Ohio State opened up this one with a fast drive that ended in a Cardale Jones touchdown pass to Michael Thomas, giving the Buckeyes a quick start. After an extended Western Michigan drive, penalties would set them back, leading to a blocked field goal by Tyvis Powell. Darron Lee was carted into the locker room at the end of the first quarter with a leg injury.
Cardale Jones found Jalin Marshall for a 37-yard touchdown early in the second quarter to put the Buckeyes up two scores at 14-0. Western Michigan would answer with a score of their own, a 55-yard reception by Daniel Braverman. The Broncos continued to have special teams problems, missing the extra point. Adolphus Washington threw his hat into the Piesman Trophy conversation, after a 20-yard interception return for a touchdown late in the second quarter.
The Buckeye offense got off to another great start in the second half, where Ezekiel Elliott found the end zone to give the Buckeyes a 31-6 lead. Western Michigan would get on the board one more time, failing to convert on their two-point attempt. Curtis Samuel put the game to rest with a 40-yard touchdown run midway through the fourth quarter. The Buckeyes would go on to win by a final score of 38-12.
3 things we learned:
1. Cardale Jones is the starter. Jones looked the best that he had looked all season. He made the right decisions, and while he made some not so great ones, he clearly had more confidence in this game. They got off to a quick start with a long touchdown pass to Michael Thomas, and they never really looked back from there.
We didn't see as much emotion out of Cardale as we did in previous weeks, and he seemed much more poised. Urban Meyer left Jones in for most of the game, and this clearly helped Jones, who was really able to find a rhythm, and get some consistency that he hadn't seen through the first three games of the season. This game was his, and there wasn't any question about it.
Jones never gave Urban Meyer a reason to put J.T. Barrett in the game, and it appeared it allowed Jones to take more shots, and didn't make him have to look over his shoulder after every possession. It's what the Buckeyes have been missing at the position this season, and that was clear today.
2. The offense is fine. The offensive line played much better in this one. Cardale Jones actually had time to stand in the pocket and deliver throws, and runs seemed to come easier for Ezekiel Elliott, even when much wasn't there. It almost looked like the offense we were spoiled with for the last three games of last season. The Buckeye offense had 13 plays of 15 yards or more.
The Buckeyes had three passing plays of 30 or more yards to three different receivers. In total, Jones found eight different receivers in the game. The passing attack seemed much more fluid, with Michael Thomas having his best game of the season thus far, with six receptions for 80 yards and a touchdown. The Buckeyes had been looking for a more dominant performance out of Thomas, who gave it to them today.
Ezekiel Elliott's threat on the ground helped open up that passing attack. His first rush of the game went for 26 yards, which helped keep the Western Michigan defense on their toes the whole game. While he only had six carries in the first half, he was effective, and had a great opening drive in the second half, where he ran for 27 yards and capped off the drive with a touchdown.
3. The defense had their first sloppy game. The one constant in the first few weeks of the Buckeyes season had been the defense. While they weren't terrible in this one, they weren't quite as sharp as they had been in previous weeks. Western Michigan was able to get off a couple of time consuming drives, where it appeared that the Buckeyes wouldn't be able to stop them from scoring, only to be saved by special teams.
The Broncos were also able to get too many runs for good gains up the middle of the Buckeye defense. It seemed for quite a while that they would be able to get whatever they wanted through the heart of the Buckeye defense on many occasions. While there were good stops, and even a highlight pick six out of Adolphus Washington, the Buckeyes weren't as consistent wrapping up on tackles as they had been during the year.
Is this something that needs to be a concern? Most likely not. The Silver Bullets have been amazing all season, and while it looked at some points today like they were going through the motions, we have seen just how ferocious they can be, and the fear that they strike in opposing offenses.