Three Key Stats: Poor Rush Defense, Mental Mistakes and 3rd Down Inefficiency

By Jared Naughton on November 28, 2021 at 10:15 am
Garrett Wilson makes an incredible catch for a score.

Heartbreak is an understatement.

There are many words to describe the loss on Saturday: heartbreaking, embarrassing, crushing, but there is no denying the reality of the situation. Picking three stats to write about was difficult, as Ohio State was disappointing in many key areas of the game. 

In Today's Three Key Stats, we look at the defense's inability to stop the run, costly penalties and the inefficient third-down play from the Buckeyes. 

297 Rushing Yards

Michigan's offense was able to absolutely dominate the line of scrimmage, proven by their astounding 297 rushing yards. Their line was able to get to the second level consistently, and the front seven struggled to find any footing in this game. 

All six of Michigan's scores came on the ground; truly a statement game from their rushing attack. Linebacker play has been shoddy all season, but numbers like this comes from an entire defensive approach, not one play, player, or position group. 

66 Penalty Yards

This number might not catch a lot of eyes, but penalties were a major factor in the Buckeye loss. A majority of these penalty yards came from the Ohio State offensive line: five false starts and two holds. 

For context, Ohio State had more penalty yards (66) than total rushing yards (64).

These mental mistakes consistently put Ohio State behind the chains and negated any positive momentum. The weather wasn't ideal and it was a hostile environment, but to win big-time games you have to overcome adversity. The Buckeyes didn't do that.

Ohio State couldn't get out of its own way on Saturday, making the loss even more frustrating and painful. 

8/18 Third Down Conversions

The Buckeyes faced 18 third-down opportunities, only converting on eight of them. The main reason for this poor conversion rate was falling behind schedule on offense, often due to play-calling, a lack of push on offense, or the penalties discussed above. 

More concerning than the conversion rate, however, is the fact that the Buckeyes even saw 18 third downs in the first place. Ohio State was supposed to be the offensive juggernaut in this game, but Michigan only saw eight third downs and only two in the entire second half. The Wolverines were better and more efficient.

While the offense is not the reason the Buckeyes fell, there were mistakes that have not been seen in a while on this side of the ball. 

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