There comes a time in every top-tier college football program fan's life when he spends the better part of three hours feeling as though he's aboard a hot air balloon that's started leaking just as it hit its maximum height.
Tonight was that night for every fan of the Scarlet and Gray, who spent the week being told that Ohio State's Week 1 shakiness was nothing to concern oneself with, the product of a new OC and new system and new players and...well, you get the picture.
As it turns out, there is plenty to be concerned with in Columbus. We'll get to the nitty-gritty in a minute, but for the sake of brevity and the sanity of the folks who can't bear to read past this paragraph, let's all agree that Saturday night against Oklahoma was deflating, depressing and awful; a stone bummer from start to finish. It's over now, and it's almost certain that the Buckeyes won't be tested again until Penn State comes to town late next month. That's good. What's bad is that this writer is contractually obligated to examine what went so horribly wrong in The Horseshoe this weekend in a 31-16 upset, so read on, if you have the stomach for it.
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Sam Hubbard, DE: Sam Hubbard used to play lacrosse, in case you missed that on the broadcast in every single game in which he's made a big play. That's tough to do; the dude is a wrecking ball. In the first half—one in which Oklahoma only scored three points, halcyon days!—Hubbard spent so much time in Baker Mayfield's grill that he could probably give a decent guess as to the last time the Sooners' QB brushed his teeth. Hubbard was in on two sacks in the game's first thirty minutes, and was one of the few Buckeye defenders who never looked overmatched in this contest. Given the end result, that's saying a lot.
Drue Chrisman, P: Always a great sign omen when your punter gets a chance to shine. Chrisman showed himself as adept at deep boots as he is at flipping water bottles, which is really saying a lot; his four punts went for 183 yards. All four landed inside the twenty, including a beaut of a punt that went two yards shy of qualifying for coffin-corner status. Like Cam Johnston before him, he's the last guy you want to see on the field as a Buckeye fan, but he can blast the hell out of the ball.
J.K. Dobbins, RB: The newly-anointed starting running back couldn't match his ridiculous 181-yard performance from last week, but that doesn't mean he didn't show us definitive proof that he's Ohio State's ball carrier of the future. He carried 13 times for 72 yards and his first career touchdown, good for 5.5 yards a carry, and made a few jukes that are still worth smiling about even though the Buckeyes got absolutely mollywhopped by the Sooners.
Granted: that carry total should've been twice what it was, even with Mike Weber's partial return from injury. The Buckeyes could very well have a 2,000-yard backfield on their hands, a fact which makes Saturday's commitment to low-percentage sideline throws even more of a head-scratcher.
Isaiah Prince, OT: Not for the first time in a rocky career on the Buckeye line, Prince looked lost and overmatched against an aggressive defense. It mattered in this one; J.T. Barrett, while far from stellar, got swallowed up on multiple plays where Prince played the matador. As is (hopefully) the case in several positions, Urban Meyer and his staff will hopefully be looking for other solutions here ASAP.
J.T. Barrett, QB: Ohio State's staff may still be publicly committed to their guy, but boy, does something need to change under center for the Buckeyes, and fast.
Meyer said he would not consider a change at quarterback.— Patrick Murphy (@_Pat_Murphy) September 10, 2017
Meyer wants to digest the passing attack. Said they’ve got “to get the damn thing fixed."— Patrick Murphy (@_Pat_Murphy) September 10, 2017
The first statement here seems to preclude the second, but hey. What we do know is that Joe Burrow, Tate Martell and Dwayne Haskins are all chomping at the bit to get a chance to run Ohio State's offense. It's hard to believe that, even with the limited experience they each offer, any of them would look as shaky long-term as Barrett has. College football may have caught up to the same QB who took the sport by surprise a few short years ago.
The secondary: Hmmm, it's just possible that losing multiple starters to the NFL in back-to-back years was a problem for this Ohio State defense. Despite a front seven that's as ferocious as ever, the Buckeye pass defense has been gracious to its opponents. Baker Mayfield is clearly a better QB than Richard Lagow, so it's perhaps unsurprising that he was given so much room to work with on Saturday night. Still, it's disheartening to see a unit that had its coming-out party against the Sooners a year ago get drilled to the tune of 386 yards and three TDs this time around—-with nary an interception to show for it.
SELL: The designed right-side rollout throw. Barrett didn't look great against the Sooners, but the play-calling was as suspect as it's ever been, too. Calling the same play that'd been stopped half a dozen times already on a crucial fourth-and-short, a naked boot to Barrett's strong side, was baffling. May that awful call die a grim death and never resurface.
BUY: Peddler Brewing's Pumpkin Spice Ale. Folks, as fall rears its crisp and multi-colored head, and as Ohio State continues to prove that the trends that appeared during last season's Clemson drubbing were the rule rather than the exception, pairing a good (and stiff) beer with your viewing is more important than ever. If you're fortunate enough to live in the Pacific Northwest, you have to get your mitts around the region's most #basic beer, which is both tasty and unbelievably strong. At this point, it's as worth looking forward to as Ohio State football.