Big Play Bonanza
The Buckeyes turned up the heat on a cold day in Columbus racking up six plays of at least 35 yards, including three TD plays of at least 49 yards after registering just one TD of that length through 11 games.
Numerous factors contributed to the big play feast including Michigan's stank and the play making ability of guys like Beanie but I give some credit to the offensive line. The maligned group didn't dominate play-by-play as much as the rushing stats indicate (43/232, 5.4 avg) but they clicked on more than a few plays allowing the skill players to get in open space.
Again, consider the competition but Rehring and Cordle both had strong outings pulling and cleaning up defenders triggering long runs for Beanie and Boom and the line as a whole gave Pryor/Boeckman plenty of time to throw deep balls to Robo, Sanzenbacher and Hartline after they finally settled in.
I'm sure many of us still have concerns about what the hogs can do in a bowl game against legit competition but it was nice to see such a barrage of big plays resulting from their work up front.
Silver Bullet Redux
The defense may not have been as stingy as in 2007 (91 total yards) but they were every bit as effective, particularly on third down, in a fairly dominating performance.
After holding Michigan to 3/18 third down conversions last season, the Buckeyes blew up to the tune of 1/17 yesterday. The lone conversion came on a 3rd and 10 pass to Martavious Odoms keeping their one scoring drive alive.
I thought Heacock called a nice game blitzing Sheridan early and often forcing him to make quick decisions. The strategy coaxed Sheridan into an 8/24 passing performance in addition to yielding 3 sacks and 13 TFL's totaling 44 yards. The D also racked up 9 three-and-outs.
Obviously, credit the players for execution and playing with high intensity. As always, The Game was a hard hitting affair with little boys like McGuffie getting the worst of it.
As usual, the game was bittersweet as we watched class guys like Jenkins, Freeman and Laurinaitis play their final game in the 'Shoe. Each went out with a bang led by Animal's 12 stops and vicious hits on Sheridan. I thought Coleman also had a nice day finishing with 10 tackles (1.5 TFL) and the starting front four made noise combining for 19 tackles (5 TFL). And what about Nathan Williams? Dude is an animal. I can't wait to watch him grow.
Boeckman Stars in Made for TV Movie
The game unfolded perfectly allowing Boeckman to see extended minutes where he could actually sling the pill a little. It was great to see him receive a solid ovation from the crowd and to record a TD pass in his final home game.
To see him greeted by Jenkins, Pryor, Tressel and Laurinaitis, among others, after the TD pass to Hartline was a great moment. He took a lot of (fair) heat this year but handled it with nothing but class.
Who wasn't so classy about the whole thing was one Bob Griese. What the hell was his problem? He's probably seen two OSU games all year but has the audacity to challenge Tressel's handling of the situation? The fact of the matter is that Tress was going to be criticized no matter how he handled the situation but he did absolutely the right thing.
Boeckman lost his job due to poor performance in seven straight games combined with the fact that the constant sieve impersonations by the line made it impossible for Boeckman to be a valid option at the position. Throw in the fact Beanie was hurt and the chance at a national title was gone after game three and the switch to Pryor made perfect sense.
Anyway, hats off to Boeckman for his performance yesterday and for choosing to not be a distraction and putting the team first his entire career.
Boom Shows Flashes
One of the main benefits of Beanie's season long bout with injuries is the carries afforded Boom Herron. Beanie's tote count stands at 191 with one game to play compared to 274 last season representing an 83 carry (30%) drop off from 2007.
Not coincidentally, Boom has 84 carries on the year. Of course, that number would be much higher if not for his own injury concerns thanks to a concussion received from a dirty hit at Wisconsin causing him to miss three games.
Boom has made the most of his opportunities putting up 409 yards (4.9 avg) and 5 TD and his 49 yard burst to pay dirt yesterday showcased what he's capable of. I certainly like the stat line in his inaugural Michigan game: 8 carries for 80 yards and 2 TD. He's no Beanie, but he's no slouch and the experience he's been able to obtain this year will pay dividends in 2009. I, for one, am excited to see what he can do.
- Props to Ray Small. His 80 yard punt return was a thing of beauty and he did nice job on four other punt returns giving him 110 return yards on 5 punts, good for second most all-purpose yards behind Beanie.
- Following Small's return to the Michigan 8, I loved Tress immediately dialing up a pass resulting in a Pryor to Robo TD strike. Going for the throat on first down following a turnover should be given but doesn't always seem to be the case so it was nice to see. For the game, OSU ran on first down 22 times and passed just 4 times. The first down passing stats weren't pretty as Pryor went 1/4 with a TD and a pick.
- Jason touched on it, but how bout the skirmish on the Michigan sideline early in the first quarter? I know our #13 got into it with Tim Spencer back in the day but yesterday's feud looked like it involved a few different players and even some coaches jawing back and forth. Most notably, to me, was the fact a player seemed to actually swipe at Rodriguez' arm as he was pushing him back. I don't want to read much into it but it's easy to believe some of the rumors about RichRod losing his team. For the sake of the conference, I hope they get their collective sh!t together soon.
- A nugget from the Dispatch: Since the 'Shoe opened in 1922, a total of 7,527,129 fans have The Game making it the highest-attended series in college football in that span.