Ohio State has passed the halfway point in the season and remains unscathed. They have now won 19 consecutive games and Urban Meyer has become the first coach in the history of College Football to pull together three 20 game win streaks (his current personal streak started with the Gators). Let’s all keep this in mind because this is a big deal. In fact, Urban’s record shows just how uncommon this kind of run is. Woody didn’t do it, Bear Bryant didn’t do it, even current coaching rival Nick Saban hasn’t done it. It’s a massive deal and shows how hard it is to put together win streaks like what is being experienced at the moment, never mind the ability to do so consistently.
Now for the bad news.
This secondary is scary, and not in a good way. Iowa, who we all knew would bring a strong run game and who was expected to simply attempt to ram the ball down the collective throats of The Buckeyes had little trouble making some big plays in the passing game. Sure, Roby was ejected for, well, for hitting shoulder pad to shoulder pad (the replay is clear on this, Hawkeye fans, so cut it out) and Christian Bryant is out for the season, but come on. There are some speedy, talented youngsters back there. These speedy, talented youngsters couldn’t catch up to a lumbering tight end on an 85 yard pass play. That’s not good.
I don’t know if it’s a coaching issue or just a case of youth having no clue what in the heck is going on, but it’s scary. It was easy to explain away the passing performances of some earlier teams known to air it out like Cal, but Iowa? No. Rudock isn’t awful, but he’s no high-octane stud, either and the Hawkeye’s strength certainly isn’t the pass.
The bright spot?
Well it’s obviously the offense, specifically the tandem of Braxton Miller and Carlos Hyde. How weird is that? For as long as I can remember Buckeye Nation enjoyed the exact opposite situation. There was always a stout D and an offense that just played good enough to win. It is apparently too much to ask to have both.
Braxton was doing Braxton things against Iowa. It had been a while since Brax seemed Brax-esque. It’s the first time since his early season injury that I felt as if he was completely healthy. He made some “I’m going to smash the heck out of my circle button” type moves that reminded everyone of why he was a pre-season Heisman hopeful.
Meanwhile, well, Hyde just seems to refuse to lose. He has taken two games on his back and won them. I now feel silly for even insinuating Hall was an acceptable replacement. In fact, Hyde was one reason why I never doubted for a second that OSU would win that game. There is a will to win there that is incredible and oddly comforting even when trailing at the half.
What would be nice to see is a little more Dontre Wilson, but it’s OK as long as Hyde is getting it done. I had assumed Wilson would have his coming out party against Iowa as they made them spread the field, but no.
The playcalling has actually been oddly conservative. Why? Who knows? Maybe because Urban knows all they have to do is not lose and they will be fine assuming a couple of upsets happen. It’s bizarre behavior, though it worked for The Buckeyes in 2002. That team was considered overrated and over-matched, too. Maybe it’s just a thing that works in Columbus.
Penn State is in town next week for a night game. This is a team that got walloped by Indiana, yet beat Michigan. So…who knows? The way the season has gone, I wouldn’t be shocked for some obscure rule to be unearthed and they manage to tie.
Enjoy the downward slope to the end of the season!