Yesterday I joined a group that headed to Ohio Stadium to watch the Ohio State-Indiana game. On a cold and snowy day, we watched the Buckeyes pulverize the outmatched Hoosiers, 56-14. The win keeps the Men of the Scarlet and Gray undefeated and on track to be in a position to achieve their goals: beating Michigan, winning a Big Ten championship, and competing for a national title.
For the true Buckeyes fan, however, every game, no matter how lopsided, involves good points and areas of lingering concern–because true Buckeye fans hold their gridiron team to impossibly high standards. Yesterday was no exception. The good points included 660 yards of total offense, achieving a nice balance with the ground game and the air attack each racking up more than 300 yards, and five touchdown passes for C.J. Stroud. Putting up these kinds of numbers in cold, snowy conditions is an added plus, because if you play football in the Midwest in November, when the really big games occur, you’ve got to be able to move the ball in cold, sloppy weather conditions. And the Buckeyes’ defense played well, harassing the Hoosier offense throughout the game and holding Indiana to two scores (one coming when the game was well out of reach) and well under 300 yards of offense.
So what are the areas of concern? I’m still worried about Ohio State’s ability to convert in short-yardage situations. Ohio State had some failures on third-and-short yesterday, against a team that doesn’t really match up against the Buckeyes in the trenches. Long runs are great and make the rushing game statistics look good, but as the season winds down, being able to pick up the tough yards, get first downs, and keep the ball in the hands of the offense will become increasingly crucial. The key question that we’ll get answered in the very near future is: can Ohio State and its offensive line do that against a team that has a great defensive line and will make the Buckeyes fight for every yard?
With yesterday’s win, the Buckeyes move to 10-0. Next up is Maryland on the road, and looming behind is That Team Up North, which also stands at 10-0, tied with Ohio State at the top of the Big Ten East. This season is feeling a lot like past seasons, where everything is leading up to The Game once again.