It was a dicey first quarter for the Ohio State Buckeyes. A fumble in the end zone led to a safety, and the Miami-Ohio Redhawks cashed in another early possession for a field goal. A 5-0 lead began to raise some eyebrows, as this had the makings of being an odd day for the Big Ten East.
But then the second quarter happened. The Bucks not only pulled away, but they took off into the stratosphere. Scoring 76 unanswered points on the RedHawks, OSU rolls into Nebraska week with a 4-0 record.
While this win was sealed before halftime, there were still plenty of things that could be learned about this team — and most of them are very good!
Young clowning on offenses
To begin the season, Chase Young has been destroying quarterbacks, seemingly, at will. Against Florida Atlantic and Cincinnati, he picked up 1.5 sacks in each game. Then against Indiana, it was a 2.0 sack afternoon in Bloomington.
And then against Miami, it was another 2.0 sack day for the defensive end, in addition to forcing two fumbles. Four games are now checked off the schedule, and Young has 7.0 sacks on the season—punctuating the fact that he’s a sure-fire first rounder in the upcoming NFL Draft.
Granted, the RedHawks didn’t have an answer for the Buckeye defense from the second quarter onward, but man, I don’t know how any team can stop Young off of the edge.
From a draft stock vantage point, the last six games have been huge for the DE.
Chase Young continues his dominance this season with an early strip sack. Now up to 10.0 sacks in his last 6 games. pic.twitter.com/RcGQuybFfY— Jordan Reid (@JReidNFL) September 21, 2019
Whether it be Miami, Cincinnati, Indiana, Northwestern or against Washington in the Rose Bowl, Young has found a way to get to the QB, regardless of who the opposing offense brings to block him.
Last season, he had 10.5 total sacks, including 3.0 against the Wildcats in the Big Ten Championship, and one sack against the Huskies. Needing three more sacks to match last season’s total, there’s a better than decent chance he hits that before September comes to a close. Nebraska’s QB, Adrian Martinez, may dance around the pocket to keep plays alive, but the more he dances, the better the chances that Young has at getting to the QB.
Against Colorado, a game that the Huskers blew after leading 17-0, Martinez was sacked six times. On Saturday, against Illinois, Martinez went down twice. Ohio State is streets ahead of those two teams, so expect Martinez to hit the turf at least a couple of times on Saturday night.
The big question is how many sacks Young will have. I’m leaning towards two.
For the third straight game, OSU has gone through the motions in the first quarter. After that 28-0 first quarter start against FAU, the Buckeyes have eased into games rather than taking them completely over.
Exhibit A was against the Bearcats in Week 2, where Ohio State held onto a 7-0 lead after 15 minutes. Exhibit B against the Hoosiers showcased a 7-3 score in favor of the Buckeyes after the first period of play. And Exhibit C, versus the RedHawks, had the interesting score of 7-5 when the first quarter came to a close.
Of the games this season, Miami was the sloppiest. Quarterback Justin Fields got sacked in the end zone, fumbling the ball in the process that led to the game’s opening score — a safety. Then on the following possession, which the RedHawks got for earning the safety, OSU allowed the opposition to go 66 yards on 14 plays, ultimately ending with a field goal.
There’s going to come a point in time where the Buckeyes can’t sleepwalk in the first quarter; it’s not always going to come as easy as it did in quarters 2-4 on Saturday. Looking down the line, a team like Wisconsin is someone you can’t ease into and will have to play for a full 60 minutes. And especially in road contests, that’s the last place where you want to fool around, that’s doubly true when you look at OSU’s recent history.
...and closing speed
Now, on the other side of the coin, the Buckeyes have giddy up speed like few others. Just like the exhibits of slow starts, they have counter balances that show how quickly they can take over the game.
A 21-point second quarter against Cincy; a 23-point second quarter against the Hoosiers; and, arguably, the most laughable example of a runaway football squad this season, a 42-point second quarter against the RedHawks.
Fields and the offense turned it ON, with a capital “O” and “N.” The Buckeyes had 252 yards of offense in the second quarter alone, including 195 in the air. At will, Fields was finding his wideouts. A 53-yard score to K.J. Hill, a pair of TDs to Chris Olave, and a 30-yarder to Binjimen Victor tallied four passing scores for Fields for the day. Throw in the two short TD rushes, and Fields hung six total scores in the second quarter.
Defensively, and even on special teams, the Bucks were a menace. OSU forced three turnovers for the game, and Sevyn Banks blocked a punt in the second quarter.
Sevyn Banks getting the hand/arm on the punt. Buckeyes looking strong in all three phases. pic.twitter.com/Ylw62MHXpE— Land-Grant Holy Land (@Landgrant33) September 21, 2019
And when subbed out in the third quarter, Chris Chugunov came in and had himself a decent day. Going 6-of-8 for 86 yards, the backup had two touchdowns of his own.
Seven different Buckeyes got to rush the ball, with Steele Chambers having the best day of them all — going for 63 yards on eight carries. I mean, yeah, Miami is not a world beater in the MAC, but let’s not pretend that the Buckeyes don’t have playmakers on the offense. Fields concluded the afternoon with 223 passing yards on 14-of-21 passing, most of that all coming in the second period of play. As a team, the offense had 601 total yards, which is video game levels of absurdity.
Defensively, the team is just as stacked. Miami had 130 yards of total offense, with 113 of that coming in the first quarter. Look at the drive charts for the RedHawks from the second quarter onward:
Miami Drive Chart (2nd Quarter - 4th Quarter)
|Drive Begins||Qtr||Time||Drive Ends||Qtr||Time||Pl-Yds|
|Drive Begins||Qtr||Time||Drive Ends||Qtr||Time||Pl-Yds|
|MIAMI25||2||14:36||MIAMI25||2||14:33||1 - 0|
|MIAMI25||2||14:04||MIAMI24||2||12:34||3 - -1|
|MIAMI25||2||8:37||MIAMI28||2||6:00||6 - 3|
|MIAMI25||2||5:06||MIAMI25||2||2:40||3 - 0|
|MIAMI25||2||2:14||MIAMI18||2||2:06||1 - -7|
|MIAMI25||2||0:53||MIAMI23||2||0:00||2 - -2|
|MIAMI16||3||13:22||MIAMI20||3||11:42||3 - 4|
|MIAMI16||3||11:05||MIAMI22||3||9:21||3 - 6|
|MIAMI25||3||9:00||MIAMI25||3||6:53||3 - 0|
|MIAMI25||3||2:15||MIAMI29||3||0:25||3 - 4|
|MIAMI25||4||13:59||MIAMI39||4||9:05||6 - 14|
|MIAMI13||4||2:58||MIAMI14||4||0:00||1 - 1|
That’s wild no matter who you play. The Bucks had five sacks and 13.5 tackles for loss. Dallas Gant led the tackle brigade with five; and Young, Davon Hamilton and Baron Browning lead the TFL squad with two a piece. Jeffrey Okudah had the Buckeyes’ lone interception snag of the game, punctuating the all-around effort from a defense that looks nothing like they did a year ago.
With all eyes on Nebraska next week, there’s a really good chance that OSU sleepwalks in the first quarter again, before uncorking another one-two punch the rest of the way. Don’t be surprised if the Cornhuskers get up 7-3, before allowing 42 straight points. This is almost becoming Ohio State’s modus operandi, but I’m here for it... as long as they continue to pick it up after the first quarter.
Garrett Wilson’s first career touchdown against Cincinnati was highlight-reel worthy. Right then and there, you had the feeling that he was going to be a star at some point. After a two-catch, 8-yard effort at Indiana, Mr. Wilson came back with a vengeance against Miami.
Hauling in a career-high four receptions for 54 yards, Wilson nabbed his second career TD reception — and it might’ve been better than his first:
Garrett Wilson is going to be a lot of fun for three years. pic.twitter.com/km1An7wcpd— Land-Grant Holy Land (@Landgrant33) September 21, 2019
Juggling the ball while on the ground, he was still able to make a catch out of it. Unreal reception from an unreal talent. Here’s what head coach Ryan Day said about the grab in his postgame interview:
It was a one-on-one go ball that Chris kind of under threw a little bit, but he gave him a chance by putting a lot of air on it. And then it was just unbelievable talent, going over the top, making -- getting his hands on it over the top of the corner, but also somehow making some sort of circus catch. That was things we’ve seen in practice, but that one was pretty unreal.
Don’t be surprised if Wilson is the next great wide receiver to don the Scarlet and Gray.
Getting freshman and guys that normally wouldn’t play some in-game reps is important. With non-conference competition done, the chances of getting those kinds of plays from backups becomes dramatically slimmer.
Day and the staff could afford to put the non-starters in for the second half of the game. Already, we’ve seen some of them shine in the limited opportunities they’ve had. Wilson was just one of the wide receivers to make the most out of their reps, as Jameson Williams also brought home a TD grab. His, however, involved a little more sprinting as Williams took a Gunnar Hoak pass 61 yards to paydirt. For Williams, he caught the ball around midfield and raced the RedHawks defense the rest of the way.
Perhaps Ohio State had more than just the first 85 picks at recess... pic.twitter.com/RIToWMbTkI— Land-Grant Holy Land (@Landgrant33) September 21, 2019
At the skill positions, three different QBs, seven different rushers, and 13 different receivers had chances to hold the football. Defensively, 18 non-starters got into the game with 17 making at least one tackle.
It may not be much, but getting guys like Zach Harrison, and even Hoak into games is always valuable. You never know when you’re going to need them to play in tight games, so getting them in now at least gives a couple of data points at where they are in terms of progress.
Bonus: Preseason Prediction goes bust
When Land-Grant Holy Land did preseason predictions, I predicted the unfathomable: Michigan winning the Big Ten East, going 12-1 (losing to Ohio State). I also thought that OSU would be a 10-2 team.
Both predictions are on pace to be extremely wrong.
The Buckeyes have looked unstoppable, while the Wolverines have looked absolutely stoppable.
Against the Wisconsin Badgers, and with a bye week to prepare, Michigan appeared to have stayed home — getting more rest in Ann Arbor — instead of playing at Camp Randall in Madison, Wisc. Getting rushed off of the field, Badger running back Jonathan Taylor had a Tim Biakabutuka-esque 203 yards on the ground. And just like how Biakabutuka terrorized the Buckeyes in 1995 (and ended national title hopes), Taylor has done the same thing to the Wolverines.
If Michigan isn’t at DEFCON 1 right now, I don’t know what will get them to sound all of the alarms. At the beginning of the season, many thought that UM was a realistic College Football Playoff contender. Then after the incredibly close scare with Army, they were knocked off the CFP pedestal, but were still a favorite in the Big Ten. But after this debacle at Wisconsin, managing an 8-4 season and playing OSU competitively (losing by 10 or fewer) are the only realistic goals left on the chalkboard.