Oh, how fortunes can change.
So many Ohio State stocks were falling before the team’s final drive against Notre Dame on Saturday. After a literal last-second touchdown to take a win on the road, an equal number or perhaps more are rising.
Kyle McCord proved he can lead the team through adversity, Lathan Ransom had a fantastic performance and Cade Stover continues to be a safety valve – at a historic rate for an Ohio State tight end.
Kyle McCord in the clutch
When the Buckeyes needed to go 65 yards in 1:26 with one timeout to defeat the Fighting Irish, their first-year quarterback didn’t flinch. The junior completed passes that converted a 3rd-and-10, a 4th-and-7 and a 3rd-and-19 to put his team in position to pull victory from the jaws of defeat.
Ransom took home Big Ten Defensive Player of the Week honors after racking up 13 tackles, five more than any other player on either team in South Bend. One of those came in combination with fellow safety Sonny Styles to stop Notre Dame quarterback Sam Hartman short on a 4th-and-1 quarterback sneak.
Sonny Styles is him. pic.twitter.com/AVvUStaEUT— Josh Poloha (@JorshP) September 24, 2023
Four games into the season, Stover is already at 240 receiving yards, an average of 60 yards per game. Even if Ohio State only plays 13 games in 2023, that would put him on pace for 780 yards. The record in a season by a Buckeye tight end is 671, set by Billy Anders (no known relation to the writer of this stock report) in 1966. Stover picked up 52 yards on seven receptions against Notre Dame, providing McCord with a key safety valve.
CFP margin of error
One loss or less and a conference championship should all but ensure a College Football Playoff appearance for Ohio State, and as seen last year, it’s still possible to make one without a conference title if the Buckeyes only lose one game. By beating Notre Dame, that game is still available to lose and keep national title hopes alive – possibly depending on who a potential defeat is against.
Luke Fickell’s transfer-laden squad might be starting to figure a few things out. The Badgers went on the road and bested Purdue by an even three touchdowns, 38-17, led by a 116-yard rushing performance from star running back Braelon Allen.
It felt like Hartman could have pitched a tent in the pocket at times on Saturday. Now, it should be noted that Notre Dame has one of the best offensive lines in the country, featuring a returning All-American at left tackle in Joe Alt. Still, the fact that all of Ohio State’s top four defensive ends have yet to record a sack this season is alarming.
Yes, Ohio State won its game against Notre Dame in a short-yardage situation, a 1-yard plunge on 3rd-and-goal from Chip Trayanum. It also failed to convert two times on 4th-and-1 against the Fighting Irish and went 1-for-3 on its third-down attempts from 2 yards or fewer prior to Trayanum’s run. After a 2-for-8 start on 3rd-and-3 or less in the first three weeks of the season, short-yardage situations are still an issue for the Buckeyes to address going into their bye week.
Turns out Deion Sanders won’t be taking a 1-11 team and making it a national title contender in one season, even if the program seems much better overall for having him. The Buffaloes were dismantled 42-6 by Oregon in a game that was never close, curtailing their hype for the time being.
Entering this season it didn’t seem this stock could go any lower, after Iowa's offense finished next-to-last in college football for total offense in 2022. Somehow it did for the Hawkeyes against Penn State. Not only was Iowa’s anemic attack shut out by the Nittany Lions, it gained an abhorrent 76 total yards in the contest. Not 76 passing or rushing yards, which would be bad enough on their own, 76 combined. Pure ugliness.
A loss to a Northwestern program in turmoil makes it look as though P.J. Fleck’s program isn’t doing any rowing any time soon. The Golden Gophers have now lost back-to-back games after falling to North Carolina by three scores in Week 3.