It.s always a great day to be a Buckeye, but it is especially great when you get to stick it to That Team Up North. For the eighth year in a row, and the first time under Ryan Day, the No. 1 Ohio State Buckeyes defeated the No. 13 Michigan Wolverines, this time with a whopping 56-27 blow out in Ann Arbor. As has been the case in each of the team’s big wins this season, their top players were able to step up in the right moments as the Bucks coasted to an undefeated regular season.
Ohio State will now take on the No. 12 Wisconsin Badgers in the Big Ten Championship, a rematch of a regular season meeting between the two programs in which the Buckeyes came away with a 38-7 victory in Columbus. OSU has now defeated three top-15 teams this season — No. 8 Penn State, No. 12 Wisconsin and No. 13 Michigan — outscoring the trio 122-51. This team is for real, and they appear to have all of the pieces necessary to compete for a national title.
Let’s check in on the stocks. Business, as usual, is booming.
J.K. Dobbins, RB: “J.K. ALLLLLL DAY,” FOX’s Gus Johnson and also me running around my living room.
What a season for a guy who’s gotten a bit overlooked with all of the other star power on this Ohio State team. The junior running back has kept the Buckeyes rolling all season long, and things were no different against another tough defense in Michigan. Dobbins had a career day against the Wolverines, rushing for an outstanding 211 yards and four touchdowns on the ground as he paced the offense all game long. He also added 49 in the passing game.
Dobbins has now officially passed Ezekiel Elliot for No. 2 all-time in career rushing yards at Ohio State, totaling over 4,100 yards over his three seasons in Columbus. This year alone, Dobbins has absolutely feasted against some of the nation’s best rushing defenses. In four games against teams ranked in the top-15 in stopping the run, Dobbins has amassed 703 yards and nine touchdowns.
Justin Fields, QB: I’m not entirely sure what material Justin Fields is made of, but it certainly isn’t the same as you and I. The sophomore QB got off to a bit of a rocky start throwing the ball, but was able to reel it in and make play after play as he and Dobbins shredded the vaunted Michigan defense. Fields finished with 302 yards passing and four touchdowns without a single turnover.
It was a scary moment for Buckeye fans across the nation, as Fields went down late in the third quarter with a knee injury that looked pretty bad. He would get off of the field on his own power, making his way to the medical tent. Somehow, Fields was able to get back on the field just seven plays later, and all he did was scramble out of the pocket and drop a seed into the hands of Garrett Wilson for a 30-yard touchdown. If it wasn’t already a lock for the OSU QB to get an invitation to New York, that was certainly his Heisman moment.
One for the absolute ages! Fields, fresh off of a trip to the medical tent scrambles and completes a perfect pass to Garrett Wilson for the TD.— Land-Grant Holy Land (@Landgrant33) November 30, 2019
OSU is up 42-16! pic.twitter.com/nxW5UdExmQ
Jeff Okudah, CB: Ohio State’s top cornerback hasn’t just been getting early first-round NFL Draft grades for his good looks. Okudah played every bit like a man ready to succeed at the next level, locking down a great Michigan wide receiving corps all game long. The Wolverines threw the ball his way a few times early on, but quickly decided that that was a bad idea, as even if Okudah’s man looked like he was open, he was never actually open.
The junior defensive back finished the game with one solo tackle and two pass breakups, and was able to keep his matchup out of the play seemingly every down. With a pair of injuries to the other two starting cornerbacks — which we will get to in a minute — it was Okudah’s job to lead the young guys in the secondary around him to success, and he came through just as he has all season long.
Garrett Wilson, WR: I don't know about you, but I'm a huge fan of this new trend of a true freshman wide receiver having a huge day against Michigan every year. Last season it was Chris Olave, who himself had a great afternoon against the Wolverines once again, but this time it was the five-star frosh Garrett Wilson, who led the team in receiving by hauling in three catches for 118 yards and a touchdown.
Wilson’s big performance was not as much of a surprise as Olave’s last season, as Wilson has played a pretty decent-sized role on offense for much of the year. The 6-foot, 188 pound wideout now has 368 yards receiving this season with five touchdowns. He has shown a tremendous ability to get himself open and always seems to be able to make a play on the ball in the air. He is not without his freshman mistakes, however, muffing his second punt of the year, but the future for Wilson on Ohio State’s offense is exceedingly bright.
Injuries: With the Wolverines clearly outmatched in every facet of the game, it seemed as though the only thing that would be able to derail Ohio State would be injuries — and boy did they have their fair share in this one.
Cornerback Shaun Wade was listed as a game-time decision, and appeared to be good to go after dressing and going through full warmups, but would not play in the game after all. Later on, the secondary would get even thinner as Damon Arnette, whose been battling a wrist injury and wearing a cast all season, came out of the game and would not return.
Fields’ injury was incredibly scary, as the Buckeyes only chance at a National Championship run is with the transfer QB at the helm. He was able to come back in the game after suffering a knee injury, donning a leg brace for the rest of the afternoon.
Hopefully Ohio State is able to get back to full strength next weekend for its Big Ten title game matchup against Wisconsin. If they can get through that matchup relatively unscathed, the Buckeyes will have three full weeks off to heal all of the bumps and bruises before the start of the College Football Playoff semifinals.
(Buy) Ohio State’s playoff chances: After a 12-0 regular season, it seems like we are now in a world in which the Buckeyes being in the College Football Playoff is a forgone conclusion. Ohio State would obviously make the field of four— and likely maintain the No. 1 seed — with a win over a likely top-10 Wisconsin team. However, even with a loss it would be tough to see the committee leaving the Bucks out given how dominant they've been all season long, especially in a close game. The mantra for Ryan Day should remain the same regardless: just keep winning.
(Sell) Linebackers in coverage: If there is one weakness on this OSU defense, it is its linebackers in coverage against opposing wide receivers and tight ends. Now, to be fair, almost every team’s LBs would be unable to cover wideouts with speed like those on Michigan. However, with Wade out and no clear replacement in the slot, Ohio State was forced to cover more of the field with its middle level of the defense and things did not go so great in the first half as the Wolverines passed for 285 yards before halftime.
However, they were able to change up the looks in the second half, having far greater success, limiting TTUN to just 55 yards through the air, but it is definitely something to keep an eye on moving forward if Wade remains out.
(Buy) Three legitimate Heisman candidates: It’s pretty tough for teams to produce even one player that could be up for the Heisman Trophy, but Ohio State somehow has three. Fields’ candidacy has already been discussed, having one of his biggest moments in his team’s biggest game, but both Dobbins and Chase Young should also remain in consideration. Young’s candidacy took a bit of a hit on Saturday, not even registering a tackle against Michigan, but Dobbins showcased why he is one of the nation’s top running backs. It will be interesting to see which of the three makes the trip to New York (all three should make the trip to New York).