Skull Session: A Cinematic View of Ohio State vs. Michigan State, the Buckeyes’ Opponents Can't Guard Marv and C.J. Stroud is in Complete Command of His Game

By Chase Brown on October 12, 2022 at 5:00 am
Lathan Ransom

If you’re looking for a good way to start your Wednesday, watching Lathan Ransom’s first career interception should do the trick.

 A CINEMATIC MASTERPIECE. Through the first six weeks of the season, Wednesday has been the first day of the week that my mind shifts focus from the previous game and moves forward to the next one. However, as Ohio State approaches its off weekend, I think it's fair that we linger on the beatdown of Michigan State for a little longer.

For today's Skull Session, can I interest you in the Big Ten Network's cinematic highlights of the Buckeyes' 49-20 win over the Spartans?

BTN aired the cinematic highlights, behind-the-scenes looks at the Ohio State and Michigan State game and a feature on Paris Johnson Jr. and the offensive line in its most recent episode of “The Journey: Big Ten Football” on Tuesday. The show will reair on the network at 10:30 p.m. Wednesday and 7 a.m. Thursday.

 MANO A MANO. In the comments section of Monday's Skull Session, many readers wondered how Ohio State's offense could be any better when Jaxon Smith-Njigba returns to the mix considering the Buckeyes are already one of the best in the nation in offensive efficiency.

Ohio State ranks first in scoring offense (48.8 ppg) and second in total offense (543.7 ypg). At the same time, C.J. Stroud, Marvin Harrison Jr. and Emeka Egbuka are at or near the top of at least one statistical category at their respective positions, while the running backs have shined in spots. Those facts make it fair to wonder how the Buckeyes could improve offensively in the second half of the season when Smith-Njigba is expected to return.

One area where I see future improvement is the passing game, which feels strange to write about because Stroud is a Heisman Trophy frontrunner after six games. Not only will Stroud have his favorite receiver from last season back at full strength, but he'll likely see an increase in one-on-one coverage for Harrison out wide.

And what exactly has Harrison done when opposing defenses only place one defender on him? Oh, that's right. He's made them pay.

Harrison shouldn't be allowed to expose cornerbacks as he does, but it is really fun when it happens. Whenever he lines up and sees single coverage, Stroud finds a way to connect with him. It makes Ohio State even more of a threat.

And consider this: Suppose future defensive coordinators consider those statistics when facing the Buckeyes and decide to double-team Harrison. That only means more room for Smith-Njigba to operate, and if not him, it will be Egbuka, Julian Fleming or Cade Stover and so on.

Yes, Ohio State has an embarrassment of riches offensively, even without Smith-Njigba. But look out. This offense has the potential to be unlike anything we have ever seen from the Buckeyes when it is fully healthy, and that's a scary thought for teams around the country.

 ON THE MONEY. Even scarier than an Ohio State receiver matched up in single coverage is C.J. Stroud with a football in his hands. That version of Stroud is a baddddddddd man.

As mentioned earlier, the Buckeye quarterback is a Heisman frontrunner this season, and it's because he can virtually make any throw he wants on the football field, and that's not hyperbole. Check out this graphic from Cory Kinnan of The Browns Wire.

That's an incredible collection of numbers for Stroud. The one that stands out the most for me is the "Beyond First Read” statistics because – for some reason – the knock on Ohio State quarterbacks is that their first read is always open so they never have to work to second and third options. That's not the case for Stroud, who seems to be in full command of his craft after slaying the Spartans on Saturday.

Ohio State's receiver room has developed tremendously in the absence of Smith-Njigba, so these numbers for Stroud are already exceptional. Expect them to be even better when the man tabbed as the No. 1 receiver in the country heading into this season returns to the lineup.

 HUMANS, COMPUTERS, HYBRIDS. On Tuesday, I learned that Reddit has a weekly top 25 poll to rank the best college football teams in America, and it might be more accurate than the AP Poll and the Coaches Poll.

The r/CFB page compiles well over 100 users who submit their top 25 teams to a group of moderators. From there, the moderators collect the data and rank the best teams accordingly. After six games, the Reddit users believe Ohio State is the No. 1 team in the country ahead of Georgia and Alabama.

As you'll notice, one Georgia fan is happy for the Buckeyes, who claim the top spot in the Reddit poll for the first time since 2019 and have now claimed the “hot potato” of the No. 1 ranking.

I'm not sure how long Ohio State will keep its spot as the best team. After all, humans, computers and... hybrids... (I don't know what this means) have their rankings considered when creating r/CFB's top 25. So it appears to me that machines, men and machine men all believe the Buckeyes are No. 1.

How will the computers, humans and cyborgs feel about them after an off week? I suppose only time will tell. Computers might say one thing. Humans might say another and one can never know about the Mr. Robotos.

 SONG OF THE DAY. “Mr. Roboto” by Styx.

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