Skull Session: Ohio State Extends Its Big Ten Home Win Streak, Julian Fleming is Proving Himself and Luke Wypler is College Football's Best Center

By Chase Brown on September 27, 2022 at 5:00 am
Julian Fleming

Ohio State has been hard to beat, and there are several reasons why that's the case.

I'll explain a few of them in this Skull Session because, frankly, I don't have enough room to write about all of them here.

Let's have a good Tuesday, shall we?

 HOME-FIELD ADVANTAGE. For 100 years, Ohio Stadium has provided the Buckeyes with one of the most significant home-field advantages in college football. More than 100,000 fans pack into the Horseshoe to watch Ohio State play, which creates an atmosphere unlike most others in the sport.

However, for a team to take advantage of the home field, they need to win games on their turf. Fortunately, that's been the case for Ohio State for a long time, and it's been especially true against Big Ten opponents in the last seven seasons, as the Buckeyes have won 26 consecutive conference contests played in Columbus, dating back to a 17-14 loss to Michigan State on Nov. 21, 2015. Let's look back on all of them.

 JULIAN FLEMING HAS ARRIVED. In my opinion, Ohio State is a lot more fun to watch when Julian Fleming is available and ready to play. In only his second game this season, Fleming turned in another strong performance, collecting four catches for 67 yards and a touchdown against Wisconsin.

Although it's easy to point to statistics to validate Fleming's value in the receiver room, I've been more impressed with his toughness and willingness to block for the Ohio State running back when the offense is pounding the rock. And honestly, I think that's why the coaching staff loves him too. Fleming is willing to do the dirty work on the outside, and when his number is called, he'll deliver as he did on this play on Saturday.

That move earned some deserved ooooooohs from the Ohio State faithful in the Horseshoe over the weekend, as many were reminded of what Fleming can do once he has the ball in his hands.

With the Buckeye receiver room down Jaxon Smith-Njigba, Fleming's emergence and Marvin Harrison Jr. and Emeka Egbuka's consistency could not have come at a better time. Cheers to Fleming's hard work. May there be more highlights like these for him in the 2022 season.

 LUKE WYPLER, EVERYONE. It can be a difficult task to determine how well an individual offensive lineman plays in a football game, especially on the interior. That's why I let the folks over at Pro Football Focus do the hard work and go from there.

According to PFF, no center in college football has played better than Luke Wypler through the season's first four weeks. The advanced statistics website has placed an 80.7 overall grade on the redshirt sophomore's performance in Ohio State's four wins – almost three points higher than second-place Mike Novitsky of Kansas.

Wypler emerged last season after Harry Miller's absence from fall camp and eventual retirement from the sport. He started in all 13 games for Ohio State, and his 860 snaps were the second most on the team. Wypler earned honorable mention All-Big Ten honors from the media for his efforts as the leader of the Buckeye offense line.

This year, Wypler has returned with a season of experience and an established relationship with C.J. Stroud. Both of those facts have contributed to the upward trajectory of the offensive line and its consistency in winning battles at the line of scrimmage.

With Wypler as the unit's leader, the Buckeyes can only hope to keep improving after a hot start to the season in position coach Justin Frye's first season with the program. Something tells me that will happen as Ohio State once again has one of the nation's best offenses with averages 558.8 yards and 48.7 points per game.

 FEED HIM THE ROCK. After an Ohio State game, I assume many of you are like me in wanting to know which Buckeyes earned the most playing time. The good news is Dan Hope and Matt Gutridge do phenomenal work with their weekly snap counts article, which reveals everything we need in that department.

This week, I found myself interested in the number of snaps in the Ohio State running back room. TreVeyon Henderson and Miyan Williams looked fantastic, as did Dallan Hayden in his limited sample size, but how many reps did each of those players receive, and – more importantly – what did they do with them?

TreVeyon Henderson: 47 snaps; 21 carries, 121 yards
Miyan Williams: 15 snaps; 11 carries, 101 yards, 2 TD
Dallan Hayden: 9 snaps;  8 carries, 31 yards

If you did a double take on Williams' stats, I don't blame you, because I did too. He carried the ball 11 of the 15 times he was on the field. In other words, Stroud handed Williams the football on 73.3 percent of his snaps against the Badgers.

That's insane.

With how well people speak of Wisconsin defensive coordinator Jim Leonhard, I am forced to believe he knew the run was coming when Williams was next to Stroud in the backfield, and the Badger defense still couldn't stop him.

As mentioned in Monday's Skull Session, the Ohio State offensive line and running back room played well on Saturday, and the efficiency of Williams carries – when Wisconsin was likely pulling out all the stops to deny the run – is an incredibly positive development for Ryan Day, Justin Frye and the Buckeye offense. Here's to more smashmouth football in the future.

 SONG OF THE DAY. "Cardiac Arrest" by Bad Suns.

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