Ohio State (other than Ezekiel Elliott) didn’t exactly knock my socks off yesterday in their close win over a very game Indiana Hoosiers squad, but the statistics above are the ones that count: Ohio State is 1-0 in the Big Ten and 5-0 overall.
Members of Buckeye Nation who bought into the team’s preseason hype are freaking out that Ohio State not only hasn’t crushed Indiana and its other opponents, but has struggled and doesn’t really resemble the team that rolled over Wisconsin, Alabama and Oregon at the end of last year. And they’re right in the sense that this team has a lot to work on. Way too many turnovers, stupid penalties, muffed center snaps, lack of timing between quarterback and receivers, some bad in-play decisions, and a general out-of-sync feel have kept the offense from showing its true potential. The defense has been better, but it has had its breakdowns, too — and yesterday the offense did it no favors by failing to put together any sustained drives. When you leave the defense on the field and let the other team run 30 more plays than you do, there are bound to be breakdowns.
I’m not going to join the chorus of Ohio State fans who are second-guessing the coaches. This team obviously hasn’t gelled yet, and it will be on the coaches to make that happen. Eventually, turnovers and penalties will bite you if they aren’t stopped. But nevertheless, Ohio State has managed to find a way to win — and yesterday they did it against a fired-up team that looks to be on the upswing, on the road, in sloppy conditions. Some good teams that weren’t having their best day would have lost yesterday’s game. It says something positive about this team and its coaches that Ohio State didn’t let that happen.
Four teams ranked in the top ten lost yesterday, and two of them got crushed. Other teams — like Michigan State — also struggled. That’s the way college football works. Ohio State fans should stop fretting about style points and start appreciating the Ws.