Sometimes, even for a guy with a math degree, it is hard to find the right numbers that accurately depict a football game. In spite of a lob sided 58-7 score, it is exceedingly difficult to find the numbers that tell the true story of that game; there are so many impressive numbers in the box score that none of them seem to tell the whole story.
I guess if I had to start somewhere it would be the first 9:34 of the game. In this stretch in which the Buckeyes took a commanding 28-0 nothing lead, a conference football game turned into a hopeless mismatch, one in which you had to feel that the entirety of the Northwestern season up to that point had been a farce. It was apparent within those ten minutes that Northwestern didn’t belong in the Horseshoe with the home team. After those first 28 points, every other offensive number the Buckeyes accumulated was tainted and became artificial (much like beating Nevada and Northeastern).
Through the course of the game, the Buckeyes were able to accumulate 396 yards of offense. That is a pretty good number against most teams in the nation, but against a porous Northwestern defense, that number falls a bit short of impressive. It would appear to the casual observer that Buckeyes struggled a bit on the ground, amassing a “mere” 191 yards on 42 carries for a respectable 4.5 yards per carry. Not the impressive numbers you would expect, but not so bad once you consider that a lot of those plays came into run oriented defenses after the game was out of hand.
At the start of the game, Northwestern seemed determined to attempt to stop the Buckeyes ground game first, at the expense of their overmatched corners. While the Buckeyes did not enjoy much success on the ground to start the game, they could do whatever they wanted down the field. It got to the point that every time Boeckman dropped back to throw Buckeyes fans had been conditioned to expect a touchdown. Even after getting burned downfield on Boeckman’s first throw, Northwestern continued to leave their corners alone on island downfield. The result: In Boeckman’s first six passes he had four completions for three touchdowns and 115 yards.
More interesting numbers, Brian Roboskie’s line: 3 receptions for 89 yards and 3TDs. The only thing that stopped Robo on every pass he caught was the end of the field. That gives Roboskie 20 receptions for 430 yards and 5TDs on the season. Not bad for four games, makes you wonder when people will stop trying to put single coverage on him.
A less impressive line of numbers for Buckeyes fans: Marcus Williams 3 rushes for 4 yards. Don’t get me wrong, I love the fact that the young walk on got some carries and I thought he looked pretty good out there. The problem is that this shows just how injury plagued the Buckeye’s backfield is right now. Beanie Wells left the game on the opening series of the second half with an apparent aggravation the same ankle injury that has hampered him for six months, and Brandon Saine is out for a couple of more weeks following arthroscopic knee surgery. That means that this backfield is one tweaked ankle from featuring Maurice Wells/Marcus Williams, which is a scary prospect heading into Big Ten play.
The most impressive numbers coming from yesterday’s game have to be those posted by the defense. Northwestern’s awkward spread option offense is typically very effective at moving the ball by using a combination of screen passes and misdirection to keep the defense off balance. Additionally, Northwestern uses short drops to nullify pass rush and keep defenses honest, yet none of that worked against a very disciplined Ohio State defense.
The Buckeye defense showed exceptional speed in getting to receivers and ball carriers immediately and more importantly showed great discipline in maintaining defensive assignments. The Buckeyes did not blitz much but still showed exceptional pass rush in getting to Bacher and forcing many throws early and inaccurate. In the end, Bacher wound up completing just over 50% of his throws for 120 yards. That is a pretty staggering completion percentage considering that most of his throws were 5-7 yard intermediate routes.
In the end, it wasn’t much of a game and there really is no single number that will tell the story of this game. The Buckeyes were merciless in every facet of the game, including some devastating special teams hits, and it was apparent to those that watched that this game could have just as easily ended 100-7.
Grading the Positions:
Everyone gets an A except Beanie’s ankle, which gets a D-.
Grading the Grader:
I said, “Don’t be surprised if…Mark May and company are unimpressed by the Buckeyes putting a 30 point whipping on the cats. Tressel is just not the kind of guy to toss 60 on a team to impress media members and pollsters (yes, I am talking about you Bob Stoops). If the Buckeyes put up big numbers it will because their third string was good enough to score 20.”
Because the score became so lopsided so early, it is hard to say when the first string stopped and the third string started. One thing is for sure, if Bob Stoopes were coaching this game, the final score would not have been as nice as the 58-7. In the end, Tressel really did not run this thing up. As a matter of fact, the Buckeyes really tried to just nurse there 52-7 lead through the third and fourth, but the margin was much bigger than I thought. C.
I said, “Don’t be surprised if…Beanie Wells puts a big hurting on the ‘Cats, somewhere on the order of 200 yards and five devastating secondary stiff arms.”
Not even close. Wells only got 12 carries before reinjuring that ankle and he was probably only on pace for 3 or 4 more. I would’ve never guessed that this game would’ve been that ugly that fast. C.
I said, “Don’t be surprised if…the Buckeyes have a bad statistical defensive performance that is not reflected in the score. Bear with me a second. I expect to see the Wildcats complete a fairly high percentage of short passes and to chew up some yardage in doing so, but I do not expect them to be able to sustain long drives with consistent execution. Something like 250 yards of offense (150 in the air 100 on the ground)”
Not a bad guess on the yardage when you consider that Pat Fitzgerald had everyone believing, right up until game time, that Tyrell Sutton was playing. Nice job on the misdirection coach. In the end, Northwestern wound up with 120 yards of total offense, 120 in the air, and 0 on the ground, and the Buckeyes defense looked impressive in every way a defense could. C.
I said take Ohio State and the over, and it was an easy cover. Both bets were pretty obvious covers by halftime with Ohio State leading 45-0. That makes me 4-2 on the season so far.