1. Well, that's what Buckeye football was supposed to be in 2020 - complete domination from start to finish, as Ohio State rolled Michigan State, 52 to 12. The only break in the complete domination was a brief span of 86 seconds in the third quarter (from 6:14 to 4:48) when Sparty went on an improbable 2-play, 75-yard TD drive to cut the Buckeye lead to 35-7, then forced a Buckeye fumble two plays later. At that point, I wasn't exactly having flashbacks to the nightmare 1998 game, but it was beginning to look a lot like another Buckeye second half meltdown (a la Penn State, Rutgers, Indiana) was in progress. Fortunately, Shaun Wade made a spectacular interception on the very next play to kill any chance of Sparty respectability, and the Buckeyes closed out the scoring on a 17-5 run.
2. His numbers were okay (17/24, 70.8%, 199 yards, 2 TDs, 3 sacks), but we didn't really get Heisman Justin Fields yesterday. There were plenty of contributing factors - makeshift offensive line, numerous bad snaps, typical December weather, conservative play calling. Perhaps the biggest factor was the success of the Buckeye running game (45 carries, 345 yards, 7.7 average, 4 TDs), led by Fields himself with 13 carries for 104 yards (8.0 average) and 2 TDs.
3. Trey Sermon had clearly his best game as a Buckeye, with 10 carries for 112 yards, including a 64-yard touchdown run (his first as a Buckeye). On the play, Justin Fields was running stride for stride with Sermon, and he threw a block for him at the 5-yard line to help secure the touchdown. I love Fields's hustle, effort, and desire to help out a teammate, but to be honest, I don't want to see my starting quarterback sprinting 60 yards down the field for any reason, especially not to throw a block - too many bad things can happen and the risk is not worth the reward.
4. Chris Olave had a huge game, with 10 receptions for 139 yards, including a 41-yard touchdown. On the negative side of the ledger, Olave also had a drop and two fumbles (one lost). Garrett Wilson saw his streak of 100-yard games end at four, as he was held to 3 receptions for 59 yards, including a 28-yard touchdown.
5. True freshman quarterback C.J. Stroud took over in the fourth quarter and promptly led Ohio State on a 5-play, 76-yard drive, capped by his own 48-yard touchdown run (the first of his Buckeye career) on a perfectly executed read-option. True freshman running back Miyan Williams saw his first extended action of the season, with 5 carries for 28 yards (5.6 average).
6. Because three offensive line starters were out with COVID concerns, Harry Miller moved from left guard to center for the first time this season, and the results were, shall we say, interesting. For much of the first half, Miller's shotgun snaps seemed to be aimed in any random direction - high, low, left, right, but never directly at Justin Fields. It was frustrating seeing so many dribbles and bobbles, but in a strange way the end results were not half bad. Because the timing of so many plays was ruined from the get go, Fields was often forced to improvise, and with him being the best athlete on the gridiron, he was able to turn several broken plays into positive yardage based solely on his physical talents.
7. Backup center Luke Wypler got a chance to enter the snapping escapades and he clearly outperformed Miller on the lulz scale, as he launched a snap that went over the quarterback's head and traveled 20+ yards into the end zone for a safety. Michigan State, in typical Sparty fashion, fumbled the ensuing free kick.
8. Right guard Wyatt Davis entered the scorebook after making a reception on a deflected pass and then rumbling, bumbling, stumbling his way for a 2-yard loss.
9. The Buckeye much-maligned defense played surprisingly well, as they were active and aggressive and generally in position to make plays all game long. Pete Werner (8 tackles) is looking more and more like an NFL linebacker every game. Baron Browning made some big plays, with a forced fumble and a pass deflection. Shaun Wade had an interception and broke up another pass and didn't make any negative highlight reel plays. Tyreke Smith (3 tackles, sack) and Jerron Cage (1 tackle, .5 sack) didn't show up much on the stat sheet, but both seemed to be very disruptive. Marcus Hooker had a fumble recovery, saved a touchdown by breaking up a pass in the end zone, and didn't have any egregiously bad plays. Redshirt freshman Cormontae Hamilton, a converted tight end who still wears #83, had his first career sack.
10. Undoubtedly, the play of the day, and maybe the play of the year, was defensive tackle Haskell Garrett's interception. Facing 3rd-and-9 from their own 2-yard line, Michigan State quarterback Rocky Lombardi dropped into the end zone. The Buckeyes got a strong rush and Garrett deflected Lombardi's pass straight up into the air. Garrett then won the succeeding jump ball and came down with the pigskin in the end zone for a 0-yard pick six.
11. Garrett's pick six (0 yards) is the shortest in Ohio State history. Previously, the shortest pick six was 13 yards by defensive lineman Mike Sullivan versus Iowa on November 12, 1988. In their history (going back to 1960, when the record books begin), Ohio State now has a total of 27 touchdowns of 0 yards, 13 by fumble recoveries, 13 on blocked punts, and Garrett's interception.
12. By the way, Haskell Garrett is having quite the senior season. In his first three years, Garrett had a total of 20 tackles and 2.5 TFLs in 33 games. In 2020, Garrett already has 12 tackles, 2 TFLs, a sack, an interception, and a touchdown in just five games.
13. Drue Chrisman had an All American day punting the ball, averaging 53.4 yards on 5 punts. Chrisman had a 35-yard punt downed at the 1-yard line (which led to Garrett's pick six); and a 74-yard punt downed at the 2-yard line (which led to a quick 3-and-out).
14. Backup place kicker Dominic DiMaccio had a pair of tackles on kick returns.
15. Ohio State dominated in all areas of the game, not just on the scoreboard. The Buckeyes doubled Sparty's offensive output, 521 to 261 yards, and 26 to 13 first downs; averaged 7.2 yards per play compared to Sparty's 4.1; converted 6 of 12 (50.0%) third downs, while holding Sparty to 3 of 17 (17.6%); and also won the time of possession battle, 32:47 to 27:13.
16. Ohio State did not have a great game when it came to penalties (7 for 63 yards), but Michigan State was downright sloppy, with 10 penalties for 101 yards (5 leading to first downs for Ohio State), including four personal foul penalties (two roughing, one late hit out of bounds, one unsportsmanlike).
17. I know that we can't get Gus Johnson and Joel Klatt every game, but did ABC/ESPN really have to give us their Z Team yesterday? As someone said, Bob Wischusen and Dan Orlovsky didn't pass the "ear test". And we didn't even get a hot sideline reporter, but some guy named Quint Kessenich (a former All American lacrosse goalie, according to his bio). The camera crew were no better, maybe worse, as they missed the action on several key plays including Garrett's historic pick six.
18. Ohio State played better than I expected, considering that several starters and key reserves, and head coach Ryan Day, were sidelined due to COVID concerns. The Buckeyes finally seemed engaged and motivated for the entire sixty minutes, perhaps because they now realize that "style points" might be an issue going forward.
19. It's _ichigan Week ... maybe.
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