and made it seem like a cakewalk.
The third-ranked Buckeyes dominated No. 14 Oklahoma in all facets of the game, and by the time the dust had settled, they came out with a convincing 45-24 victory. All night, the Buckeyes picked up chunks of yards on the ground at will, finishing with 291 yards at a 6.1-yard average. Meanwhile, that rushing success set up the passing game for J.T. Barrett, who threw four touchdown passes to Noah Brown while adding 72 yards of his own on the ground.
On the other side, the Buckeyes swarmed Baker Mayfield and the Sooners’ offense, forcing two interceptions and two second-half fourth-down stops to halt any chance of an OU comeback.
Ohio State set a tone on both sides of the ball early. A 36-yard touchdown run from the shifty Curtis Samuel opened the scoring, and the defense doubled that up with a score of its own when Jerome Baker returned a tipped ball 68 yards for a score.
The Sooners did their best to keep pace, but by the time the first half ended, OSU had a commanding 35-17 lead, thanks to three connections between Barrett and Brown.Brown’s third touchdown catch was one for the ages. Barrett looked toward him in the back corner of the end zone and Brown pinned the ball against an Oklahoma defender for a crazy touchdown.
Brown found the end zone for a fourth time early in the third quarter to make it 42-17, and aside from a second TD pass from Mayfield, who was largely kept in check on the evening, the defense pretty much took care of things from there to seal the win.
Entering the season, Ohio State was overlooked a bit because of its youth. When a team loses so much talent to the NFL, that is understandable. It took just three weeks to quell any concerns. This team may be young, but it is extremely talented and should be looked at as the favorite in the Big Ten — even with Michigan and Michigan State in the same division.
It’s only Week 3, but this was a statement from the Buckeyes, who enter Big Ten play at home in a few weeks (following a bye) against Rutgers. It’s hard not to look ahead with this team and its schedule. A trip to Wisconsin (which looks very overrated despite its win over LSU) will present a challenge, but the real tests don’t come until the last two weeks of the regular season: at Michigan State on Nov. 19 and a home game with Michigan on Nov. 26.
There’s no reason to think the Buckeyes shouldn’t be undefeated when those games roll around.
On the other side, Oklahoma drops to a disappointing 1-2. After last year’s College Football Playoff appearance, the Sooners are already a longshot to return to that stage three weeks in. OSU and Houston are marquee opponents, but it’s tough to envision any two-loss team cracking the Top 4. Nonetheless, the Sooners’ Big 12 goals are still in front of them as they enter conference play in two weeks at TCU.
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