No Yellow Brick Road to BCS Title Game, So Buckeyes Can Only Continue Scoring Points

By Kyle Rowland on November 10, 2013 at 9:00a
A powerful engine on a runaway locomotive.

Defense might win championships, but it’s Ohio State’s offense that can put them in the national championship game. The 63 and 56 points the Buckeyes put on the scoreboard their past two games serve as an exclamation point for voters to fawn over. 

The final three games of the regular season – Illinois, Indiana and Michigan – give off the appearance of more of the same. Sitting third in the Bowl Championship Series standings, Ohio State must not only try and keep pace with Alabama and Florida State, but also stay a stride ahead of Baylor who’s in hot pursuit.

“I feel like it’s really important of us to dominate opponents, but I still feel like a win is a win,” linebacker Ryan Shazier said. “You do your job and show everybody that you’re doing your job. You really don’t have to blow people out. They understand that you know what you’re doing and you have the players and the coaching staff to do what you have to do. That’s all that matters.”

That line of thinking is not entirely true in a system where undefeated teams can be left out of the proceedings. A dose of spice and pizzazz could keep Ohio State relevant and a topic of conversation each week. Freshman running back Ezekiel Elliott has described the Buckeye offense as a pick-your-poison unit.

The theory that anyone who touches the ball can take it to the end zone has some merit in Columbus – 14 offensive players have scored a touchdown. The 107th-ranked offense from two years ago is now two light years away from the product Urban Meyer and Tom Herman put on the field. 

Ohio State averaged 37 points per game last season, which seemed formidable. But consider that that number has grown by 11 in 2013 and the yeomen’s work put in by the offensive staff becomes even clearer.

A year ago, it was go as Braxton Miller goes. When plays broke down, he dashed forward, often gaining huge chunks of yardage, but it wasn’t the resourceful offense Meyer and Herman set out to create. Nine games into the 2013 campaign, it’s all coming into form.

The Buckeyes are averaging over 100 yards per game more than last year’s unbeaten team and rank in the top 10 nationally in total offense, rushing offense and passing efficiency.

“That’s how it should be with this type of offense,” Miller said. “You don’t expect many three-and-outs, just exciting plays.”

Said Meyer: “The offensive line is blocking people and there are a bunch of targets. Push the rewind button to one year ago, who are you going to throw the ball to? We don’t know. Now you have five or six targets that you actually want to see the ball in their hands, and they’ve earned that right.”

In a matter of weeks, Carlos Hyde will have earned his lofty status among Meyer’s all-time roster. He’s currently stuck on 701 rushing yards, a number that is certain to top 1,000 barring an unforeseen issue. Seven Ohio State running backs have crossed the 1,000-yard threshold since 2001, the same year Meyer became head coach at Bowling Green. But despite all the success, he’s never had a 1,000-yard running back.

When Hyde was suspended three games, not many believed he could churn out this many yards. One former scout team running back isn’t surprised after witnessing the offense’s potential.

“I expect this offensive group to just come out and be explosive all day,” Hyde said. “Just come out and put up points and put up yards – that’s what I expect from us.”

The 1,000 yards is a personal goal intertwined with team success for Hyde. He wants to achieve the prestigious honor and knows if he does it translates into the entire offense playing sound.

Ohio State’s backfield – Hyde and Miller – makes for a significant challenge for opposing defenses. It’s why nearly every offensive playmaker has been awarded with a big game this season, from Hyde to wide receiver Philly Brown to tight end Jeff Heuerman.

“Having a running back like Carlos Hyde and a quarterback like Braxton Miller and some of our offensive weapons – Dontre Wilson, Devin [Smith], Evan [Spencer], Philly Brown – defenses have to respect all of them,” Heuerman said. “Having those guys be so productive puts me in a position where I can make my block easier and it makes my route easier.”

Offensive line coach Ed Warinner, who’s groomed the best unit in the Big Ten, a talented yet unheralded bunch that didn’t appear on many can’t-miss-prospect lists, sees a backfield that’s playing confident because of what’s in front of them – literally, lots of green space – and the ability to feed off one another.

The Buckeyes are big on the “power of the unit” motto. Well, the offensive line is a powerful unit that stands for offensive production.

“Carlos runs over people and finishes runs and that gets the offensive line fired up, and they work that much harder to create holes,” Warinner said. “It’s a highly motivated group.”

And the onslaught hasn’t just occurred because Ohio State’s weak competition played sacrificial lamb.

“It’s real. It could be smoke and mirrors if you only went off the Purdue game, but I feel as long as you run the ball effectively, that’s a telltale sign that those were quality wins,” senior center Corey Linsley said. “It’s a telltale sign that you played physical and you played hard and that this isn’t fool’s gold.”

The only fool left in the room in November is the giant elephant of a postseason system that is destined to leave out not one but multiple teams deserving of an opportunity to win the national championship.

“People are down on us all the time. We’re undefeated and blowing teams out,” Wilson said. “Everybody says we don’t play much competition, but we’re still proving we can play good teams and blow other teams out.”


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TMac's picture

6 straight, wining by 49 or more points, through the B1G championship game would make it interesting on December 8th!

ONE Not Done!

Seattle Linga's picture

Think what our confidence level would be like going into the bowl game

fanatibuck's picture

I'm surprised by Shazier's comments. I hope the entire team including the coaches does not believe blowing teams out does not matter. They should have already noticed what happens when you play around with inferior competition. They better defeat all their remaining opponents by a healthy margin. 


smithwessonBuckeye's picture

This is why a fans perspective does not matter to the players. Shazier and his teammates are the ones putting in the hard work and that's why they feel a win is a win. Only a fan can sit back and say something like this.  

Blue Eyed Buckeye's picture

And the fact that blowing people out really doesn't matter.  Margin of victory is almost never noted in the ranking discussions, it's a false argument.  By far and away the most important thing people talk about is strength of schedule.  Blowing someone out by 40 points doesn't make your schedule look any better.

wojodta's picture

I hope the players don't feel like they have to blow everyone out. Why? I think that could be a distraction and actually result in the team playing worse. It's best to just play your game and see what happens.

IGotAWoody's picture

If you read what he was actually saying, he's only interested in two things - playing to their potential and getting the win. If the first happens, the second follows. How much they win by or "style points" is not and SHOULD not be a concern for the players. They have a job to do, and each of them goes out there to play the best they can. Everything else is for us and others to discuss or think about.

“The good life is a process, not a state of being. It is a direction, not a destination.” ~Carl Rogers

darkhorse3d's picture

If the players keep executing the offense like they have then we will continue to blow teams out. Did anyone who objectively watched that Bama LSU game honestly think we would not hang 40+ on either of those teams if we consistently execute the offense. Lets not kid ourself... Hyde has not beed stopped for a loss one time this season. That's just bizarre. 

BuckeyeFanInBoulder's picture

I don't think we've played lines as good as LSUs or Bamas, but yeah, if I were Urban I would be seriously drooling over playing those Ds.  Our O-Line would hold well and we would put up SEC-esque stats on those guys. 

Abe Froman's picture

After all of the Baylor chatter on Friday, I think in the back of Meyer's mind, he is thinking, "This team isn't good enough?  Then "Kill them all and let God sort them out.""  Yes, finally he loses it and decides to leave Kenny Guiton in to run the offense the entire 3rd and 4th quarter.

Basking in the wake of mediocrity.....

BuckeyeStrong2's picture

Let the bodies hit the floor!


fanatibuck's picture

That being said, great article and go Bucks. We have a juggernaut that deserves to be in the championship. 


Hoody Wayes's picture

Amidst a discussion about the BCS this morning on ESPN's "The Sports Reporters", Mike Lupica of the New York Daily News offered an opinion that reminds us college football is show business. Lupica declared the matchup he wants to see in the BCS National Championship Game is Alabama vs. Ohio State or Nick Saban vs. Urban Meyer. 
The drumbeat for the past few weeks has emphasized the seeming omnipotence of the BCS computers.
But, Lupica's opinion reminds us the BCS Poll is two-thirds opinion. And this is November, when perception can, in fact, become reality.
Don't doubt the human factor.
In the event Alabama, Florida State and Ohio State end their seasons, undefeated, here's the official explanation for Seminole's snubbing: Florida State didn't have as strong a finish, as Ohio State.
But, here's the truth: if Nick Saban's waiting in Pasadena, how can't you send Urban Meyer there to face him?
It's the stuff, dreams are made of.
Edit: What would make it even better would be an undefeated undercard of Florida State vs. Baylor, featuring the Heisman trophy winner, Jameis Winston...maybe in the Rose Bowl? Having two bowl games with four undefeated teams would set up another subplot: a split national championship. 

GOOMBAY's picture

Interesting. If you subtract FSU's win over the now-obvious vastly overrated U, then I think it is tough to put a lot of stock in their resume beyond the Clemson blowout. 
Not sure who becomes Ohio State's win versus an opponent on par with the early season Clemson (MSU in Indy?), but it would appear the pieces are in place for the "as strong a finish" argument.

Ethos's picture

rose bowl will be a big 10 vs pac 12 opponent

"I spent 90 percent of my money on women and drink. The rest I wasted." - George Best

O-H I-O's picture

It's a damn shame that the playoffs will come in one year too late.  This is a perfect opportunity for them to display the new format.

"I don't motivate the players. I get them to motivate themselves. That's the only kind of motivation that's worth a damn." - Woody Hayes

igo43's picture

Excellent comment, and I'm glad you relayed what Lupica said, as I missed the show. The coaching matchup "take", if you will, is something I hadn't really considered until reading your comment.
Of the two, I'm beginning to think if Alabama or FSU were to lose one game before the season is out, that Alabama is the most likely.
I just hope the Buckeyes keep winning. At the same time, I'm looking ahead towards a potential MSU championship game matchup with OSU and I'm still scratching my head over how ND beat Sparty earlier in the year. So irritating...

"The minute I think I'm getting mellow, I'm retiring. Who ever heard of a mellow winner?" - WWH

45buckshot's picture

not that strange; a team in Nov is very different than a team in Sept. we're blowing out teams in a way we could do at the beginning of the season, MSU's offense is the same. If MSU played ND now i think they beat them easily... 

“The true soldier fights not because he hates what is in front of him, but because he loves what is behind him.”
—G.K. Chesterton

O-H I-O's picture

If Ohio State dominates with a strong finish and cap off the Big Ten title game with a huge victory, then human factor can definitely come in play because of Nick Saban and Urban Meyer.
Everyone still remember those epic battles between Florida and Alabama. It was Saban vs Meyer. Fast forward it a couple of years we are, Meyer with a new team and something to prove.  It is going to be very hard to turn that moneymaking opportunity down.
BCS may be pulling in some interesting strategies to pull Ohio State over FSU at the very last minute and cause a lot of headlines in doing so...then they can ride it out all the way to the National Championship game.
Bigwigs may get involved. Bribery may get involved. Corporations may get involved. Who knows what will happen on December 8th.

"I don't motivate the players. I get them to motivate themselves. That's the only kind of motivation that's worth a damn." - Woody Hayes

armybuckinva's picture

Anyone give Virginia Tech a fighting chance against FSU if they can make it to the ACC championship game?  They can play solid defense.  Held Miami to 28 yards on 24 carries yesterday but they did give up over 300 passing yards.  However, that could have been attributed to Miami playing from behind.  The Hokies are getting better after everyone, including myself, wrote them off after Bama.

Ahh Saturday's picture

Hokies had lost two straight to Duke and BC before beating Miami.  VT is a bad football team; they're just better than the U.

Maffro's picture

I don't see it happening. Their defense gives them a better shot against FSU than anyone else that could come out of the Coastal, but it's a question of whether or not the offense can stop tripping over its own feet.

QBYBuckeye's picture

Just score lots of points and keep the opposition from scoring any points and everything else will take care of itself.

New York Buckeye

Hovenaut's picture

Urban instilled the mantra from day one, but now is the time for this angry team. 
Please keep up the disrespect, you pollsters, biased media, regional fanbases, etc. 
Even if it's not this year, I fully believe the day will soon come where Ohio State football will be unabashedly recognized. 

SoDakBuckeyeFan's picture

It's just unfortunate that we don't get the respect we deserve. Our recognition may be coming but we might have to leave the big ten for it to happen. Hard to get props when girl scout troop 242 could beat half the teams in our league. 


Seattle Linga's picture

Great article Kyle - the question I have is --- how many three and outs do we have and how does it compare to last year at this time.