After skating by Penn State, Indiana and Minnesota the past three weeks, it was pretty obvious that not all was right with Ohio State. Their offense was extremely unbalanced, and relied more and more on the passing attack with each game. Even worse, the defense struggled greatly against two relatively bad Minnesota and Indiana offenses, and showed little to no capability of slowing down an elite offense.
While their talent, the receivers and Dwayne Haskins, Ohio State cover up weaknesses enough to get to 7-0, it was obvious that the luck would eventually run out. Some team would have the depth, and offensive firepower to exploit Ohio State’s defense for 60 minutes. Some team would bring pressure all game long, forcing Dwayne Haskins out of his comfort zone, knowing that there’s no threat of a rushing attack.
All of that happened last night as Purdue dominated the Buckeyes for 60 minutes on the way to a 49-20 blowout win for the Boilermakers. It was a brutal, devastating loss for a Buckeye team that honestly, probably needed to get punched in the mouth like this. With the coaching staff unwilling to make any significant changes, just as it has been in years past, something disastrous was necessary to finally make switches. Let’s hope this was disastrous enough.
Dwayne Haskins, QB: If there are any positives from this game (there are very few), the main is probably that the passing attack was pretty solid. Haskins broke Ohio State’s single game completions, attempts, and yards records with his 49/73,470-yard night, but it was nowhere near enough for Ohio State to keep this game respectable. Unfortunately, those yards rarely resulted in points, as Ohio State struggled all game long in the red zone.
While Haskins’ numbers are gaudy, I do think they should be taken with a little context. Like I said, they largely led to very few (or zero) points, because of Ohio State’s abysmal red zone play calling. On top of that, Ohio State spent nearly the entire game throwing underneath against a defense with huge weaknesses downfield, and it wasn’t until the fourth quarter that the Buckeyes finally found success down the field. That’s a schematic failure. That’s game planning failure. Dwayne did everything he could.
Terry McLaurin, WR: While the receivers in general were pretty solid against Purdue, I think McLaurin deserves the most credit this week. He had five receptions for 66 yards, including a late touchdown, and was open pretty much every time he was on the field. He was, perhaps, more importantly, a consistent blocker on the few down field plays Ohio State did have, and an excellent contributor on special teams.
McLaurin might be the best leader on this offense right now, and maybe on the whole team. Ohio State needs a leader right now, and maybe McLaurin can step up and fill that role that we saw J.T. Barrett fill last year.
Malik Harrison, LB: As the linebacker play this season has gone, I think Malik Harrison had a pretty decent day, all things considered. Harrison, playing mostly off the line (finally), had ten tackles, including two for a loss, and one sack. His tackling was still questionable at times, but compared to some of the other linebackers on this team (32), Harrison was a welcomed sight.
Drue Chrisman, P: It’s always a good thing when one of the four best players on an elite college football team in any given game is the punter! Certainly nothing is wrong with the program when one of the four best contributors is on the special teams, and only sees the field when the offense fails! Regardless of circumstance, Chrisman had a good game, pinning Purdue deep twice, and was just as solid as he has been all season. Ultimately, the great punting didn’t help much, as Ohio State was consistently gashed, but it didn’t hurt either.
Urban Meyer: This loss is on coaching. The Iowa loss last year was on coaching, as was Clemson in 2016, and Michigan State in 2015. Urban Meyer has been coasting since 2014, and eventually, he has to feel the heat for that. His recruiting is struggling, his recent hires, really since 2016, have all been busts. Greg Schiano has no answers when the talent isn’t there. Greg Studrawa was hired entirely for his prior friendship with Meyer, and his position group has steadily gotten worse since being brought aboard. The same can be said about Billy Davis. It’s embarrassing to see Ohio State so consistently out-schemed, and eventually, this all has to go back to the head coach.
Ohio State’s air raid offense: I’m sure this is a popular opinion among Buckeye fans, but boy, I sure do hate seeing that 73 in the passing attempts category in the box score. It’s ridiculous that Ohio State, with the amount of talent that they have, is completely unable to run the football. The air raid is great at schools like Texas Tech and Washington State, that can’t consistently land four and five star recruits. Ohio State isn’t that. Ohio State is far too talented to be running an offense like this, and it all comes back to the awful line play, and inability to run the ball.
Buy: Ohio State is still probably a playoff contender. As much as I think they don’t deserve to be, Ohio State is still probably a playoff contender after this loss. They still control their own destiny in the Big Ten, and a 12-1 conference champion simply isn’t getting left out, especially not with how weak the Pac-12, Big 12 and ACC look. Now, can Ohio State actually win out? Probably not. But if they do, this loss won’t keep them out of anything.
Sell: Ohio State is good. Ohio State is a bad football team right now. They’ve been a bad football team for several weeks. They were lucky to not get beaten by any of their last three opponents, and anyone watching this team closely knew that this was going to happen sooner rather than later. Ohio State is one-dimensional, their play calling stinks, their defense stinks, and I have no confidence in the coaching staff making the changes to fix that.