No first road game jitters from this Ohio State team as the Buckeyes dismantled Michigan State for the second consecutive season and moved to 6-0 on the season. Now the Buckeyes will get some much needed rest with a halfway point bye week.
But first! my Instant Observations from another blowout win….
1. Miscommunication on the Pick Six aside, this was another offensive clinic from C.J. Stroud, Ryan Day, and the rest of the Ohio State offense. Schematically, the Buckeyes seemed to have the answer for whatever coverage Michigan State dialed up. Stroud executed nearly perfectly after the INT, the receivers made big plays, and the offensive line mauled again. This is a tougher offense to defend than a year ago.
2. The situation at corner continues to be something that bears watching as we nitpick this team to death to try and find the flaw or the thing that could keep this group from winning a championship. But I’m not as down on the cornerback play today as it seems many are. Guys were in position to make plays today on the catches in question. Sometimes receivers make unbelievable catches. It’s funny, when Harrison Jr. does it, it’s an amazing catch. When it happens on the other end, the corners stink. I think most of today’s “stuff” can be chalked up to a couple of great plays made by Michigan State receivers.
3. I don’t think the box score will necessarily show it, but I thought Lathan Ransom played his best game of the season. Whether it was coming down to break up a pass, playing deep responsibility perfectly on the INT, or blowing up would-be blocks in the MSU screen game, I thought Ransom was outstanding. That was like watching a batter hit for the cycle, he made a great play in every single facet of the game where you ask a safety to impact things.
4. I also thought, as a whole, this was the best game the defensive tackle unit has played so far this season. Michael Hall was disruptive as always, but this was probably the best Taron Vincent has played all season. Vincent was shooting gaps in the run game and the stats probably won’t do him justice in terms of how active he was today in getting after the quarterback. Throw in a very notable performance from Jerron Cage, and this interior group was really outstanding today. I think there were some questions about this unit heading into the season, but it has been one of the strengths of the team so far.
5. I loved Ryan Day’s first half decision to go for it on 4th and short around OSU’s own 40. Being a tough football team that pushes people around in short yardage isn’t something you can turn on and off. This was a continued commitment to being able to run the football in short yardage and when everyone in the stadium is expecting it. Huge hole opened up by Paris Johnson and Henderson squirts through for an easy first down.
6. College football is a funny business. It’s as knee-jerk of an industry as you’ll find. About four weeks ago, Mel Tucker was a media darling. He was coming off a strong 2021 season, the Spartans were 2-0 and highly ranked. Four weeks later, Sparty is 2-4 and we’re already wondering what the ROI is going to look like on that 95 million dollar contract. Yikes.
7. We’re going to be spending a lot of time over the next 15 months discussing Marvin Harrison Jr.’s place in Ohio State history. The Buckeyes have reclaimed the WR U. title in recent years and some how, some way, Harrison Jr. might be the best of the recent group. It’s crazy to think what he is doing right now from a statistical standpoint. He is well under 10 career starts still, yet now holds the record for three-touchdown games. Two of his three touchdown grabs today were highlight reel caliber.
8. As we watched TreVeyon Henderson have a really nice day on the ground at less than one-hundred percent, I continue to be impressed with his maturation. My only knock on Henderson a year ago was that I felt after having a lot of early success that he tried to bounce everything and that, at times, he was turning three yard gains into two-yard losses by doing so. I think we’re seeing a more disciplined runner who is taking what is there and having the confidence that if he continues to hit the singles and doubles that he’ll eventually get the right pitch to take deep. Despite being a little gimpy going into the game, he ran really hard today and I thought was making the right reads and the right cuts with tremendous consistency.
9. Speaking of Henderson, I subtly hinted at halftime that maybe it should be the Dallan Hayden show in the second half. Unfortunately it came a snap too late as Henderson took a big hit and was clearly dinged by it coming out of the gates in the third quarter. Look, I get it. The game wasn’t “over” at that point, you’re backed up a bit and you want a guy you trust carrying the ball in that situation, but still not sure the juice was worth the squeeze there. Looks like Henderson will be fine and it was good to see him engaged from the sidelines, so bullet dodged there.
10. Has there been a better-timed bye week in recent memory? The Buckeyes have looked mostly dominant in their 6-0 start but have suffered a rash of nagging injuries all over the roster over the past two months. This is a perfect time to regroup with physical games coming up against Iowa and Penn State, and I continue to look at this like a championship contender that should get a few huge trade deadline additions. This team has looked really, really good for large stretches of the first half of the season but should be a healthier and even more talented lineup coming out of the bye week. Scary thought.