The Buckeyes ability to limit the Wolverines’ big plays, as well as their ability to sustain drives, ultimately made the difference in The Game. Some notes:
- This was far from a beat down. Michigan only turned the ball over once, and their 16 first downs were just one less than the Buckeyes managed.
- Other than a methodical 13-play, 77-yard drive that saw the Wolverines convert three third downs, the Silver Bullets didn’t allow a drive longer than 3:30. Michigan had short fields of just six and 51 yards, respectively, on their final two scoring drives.
- Everybody has heaped praise on the Buckeyes defensive line all season, and they showed why last Saturday. Sam Hubbard (2.5), Nick Bosa (1), Michael Hill (1), and Tyquan Lewis (0.5) combined to take down John O’Korn on five separate occasions to help hold the Wolverines offense in check.
Anyone who took the field on defense against the Wolverines should be congratulated, but we’ll just focus on three silver bullets for now.
Denzel Ward is going to need a nice suit by April 26
Ward isn’t your typical first-round corner from Ohio State. At 5’11, 180 pounds, he’s actually undersized compared to some of his predecessors. Ward has neutralized this disadvantage thanks to his status as one of the fastest players on the team, as well as his warrior mentality.
It all came together last Saturday for Ohio State’s latest No. 1 corner, and Ward made big plays all over the field against overmatched Michigan receivers and ball carriers alike:
It’d be shocking if Ward returns for another season in Columbus, but his ability to provide a stabilizing presence in an at-times volatile secondary is one of the main reasons why the Buckeyes are playing for a Big Ten Championship this weekend. Not to mention his speed on special teams, which led to a game-changing blocked punt against Penn State and blocked PAT last Saturday.
Sam Hubbard’s tenure in Columbus was a freakishly great one
Hubbard has somewhat been overshadowed during his tenure with the Buckeyes. 6.5 sacks as a freshman were overshadowed by the presence of Joey Bosa, while Tyquan Lewis and Nick Bosa, respectively, have notched team-high sack totals during the last two seasons.
What’s important for Hubbard is that NFL scouts surely have noticed the 6’5, 265-pound beast who is equally adept at stopping both the run and pass. He definitely hasn’t gone unnoticed in The Game over the years, making a crucial goal-line stop on Jabrill Peppers last season and racking up 2.5 sacks last Saturday:
The Wolverines undoubtedly left plenty of passes on the field last Saturday, but Hubbard and company’s ability to constantly force the issue paid off. Hubbard was named the Big Ten’s Defensive Player of the Week for his effort, and racked up seven total quarterback pressures. They’ll need Hubbard to have a similar performance next Saturday against Wisconsin to come away with a win.
Is there anyone in continental America that can block Nick Bosa?
Bosa’s six sacks don’t do his overall dominance this season justice: The man is unblockable. More of a true defensive end than his brother, Nick has displayed technique and tenacity when getting after the passer, and running the ball at him hasn’t been a great idea either:
Bosa, Hubbard, Lewis, and Jalyn Holmes would all likely be the best defensive end on a majority of teams in the country. The Buckeyes ability to end games with all four on the field with their ears pinned back is what this team strives for, and they didn’t disappoint last Saturday.
Another year, another W over TTUN. We don’t have to wait long for an encore performance this time around. Let’s hope the Buckeyes’ trip to Indianapolis goes as well as their last.
The final: 31-20, Ohio State
Defensive player of the game: Denzel Ward (8 tackles, 7 solo, 2 pass deflections)
Defensive play of the game: Jordan Fuller game-sealing interception.
Next Victim: Wisconsin. Keep it classy, Columbus.