The sun has set on Week 3 of the college football season, and for the third straight week, the Ohio State Buckeyes put on a scoring matinee featuring the likes of Justin Fields and J.K. Dobbins flexing their gridiron muscle. The Indiana Hoosiers were the latest victims in the Buckeyes’ way, as the Bloomington, Ind., based program surrendered 51 points to the Scarlet and Gray, while only scoring 10 themselves.
It was another masterclass performance on both sides of the ball for Ryan Day’s Buckeye squad. Dobbins had a career day, while Fields found open receivers at will. Defensively, the Bucks had another multi sack contest, with Chasey Young getting two. Additionally, a big interception return was brought back for a touchdown in the final seconds of the third quarter—nailing home the fact that, yes, this Buckeye team wasn’t playing around versus this Big Ten East division foe.
A departure from previous trips to Bloomington, this game wasn’t even close. The last two trips (2017 and 2015) featured an IU squad that gave the Buckeyes a close scare late in the game. That wasn’t the case in 2019. After the first quarter, the Bucks sprinted away with the victory with relative ease.
Now heading into Miami (OH) week, the Buckeyes will be returning to Ohio Stadium— playing in the 3:30 p.m. ET window for the first time this season. Before we turn the attention (and analysis) to the RedHawks, let’s take a look at what we learned from OSU’s first conference win of the 2019 campaign.
1. Another big day for Dobbins in Bloomington
In his return trip to Memorial Stadium, Dobbins showed once again why he’s one of the best running backs in all of college football. Through the first 30 minutes, the junior had 175 (!) rushing yards, essentially gashing the IU defense on his own.
On Friday night, I wrote about how Hoosier linebacker Reakwon Jones had to be one of the best defenders on the field for IU, but at the same time, the Hoosier defense needed to show up. Guess what happened? Jones was held to three tackles, and the Hoosier defense did not show up.
For those wondering, that 175 first half yards from Dobbins was a career high. Along the way, it was laughable how good he was. On his lone touchdown, a 26-yarder, he shook off half the IU defense. Literally, guys were bouncing off of Dobbins as he sprinted his way into the end zone. It’s like someone dropped the difficulty to ‘rookie’ and turned the sliders all the way to the right in a football game. I only know about that sliders thing because I’ve dropped the difficulty to rookie and turned ‘pass blocking’ and ‘quarterback throwing accuracy’ to 100 percent in Madden 20, enabling me to throw for 800 yards and 10 touchdowns per game.
Anyway, back to Dobbins. Here’s the play in question:
I'm not good with the maths, but it looks like seven (7) Hoosiers get a hand on J.K. Dobbins on his 26-yard TD run. pic.twitter.com/hOBHQrLCT9— Land-Grant Holy Land (@Landgrant33) September 14, 2019
We’ve come a long way since Florida Atlantic, where Dobbins didn’t really have an explosive game. The offensive line blocking also didn’t look good in that game, either. But on Saturday at Indiana, whoa buddy, both Dobbins and the blockers looked good. The running back has to be good to get 193 total yards, but he doesn’t do it alone. Whatever Ryan Day, offensive coordinator Mike Yurich and offensive line coach Greg Studrawa are doing on a week to week basis seems to be working.
And while we’re still reminiscing about the past, two years ago was when Dobbins made his first career appearance in the Scarlet and Gray. On a Thursday night, he dazzled with a 181-yard performance against the Hoosiers. Two years later, he’s still doing what he does best: speeding past (and around) tacklers. A third 1,000-yard season is almost certain (barring injury) especially if he gets blockers in front of him.
With Dobbins as the primary back, Master Teague is becoming a very potent second option. After J.K. wore out the defense, Teague stepped up an bulldozed his way through in the second half. Dobbins may have led the carriers with 22 rushes, but Teague had the better average. Gaining 106 yards on 10 carries, Teague had a 10.6 yard per rush average—eclipsing Dobbins’ average of 8.8.
Both running backs scored on the day and showed off why they are among some of the best at doing what they do. There’s still nine more games left in the regular season, and there’s no signs of stopping from this Buckeye running tandem. That’s great news for the Buckeyes, and very bad news for everyone else.
2. Defense does it again
Chase Young is a good at football. This is not a secret. The Hoosiers knew he was good a football, and had to design some sort of game plan to ensure that Young didn’t wreck complete havoc on the offense. Despite their best efforts, Young did in fact cause havoc—getting two sacks and three total tackles.
Outside of the Buckeye defense not arriving to the stadium for the game, I don’t know how you stop them. And like any championship worthy defense, they are getting better which each passing week. In addition to Young getting sacks, Tyler Friday, Zach Harrison and Javontae Jean-Baptiste also sacked the QB, too. In short: It was a bad day at the office for Hoosier QBs Peyton Ramsey and Jack Tuttle.
And we’ve only touched the surface.
Pass defense held IU to 215 yards, with a trick play (wide receiver pass) being the only touchdown surrendered on the day. On the ground, the Hoosiers got a lowly 42 yards. In comparison, the Buckeyes got 214 yards in the air on seven less pass attempts (36 to 29) and had 314 yards of rushing.
Jordan Fuller and Pete Werner led the tacking brigade at five each, and Damon Arnette had the highlight reel play of the game on defense, intercepting Ramsey at the end of the third quarter—and bringing it back 96 yards of the score.
Thanks, @criscarter80! pic.twitter.com/T3lLRCkpM4— Land-Grant Holy Land (@Landgrant33) September 14, 2019
If you’re an opposing offensive coordinator and think that this year’s OSU defense is like last year, you’re going to have a bad time. If you think you’ve got the game plan to stop Young and the D-lineman, and it doesn’t involve doubling up everyone, you’re going to have a bad time.
When the Hoosiers got their pass game going, they had moderate success, but it only lasted for a bit. Sure, trick plays can help you get out of a pinch for a play or two, but you can’t rely on that for 60 minutes. The best way to stop the OSU defense is to have a functional running and passing game. And, lol, that’s a lot easier said than done. In the three games this season, none of OSU’s opponents have had both.
Ohio State has a College Football Playoff worthy defense. It’s just a matter of navigating the season to reach the final four.
Mr. Olave, a renaissance man
Guys that can do it all are a hot commodity. Chris Olave can catch the ball and play special teams. Both skills were showcased during the ‘Big Noon Kickoff’ on Fox, where he picked up 70 receiving yards and a touchdown on three catches, and blocked a punt.
what have you done in the past minute and 13 seconds? https://t.co/lWY5z1Hrh7— Land-Grant Holy Land (@Landgrant33) September 14, 2019
This was shades of Michigan all over again, where Olave had touchdown catches and a blocked kick.
Now in year two, Olave is showing some serious promise. When he becomes one of the leaders in the receiving room, he’ll be a true go-to, primary receiver for Justin Fields. Already, he’s getting the ball at an impressive rate; through three games, he’s caught 10 passes for 198 yards and two touchdown. You know you’re having a good time when a fifth of your receptions are for scores.
One of the big things Urban Meyer did was make guys earn their way up the program by placing them on special teams first. Do well there, and you’ll be seeing important snaps in games. Olave has not only done that, but he’s doing it consistently.
We may be a season away from seeing Olave as the leading receiver for the Buckeyes. Heck, he may even be that guy this year.
The road warriors
Even though it was Indiana, there was some trepidation that the Bucks could slip up on the road. Especially with games at Northwestern, Nebraska and Michigan still looming around the corner, the thought that one of those games will lead to a loss was a preseason thought.
Slipping up and suffering the 2019 version of Purdue or Iowa doesn’t seem likely anymore. The Buckeyes straight up worked Indiana, and you would’ve thought that Saturday’s game in Bloomington was happening in Columbus. Without missing a beat, the Bucks clicked on all cylinders.
If Ohio State does take a loss this season, it won’t be a blowout. The other team is gonna have to earn the victory, and probably escape with the victory. Michigan seems like the only real candidate for pulling off the win against OSU, and they really haven’t looked all that impressive in their two games this season.
Still a long way to go until playoff time, but don’t count on a Buckeye blowout away from Ohio Stadium.
The Big Ten’s wunderkind
Preseason predictions favored Michigan as being the eventual Big Ten champions. And when the season started, some places liked Penn State as being the winners of the Big Ten East. Personal note: I thought Michigan would be the winners of the Big Ten four weeks ago.
And now it appears that I’ve made a grave error in judgment.
So far, the B1G has not looked all that good outside of Ohio State. Michigan nearly lost to the troops (Army) last week, and Penn State won over Pittsburgh solely because Pittsburgh’s brain trust stacked the deck against themselves.
Michigan State had the epitome of bad breaks when, after making the tying field goal versus Arizona State, a penalty was called for 12 men on the field. On the rekick, a no-call on the Sun Devil defense for leaping over the MSU lineman at the line of scrimmage led to a FG attempt that soared way, way left of the post. Sparty lost a heartbreaker at home, manly because they missed three kicks in total.
Indiana getting steamrolled didn’t help the Big Ten East profile, and Rutgers, well, nevermind.
Iowa survived Iowa State on Saturday in a weather delay extravaganza, Nebraska already has a loss after blowing the lead to Colorado last week, and Northwestern already had a loss from Stanford in Week 1. Minnesota came back to defeat Georgia Southern, adding a third shaky win to the résumé. Wisconsin appears to be the best team in the Big Ten West, and they have a real test next week versus Michigan, who comes off the bye week.
The only team that looks remotely close to being a playoff team is Ohio State. Even with a new coach in Ryan Day, the Buckeyes are rolling along. Granted, there’s still plenty of football left, but after three weeks, it’s an Ohio State world the other Big Ten teams are living in.