No Urban Meyer, No Problem; Where do the Buckeyes Go from Here?

STAFF WRITER: Michael Brown

So, if you weren’t already aware, Urban Meyer was suspended for the first three games of Ohio State’s football season in 2018. I already wrote about my thoughts on the suspension and the issues that came along with that, and you can check that out here.

However, from the football aspect of it all, the three games Urban missed were Oregon State (home), Rutgers (home), and a neutral site game against TCU at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, TX. Everyone knew Oregon State and Rutgers would be no problem for Ohio State and acting head coach Ryan Day, and most assumed TCU would be a sort-of-challenging win; these things all came to be true.

Oregon State opening at Ohio State was kind of a dumb decision by the Beavers honestly. It’s not like they really had a shot, and it’s not as if they were an FCS school (or even a Group of 5 school) that was going to pick up a fat check for taking one on the chin for 60 minutes. Nevertheless, they still made the trip to Columbus, and it went about as well as you would expect it would. Ohio State won 77-31, and it’s remarkable the score was even that close. Ohio State’s offense, with new starting quarterback Dwayne Haskins Jr., was prolific, scoring at will all day long (and it almost was all day; there was a lengthy delay before the second half started due to lightning). The lightning, however, did not phase Haskins. He was spectacular, completing 22 of 30 passes for 313 yards and 5 touchdowns. Part of that surely came from the swiss cheese-like defense of Oregon State, but, still, he was just amazing, and that’s why Ohio State put up a stunning number of 77 on the scoreboard.

mike weber

Buckeyes’ running back Mike Weber runs for a touchdown during the opening game against Oregon State. PHOTO CREDIT: Jamie Sabau/Getty Images

You might have noticed that Oregon State still “only” lost by 46 (this is a lot to lose by), so their offense did some damage too. I would say it’s somewhat concerning for Ohio State fans that Oregon State was able to move the ball with ease. The Beavers were well balanced, running for 196 yards and passing for 196 yards, a total of 392 yards of offense on what was supposed to be a vastly superior defense that was far more talented. All things considered, though, it was still a great win for Ohio State, which was what they needed after what all happened in the offseason. Nobody needed the season to start more than Ohio State, and it started well for them.

Ohio State opened Big Ten play the following week against Rutgers. Not surprisingly, Rutgers played like it was the worst of the 65 Power 5 schools, because it probably is (they lost to Kansas!!!). This game served as nothing more than a tune-up for Ohio State, who was gearing up for a Saturday night clash with TCU the following week. Haskins was brilliant again in Ohio State’s 52-3 win, completing 20 of 23 passes for 233 yards and 4 touchdowns. Ohio State also ran the ball very well; seven ballcarriers totaled for 225 yards and 2 touchdowns. The defense also performed much better. Rutgers threw for 65 yards, ran for 69 yards, and had 2 more turnovers (2) than it did touchdowns (0). They are truly dreadful. Alas, they are in the same division, so these teams must play every year. Good luck next time, Rutgers.

The week after was when Ohio State faced its first tough test of the season. They traveled down south to Arlington to play 15th ranked TCU at AT&T Stadium (Ohio State was ranked 4th). While the “neutral” site wasn’t very neutral at all (AT&T Stadium is less than 19 miles from TCU, over 1,060 miles from Ohio State), the crowd was still 50/50. TCU played a really good game, jumping out to a 21-13 lead in the third quarter before Ohio State scored 3 quick touchdowns over a span of 4 minutes of game clock, fueled by TCU turnovers and mistakes. A 21-13 deficit became a 33-21 lead in just the snap-of-a-finger. The proverbial fat lady had not yet sung, though, and TCU was able to get some of its deficit back with a 51-yard bomb from quarterback Shawn Robinson to wide receiver TreVontae Hights, which cut the lead to 5 again. However, Ohio State would go down and score again, and time just ran out on the Horned Frogs. Ohio State, fueled by Haskins’ 344 yards and 2 touchdowns through the air, as well as 3 turnovers from Shawn Robinson, won 40-28, and had made it through the three games without Meyer virtually unscathed.

ryan day

Ohio State acting Head Coach Ryan Day – PHOTO CREDIT: Eleven Warriors

When asked about Haskins’ performance against TCU, Ryan Day said, “This was a test to see where he was at. I thought he passed. There were a couple times he scrambled, took a shot. He scored on the pull down in the red zone, took a couple hits on a couple sacks early in the game, hung in there, made some big throws, and, again, worked through some adversity along the way.” Personally, I think Haskins has the potential to be the best quarterback Urban Meyer has had since taking over at Ohio State, if he isn’t already. Woodstock High School junior Jacob Tweddle said of the team’s performance, “Even with his suspension the team’s performance wasn’t affected because the team still won without their head coach.”

The only issue (and it’s kind of a major one) is that Ohio State’s best player, defensive end Nick Bosa, will be out until sometime in November following a surgery regarding a “core muscle issue.” Bosa exited the TCU game with the injury and did not play this past week against Tulane. You’d have to imagine that once competition ramps up Bosa will be sorely missed.

nick bosa

Nick Bosa looking to sack the quarterback during the TCU game – PHOTO CREDIT: Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

WHS junior and Ohio State fan Hayden Rieder said of Bosa’s injury “I think it’s definitely a big hit to the Ohio State defense, but much like many of the top teams in college football there is such tremendous depth. In the TCU game one of the commentators even mentioned that after one leader goes down the next one steps right up. Even after Bosa went down, there were a couple sacks and even a pick six from the defensive line. So while yeah it’s not ideal that arguably the best defensive lineman in college football is out, I don’t think it will be a deciding factor on Ohio State’s future due to the depth they have.” The good news for the Buckeyes is that, yes, they have depth, and would be fine without him, but also that Bosa should be back for the season’s end.

Ohio State did have Urban Meyer back for the Tulane game, though, and the Buckeyes had no problems with yet another lesser opponent, winning 49-6. Now 4-0, Ohio State is a third of the way to a perfect regular season, and seems on a collision course with its 3rd College Football Playoff appearance in the last 5 seasons.

iowa game

Iowa cornerback Josh Jackson intercepts then-Ohio State quarterback J.T Barrett during the Ohio State-Iowa game in 2017. Ohio State lost 55-24, which was ultimately the reason it was left out of the College Football Playoff in favor of Alabama – PHOTO CREDIT: The Daily Iowan

That’s not to say there won’t be challenges left, though. Ohio State still has plenty of tests remaining, none more challenging than a date with 9th ranked Penn State in Happy Valley. College Gameday will be there, it’ll be a night game, and Penn State is whiting out the game. If Urban and crew can come home from Penn State with their 5th win, you can probably lightly pencil them into the Playoff. That is, assuming they don’t have a random 31-point loss down the road against a mediocre Big Ten team (again).

Overall, the players and assistants should be commended for their success the first three weeks, even if it was expected of them. It can be hard without your leader. WHS junior Abi Halls added, “I think it’s all about the leadership within the team and the love and respect the teammates should have for each other. It shouldn’t depend on solely one person because everyone should do their part to succeed.” Abi’s right, and I think if those traits continue, along with the addition of Meyer, Ohio State is primed for a fantastic season with National Championship potential.

Trackbacks

  1. […] I also wrote about the football aspect of this suspension and how Ohio State did without Meyer, which I would highly recommend reading […]

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