All week, Ohio State was looked over.
Now, Urban Meyer's Buckeyes are 7-0 as betting underdogs.
The Game featured the best defense in the nation, a shaky but explosive offense, and two competing personalities at head coach. As is the case in 2018 college football, the offense won; No. 10 Ohio State dominated No. 4 Michigan 62-39, giving the Buckeyes a spot in the Big Ten Championship this coming Saturday.
For the Michigan edition of Inside the Box, we will talk about the growing prestige of Dwayne Haskins, how Parris Campbell is making a late push for the record books, how the play of Ohio State's linebackers improves against conservative offenses, and how Urban Meyer outcoached Jim Harbaugh once again.
Haskins is Becoming a Campus Legend
From the beginning of the year, it has seemed inevitable that the Ohio State quarterback would rewrite the record books. With 396 yards and six passing touchdowns, Dwayne Haskins finally did just that, putting himself at the top of the single-season record for passing yards and touchdowns.
Haskins has put himself in the conversation for the best Ohio State quarterback of all time. Right now, it is tough to argue against his resume.
While Haskins is not the favorite to win the Heisman like Troy Smith and his career numbers will likely never match J.T. Barrett’s, it is clear that we are all witnessing the greatest passing season in Ohio State history.
With at least two more games on the schedule, Haskins may be able to extend his record to unreachable heights.
The Speed-Demon is En Route to the History Books
Parris Campbell had his best game as a Buckeye.
In fact, he had one of the best games ever by an Ohio State receiver. Campbell’s 192-yard eruption gave him the sixth-most receiving yards in a single game in school history. The performance gives the 2018 Buckeyes two different players on that esteemed list, the only such team to do so.
|Gary Williams||220||1981||Florida State|
|Robert Grimes||187||1952||Washington State|
|Joey Galloway||186||1993||Michigan State|
As expected with a perimeter threat like Campbell, most of his yards came after the catch. 157 yards came directly from Campbell’s vision and playmaking ability. That mark was the highest yards after catch (YAC) total recorded this season.
Most of Campbell’s YAC came from his 78-yard jet sweep. The pass (officially changed early on Sunday) was Ohio State’s longest play from scrimmage this season.
Parris Campbell quite fast. pic.twitter.com/hMpux5OsT5— Eleven Warriors (@11W) November 24, 2018
Moving forward, Parris Campbell (903 rec. yards) is threatening to hit 1,000 receiving yards on the season. Only four Buckeyes have recorded four-digit receiving seasons in school history and Campbell will have at least two more games to join the exclusive club.
The Buckeyes’ Linebackers Led the Way
A week after giving up 51 points against Maryland’s backup quarterback, the Ohio State defense was expected to be the breaking point of the team. Even though they allowed 39 points, the unit was still able to get the job done. Chase Young and Jonathan Cooper were unguardable and opened up the linebackers, who ended up being the difference in The Game.
For most of the year, the trio of Malik Harrison, Tuf Borland, and Pete Werner have struggled against pass-happy teams. When playing teams that stretch the field like Nebraska and Purdue, for example, the linebackers have struggled to run sideline-to-sideline, which forces defensive backs to make difficult tackles in the open field.
Harrison, Borland, and Werner do their best work against powerful, run-heavy teams. The numbers back this up.
The unit’s play against Michigan bodes well for this coming Saturday; the linebackers should be able to handle Northwestern’s run-first approach.
The Silver Bullets held the Wolverines under their yards per game average, the fifth time Ohio State has been able to accomplish that feat this season and the third time in four weeks. The Buckeyes are turning it on at the right time.
While looking at the entirety of the game, however, we cannot be too happy about the defense’s performance. Ohio State allowed 39 points to a mediocre offense; two touchdowns came from drives led by a backup quarterback. We can talk about the garbage time points and countless questionable calls in the secondary that may have helped Michigan’s offense, but overall, the defense should not be overly satisfied with its performance.
Ohio State Outcoached and Outexecuted Michigan
Even without another signature Heisman moment from Drue Chrisman, special teams were certainly a factor on Saturday. First, Demario McCall’s awful mishap looked to flip the momentum to Michigan. After that, Chris Olave’s big day concluded with a fantastic blocked punt on a perfectly executed scheme.
Special teams are special. pic.twitter.com/ZnZGlRMGLm— Eleven Warriors (@11W) November 24, 2018
If you ignore the numerous phantom flags, Ohio State played largely mistake-free on offense and defense. The Buckeyes scored three touchdowns in the red zone and forced Michigan into two field goals in the first quarter, giving the Bucks an early lead and a wide-open playbook.
At the end of The Game, with Dwayne Haskins pointing to the sky and students climbing down the fences, Michigan was thoroughly beaten. The Wolverines had been outperformed in all three facets of the game by a head coach that has been the focus of countless speculations involving his health and job security. As the smoke settled in the Shoe with Carmen Ohio echoing from the stadium, the Buckeyes proved that they could play with the best teams in the nation.