A grade card on Ohio State’s 48-3 win over Michigan State. Along with the A’s and B’s, the Buckeyes probably should get two E’s — one for excellent and another one for enigmatic.
Urban Meyer said all of last week that he wanted freshman running back J.K. Dobbins to get more carries and to no one’s surprise, that happened when Dobbins rushed for 124 yards on 18 carries, his highest number of rushes since the opener against Indiana and three times the six he had against Iowa. He joined Robert Smith and Maurice Clarett as the only non-redshirt freshmen to run for 1,000 yards at OSU and also caught a touchdown pass.
What probably no one saw coming was Mike Weber looking faster than anytime else during his two years at Ohio State on touhdown runs of 82 yards and 47 yards. Weber said he is stronger than he was when he ran for 1,096 yards as a freshman and healthier than he has been in a long time.
OSU’s offensive line opened holes in the running game and did not allow a sack. The Buckeyes scored five of the first six times they had the ball. Quarterback J.T. Barrett stayed in the background most of the day but had two interceptions, giving him six in the last two games. The first interception led to a Michigan State field goal.
Like the offense, OSU’s defense didn’t do anything fancy, it just emptied several truckloads of dominance on a Michigan State offense that looked like it was not ready for prime time. Or at least not ready for an Ohio State team playing like it had something to prove.
Michigan State nettted 64 yards rushing and quarterback Brian Lewerke, who came into the game with back-to-back 400- yard games, threw for only 131 yards, was intercepted twice and was sacked three times. OSU got to Lewerke and his back-up Messiah DeWeaver for six sacks.
Damon Arnette had an interception and a fumble recovery before leaving the game with a thigh bruise. OSU played without starting linebackers Jerome Baker and Dante Booker, who were announced as out with injuries a few hours before kickoff.
Tuf Borland (11 tackles, 2 tackles for losses) and Malik Harrison (6 tackles, 1 sack) filled in and were good enough that Baker and Booker’s absence wasn’t noticeable.
Special teams: A
There were no problems with kickoff or covering kicks, an improvement OSU hopes to see continue in the future. Kicker Sean Nuernberger hit two short field goals, which made him 12 of 14 this season. His longest successful kick, though, is from 38 yards.
Ohio State played the way it expected to play at Iowa against Michigan State. If the Buckeyes had played at that level in Iowa City, they would be in the discussion as one of the teams who should be in the College Football Playoff. But they didn’t, so now they are very much a long shot to get one of the four invitations to the playoff.
If the running game stays strong and Barrett is able to fix the interceptions problems, OSU can end the season on a high note.
Reach Jim Naveau at 567-242-0414 or on Twitter at @Lima_Naveau.