clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Is Ohio State's offense good enough to hide its flaws?

Many questions still linger about Ohio State's defensive secondary, but Urban Meyer's offensive vision has been fully set upon Buckeye Nation.

Jamie Sabau

When Urban Meyer took over as head coach in Columbus in 2012, Ohio State fans expected an explosive offense. They expected athletes lined up left and right. And now, their expectations have become reality.

Ohio State's 710 yards of total offense Saturday was the most by any Buckeye team since Sept. 27, 1986, when the Buckeyes smashed Utah 64-6 in Ohio Stadium.

The Buckeyes tied an NCAA record in their 50-28 victory over Cincinnati with 45 first downs.

"It means the world," senior receiver Evan Spencer said of the team's offensive output Saturday night. "To come out and play offensively like we did these last two games after what happened three games ago, it's exactly what we needed. And now it's time to go on a roll."

Spencer's 19-yard touchdown catch and run was the first of his senior season -- he's normally known more as a blocking receiver -- and put the Buckeyes on top, 30-7, in the second quarter.

You can say what you want about the suspect coverage in the secondary, but the Buckeyes' offense is exactly where you thought it would be in year three under Meyer. Despite losing Braxton Miller -- the two-time Big Ten Offensive Player of the Year -- the offense has not skipped a beat.

Redshirt freshman J.T. Barrett threw for a career-high 330 yards Saturday and completed passes to 10 different receivers. Since its shocking loss to Virginia Tech at home in the second week of the season, Ohio State's coaching staff has made it their mission to spread the wealth on offense. As a result, Barrett's job has become easier and his confidence has skyrocketed.

"For (Barrett) to come in, especially a redshirt freshman, and do the things that he's doing, it's amazing," Spencer said Saturday. "His confidence is going through the roof really. It started with Kent (State) and now this one."

Nothing helped Barrett more than the running game, which seemed to be out of sorts in the first three games of the season. But the offensive line played its best game of the season to date, pushing Bearcat defenders off the ball on a consistent basis.

Sophomore tailback Ezekiel Elliott finally had the breakout performance everyone was looking for since it became clear he was the No. 1 guy in the backfield. His 182 yards on 28 carries marked a career high, and his continued effectiveness catching the ball made the offense that much explosive.

"I think tonight was the night I really needed," Elliott said after the game. "I really needed some momentum and I think it's all downhill from here."

Elliott also credited the other backs who ran hard and motivated him on the field against Cincinnati. For Ohio State, it was the complete team effort on offense that made the team so scary.

Sophomore H-back Dontre Wilson had his best game as an all around offensive threat Saturday, catching six passes for 71 yards and a touchdown.

But it wasn't even close to his potential. In fact, none of Ohio State's playmakers -- besides Elliott -- had alarming statistics on Saturday, but they all contributed to a well balanced attack.

There still remains many questions about whether or not the Buckeyes' defense can play well enough to win a Big Ten title. Meyer said Ohio State needs to "re-evaluate" what they're doing on the back end after giving up three touchdown passes to Cincinnati receiver Chris Moore for a whopping 221 combined yards.

But Meyer seemed pleased with his team's performance more so than in weeks prior. He is beginning to see the offense he knew and loved at the University of Florida blossom in front of his eyes.

He knows the defense will continue to improve if he doesn't micromanage his coaching staff, but -- in the Big Ten at least -- he knows his offensive formula could eventually win him a championship.