Ohio State rediscovered its identity with a resounding win over Big Ten rival Michigan on Saturday with a blowout 42-13 win over the Wolverines. Unfortunately, Urban Meyer’s Buckeyes are still on the outside looking in as it relates to the College Football Playoff.
One week after inexplicably abandoning the running game against Michigan State, Meyer turned once again to running back Ezekiel Elliott to get things going on offense.
Ask and you shall receive.
Ezekiel Elliott: 30 carries, 2 TD and 214 yds, the 3rd-most ever by a Big House visitor. pic.twitter.com/tYAgYq3j1V
— ESPN (@espn) November 28, 2015
His outstanding performance spurred Ohio State’s offense to rack up 482 total yards and six total touchdowns. After the game during ABC’s on-field interview with Meyer and Elliott, the head coach made it clear he believes his player deserves a trip to New York as a top Heisman contender — a statement we wholeheartedly agree with, last weekend’s debacle notwithstanding.
Quarterback J.T. Barrett only attempted 15 passes in the game but completed nine of them for 113 yards and a touchdown. He added another 139 rushing yards and three scores on the ground as a secondary rushing option for the Buckeyes.
Without a doubt, this is the winning formula for Ohio State. While there are explosive plays to be had in the passing game, everything the Buckeyes do offensively is predicated off of the running game, and Elliott is one of the most effective players in the nation at bludgeoning defenses into submission.
Once the Buckeyes gained control of the scoreboard, the defense was able to attack Michigan, rather than react. Having to come from behind, The Wolverines were forced to become one-dimensional on offense, which plays right into the hands of what Ohio State does best on the defensive side of the ball, which is defend the pass.
Saturday was Joey Bosa’s national coming-out party. The outstanding defensive end, who should be one of the top players taken in the 2016 NFL Draft, sealed the game for the Buckeyes not once, but twice against Michigan. The first feat of greatness occurred early in the fourth quarter when the Buckeyes were already up 35-13 and Bosa earned a brutal sack/fumble (watch here), which Ohio State recovered. Then shortly afterwards, he tipped a screen pass in the air, intercepted the pass and nearly scored a touchdown.
The dominating win over Michigan was the culmination of what we’ve all been waiting to see all year long from this Ohio State team. With so much talent on both sides of the ball, the Buckeyes have the ability to beat any team in the nation.
The problem is this: This big win comes at the wrong time for the Buckeyes.
Michigan State took care of business this weekend taking out a hapless Penn State squad and is now heading to the Big Ten Championship Game against undefeated Iowa. Whichever team wins the championship game will get into the Playoff over Ohio State, which lost its only game at the worst possible time.
Looking at the other teams with a shot at getting in, there doesn’t appear to be room in the four-team tournament for two Big Ten teams. The SEC champ will get in, as will the ACC champ, Oklahoma and the Big Ten Champ.
So, while the huge win was nice for recruiting purposes and should certainly help Ohio State land one of the top non-playoff bowl games, this is a case of too little, too late for the Buckeyes.