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Question: What’s it going to take to put up 100 vs Michigan?
What’s it going to take to put up 100 vs Michigan?— Simonr75 (@simonr75) August 17, 2022
This question was sent in before the season started, but at the time, it was nearly impossible to answer, so I decided to hold onto it until this week in order to address the serious nature of this query with all of the investigative rigor that it so rightly deserves.
Of course, this question has its roots in the alleged comment that Ryan Day made in a private team meeting back in 2020. The Buckeye head coach reportedly said something to the effect of “We’re gonna hang 100 on ‘em” about that team up north. Of course, because Jim Harbaugh’s squad was hit with a COVID outbreak leading up to Rivalry Week that season, that version of the Buckeyes did not get the chance to prove their coach correct in The Horseshoe that season.
So, with The Game finally back in Columbus for the first time since 2018, the Ohio State offense finally has the chance to lay triple digits against their most hated rival. While in reality, we know that dropping a hundy in any FBS game is not really possible, for the purposes of this exercise, let’s examine what would have to happen.
Obviously, some of these will be pretty obvious, but you don’t have a lot of time to get fancy when you’ve got to score at least four times (including a two-point conversion) per quarter.
1) Lots of TTUN Turnovers
Because the Harboys’ entire offensive game plan is to keep the ball on the ground, they naturally will limit the number of offensive opportunities for their opponents. So, for the Buckeyes to cross the century mark, they would need to do things that would keep the Corn and Blue from eating up large chunks of the game clock.
While normally, I wouldn’t expect TTUN quarterback J.J. McCarthy to throw the ball enough to throw a tremendous number of interceptions. However, if OSU is threatening to score 100 points, obviously, the Skunk Bears will have to increase the number of times they put the ball in the air.
So, if the Bucks want to hang a hundred on ‘em, they will need to take the ball away early and often.
2) Steady Diet of Marvin Harrison Jr.
With Jaxon Smith-Njigba out for practically the entire year, Marvin Harrison Jr. has become C.J. Stroud’s primary target, and that has only increased as the season has progressed. All three of the Buckeyes’ primary pass catchers are capable of scoring, but there is no doubt that Marv is the player most capable of taking the top off of the defense.
The TTUN defense has been very good against the pass this season, coming in fifth nationally, allowing only 161.7 yards per game through the air. However, the offenses that the Fighting Ferrets have faced thus far have been anything put proficient through the air. TTUN’s No. 1 corner D.J. Turner will give up four inches to Harrison, so if the Buckeyes want to put up 100 points, getting quick strikes down the field to Marv would be a great way to do it.
3) Use the run to keep the defense off balance
Coming into The Game, we really don’t know what the status is for the Buckeye running backs at this point, just 17.5 hours before kickoff. I am on record saying that Dallan Hayden should be the starter on Saturday. He has proven that he is capable of carrying the ball in high-pressure situations and that he brings a vision and decisiveness that TreVeyon Henderson has seemingly lacked this season.
While I would prefer a healthy Miyan Williams as the starter, followed closely by a healthy Henderson, I don’t think that either of those is possible, but I believe that a healthy Hayden is a pretty darn good option.
Throughout the season, Ryan Day has called plays to seemingly prove the point that his team is not soft. While I do not believe that the Buckeyes are a soft team, I do believe that they are a finesse team. They have perhaps the best complement of skill players in college football and they are not designed to be a power running team.
If the OSU head coach wants to prove his two-year-old words prophetic, the run will have to be used as a change of pace, rather than the primary offensive strategy. Hayden is certainly capable of turning any run into a long-yardage touchdown, but the ground attack should be used solely to keep the Meerkats’ defense honest and prevent them from selling out to stop the passing game.
Also, of course, running the ball takes a lot more time off of the clock than throwing the ball does, so to score a hundy, they’ll need as much time as possible. Speaking of which...
4) Contain McCarthy, Whoever Plays Running Back for TTUN
This goes in line with what I wrote about forcing turnovers; if the Buckeyes allow the Muskrats to run the ball, not only will they drain the clock, but they will extend drives, making it difficult for the OSU offense to get enough possessions to score 100.
I don’t think that Blake Corum is going to play on Saturday, and even if he does, he will likely be nowhere near 100%. Donovan Edwards, with a bum hand, will probably be TTUN’s primary back in The Game. While he might not be the Heisman candidate that Corum is, he is still a talented runner and capable of gashing the OSU defense.
Of course, a dynamic quarterback capable of breaking contain and picking up yardage like McCarthy is something that most defenses — and especially Ohio State’s — are susceptible to. I don’t know if Jim Knowles will deviate from the 4-2-5 that he has been running for the vast majority of the season, but if he was ever going to go with a traditional 4-3 with an extra linebacker to combat the ground game.
I’m not sure if that is necessary, as long the OSU defense has one of its bigger safeties (maybe Josh Proctor) playing up to support the run. Either way, finding a way to limit the big gains on the ground, thus keeping first-down pickups at a minimum will be a necessity for the Buckeyes to eclipse the century mark.
5) Gonna Have to Go with Tempo
The Buckeyes have not played with tempo nearly as much this season as I would have thought from an offense as prolific as what they have this season. More often than not, Stroud and the offense have rushed up to the line of scrimmage to prevent the defense from subbing, and then relaxed and looked over at the sideline to get the play call.
Unfortunately, that has led to an unacceptable number of delay-of-game penalties, but if you want to score somewhere in the neighborhood of 14 to 15 touchdowns, you’re going to have to maximize your offensive snaps, and that means going as quickly as possible.
Of course, no one in their right mind is going to pick Ohio State to score 100 points against their rival on Saturday. I mean, what kind of fool would put down a prediction that ridiculous on the internet for other people to see? They would have to be some kind of sicko homer to make a pick like that in a wide-ranging season-predictions article? Man, anyone who would do that must truly not know anything about college football.