Perhaps the press should work to get under Tressel's skin more often.
After cutting his Thursday press conference short due to constant questions about the status of Ray Small, the Buckeye offense had perhaps their finest game of the season in a 45-10 laugher over the 25th-ranked Wildcats.
Led by the play of Wells and Pryor, the offense rolled up 441 yards on the afternoon and saw three drives go for touchdowns in each half. The final score, a 16 yard run by Boom Herron, brought a grimace to the Vest's face and some scolding from color guy Andre Ware, but we'll take it.
With most of the staff from the 11W Columbus office in Chicago this weekend, we actually all got together and caught the game live. In my haste to hang with friends and family, I also forgot to record the game at home, so my impressions are slightly skewed without the help of replays and angles that television brings.
What stood out to me, were some familiar things like shaky offensive line play and the penchant for committing random and potentially damaging penalties -- such as Boone's personal foul. At this point, it's now safe to give up hope on this group actually getting better, but I'm comforted knowing that there will be at least three new faces in the group next season.
Beanie was typical Beanie and that's what makes the play of the line so frustrating. With them firing on all cylinders, he's good for 200+ on a weekly basis. Instead, he's earning his yards the hard way. His 2nd touchdown run, a thing of beauty with absolutely no help from the left side of the Buckeye offensive line, can go into the books as the season encapsulated in one play. Incredible talent overcoming ineptitude. Regardless, his 140 on 28 carries was his 5th 100 yard game of the season and the third time he's gone for at least 140 against a then ranked opponent.
The defense was also typically solid, holding yet another foe under 300 yards of total offense. Though surprise starter Kafka did some damage with his feet, particularly early, as the game progressed, the defense seemed to zero in and did a great job containing him. He was sacked four times and finished with 83 yards on 29 rushes -- a far cry from his 200+ effort last week against the Gophers.
Laurinaitis led the team with 11 tackles and the Nathan Williams show is blowing up a little as he checked in with his first two career sacks (good for 27 yards). I don't know about you, but a front with Williams, Gibson and Heyward is looking better and better with each passing week. And I don't want to short Nader Abdallah who turned in perhaps his finest outing as a Buckeye, finishing third on the team with eight tackles and also broke up two passes.
So, the line, Beanie and the defense is stuff we're used to. There were some surprises on the afternoon and of the good kind, too. It was Northwestern, so let's keep things in some context, but this was a decent Wildcat squad and Pryor took a gigantic leap in the passing game today.
He didn't post Harrell numbers, finishing just nine of 14 for 197 yards, but the three touchdowns were the most he's had since the Troy game and all three of them were things of beauty both on the throwing and receiving ends. Time and time again, he kept plays and drives alive with his talents alone and he helped pull the Brians out of their slumps, for one afternoon at least. Robo finished with three catches for 58 yards and two nice touchdowns, while Hartline caught two balls for 90 yards. Nifty average, there.
The wind was a big factor and Pryor put balls on the money all afternoon long. He is emerging as a passer and it appears the game is slowing down a bit for him. If you're a fan of another Big Ten football team, that should be a scary thought.
You know it's a good day when the Buckeyes only line up for one field goal and in general, the special teams were pretty standard. No big returns, good coverage and Trapasso banging another two inside the 20. We were all a little curious about the fake punt that went for a first down up 31-10 in the fourth. My first inclination is that I don't understand the logic behind it, but further thinking on the subject and here's what I came away with: the staff probably saw some punt-blocking tendencies from Illinois or Michigan and they're putting this out there to keep those units on their heels a little. Thoughts?
- The crowd was definitely 60-70% Buckeye. Joy once again getting on the Red Line in the morning and seeing it packed with Ohioans. The lines for the restrooms were kind of out of hand, but getting the O-H-I-O chant rolling around road stadiums is always a win.
- The combined score in the last four Northwestern/Ohio State games is 205-34. Ouch.
- Tressel tied Earle Bruce for 3rd place on the all-time wins list with his 81st victory at Ohio State. Tressel got there a season earlier than Bruce, but you may be surprised to know that the win was also the Vest's 50th Big Ten win and it took him one more game (62) to hit that mark than Bruce (61).
- The win was the team's 14th-straight Big Ten road victory, which is crazy impressive when you think about it. Now if we could just turn the Shoe into an impossible place to lose...
- We apologize for the lack of open thread earlier and the light recap coverage, but we did imbibe quit a bit. It was great to meet some of you Friday night and props to Moran's for hooking us up.