As great as the dismantling of Oklahoma in Norman was for the Buckeyes’ psyche, the win was just a small step towards a bigger goal for Ohio State.
Urban Meyer has had an amazing run so far in his four-plus years as head coach in Columbus. Yet, the three-time national champion has just one Big Ten Championship.
The Buckeyes were banned from postseason play in Meyer’s first year, but still, Ohio State has allowed gritty Michigan State teams to win the Big Ten two out of the last three seasons, while having arguably a much better roster.
Yes, it was great to see Ohio State flex its muscles against a top-15 opponent on the road, but let’s not get ahead of ourselves here. The college football season is a marathon, not a sprint.
At the end of the day, it was a good win against a non-conference opponent. Win or loss, it may not have had much effect on the Buckeyes’ playoff chances. That is, if they handle their business during conference play.
Against the Sooners, Ohio State wreaked of a team that had all the pieces to win the College Football Playoff this season.
The offense was clicking. J.T. Barrett did what J.T. Barrett does, getting the ball in the hands of his playmakers with a chance to make a play. On Saturday, plenty of plays were made.
Barrett finished the game 14-20 with 152 yards and four touchdowns through the air, adding 74 yards on the ground.
The real story of the game for the Ohio State offense was Noah Brown, who hauled in each of the four Barrett touchdown passes, one being the catch of the season so far, which I couldn’t go on without showing.
— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) September 18, 2016
Brown has established himself in the Ohio State offense as a true possession receiver and red zone threat, a much needed aspect of a potent Buckeye attack. Brown currently leads the FBS with five receiving touchdowns through three contests.
Letting the world know he’s no one trick pony, Brown displayed his route-running ability against the Sooners top cover corner, Jordan Thomas, for another Ohio State touchdown.
— Eleven Warriors (@11W) September 19, 2016
With the emergence of Brown, to go along with the game-breaking playmaking ability of Curtis Samuel, the Buckeye offense seems to be in good hands at the skill positions.
Samuel continued to show he is one of the most explosive players in the country, flashing his speed on a crucial fourth and one early on in Saturday’s matchup.
👀🏈 DOUBLE TAKE 🏈👀
— Ohio State Buckeyes (@OhioStAthletics) September 18, 2016
Samuel finished with 98 rushing yards and the touchdown shown above, on just 11 carries against the Sooners.
Redshirt freshman running back Mike Weber has also played well, rushing for 123 yards on 18 carries. Weber has tallied 351 yards in his first three games, good for first in the Big Ten.
Weber has yet to receive 20 carries in a game so far this season, and with a heavier workload will come even better production. Weber, (who is averaging 6.5 yards per carry) will surely become a more focal part of the offense as the season wears on and the weather gets cold.
As for the Ohio State defense, the “Silver Bullets” looked like one of the better defenses the country has to offer. The biggest thing that jumped out on Saturday was the speed of the Ohio State defense.
Safety Malik Hooker and cornerback Marshon Lattimore, (who are tied for the nation-lead in interceptions, with three) both played great games, and the coverage against the Sooners was spectacular.
Along the defensive line, the Buckeyes have four defensive ends that could start for most other schools in the country. When Baker Mayfield made mistakes, he did it under pressure from the Ohio State defensive line.
The combination of Tyquan Lewis, Sam Hubbard, Jayln Holmes, and Nick Bosa provides a rotation at defensive end that keeps players fresh to rush the passer, while the secondary does their part in the back end.
Raekwon McMillan is one the nation’s best middle linebackers, and it showed as he helped stop the Oklahoma rushing attack led by two great backs in Samaje Perine and Joe Mixson.
The insertion of Jerome Baker at the outside linebacker position, in place of the injured Dante Booker, in my opinion, takes the Buckeye defense to the next level.
Baker is extremely fast and athletic, as seen from 68-yard interception returned for a touchdown in the first half. Baker got his opportunity due to the Booker injury, and flashed as one of the best players on the field finishing with seven tackles, 1.5 sacks and the one interception.
Look for Baker to earn the starting spot for good and to be out there making plays for the Ohio State defense for weeks to come.
The Ohio State defense seems to have all the pieces in place to be dominant. That will help them reach the College Football Playoff.
As good as the Buckeyes looked, I’m still not sold they are going to run roughshod through a Big Ten conference that boasts four teams in the top 12 of the AP poll. The Buckeyes face three of those teams in Wisconsin, Michigan State, and Michigan, with two of those contests on the road.
Yes, the win against Oklahoma should make you feel good about this young Buckeye team, but the Buckeyes very well could have lost at Oklahoma and still made the playoff.
The win gave us confidence about what we can expect down the line from this team as they continue to grow and gain experience. So far, the Buckeyes look like one of the four best teams in the country. The Ohio State season will come down to crucial games during conference play.
E-mail Derek at [email protected], and follow him on Twitter @D_Woods21.