It was closer than most expected, but after Saturday the Buckeyes are now 5-0 with two wins coming against the Big Ten East. Their 21-point victory over Indiana is nothing to be embarrassed about (especially considering the Hoosiers just beat Michigan State), but the execution on both offense and defense simply wasn’t as phenomenal as it was in the first four games. With that said, the defense still looks like one of the better groups in the country. A few notes on the group:
- It took five weeks, but the offenses of Bowling Green, Tulsa, Oklahoma, Rutgers and Indiana have finally outscored the Ohio State defense. It was fun while it lasted.
- Still, the Buckeyes have allowed four offensive touchdowns this season — the fewest in the country.
- Indiana rushed for 99 yards on 40 carries. The interior of the Buckeyes’ defensive line has continued to play great despite entering the season as arguably the largest question mark on the team.
Now let’s take a look at the plays that helped Ohio State notch their 21st-straight win over the Hoosiers.
Jerome Baker may not start, but he’s one of the best players on the field.
Starting linebacker Dante Booker has now missed four consecutive games with a sprained knee. Baker has done everything in his power to seize the starting job in his absence. He’s second on the team with 26 total tackles, has 3.5 tackles for a loss and was named the Big Ten Defensive Player of the Week after he had seven tackles and a pick-six against Oklahoma. Baker was all over the field again versus the Hoosiers and displayed his unnerving speed on the run below:
The Indiana right guard attempted to cross in front of Baker to slow his pursuit, but Baker did an excellent job at staying lateral until he was able to explode through the hole and get to the running back. Linebackers are often asked to get downhill in a hurry, but this can sometimes leave them exposed to the mess around the line of scrimmage. By Baker staying lateral in his initial pursuit he was able to avoid the mob of offensive lineman and get a clear path to the ball carrier. From there all he had to do was make the tackle and run around shaking his head in disbelief that the offense would test him.
Nick Bosa, you are already a beast.
Perhaps Joey Bosa felt the need to play so well in his NFL debut because of the show he saw his little brother put on the day before. The Buckeyes have slowly played Nick Bosa more and more as the season has gone on, but if he keeps dominating the way he did this past Saturday, it’s going to be hard to justify ever taking him off the field
Ohio State didn’t even have a linebacker within seven yards of the line of scrimmage on this play. Considering the Indiana quarterback read and thus “blocked” Tyquan Lewis, the Hoosiers had six blockers to account for just three Buckeyes. This massive numbers advantage still couldn’t get Indiana positive yardage, as Bosa decided to not only drive the pulling tackle straight into the turf, but also to keep his feet and make a play on the ball carrier. He presents many of the same problems his brother did from the three-technique position, namely: he’s an explosive monster with the strength to overwhelm almost any offensive lineman. Look for Bosa to earn a starting spot sooner rather than later.
Just when you thought teams stopped testing Malik Hooker...
It took awhile, but Hooker made his way onto the highlight reel with maybe his most ridiculous interception return yet:
Considering Indiana quarterback Richard Lagow was wearing #21, it was only a matter of time before he threw an interception. After perfectly anticipating a crossing route, Hooker snagged the ill-advised pass and proceeded to break four tackles on his way to the end zone. Unfortunately, a questionable chop block wiped away the touchdown, but it was refreshing to see Hooker prove once again that quarterbacks with a number above 19 have no business testing the Buckeyes’ secondary.
The final: 38-17 Ohio State
Defensive player of the game: Tyquan Lewis (five tackles, two TFL, one forced fumble)
Defensive play of the game: Malik Hooker interception
Next victim: Wisconsin. See you all next week.