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Column: New month, new goals for the Buckeyes

Who doesn’t love to make some resolutions on the first of the month?

Ohio State v Penn State Photo by Scott Taetsch/Getty Images

It’s officially November, AKA TTUN month! The season has absolutely flown by and the Buckeyes have had an extremely impressive one through the first nine weeks. However, there is always room to improve of course, so here is a fresh set of goals for the team.

  1. Get the running backs healthy
Syndication: The Columbus Dispatch Kyle Robertson/Columbus Dispatch / USA TODAY NETWORK

Miyan Williams and TreVeyon Henderson have proven to be the best 1-2 punch at RB in the nation. Unfortunately, they have both been banged up this year and played through some injuries. After the Penn State game, where Williams got injured and didn’t return, the entire load fell on Henderson.

At this point in the season, the Bucks cannot rely on just one running back. Even though third-stringer Dallan Hayden has looked good when called upon, I would feel a heck of a lot better if I knew both of the starters were fully healthy. If that does mean Hayden — or Chip Trayanum for that matter — gets some more reps in these next few weeks against Northwestern, Indiana and Maryland, so be it. Ohio State needs both Williams and Henderson fully healthy for TTUN and beyond.

2. Figure out what to do with JSN

NCAA Football: Notre Dame at Ohio State Adam Cairns-USA TODAY Sports

Jaxon Smith-Njigba has had a really bad run of poor luck this year. From getting injured in the first half against Notre Dame, trying to make his return against Toledo and re-injuring himself, and then two weeks ago against Iowa injuring himself again, he has struggled to stay fully healthy.

However, I feel like testing him in each of these games is only making it worse for him. Playing when not fully healthy is just delaying when he will be fully healthy. Additionally, this could risk injuring other muscles in his left leg, which is the leg he injured his hamstring, or hurt something in his right leg by overcompensating. It’s just simply not smart to test it.

Being this far along in the season, I feel like he has to be shut down for at least the next three games. There is no point in playing him until TTUN, because he shouldn’t be needed. This would give him a full month to work on recovery, since he didn’t play against Penn State. I know all of Buckeye Nation, myself included, feels awful for him and we all simply want what is best for him.

3. Continue producing turnovers on defense

NCAA Football: Iowa at Ohio State Joseph Maiorana-USA TODAY Sports

I know I just expressed it in my previous column, but man, do I love this defense! They are so exciting to watch and have produced at least one turnover in each of the past seven games. The best part is, they aren’t all coming from one player. Seven different Buckeyes have an INT so far this season, as well as seven different defenders with one or more forced fumbles.

The 2021 defense had 12 total interceptions for the entire season, but the 2022 team already has 10 with four weeks remaining in the regular season. Turnovers have been absolutely huge for this team, whether points are scored are not. They usually come at crucial parts of the game and have been huge momentum changers. Let’s see how long the Bucks can keep the turnover streak alive.

4. Finish undefeated and beat TTUN (duh)

Syndication: The Columbus Dispatch Adam Cairns/Columbus Dispatch / USA TODAY NETWORK

The latter portion of this goal is what I am obviously most worried about. Northwestern is currently dead last in the Big Ten with a 1-7 record and Indiana is tied for last in the Big Ten East with a 3-5 record. Maryland is 6-2, but these past couple of weeks it has barely managed to defeat both Northwestern and Indiana.

TTUN is a whole ‘nother story. This game has huge ramifications from many different angles. First off, revenge. It’s in the Horseshoe this year so there’s an advantage for Ohio State. Second, playoffs. If both teams win out up until that game, the winner advances to the Big Ten Championship, and most likely, the College Football Playoff. Both teams have been playing extremely well this season, so it will all come down to this game.

Let’s hope each of these goals can be crossed off, but especially this one.