There’s a reason why Ohio State slipped one spot in the Associated Press top 25 college football poll.
The offense didn’t generated enough “style points.”
Sure, the Buckeyes won 40-20 last Saturday against Buffalo, but this was a Bulls’ squad that went 4-8 overall a year ago and gave up 34 or more points in four games during the 2012 season.
In the first quarter against Buffalo, the Ohio State offense generated three scoring drives that lasted a total of 17 plays and 217 yards as the Buckeyes took a 23-0 lead after the first 15 minutes of action and it appeared that the rout was on.
On Ohio State’s first possession that went 63 yards in just four plays which resulted in a 47-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Braxton Miller to wide receiver Chris Fields, the Buckeyes ran the ball three straight times with Jordan Hall picking up 16 yards before Miller’s deep pass to Fields.
For OSU’s next possession with 8:23 left in the first frame, offensive coordinator Tom Herman open things up a bit as the Buckeyes needed just five plays to go 61 yards for the score after Miller’s seven-yard TD pass to Fields, the second of the game for both.
During that drive, Miller was 4-of-4 passing for 60 yards.
After stopping the Bulls following five plays that netted 12 yards, Ohio State began its third drive at the OSU 16 with 4:24 remaining in the first.
Even with a holding penalty on left tackle Jack Mewhort that pushed the Buckeyes back eight yards, Ohio State gained that and much more, hitting paydirt in eight plays that was capped off on a 49-yard TD run by Hall. During that drive, the Buckeyes had five running and three passing plays as Miller went 2-of-3 for 10 yards.
At the end of the first quarter, Ohio State’s offense looked unstoppable. The Buckeyes had nine first downs (4 rushing, 5 passing), with 99 yards on the ground in nine attempts and Miller was 7-of-8 through the air for 117 yards.
But things didn’t go as well offensively the rest of the game as the Buckeyes netted only 244 yards in the final three quarters after gaining 217 in the first.
In the second quarter, Ohio State’s first three possessions ended on downs and two turnovers. After six plays gained 31 yards during the Buckeyes first chance with the pigskin, Ohio State was then faced with a fourth-and-1 at its own 48 yard line. Meyer decided to go for it and Hall was stuffed for no gain on a running play up the middle. (This is why we need Carlos Hyde. He can pound the rock. Don’t get me wrong, Hall is great outside of the tackles, but Hyde is much better between them.)
Following an interception by OSU’s Ron Tanner, the Buckeyes got the ball for second time in the period with 10:42 left until halftime. But on the very first play from scrimmage, freshman Dontre Wilson fumbled trying to make a play that wasn’t there.
And then there’s Ohio State’s third possession of the period while leading 23-7.
After getting near midfield, the Buckeyes had a second-and-13 at the OSU 47. Miller went back to pass looking right, then turned left for an apparent screen. But linebacker Khalil Mack intercepted the ball that was coming right at him and he went 45 yards for the touchdown, outracing both Miller and Wilson.
After three possessions in the first quarter, Ohio State offense came to a halt, going just 45 yards in 13 plays in the next three times with the ball in the second stanza.
Now leading 23-13 with 7:10 left in the half, the Buckeyes got a big return from Wilson as he raced 51 yards to the UB 37. On the first play from scrimmage, Hall bolted though the line for a 37-yard TD run.
There wasn’t much in the way of scoring or total offense by either team in the second half. The Buckeyes gained 150 yards in the final 30 minutes, while Buffalo netted 133.
Again, not very impressive.
Granted, a lot of factors were involved due to the high heat and humidity as fatigue and cramps set in as the game went along.
But the bottom line is this, if Urban Meyer and the Buckeyes want to hoist the crystal football at the end of the season, the offense has to be firing on all cylinders. Racing out early only to sputter later is not a good sign, especially for two reasons – the experienced offense can help out a young defense early in the season, and to earn those all important style points – which will help in the polls.
Ohio State won’t make it to the title game by barely getting past lesser opponents.