Dienhart: Reports of Ohio State’s demise have been greatly exaggerated
Ohio State football
Attention, America: The reports of Ohio State’s demise have been greatly exaggerated.
The Buckeyes are alive and kicking, thank you very much. Just ask Nebraska, which got eviscerated tonight by Ohio State, 56-14.
Remember Ohio State’s 31-16 home loss to Oklahoma back in early September? Neither do I. Ok, it did really happen. I looked it up. But since then, the Buckeyes have become a buzz saw, winning five games in a row. And doing so if frightening fashion. Check these results below, if you don’t believe me.
Tonight’s demolition of Nebraska has been the most impressive salvo tossed by Ohio State yet in its mini-redemption tour within the 2017 season. The game was as lopsided as the score looks. Maybe worse, with the Buckeyes outgaining the Cornhuskers, 633-393. Nebraska ran for just 44 yards on 16 carries. Wonder what interim Nebraska A.D. Dave Rimington thinks of that? Tom Osborne used to burp, and Nebraska would gain 44 yards rushing back in Rimington’s day.
Even worse: As Ohio State drove for a TD to open the second half and push its lead to 42-0, some fans began to file out of Memorial Stadium. This, from one of the most fiercely loyal fan bases in the galaxy.
But I’m not here to type about 3-4 Nebraska’s problems, which are many. Nope, I’m here to prattle on about the greatness of Ohio State. This team not only is playoff-worthy … but it just may win it all if it keeps this up. That’s four games in a row OSU has scored over 50 points, outscoring its last five foes 266-56. That comes to an average score of 53-11.
On this night, Urban Meyer took a sledgehammer to any lingering doubts about his Buckeyes, with Barrett swinging the biggest hammer. He was sensational, hitting 27-of-33 passes for 325 yards with five touchdowns. He also ran 10 times for 48 yards and two scores. Let’s go ahead and put Barrett into the Heisman conversation. He has earned it.
Since that loss to OU, when Barrett completed 19-of-35 passes for 183 yards with no TDs and a pick and ran 18 times for 66 yards, the senior has hit 99-of-137 passes (72 percent) for 1,351 yards with 18 touchdowns and no interceptions. Barrett also has run 39 times for 232 yards and four scores, averaging 5.9 yards per tote.
The timing of No. 9 Ohio State’s rise couldn’t be any more perfect, as the 6-1 Buckeyes are about to enter the teeth of their schedule. Up next after a bye week: A monster game vs. Penn State, which beat the Buckeyes last season and cost Ohio State a shot to win the Big Ten. That’s followed by a trip to Iowa and visit from Michigan State. Three great opportunities for the Buckeyes to polish their resume before finishing vs. Illinois and at Michigan.
This is a motivated Ohio State club that is looking to regain a Big Ten throne it hasn’t sat on since 2014, when the Buckeyes also won the national championship. Remember that 2014 Ohio State season?
Back then, Ohio State opened with a win vs. Navy and then got shocked at home by Virginia Tech, 35-21. Dating back to 2013, it was Ohio State’s third loss in its last four games after a school-record 24-game winning streak.
Some wondered if Barrett could get the job done after he had some consistency issues vs. the Hokies. Barrett had taken over for injured Braxton Miller that season. Against Virginia Tech, Barrett was just 9-of-29 for 219 yards and a touchdown with three interceptions. He led all rushers with 70 yards on 24 carries but was sacked seven times and hurried on numerous others.
“There are some weaknesses right now on our team and it was rather obvious what (they are),” Meyer said after he loss. “We can play better on both sides.”
Barrett settled down and became a sensation as a redshirt freshman before being lost to injury for the season in the finale vs. Michigan and giving way to Cardale Jones, as Ohio State didn’t lose again. The Buckeyes drummed Wisconsin in the Big Ten title game, 59-0, and then shocked No. 1 Alabama in a playoff semifinal followed by a win vs. No. 2 Oregon in the title game.
Just like that, the Buckeyes went from self-doubt after a home loss to Virginia Tech to winning 13 in a row all the way to the national championship. And Barrett blossomed along the way.
And it looks like a similar storyline is developing this season for the Buckeyes, with hopes of Buckeye Nation that Barrett can stay healthy and deliver Ohio State back to the summit.