Wednesday, November 4

Buckeyes Tune Up for Brutal November Schedule

New Mexico St was clearly overmatched last Saturday against a far superior Ohio St team. The Buckeyes outgained the Aggies, gaining 559 yards to just 62 for NMSU, en route to a 45-0 beatdown. This was very close to my prediction (41-0), but they just barely covered the 44-point spread, where I had them just missing it. NMSU could only manage two first downs, as the Bucks became the first FCS team to record three shutouts this season. OSU got off to a sluggish start, not scoring in the first quarter, but turned things on in quarter number two and never looked back. This was basically a full-pads practice for Ohio St, as they get ready for their three toughest conference foes (at Penn St, Iowa, at michigan) to end the season.

Game Recap

We'll pick things up from the 2nd quarter, because that's really where this game started. Terrelle Pryor had a nice eight-yard scamper to begin the quarter, finally getting OSU on the board. Shaking things up a bit, Aaron Pettrey executed a perfect onside kick, recovering it himself. Three plays and a pass interference call later, Pryor connected with Dane Sanzenbacher for a 20 yard score. The next six sloppy plays saw three turnovers. Ross Homan picked off NMSU QB Jeff Fleming, but Brandon Saine gave it right back by fumbling on the next play. A few plays later, Thaddeus Gibson recovered a fumble to complete the "who wants it less" battle. This set up another 52 yard FG try by Pettrey, which he missed for the second time this game. We know he can't hit from close range, so if he can't hit the deep ones, what good is he?

On Ohio St's next possession, they busted out trick play #2 as Boom Herron took a pitch, reversed it to DeVier Posey, who then tossed a perfect strike to an open Sanzenbacher in the end zone. Just like the onside kick, this was a brilliantly executed play, but is this the time to be doing it? Wouldn't these plays be better suited next week against JoePa? The most likely scenario is that ultra-conservative Jim Tressel would never think about doing these things in a high profile game, so he purposely tipped his hand to Penn St to make them prepare for plays that he has no intention of using. Either way, they were fun to watch.

Brandon Saine capped off a four-touchdown quarter by running it in on an option pitch from Pryor in the closing minutes of the half. I think we saw in this game that as much as I love Saine, he's not a "between the tackles" type runner. Every time they gave it to him up the middle he went nowhere. He is, however, very effective in open space, and when he and Pryor are out there running the option together, it's damn near impossible to stop. Which begs the question, why don't they run that play more?! To my recollection, OSU ran the option one time this game, and it was on the easy TD to end the half. We better see a lot of this next week.

As I said would happen in last week's article, Terrelle was on the bench to begin the second half, already in his street clothes. Joining him on the bench was Pettrey, who was injured on a cheap block on his last kickoff. The injury was to his kicking leg, so although his status for the rest of the season is uncertain, things don't look too good from here. Joe Bauserman came in at QB and Jordan Hall took over the rushing duties, and they quickly gave backup kicker Devin Barclay a chance to show what he's got. Barclay responded by missing a 47 yard FG. He got another chance on the next series, and this time he was good from 29.

The rout wouldn't be complete without a defensive touchdown, so Brian Rolle took care of that by picking up backup QB Trevor Walls' fumbled snap in the end zone. Rolle scored for the third time this season, making it 38-0. On a third and short late in the third quarter, Dan Herron went off-tackle looking for a first down to keep the clock moving, and found nothing but open field instead. Boom took it 53 yards to the house, a very good sign to see him running normally on that ankle.

All you need to know about the 4th quarter is that guys named K.C. Christian, Joe Gantz, and Bo DeLande were running the ball for OSU. The Bucks do all their scoring in the middle quarters, and get ready for Penn St with a 45-0 victory.

Game Notes

Game Ball
Ohio St's offensive statistics were very mundane, and no one defensive player stood out, so we'll just give it to the whole unit again. This was their third shutout of the season, and easily could have been their fourth if not for that late TD by Minnesota two weeks ago. They now have forced 24 turnovers this season, and have held their opponents scoreless in 23 of the 36 quarters they have played in. These guys are gonna have to keep up this dominant D next week when they face a much tougher PSU offense.
Game Balls to date: Pryor, Defense (2), Saine, Coleman, Posey

Random Thoughts
There isn't much else to say about this game.
- I noted last week that it would be nice to see Posey running routes other than just the deep fly, and he did that in this game. He had five catches for 79 yards (in addition to that TD pass) and he was running buttonhook and slant patterns consistently.
- The RB situation looks to be back at full force. Ten different guys carried the ball for OSU, with Hall leading the way with 10 rushes for 90 yards. When Herron didn't play in the first quarter of this game, I assumed he was still injured. However, he came in midway through the second quarter, and finished with six carries for 66 yards and that long touchdown. Saine started the game but had a weak performance, rushing the ball seven times for only 13 yards and a score. Both backs looked healthy though, which is the main priority.
- The kicking situation scares me. The Pettrey-Barclay combo went 1-5 last week. Even if Pettrey can play, he's been struggling lately. This makes Ohio St's difficulty getting touchdowns in the red zone even more important. It's bad enough going from seven points to three, but you're not going to survive a game against the Nittany Lions going from seven to zero.

Up Next: @ Penn St, 3:30, ABC
Both teams come into this showdown with hopes of a Big Ten title and a shot at the Rose Bowl. Ohio St controls their own destiny and just needs to win these last three games, where Penn St needs to win out and have someone (most likely OSU) beat Iowa. Happy Valley is not the easiest place to play in, especially for young quarterbacks who are prone to making mistakes. Ohio St needs to run the ball often and effectively to keep Daryll Clark and PSU's quick strike offense off the field.

Prediction: Ohio St 29 Penn St 24


(AP Photo/Jay LaPrete)

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