A Monday morning grade card on Ohio State’s 38-17 win over Indiana on Saturday.
OSU didn’t quite look like the No. 2 team in the country and J.T. Barrett didn’t look like himself. But there can’t be too many complaints about a 21-point win over a decent Indiana team.
Barrett’s 93 yards passing was the third-lowest total he’s had as a starter behind 46 yards against Michigan State last season and 74 yards against Penn State in 2014. OSU’s struggles in the passing game weren’t entirely his fault, though.
The deep passing game was nonexistent. Wide receivers caught only two passes, both by Noah Brown, for a total of 16 yards. Barrett was sacked only once but felt pressure several other times. And when he did have time he often searched unsuccessfully for an open receiver.
Ohio State has used a lot of wide receivers but so far it’s looking like it doesn’t have a lot of really good ones.
The ground game produced 290 yards but there was a cause for concern inside that number. Barrett was the leading rusher with 137 yards on 26 carries, which is probably 10 or 15 more carries than the target for him in OSU’s offense. Curiously, Curtis Samuel got only nine touches in the game.
Indiana’s offensive game plan appeared to be to establish its running game when it ran the football on 19 of its first 26 plays. But the only thing established by those 19 plays was that the Hoosiers weren’t going to be able to run the ball when they produced only 19 yards.
OSU’s defense continued its streak of not allowing a rushing touchdown. The Hoosiers had only 99 yards rushing in the game and 50 of quarterback Richard Lagow’s 182 passing yards came on one play.
Linebacker Jerome Baker had a career-best 11 tackles, including two tackles for losses. Nick Bosa played what coach Urban Meyer called his best game at OSU, including a big stop on a fourth down run at the Buckeyes’ 6-yard line when Indiana was threatening to cut the lead to one score in the fourth quarter.
SPECIAL TEAMS: A
Kick returner Parris Campbell says that he says a prayer as he waits for kickoffs. That prayer was answered Saturday when he returned a kickoff 91 yards to set up a touchdown in the final minute of the first half.
Tyler Durbin hit a career-long field goal of 37 yards and Cameron Johnston averaged 49.2 yards on six punts.
An Ohio State win was never in doubt and the score probably should have been worse when a questionable crack back block penalty erased a touchdown by Malik Hooker after a pass interception in the game’s final minute.
Ohio State’s struggles in the passing game might be only a blip on the season radar. But it’s tough to name a wide receiver who has been consistently productive, including Noah Brown other than his four-touchdown game at Oklahoma. If that continues, it could be something to worry about.
But a three-touchdown win with your passing game have a sub-par game is something most teams would be glad to have.
Reach Jim Naveau at 567-242-0414 or on Twitter at @Lima_Naveau