Sports

Early Big Ten season shapes up well for Ohio State

By DEL DUDUIT
Southern Ohio Today

The Ohio State Buckeyes (No. 3) passed a big test on Saturday night when they beat No. 18 Penn State 38-25 at Happy Valley.

They took just three plays to go 75 yards and grab a 7-0 lead. The Nittany Lions never recovered from the punch in the mouth.

Penn State’s coach, James Franklin, must have had a bad feeling or a sense of urgency when he decided to go for it on fourth down and two on his own side of the field.

The Bucks stuffed the Nittany Lions and that set the tone.

Even though the final score was 38-25, the game was never that close. The Nittany Lions, hosting without the infamous “white out” was never a serious threat to Ohio State.

Buckeyes quarterback Justin Fields showed why he is a legitimate contender to be the No. 1 pick in the NFL Draft as well as a Heisman Trophy candidate.

He threw for 320 yards and completed 28-of-34 passes with four TDs.

And take note of this. He has scored six touchdowns and has only thrown seven incomplete passes. As a team, the Buckeyes romped for 524 total yards and averaged 6.6 yards per play against a top-20 foe.

On the other side, the OSU defense limited the Penn State offense to 325 yards and sacked the quarterback six times.

Ohio State’s run game was also better this week.

Master Teague, yes that’s his name, rushed for 110 yards on 21 carries.

Though he does not have the same speed and incredible moves some previous backs at OSU have displayed in the past, the 5-11 225-pounder from Murfreesboro, Tennessee, runs hard right at the defense.

Ohio State finished with 208 yards rushing as a team, and while it averaged only 4.6 yards per carry, that number improves to 5.2 if you remove sack yardage.

Fields ran only six times and was sacked twice. He is clearly becoming more of a pocket passer and that will increase his NFL stock.

And to nobody’s surprise, receivers Garrett Wilson and Chris Olaye are one of the best tandems in the nation.

They had a total of 18 catches for 227 yards against Penn State.

For the first two games, each have posted 100-yard games. No other Scarlet and Grey duo has done that.

Two games into the shorted season the Bucks look like a legitimate threat to win the whole shebang. And for the first time since 2010, Penn State is 0-2. They have already been eliminated from contention in the Big Ten championship conversation.

Too bad.

The only other teams in the conference still undefeated are Indiana – that’s right – Indiana, Northwestern and Purdue. It really was trick or treat this past weekend.

Last week, the Hoosiers were ranked 17th and have now popped up to No. 13. This is the first time they have cracked the top 15 in the AP Poll since 1987. They are 2-0 in the conference for the first time since 1991 and knocked off Rutgers 37-21 on Saturday.

But I have saved the best for last.

Michigan, favored to win on Saturday, lost to rival Michigan State 27-24. That loss puts the brakes on any expectation to win it all.

The Wolverines had a ton of miscues and just seemed lost and played without any enthusiasm all day.

Michigan Coach Jim Harbaugh has won the games he was supposed to win and lost the games he was supposed to lose. He’s never been able to win The Big Game.

For all of Michigan’s woes against Ohio State, it did appear as if the Wolverines had complete control of the in-state matchup with Michigan State after the past two games. But the Spartans flipped that notion upside down. Michigan State played hungry. They wanted to win.

The Buckeyes have made a statement the past two games that they should be making a run for the national title. While the Hoosiers had a treat, and the Wolverines were tricked.

Ohio State looks like a football team, while Indiana has the right makeup but still needs a lot of work, while Michigan might be just masquerading as one.

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