Favorite Stat of the Game: This was the sixth straight game that the Ohio State Buckeyes have won by at least 24 points. I couldn’t find it officially anywhere, but that has to be some kind of record or something that hasn’t happened in decades. And before any naysayers cry out some nonsense about a weak schedule, check out the strength of schedule for the top ten undefeated teams according to Sagarin. 1) Alabama – 49th 2) Clemson – 35th 3) Georgia – 87th 5) LSU – 81st 6) Oklahoma – 61st 7) Florida – 66th 8) Wisconsin – 72nd 10) Penn State – 86th and how about your 3rd ranked Ohio State Buckeyes? Their strength of schedule is ranked 19th. The UC win is looking better every week, and six straight wins by at least 24 points against half of the 19th toughest schedule in the country, and the overwhelming most difficult in the top ten? Watch out world, underestimate the Buckeyes at your own peril.
The Brooklyn Dagger Award: J.K. Dobbins 67-yard run with under three minutes to go in the 1st half was a dagger. The Spartans were on the ropes and already down a touchdown, Dobbins showed off his speed, burned them after Wyatt Davis, one of the best guards in football, put a key block on the defense, and put the Buckeyes up 24-10. The team clamped down and never let MSU catch their breathe after that one. J.K. Dobbins is a special player and will be remembered as one of the all-time great Buckeyes. In his third year (with his third different quarterback handing him the ball) he has become an all-American and one of the top running backs in college football. Even being on the shorter side as far as running backs go, something tells me he’s going to play football at a high level for a long time and runs like that one are why. I’d love for him to return in 2020 and shatter every Ohio State rushing record with authority, but right now am just enjoying how he gives his all for his team every game.
Dwayne Haskins Award: I know we already mentioned J.K. Dobbins, but the running he did against one of the best defensive programs in all of college football is worth repeating. Dobbins had 24 carries for 172 yards and a touchdown with his 67-yard sprint to the endzone as the highlight. Some people questioned Dobbins speed when as a freshman he was occasionally tracked down on long runs, but this year he’s found an extra gear and is finishing off those long runs with authority that is turning heads. And with Master Teague helping him keep fresh down the stretch, Dobbins will be that much more difficult to stop.
Defensive Player of the Game: Baron Browning. Number 5 gets the tip of the cap for the game, but this is for the turnaround he and the linebackers have done from last year to this year. Browning, Werner, Borland, and Harrison have been all over the field and been doing a great job and where last year one could say their unit was a liability, this year they are definitively an asset. Browning had a huge sack on a blitz against the Spartans and one of the reasons that is so great is because it’s just another thing that will give opposing offenses headaches. Not only Chase Young and the Rushmen, but now the ball hawking backers too. Browning also made big play in the passing game, deflecting the pass that was picked off by Jordan Fuller, showing that the linebackers are not just stopping the run, but contributing in rushing the passer and in coverage and Browning has been as an important part of that as anyone. He finished the game with a pair of tackles, a sack and tackle for a loss and a pass break up. The Buckeye linebackers on a roll.
Ryan Shazier-Devin Smith Award: Zach Harrison. Ryan Day isn’t stupid. Which is why he kept Larry Johnson Sr. And that man just keeps getting young defensive lineman ready to rock. He is going to have had a top 5 draft pick on his line every year he has been part of the Ohio State family and a young man named Zach Harrison is looking to extend that streak another two seasons. We went, Bosa, Bosa, Young, and the next looks like it will be Harrison (and in my bold call, Noah Potter). Harrison had two tackles, .5 sack, and .5 a tackle for a loss, but you could see him getting by linemen like you could see Nick Bosa do in 2016 and Chase Young in 2017. His star is rising, and it’s going to keep rising and burning brighter.
Dane Sanzenbacher Award: K.J. Hill. Hill didn’t have a score in this game, but he had seven catches for 57 yards. His career catch number is at 169 now, only 22 behind David Boston’s all-time record of 191. If Hill averages four catches a game for the rest of the regular season, he’ll quietly become Ohio State’s all-time leader in receptions. Hill is sure handed, and like all of Hartline’s guys, he’s selfless and more about the unit and the team than his own accolades. It’s guys with that attitude that you want to see get those accolades, and Hill is on his way.
Taylor Decker Award: Thayer Munford. Munford apparently felt his performance last year was lacking, apparently feeling responsibility for the nine tackles for a loss and two sacks that the Buckeyes gave up in East Lansing last year. Munford had a monster game and he did it against stalwarts. Munford had the daunting task of taking on all-American candidate Kenny Willekes. But how Thayer Munford performed ought to have him on every all-American short list at the halfway point of 2019. Willekes had no sacks, no tackles for a loss, no pass break ups, and only one solo tackle. Munford made one of the best defensive ends in the country irrelevant. Going against Chase Young in practice had him prepared for anyone and he showed it Saturday night.
Fedora Award: This award will give lots of attention to Ryan Day and Justin Fields this year because like the man who wore the award’s namesake, Day and Fields are replacing insanely successful people. So, here is how Ryan Day stacked up against past Buckeye coaches in their debuts against Sparty since Woody Hayes. Day won his first ever game against MSU, it took Woody three tries, Cooper two, while Meyer and Tress won theirs too. Day won his first home game against Sparty while that also took Hayes three tries, Cooper, Earle, and Tress one and Urban two. Day’s leading the Buckeyes to a 34-10 win now makes Ohio State 33-15 all time against MSU with a 16-9 record at home.
Sweater Vest Award: Drue Chrisman and Blake Haubeil. Chrisman had four punts for 193 yards, a 48.3-yard average and a 53 yard long. Haubeil was 2 for 3 in field goals, bouncing back from his second attempt that missed from 39 yards with a 43-yarder right before halftime to give the Buckeyes a 17 point lead.
Archie Award: Cornelius Greene was honored on the field during the game in that he'll be joining friend and teammate Archie Griffin in the Rose Bowl Hall of Fame! Greene and Griffin both played in four Rose Bowls and Greene was the MVP of the 1974 Rose Bowl. Couldn't happen to a better guy, and you couldn't help but think of #7 and #45 when watching #1 and #2 during this game!
Horned Rimmed Glasses Award: Woody Hayes would have loved the half time show put on by TBDBITL. It was a salute to America, and one of the greatest achievements of Americans in history. They paid tribute to America’s space exploration, particularly of Ohioan Neil Armstrong’s role in being the first man to step foot on the moon. Buzz Aldrin, who was right behind Neil Armstrong said about the band’s performance; “An impressive tribute to the Apollo 11 mission! Great work Ohio State. I know Neil would have been proud of his home State.” Coach Hayes, a patriotic American, and one who had a passion for history would have appreciated this, along with the students in the south stands of Ohio Stadium, of all backgrounds leading the way with chants of U-S-A! U-S-A! U-S-A!
Urban Meyer Coaching Moments of the Game: I always like to save the best for the last, so we’ll start with the rough patches. The biggest things that Ohio State coaching did (or in this case didn’t do) was stop the crossing routes MSU were running. It reminded me of the way those same routes routed Harbaugh and his guys in the Shoe last year, luckily for us though, the Spartans had a couple of drops. Another thing that was a cause for concern was something Day said. Day said you had to wear down MSU, which is dangerous thinking because that’s what they want you to do; play their game. When you play Tresselball, like the Senator did to that team up north nine out of ten times, you lose. Finally, scoring only three points off of three turnovers. Most games that you get one field goal out of three huge plays that your defense made, you’re not going to win by 24. The good thing though is that despite some hiccups, Ryan Day and his Buckeyes are imposing their will on other teams. That starts with running the football. Ryan Day, a quarterback’s coach and an offensive mind is focused on running the ball first with his 2019 squad. Could be a combination of an awesome veteran running back and a young new starting quarterback or it could be just how Ryan Day wants to run his program. They’re out scoring their opponents on a 49-8 average. Out rushing opponents 289 yards to 82 and out throwing them 246 yards to 152. They’re also converting 56% of their third downs and making touchdowns 80% of the time they make it to the RedZone. These are ridiculous numbers through half a season. They’re also consistent through out each of their six wins. Add all of this in with a coach drawing up plays like the one that sprung Victor and Ryan Day is looking like a genius with the results. In fact, the more I read it, the more I think I might be off in at least a few of my critics of the man.
Glass Half Empty: Wisconsin, Penn State, and that team up north are still the biggest opponents on this team’s schedule and if they get taken down, a rematch with Wisconsin or maybe a 2017 rematch with Iowa would still stand in their way. And right now, only Wisconsin and the fighting Franklins are looking like they will be a good measuring point on how the Buckeyes will be in the post season. The crossing routes that MSU used, and that Buckeyes used to expose Greg Mattison and Al Washington last November, and Day sometimes during this game becoming as conservative as Jim Tressel and you have many causes for concern. Ohio State’s early inability to score off of their turnovers is also troubling along with the fact that they took (by my count) only two deliberate shots down field (Dobbins and Victors big plays weren’t designed to stretch a defense) to try and take the cover of the defense. No game as shown more causes for concern than the game against the Spartans.
Glass Half Full: All of those troubles and they still beat a top 25 team, a top conference program, division rival, and an elite defense. By 24. This team has been perfect in only one area and that’s the big fat goose egg in the loss column which is the most important category. You can see this team improve every week too. You have a fast, disciplined, ball-hawking, turnover forcing defense. A fast, strong, balanced, and consistent offense. And a coaching staff that is very aware of their game, the opponents games, and what it is taking to win games. 6-0 with a chance to go 7-0. Right where every Buckeye wants to be right now.
2014 Moment: Binjimen Victor’s 60-yard touchdown. The initial throw and catch covered about 15 yards, the rest were all Victor. After having dropped what would have been a sure touchdown in the first quarter, Victor made good on another opportunity for a long touchdown and credit Fields, Day, Hartline, and company to go right back to him and give him the chance to make up for a mistake and stick it to the other team as well. Victor has deceptive speed due to his large frame, but he’s proven he can make some insanely good runs after the catch and in big games like this one.
2002 Moment: Jordan Fuller’s interception that was wiped out by a bad call by the officials reminded me of another guy who wore number 4 and was a national champion in 2002; Will Allen (Yes, I know Allen wore number 26 in 2002 and switched to 4 in 2003, his senior and all-American year) and like Will Allen Fuller will need to keep making plays like this for the Buckeyes to win a championship. Fuller also had seven tackles, five of which he made all by his lonesome. Fuller, is a key cog that the Buckeyes need to continue to have churn seamlessly to compete for it all.
1968 Moment: This was actually a couple of moments provided by Cameron Brown, Sevyn Banks, and Luke Ferrell. Brown and Banks filled in for an injured Damon Arnette. One could expect a significant drop off in play when two young and inexperience guys step in for a teammate who is having an all-American caliber season. That was not the case as far as I could tell when Arnette went out. Opposing coaches would be wise to come right at the new guys. But Brown and Banks didn’t miss a beat filling in for Arnette. That kind of play off the bench is always a prevalent factor for championship winning teams. The second moment worth noting was Luke Ferrell and his touchdown catch and run. While not as long a run as Victor’s, Ferrell’s had just as much heart and effort, and it was the perfect response to a Spartan touchdown pass too. Ferrell broke some tackles to get into the end zone and those are factors that will be needed to add 2019 to 1968, the next man up mentality and performance, extra effort, and responding well to adversity.