The Monday After: Winning “The Game” is great, but coaching staff should be concerned about defense

With Ohio State’s 42-41 win over Michigan in Ann Arbor on Saturday, the Buckeyes went undefeated in the regular season for the second-straight year and moved into No. 2 slot in the latest BCS standings that were released last night.

Quarterback Braxton Miller #5 of the Ohio State Buckeyes scores a touchdown in the third quarter against the Michigan Wolverines during a game at Michigan Stadium on November 30, 2013 in Ann Arbor, Michigan. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)

Quarterback Braxton Miller #5 of the Ohio State Buckeyes scores a touchdown in the third quarter against the Michigan Wolverines during a game at Michigan Stadium on November 30, 2013 in Ann Arbor, Michigan. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)

It also means that with a win over Michigan State in the Big Ten Championship Game in Indianapolis next Saturday, the Buckeyes will play in the BCS National Championship Game at the Rose Bowl on January 6 in Pasadena, Calif., regardless of the margin or what happens in the SEC title game.

On Saturday, Buckeye Nation was celebrating a huge win over a bitter rival after Tyvis Powell intercepted Devin Gardner’s two-point conversion pass at the 1 yard line with 32 seconds left in the four quarter. Then Buckeye Nation breathed a collected sigh of relief when Bradley Roby recovered Michigan’s onside lick to seal the win.

But Saturday’s party wasn’t over.

There was the Alabama-Auburn game.

With one second left on the clock and the game tied at 28-all, Alabama’s Adam Griffith attempted a 57-yard field goal. The problem is, it fell woefully short. In fact, it didn’t go beyond the end line, allowing Auburn’s Chris Davis to field the miss kick nine yards deep in the end zone and run (officially) 100 yards for the game-winning touchdown.

More partying in Buckeye Nation.

Then as expected on Sunday night, Ohio State moved up to No. 2 in the BCS.

But let’s take a look at the Michigan game. I’m guessing the Urban Meyer has had several meetings with his defensive coaching staff following Saturday’s conference tilt.

Against the Wolverines, the Buckeye defense yielded 41 points, 31 first downs, and 603 yards of total offense. To compound matters, Michigan was 8-of-14 on third down, 1-of-2 on fourth down, and scored six touchdowns in seven trips in the red zone.

In the previous four games, the Wolverines averaged 16.7 points and 216.5 yards of total offense. In three of those games, all losses, U-M’s offense posted 158 yards against Iowa, 175 yards versus Nebraska, and 168 yards in a 29-6 lopsided loss to Michigan State.

Against Ohio State, Gardner was was 32-of-45 (71.1%) passing for 451 yards and four touchdowns. In the losses to the Hawkeyes, Cornhuskers and Spartans, Gardner was 45-of-82 (54.9%) for 504 yards with three touchdowns and one interception. But if you break that down on a per game basis, he completed 15 passes for 168 yards and one TD.

Yet against the Buckeye defense, Gardner looked like a Heisman Trophy contender.

Luckily for Ohio State, the Spartans are seventh in the Big Ten in scoring offense (29.4 ppg) and 10th in total offense (380.2 ypg).

The problem is, Michigan State sports one of the best defense’s in the nation. The Spartans are first in the conference in both scoring defense (11.8 ppg) and total defense (237.7 ypg).

I know Ohio State offensive coordinator Tom Herman and his 11 guys will be up for the task, but can the same be said for defensive coordinator Luke Fickell and his 11?

Clearly, Fickell was outcoached by Michigan offensive coordinator Al Borges.

Needless to say, I’m concerned.

So should the Ohio State coaching staff and the rest of Buckeye Nation.

About Matt Barker

Matt Barker began blogging on the Buckeyes for the web site, AllSports.com, back during Ohio State's championship year of 2002. Going out on his own, Mr. Barker began Buckeye Banter in August of 2003, now in its 10th year.