Ohio State fans live in the extremes, whether good or bad. As they say, we have no chill. So, I am going to give voice to those passionate opinions by running through my completely level-headed, not-at-all over-the-top, 100% unbiased takeaways from Saturday’s 52-21 win over the Wisconsin Badgers.
Ohio State is the best team in college football
When it comes to the question of who the best team in the country is, we all understand that there are really only three options: Defending champs Georgia, Alabama (the most impressive dynasty in the history of the sport), and your Ohio State Buckeyes.
If you want to throw in the rest of the current top five to let a few other teams feel like they have a show, I am willing to entertain that as well, but they are multiple rungs down the CFP hierarchical ladder.
So, on Saturday, No. 1 Georgia straight-up struggled against Kent State. While the outcome might never have been in legitimate doubt, the Bulldogs were pushed by a really salty MAC team, deep into the fourth quarter, before UGA tacked on a late one to win 39-22.
I’ve got to give a ton of credit to the Flashes though. Their four-game non-conference schedule included No. 18 Washington, No. 6 Oklahoma, and No. Georgia; all losses, but they were more than respectable in all of them. It’s also impressive that they are willing to play (and lose to) top-line Power 5 teams in pursuit of bettering their squad, even if it makes it more difficult to become bowl eligible. Of course, it also helps the athletic department’s bottom line, but playing those three teams in the first month of the season feels much more about development than buy games.
So, while the Dawgs beat the ever-loving tar out of both Oregon and South Carolina, they struggled against a pretty good MAC team. You know who didn’t struggle against a pretty good MAC team?
Ohio State. They beat Toledo 77-21 last weekend. So, Kirby’s Crew, you are dismissed from this conversation.
Next up? Nicky Saban’s Crimson Tide. We all know that Alabama would have lost to Texas two weeks ago had they not cheated and injured former Buckeye Quinn Ewers’ shoulder. So, while they did win 20-19, when you’re talking about the best team in the country, I’m considering that a loss. Therefore, elephants, your presence is no longer required here.
So, that leaves the Buckeyes as the next team up, and after their dominant win over a solid-enough Badgers team, I’m comfortable moving them to No. 1. The pollsters almost certainly won’t, because they are all cowards, but we all know who the real best team in the country is. Ohio State was on fire to start the game and they clearly came out of the gate with something to prove, and prove it they did.
The offense was clicking on all cylinders early in the game and the defense was not allowing the Badgers to do much of anything. Both sides of the ball for OSU regressed towards the mean a little bit as the game went on, but were still incredibly impressive, especially considering the opponent.
I actually think the fact that Ohio State was able to win by 31 points and still not look anything near perfect is a good thing for this team’s future. There are certainly things to tighten up, elements to improve upon, and starters to get healthy, but if they can continue to do those things, there is no reason not to believe that the Buckeyes can and should win the national title. They might not have been perfect last night, but they still looked like the best team in the country to me.
Oh, right. Nos. 4 and 5. TTUN should have lost to Maryland and Clemson should have lost to Wake. Case closed. Go Bucks!
Cade Stover is the best Ohio State tight end since Rickey Dudley, maybe ever
I’m not going to bore you with stats, research, and “facts” in a column that is intended specifically to focus on statements that are both “irrational” and “over reactionary.” But, watching Cade Stover carve up the Wisconsin defense made it very clear to me that he is the best tight end that the Buckeyes have had in decades.
He is tied for the team lead in touchdowns with five (dangit, sorry, I promised no stats). That’s already two more than Jeremy Ruckert had last season, and does anyone really think that Stover won’t be an integral part of the offense for the remainder of the season?
Ryan Day on Cade Stover:— Chase Brown (@chaseabrown__) September 25, 2022
"He's a tough player. I'm proud of what Cade Stover is becoming for this offense. He deserves everything he's getting," he said. "He's become a weapon for us."
Heck, he already has as many receiving touchdowns as any Buckeye tight end since Jake Stoneburner did in 2011 when he led the entire team with seven. Hell, Stover could have seven in a single game next week against Rutgers and I wouldn’t be all that surprised.
For you youngsters reading this, Rickey Dudley only played football for two seasons at Ohio State before being taken with the ninth pick in the NFL Draft by the Miami Dolphins. Dudley came to Columbus as a power forward on the men’s basketball team, where he also was a standout player. And while he only had seven touchdowns during his final season as a Buckeye in 1995, he was a game-changer for John Cooper’s offense, which also featured that year’s Heisman Trophy winner Eddie George and arguably the best pass-catcher in OSU history Terry Glenn.
Stover is a different breed of tight end from what we have ever seen at Ohio State. The physicality that he has brought from his natural position as a linebacker makes him an effective blocker — which is critical for a TE in OSU’s offense — but he is also nearly unguardable for any linebacker, which is generally a defense’s best option to cover him, given all of the incredible wide receivers that populate the field at any given time for the Buckeyes.
So, I’d imagine that Stover has at least 15 TD receptions in his future this year, should he stay healthy, and he very well could go down as the best tight end in Buckeye history.
Miyan Williams is RB1
Now don't get me wrong, this is not a knock on TreVeyon Henderson in any way shape or form. Despite his injury issues this season, he remains a dynamic tailback capable of hitting a home run at any time. However, because he has been limited in the first third of the season, Miyan Williams has been afforded opportunities to prove himself that even the most ardent of Porkchop fans likely didn’t anticipate a month ago.
But, based on the rotation that we saw amongst the running backs last night, it is pretty clear to me that Williams has at least elevated himself to co-RB1, if not asserted himself a slight step above Henderson in the positional pecking order. Yes, Henderson did start the game, but when the Buckeye offense was truly rolling in the first half, it was Williams who was running the ball.
The erstwhile Meatball racked up 101 yards on 11 carries, good for a 9.2 yards-per-carry average, and yet he did not have a rush after midway through the second quarter. From there, it seemed clear that head coach Ryan Day was determined to get Henderson into a flow that he hasn’t had the opportunity to experience so far this season as he has dealt with injuries.
TreVeyon ended up going for 121 yards on 21 carries (5.8 ypc). Still very solid, but not nearly as dynamic as Miyan. Now, I don’t think this is a bad thing at all. I believe that in today’s modern football landscape, having two running backs is beneficial for both the team and the players.
In my opinion, both Miyan and Trey are NFL backs, and not having to shoulder the entire rushing load of a title-contending team will only be better for their long-term viability at the next level, but it also pays dividends for the Buckeyes this year as well. Last season, it was clear that Henderson hit something of a freshman wall as the campaign carried on; which is to be expected for someone who didn't play a senior year of football due to COVID and was adjusting to the demands and physicality of college football for the first time.
But now, whether Miyan is RB1 or Trey is RB1 or both are RB1, there is a better chance that both backs will be fresh and healthy heading into The Game and subsequent postseason. It is clear that Day believes in both backs and that each will factor heavily into the game plan for the rest of the season.
But, in this very moment, when you are looking for someone to consistently gain 8 to 10 yards, someone who has the ability to turn any run — even one that looks destined to be a loss — into a chunk play, that is Williams in my opinion. There is just something exhilarating about watching him run; his blend of elusiveness and physicality means that you never really know if he is going to run around someone or run them over, and that is exciting from a fan’s perspective. I described it on Twitter during the game as being a bit silly to watch him absolutely shed potential tacklers and turn what would be minimal gains for most backs into first downs. He is special.
Of course, these things can ebb and flow when you have multiple elite players at a given position, and as Henderson gets closer to being 100% healthy, he very well could take the top spot again. Of course, it doesn’t really matter who is “RB1” when both backs are putting up over 100 yards in a blowout victory over one of the better teams in the conference, but right now, it seems clear to me that Miyan Williams is Ohio State’s most consistent and dynamic back.