The Buckeyes cleared their final hurdle before Hate Week yesterday, barely scraping by the Hoosiers 42-14.
Despite accumulating 442 total yards and 320 passing yards, Indiana was forced to settle for missed field goals and punts all night in a defensive performance that Tressel would have approved of. On offense, the Buckeyes managed to fit in early explosive plays (including Hyde's 1,000 yard-breaker) before the weather and turnovers stalled more drives than expected.
Explosive Plays in the Snow
Meyer put in the reserves and seniors periodically throughout the game, so I calculated the full game stats (knowing full well that these might be different for just the starters):
|PPP||YPP||YPA||EX. Plays||Turnovers||Redzone TD|
Hyde's 1,000 might have been the big one, but the Buckeye offense crossed several statistical milestones yesterday. With their second touchdown on the day, the Buckeyes beat their school record for points in a single season, which was 504 in 1998. Now with 536, Meyer and company look to extend that record significantly over the next three games.
- Fast starts have quietly been critical to the Buckeye offense. Yesterday was the 10th consecutive game where the offense scored on its opening drive. These quick scores instantly force opposing offensive coordinators to play from behind, potentially forcing riskier playcalling early.
- You might have seen the infographic that Baylor led the country in fewest three-and-outs going in to their game against Oklahoma State, but the Buckeyes are themselves in the top five nationally in fewest three-and-outs this season too. The Indiana defense failed to force a Buckeye three-and-out yesterday, putting the game margin at 0:1.
- The Buckeyes only ran 56 plays and had just two possessions in the third and fourth quarters. Because of explosive plays, scoring drives were quick. They recorded .75 points per play, but this number could have been astronomical without three turnovers.
- The offense turned the ball over three times for a -3 turnover margin, the lowest on the season. Overall turnover margin has been extremely predictive for wins this season (the Buckeyes almost always had a higher turnover margin), so this game was an outlier.
- The Buckeyes set a season high in explosive plays with ten. What's more, every drive with an explosive play resulted in a score (in fact, the first drive of the fourth quarter featured three explosive plays for the 98 yard drive). The Buckeyes converted five of seven third downs, ensuring that almost every drive that got off the ground ended in a touchdown.
- Dontre Wilson was a larger part of the game plan, seeing four targets and four rushes. His 24 yard reception for a touchdown on the hot potato jet sweep showed a glimpse of his versatility and potential production for next year.
Apart from two fourth quarter scores with the game well out of reach, the Buckeye defense successfully controlled the Hoosiers in a fine display of bend-but-don't-break defense. Indiana's 14 points was their second-lowest total on the year, which includes their 28 points against Michigan State.
“Indiana got most of their yards in the second half. The defense played a really good game overall." - Shazier
- The Buckeye's defensive effort is even more impressive when looking at the defensive efficiency metrics. In particular, the Hoosiers' .152 points per play on 92 total plays really illustrates how inefficient their offense was despite racking up nearly the same number to total yards that the Buckeyes had. In games like this – and in games where the opponent is playing from behind for most of the game – total yards are fairly useless numbers. As Shazier noted to reporters, most of those yards and all of their points came in the second half anyway.
- Forcing negative plays was a big reason why the Hoosiers never got off the ground. Yesterday was the third-consecutive game that Ohio State recorded double-digit tackles for loss (12 total).
- Shazier, of course, is playing relentlessly (seeing him zip all over the field reminds me of Sonic the Hedgehog), setting a career best 20 tackles (10 solo), five TFLs, one sack, one forced fumble, and one pass breakup. The 20 tackles were the most sinc AJ Hawk against Wisconsin, while the five TFLs tied the school record.
- Rush defense has formed the cornerstone of the defense's success all season, and yesterday was no different. The Hoosiers' highest rusher was Tre Roberson for 79 yards. The Buckeyes are now just one of three schools to not allow an opposing 100 yard rusher.
- The Buckeyes won the explosive play margin +6 (10:4 overall). The explosive play and turnover margins are extremely predictive when used together (that's bad news for That Team Up North).
- Yesterday was the first game of the season that the Buckeyes failed to record a turnover.
- Other defensive standouts? Cam Burrows recorded extensive playing time in place of Doran Grant, and he shined with five tackles and two pass breakups. We haven't seen as much of Burrows (or any of Apple or Conley) as we thought we might at the beginning of the season, but his first opportunity for extended playtime was a good one. Further, Bosa was his fine self, notching half a sack and 1.5 TFLs. But the real standout outside of Shazier was Michael Bennett, who had two sacks and three TFLs to go along with his three tackles and QB hurry.