ICYMI, No. 2 Ohio State defeated No. 5 Notre Dame by double digits Saturday. Or, in case you did see it, yet are feeling a little bit concerned about some parts of the team, I am here to calm you down and tell you not to fret.
There are many reasons to be encouraged by this win, so here are just a few.
The most important: Ohio State won!
A lot of people acted like the Buckeyes opened the season with a loss. Not only did they win, they beat a top five team by more than one score. I believe that Notre Dame was SEVERELY underestimated by many (including myself), so that might be the reason some were disappointed with the game.
Additionally, it’s tempting to compare Ohio State’s outcome to other top-10 programs. However, it’s critical to point out that No. 1 Alabama played Utah State, No. 8 TTUN played Colorado State, No. 9 Oklahoma played UTEP and No. 7 Utah LOST to Florida. So, there’s three automatic blowouts right there, followed by a loss! The Buckeyes faced a really difficult opponent, especially for Week 1.
You have to give credit to where credit is due — Marcus Freeman had his team prepared. Their defensive game plan worked extremely well, keeping Stroud & Co. in check for the majority of the game. Plus, quarterback Tyler Buchner showed flashes of potential. However, in the end, the Buckeyes simply are more talented, and that is why they came out with more points.
How about that defense?
You could say that the defense is EXTREMELY improved from last season! They limited the Irish to just 10 points the entire game. In fact, in the second half alone, Buchner only passed for two completions, the run game rushed for 23 yards and they were forced to punt in each of their final six possessions.
While there were some nerve-wracking moments in the first half, including the very first play of the game, the defense got their crap together during the critical time — the second half. They held ND to 76 rushing yards on 30 attempts overall, which is very encouraging considering how poor the run defense was last season.
The Silver Bullets just looked confident and powerful out there. There were contributions from everyone. It was expected from Tommy Eichenburg (maybe not as well as he performed!), but how about Mike Hall? Four tackles, two TFL and a sack? Not bad for the sophomore defensive tackle. The best part about all of this is: it was only the first game, and Jim Knowles admitted it was a basic game plan, so that means it’s only going to get better!
The receivers had pretty much zero experience, no JSN... yet still balled out
I must admit, once Jaxon Smith-Njigba got injured, I was nervous. It’s Stroud’s first game (well, technically second) without Chris Olave and Garrett Wilson, and now JSN is out too? This new slate of receivers had little to no game experience, so I wasn’t quite sure what to expect. However, I should’ve known to never doubt the Buckeyes’ receiving core!
I expected Marvin Harrison Jr. to step into the WR1 role with JSN out, but Emeka Egbuka truly proved what he is all about. He finished with nine receptions for 90 yards and one touchdown. That was his breakout game as a Buckeye, but MH2 still did well too — we all know what he is capable of.
However, a guy I simply have never heard of, Xavier Johnson, BALLED OUT! While he only had two receptions for 34 yards, one of those was the go-ahead TD in the third quarter. I didn’t know who No. 10 was until that very moment, but that just proves how deep the WR room is, which is extremely encouraging. Cade Stover and Jayden Ballard also played well.
I hope that if you were on the fence about how you were feeling following the game, this has brought you over to the greener side. There is so much to be optimistic about, between the defense, the run game and Xavier Johnson — I could go on and on. If you think the offense looked a bit shaky, it probably did. This was Stroud’s first game with all new receivers, and it was against a top five defense. It’s only going to get better.
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