After each Ohio State game during the 2022 football season, LGHL will offer its market analysis of the Buckeyes’ performance. Using a standard bond rating system, we’ll evaluate the offense, the defense, and the special teams, according to this formula:
AA: Very Strong
BB: Facing Major Uncertainty
Then, we’ll take a look at any individual players whose performance stood out (in one way or another!) and assign them a stock rating: Blue Chip, Solid Performance, Penny Stock (akin to a junk bond, dangerously high risk).
This game against Toledo is what we’ve been waiting for so far in this season: an offense that simply cannot be stopped. Whether the play was a pass or a run, the Buckeyes moved the ball with seemingly very little resistance.
All of the questions that have arisen from the first two Ohio State games were answered in this one. Creating turnovers? The Bucks had none in their first two games and got both an interception and a fumble recovery in this one. Untimely penalties? In 60 minutes of play, the Buckeyes had one five-yarder. Consistent run offense? Even with TreVeyon Henderson leaving the game after the first offensive possession, OSU rushed for 281 net yards.
If Ohio State came into this game looking for a tune-up and a confidence-builder going into league play, it couldn’t have gone better. Badger coaches and players watching this game will have gotten an eyeful.
Overall rating: AA Very Strong
Here are the numbers, but the game seemed even more lopsided. The Buckeyes had the ball for 13 series of downs. They scored touchdowns on 11 of them, punted on one (downed at Toledo’s two-yard line), and watched the game clock hit zeroes on the final one. Nearly unstoppable. Nearly perfect. The passing offense saw C.J. Stroud and Kyle McCord connect on 27 of their 34 passes (79.4%) for 482 yards and six touchdowns. The running game produced 281 net yards on 44 carries (6.39 yards per carry average) and five TDs. The Buckeyes ran 78 plays to Toledo’s 56, had possession for 35:26 to the Rockets’ 24:34, and converted 11 of their 3rd-down attempts.
Jaxon Smith-Njigba and Julian Fleming both returned from their injuries, and both played well, Fleming scoring two receiving touchdowns. But the other receivers – Cade Stover, Marvin Harrison, Jr., Emeka Egbuka, and Jayden Ballard also shone brightly.
And the running backs? Henderson carried only four times, but Miyan Williams got 77 yards on his 10 runs, T.C. Caffey had a brilliant 49-yard breakaway among his 57 yards, and fellow freshman Dallan Hayden led all rushers with 108 yards on 17 carries. Everybody played, everybody starred.
Overall rating: A Strong
If the Rockets didn’t have a quarterback named Dequan Finn, I’d probably give the Buckeye defense the highest possible rating here. But Finn created problems as long as he was in there. Buckeye defenders continually put pressure on him and even sacked him twice. But Finn is fast and elusive, and time and time again he would scramble for good yardage. His passing was also pretty accurate: 10/19 for 153 yards and a couple of touchdowns. Yes, there’s still somewhat of a question about the Buckeye pass defense.
Overall, the Bucks gave up a little over 300 yards of total offense. They were stout against the run, allowing 124 net rushing yards on 33 runs, for a respectable 3.76-yard-per-carry average – most of it being Finn’s 70 yards.
Ronnie Hickman grabbed an errant Rocket pass for OSU’s first turnover of the season. We saw Sonny Styles and how hard he can hit. The defensive line played particularly well, I thought, and they look ready to face the Badgers.
Overall rating: A Strong
Not a lot to report here – except that some previous mistakes have been taken care of. We didn’t see the Buckeye punt return team flubbing kicks or getting called for penalties. The Bucks punted only once, but Jesse Mirco’s kick went out of bounds on the Rocket two. Noah Ruggles made all of his extra-point kicks.
C.J. Stroud. I should probably just leave Stroud right here until he has a bad game, but he probably won’t have one. Against Toledo, Stroud strengthened his bid as a Heisman Trophy candidate with an almost flawless night. He hit 22 of his 27 passes, for 367 yards and five passing touchdowns. He also (surprisingly) carried the ball on a couple of runs. Stroud spread out his passes to a number of receivers, most notably Stover, who broke open on a couple of nice routes.
Jayden Ballard. The Buckeyes had three receivers gain more than 100 yards through the air. In this young season, we’ve come to expect it from Harrison, Jr. (102 yards) and Egbuka (116 yards), but it sure was good to see Ballard break out. Playing with backup QB Kyle McCord, Ballard caught four passes for 113 yards. He flashed his speed on a game-long 72-yard reception for a fourth-quarter touchdown.
Dallan Hayden. I may have underestimated this guy last week. He’s got the stuff – strength, speed, vision – to be a No. 1 ball carrier. Surely, he handled the load last night, averaging 6.4 yards per carry and scoring a rushing TD.
Jack Sawyer. Sawyer was all over the field. What a motor he’s got! He was credited with five tackles, two of them for losses, and a sack. The D simply plays better when he’s in the game.
Javontae Jean-Baptiste. He put pressure on Rocket QBs all night and got to them for two sacks. Jean-Baptiste also forced the fumble that accounted for the Buckeyes’ second turnover of the game (and the season).
Miyan Williams. While we hated to see Henderson limp into the locker room, Williams, who regularly alternates at running back anyway, didn’t feel like a step down. He carried the ball 10 times — all in the first half — for 77 yards (7.7 average). His longest run was 19 yards, so maybe he doesn’t have that breakaway speed of Henderson (or Hayden), but he runs so hard.
Tommy Eichenberg. In the three games this season, Eichenberg has risen to the role of “Mr. Reliable.” He stops the run and can cover or blitz on pass plays. It appears as though he’s getting used to being the leader of the defense.
Julian Fleming. It seems that we’ve been waiting forever for this five-star recruit to display his talent. He did last night. Incredible hands. He made only three catches for 23 yards, but two of them were touchdowns. What a great catch Fleming made to give the Buckeyes their fourth TD at the end of the first quarter.
T.C. Caffey. This first-year player should get mentioned here just for his one long run. He wouldn’t go down, and he broke four or five tackles. Since he didn’t join the Buckeyes until early summer, we didn’t see Caffey in the spring game. So, his play against Toledo was a pleasant surprise.
Offensive line. It’s hard to single out individual line play – unless it’s a glaring blunder of some sort that gets replayed several times. But, overall, the line kept the Rocket rushers off of Stroud and McCord and opened big opportunities for the Buckeye running backs. Well done!
It was 77-21. What’s not to like? I’ll save any nitpicking for a closer game.
The Ohio State offense was on full display against Toledo. Granted, Wisconsin will be a much worthier foe. In fact, a couple of months ago, I proclaimed the Badgers to be the toughest game on the Buckeye schedule. Since Penn State and Michigan both look to be better than I thought, Wisconsin doesn’t seem quite as formidable. But it will be an important test to see just how good these Buckeyes are. Can they handle the better Big Ten teams? Can they compete with Georgia?
Let’s hope that Henderson’s injury isn’t too severe and that the Buckeyes are at full strength as they hit the Big Ten schedule.