A couple of starkly different evaluations of our offensive and defensive units over on the Northwestern board but the 2nd one was interesting:
Courtesy of Stormmaster at Rivals' Northwestern football board:
More realistically, here's a more accurate breakdown of Ohio State's units:
Offensive Line B+
This is FAR from "the worst OSU OL" (that would have been two years ago). #74 is a mauler but can get beat off the edge in pass pro. The left guard and center are also both borderline All-B1G, probably 2nd or 3rd teamers. The weakness is on the right side, though #79 is improved.
For all his phenomenal athletic ability, Miller still struggles with reading the read option. His passing is much, much improved but he looked hesitant running the ball against Wisconsin. If he's still not healthy enough to break one of those electrifying runs this grade might be a B+
Running Backs A-
Ohio State is loaded at running back with both power and speed options. #34 is big back with speed. #2 is shifty in the hole and experienced. The true freshman #1 is going to be a star but plays loose with the football.
Wide Receivers B-
A lot of good, reliable players at wide receiver some that can get you a first down and some that can get deep occasionally. But no one stands out as great route runners or home-run threats.
Offensive Scheme: A
OSU rivals Northwestern and is a notch below Oregon in their ability to threaten the field sideline to sideline and get mismatches on the field that put the defense in almost no-win situations. Ohio State has a slight edge in overall speed however.
Defensive Line B
This group is inexperienced but deep, relentless and solid #97 and #8 are both disruptive off the edge but not stars against the run. There are no stars on the interior line and they aren't spectacular -- but they are effective at getting a push inside.
This group was probably a C before the season with #10 having all-B1G potential but everyone else being almost non-existent. They get a small bump in grade because Curtis Grant has shown up the last couple games at MLB and may end up being a solid run stopper. But against Northwestern he may not be on the field much as he struggles in pass coverage.
Secondary B+ (with an asterisk)
Don't be fooled by Bradley Roby's bad night against Abbrederis. OSU schemed to stop the run and put Roby on an island nearly the whole game. Roby is still the real deal and a future 1st rounder. The other corner isn't as physical but excellent in coverage and the safeties have been physical, sure tacklers, not prone to giving up big plays. The unknown is that one starting safety #2 was lost for the season at the very end of the Badger game. The list of possible replacements is deep because OSU can go six or seven deep with talent but no one knows yet how the new starter will show up.
Defensive Scheme: B
OSU isn't a dominating 3-and-out defense yet. They progressed from suspect to excellent last year as the season went on and they seem to be following the same path this year. The defensive line gets better every week and are going to soon be very very good which will raise the entire defense. Right now, power running teams are going to match up better against OSU's defense than spread teams because they are fast, deep and talented.
Special Teams: A-
Ohio State has been vulnerable in defending the return game in the past and has shown some moments of weakness in defending kickoff returns this year. Overall, however, special teams have improved across the board with more attention from coaching and better talent among underclassmen. The kicker is reliable inside about 48 yards and experienced. Kickoffs generally reach the goal-line with some hang time but one in 4 or 5 comes up short and returnable. Their new Aussie-rules punter mixes a big leg with a variety or quick-kicks and end-over-end rollers to great effectiveness. OSU has given up almost nothing in the way of return yards on the punt this year but blocking a punt against them is not out of the question. Kickoff and punt returns have big play potential but OSU tends to opt for sure hands over home-run potential.
How to beat them:
Northwestern needs to be patient on offense and keep the OSU front seven off-balance. They need to mix an effective and varied run game with short, quick passes. If the offense gets behind schedule with penalties or negative plays, they are going to struggle mightily. OSU's defense hasn't tackled at a high level and Northwestern's playmakers have a chance to break some big gains. On defense, the Wildcats can only hope to contain OSU by keeping them off the field, first and foremost, but also keeping the game in front of them -- coming up and tackling well in space. Braxton can get impatient with the short passing game and he's not yet the runner he was last year. OSU's backup plan will be to pound Northwestern inside and that actually is the best hope because it will shorten the game and give Northwestern a chance to get some turnovers and outscore the Buckeyes.