No weather problems this week for Ohio State as the Buckeyes made quick work of Indiana on Saturday afternoon as flurries fell at Ohio Stadium. There were a lot of steps in the right direction on Saturday against an overmatched Indiana team, but also a few concerns coming out of the game as injuries continue to pile up.
Let’s get to it…
0. What more can be said about Kam Babb? The senior receiver has gone through more injury woes than can be counted and has kept a positive attitude through every one of them and every setback that seemed to follow. We’ve been waiting all season to see if he could find his way onto the field after more setbacks early this fall. Late in Saturday’s game he finally got his chance and reeled in a touchdown grab from C.J. Stroud, his first career reception. What an incredible moment and what an incredible young man.
1. There were so many positives to take from today, but a couple of concerns that can’t be ignored so we’ll get those out of the way early in this column. There is going to be a lot of second guessing about the Miyan Williams injury, which unfortunately does not look good. There has been a lot of clamoring recently to let Dallan Hayden share more of the workload as the Buckeyes try to get through this stretch with Williams and Tre Henderson hampered by nagging injuries. But Williams was kept in after limping off the field a couple of times and now the question will be if the Buckeyes will get Williams back.
2. Another player who will need a status update post game is Emeka Egbuka. It sure looked like Egbuka took a high hit over the middle that could have warranted targeting, but not was not reviewed. He spent a lot of time on the sideline after that play and you have to hope this was precautionary. Ohio State’s depth has been tested this season and anything long term there would be a tough blow.
3. The short yardage issues reared their ugly head in the first half. The Buckeyes have to figure this out for the Michigan game, whether via the run or the pass, these 3rd and short situations could make or break a win in The Game in two weeks.
4. Yet the Buckeyes ran for a season high 340 yards on the ground. So despite the injuries and some of the short yardage struggles, the running game had plenty of bright spots today. Hayden simply must play a good portion of the snaps next week, regardless of the Williams and Henderson situations. He has proven to be reliable.
5. What more can be said about Marvin Harrison Jr.? He is, in fact the best receiver in college football. That amazing sideline catch brought back visions of Smith-Njigba in the back of the end zone last season where he was able to hang in the air just long enough to get a foot down.
6. Quality of competition has to be taken into account, but I really liked what I saw from the Ohio State defense today. They played as one unit, everyone was flowing to the football and making the right reads and I thought all three levels of the defense today were extremely impactful.
7. The Buckeyes are kind of quietly getting elite safety play right now. After injuries caused some chaos to the unit early in the season, the group is really rounding in to form. Lathan Ransom has to be considered a potential three-and-done at this point with the way he is playing. He turned in yet another dominant performance today, once again making plays in all phases of the game from coverage, to run support, to pass rush. But I also thought Ronnie Hickman played a tremendous game as well. He blew up a couple of screen plays and
8. Great confidence booster for Jack Sawyer today. We’ve seen J.T. Tuimoloau have breakout moments this season and now Sawyer looks to have taken that step as well with a pair of sacks today.
9. Thought we already had the “Xavier Johnson Game” against Notre Dame, but he blacked out early in the fourth quarter and became Reggie Bush for a couple of minutes. This continues to be one of the great national stories. Every time this team needs someone to fill in on offense or special teams, this guy steps up. It’s uncanny.
10. I’ve mentioned this a few times recently in other mediums, but I believe we are trending toward a Big Ten/SEC Invitational in January to decide the national champion. Yes, there is a lot of football still left to be played, but the last few weeks have really moved things toward that possible outcome. I think Texas will take care of TCU tonight and the Pac-12 will cannibalize itself over the next couple of weeks. If Ohio State and Michigan can avoid upsets next week and then play a close game in Columbus, I could see the loser staying in the CFP with some combination of UGA/UT/LSU rounding out the Final Four. Call me crazy, but I think this is very possible.