Last year, as many of the readers here love to point out, Ohio State got embarrassed at home by Virginia Tech. And make no mistake, Ohio State got manhandled and outplayed in every aspect of that game. Lat year, in an electric Ohio Stadium atmosphere, Bud Foster's defense harassed and harried an Ohio State offense that was anywhere from ineffective to inept. Last night, in an electric Lane Stadium atmosphere, Ohio State dismantled Bud Foster's defense, methodically and without mercy, en route to a 42-24 pasting of the Hokies.
But only after Virginia Tech's pre-game walk to the field from the locker room took longer than when Spinal Tap got lost going to the stage.
Pre-game stroll aside, the amazing thing to me (other than Braxton Miller) was this--there was a good stretch of football where Ohio State didn't play very well. At all.
But then you look at the stats, and you see 360 rushing yards, 3 passing TD's, and a defense that only gave up 2.9 yards per rush. Had it not been for a slow, plodding fullback and a fumble on a punt return, this game would have been over by halftime. And then you remember Jalin Marshall, Dontre Wilson, Corey Smith, and Joey Bosa will all return to the lineup Saturday against Hawaii.
Oh. Well then. That will be even more fun, won't it?
Look, I get that the season still needs to be played, and anything can happen between now and Indianapolis...and beyond. But after watching OSU, it struck me just how unstoppable they could really be. Let's take a look:
1) Braxton Miller, Demi-god: Other than who was going to start at QB, the big question was how was Miller going to do in his transition to WR? Well, we got an emphatic 'he'll be aiight' last night. With Miller being out for an entire season, it's easy to forget what a playmaker he is with the football in his hands. Monday night in Blacksburg, he gave everyone a memory jog with two 50+ yard scores in the third quarter that helped turn a close game into a blowout. The first one was a sweet 54 yard catch and run from Cardale Jones, and the second...oh my. That spin move.
That's...that's just not fair. To say Miller has added another level to the Buckeyes offense might be the biggest understatement so far in this young college football season.
2) Quit turning the ball over. Ohio State has had a disturbing trend of turning the ball over against Alabama, Oregon, and now Va Tech. Eliminate turnovers in those games...games OSU still won...and the final point tally for the Buckeyes is Madden in rookie level settings. An interception and fumble directly led to 10 Hokie points, but when the offense got rolling, it was moving downhill and was unstoppable. Now, with Marshall and Wilson coming back, how do you defend it? You have a receiving corps combination of Wilson, Marshall, Miller, Curtis Samuel, and Michael Thomas on the field at any one time. You have Ezekiel Elliott in the backfield, who only went 80 yards for a touchdown the first time he touched the ball last night, and you have two very good quarterbacks who can play at a high level. Speaking of Elliott, he only carried the ball 10 times, something Urban Meyer won't let happen again, I'm thinking. If this offense can get out of their own way from time to time, I'm having a hard time coming up for a defense to stop them.
3) Attacking defense: One thing that stood out with the OSU defense last night was the overall speed. Teams are going to have a tough time attacking the perimeter, as players like Darron Lee have exceptional lateral speed and are able to string out plays for little to no gain. The defensive line was solid, even without Bosa, and put pressure on Va Tech quarterbacks all night. There was a vulnerability to misdirection plays, which burned OSU several times for big games. But the real Achilles Heel might be the 'Slow Fullback Wheel Route' play, which Va Tech FB
Mike Alstott Sam Rogers popped for a 51 yard catch and run.
4) Right now, who can challenge them? There were some things to like in the Big Ten from this past weekend (LOLOL Penn State and Nebraska), but I'm just not seeing a defense in the conference that can put the OSU offense in check, except maybe Minnesota. Yes, Minnesota. But the Gophers can't throw the ball, and David Cobb is gone, so it'll be difficult for them to keep up with OSU. Michigan's defense is okay, but Jake Rudock hahahaha, and the Buckeyes shredded MSU in East Lansing last season. And dear Penn State fan, please...I beg you...just don't tell me how your team will beat OSU, I beg of you. When you let your QB get sacked on a two man rush, you just need to salt the earth and start over.
One game does not a season make, but it does create one heck of a first impression. And last night, OSU might have created the most intimidating first impression I can remember a Big Ten team making in recent seasons.