In what was expected to be a redemption game for the Ohio State Buckeyes, Ohio State put forth the most puzzling performance from the program in years and they were manhandled by the Michigan Wolverines in a 45-23
loss at Ohio Stadium in Columbus.
C.J. Stroud threw for 349 yards and two touchdowns along with two late-game interceptions for Ohio State.
Marvin Harrison Jr. and Emeka Egbuka each finished with over 120 yards receiving yards and a touchdown reception from each player.
Ohio State finishes the season at 11-1 and 8-1 in the Big Ten and with the defeat, they will now wait to see how the conference championships play out for their postseason destination and foe.
1) So many negative things to say and I hate to be one of those people griping about a one loss season.
However, if you ignore the issues, one never repairs them, so please forgive what will likely read as a tantrum over one defeat.
2) Ryan Day is receiving heavy criticisms for some of his decisions during this game but most of those decisions I was basically fine with other than one time that he chose to punt early in the second half on a fourth and five on the OSU 49 after Michigan had scored to take the lead.
Ohio State's punt bounced into the end zone and Michigan drove eighty yards for a touchdown.
I would have gone for the first down there but otherwise the decisions were understandable.
3) Day is especially receiving some heat for his decision to kick a field goal with under eight minutes to go in the game on a fourth and four from the Michigan nine yard line.
I was okay with that as well for this reason- you are running out of possession so cut the lead to eight and hope your defense can hold.
It didn't as Donovan Edwards ran for a seventy-five yard score on the first play of Michigan's drive to place the game safely in their win column but I would have kicked the field goal as well.
4) None of that is to say that I have zero criticisms of Day, who has regressed as a play caller before my eyes over the last two seasons.
It's hard to believe that the bright innovative playcalling that earned Day the head job to begin with has degraded to this screen pass/short out pattern reliance that has become so predictable.
I think Day should give serious consideration to either handing that duty to Kevin Wilson or Brian Hartline or hire someone else because much like Kevin Stefanski with the Browns, Day has become almost bland after starting as the head man.
5) Don't believe me?
C.J. Stroud will be a top ten pick in next year's NFL draft, Marvin Harrison Jr. is the best wide receiver in the nation, Emeka Egbuka is developing to the point that he is a likely 2024 first rounder, and Julian Fleming was the top rated wideout in his recruiting class and could be anything from a first to a third rounder in his eventual draft class.
And for all of that talent, J.J. McCarthy threw more times downfield than C.J. Stroud did.
Not completed ( although that applies as well), attempted.
That's not using your talent properly.
6) When Ryan Day is asked about Dallan Hayden, he always refers to Ball Security as an issue despite Hayden not fumbling in his first season in Columbus.
I know Miyan Williams was able to return to the field (thirty-four yards on eight carries) in limited action and Chip Trayanum in his first major action at running back rushed well in leading the team with eighty-three yards (Trayanum played running back for Arizona State but transferred to OSU as a linebacker) but Hayden rushed so well against Maryland and I would have thought that performance (146 yards and three touchdowns) would have earned him more than two carries.
7) And with three long touchdowns allowed from the passing arm of J.J. McCarthy (one was a short pass with some awful arm tackling and the other two appeared to be blown coverages) how much blame should fairly go to defensive coordinator Jim Knowles?
Depends on if you blame Knowles for coverages that allowed Michigan the type of passing game big plays that one expects to see from Ohio State.
Were they bad coverages called or player breakdowns?
In either case, Ohio State isn't paying Knowles almost two million dollars a year to watch a performance like that on the team's largest stage of the season.
8) And in hindsight, a backbreaker was a Michigan eighty yard drive that ate almost eight minutes and could have been a Buckeye spark in holding Michigan to a field goal after rushing J.J. McCarthy into a hurried heave to the back of the end zone.
However, Ronnie Hickman was called for pass interference and even though an argument could be made for the pass being uncatchable, Michigan was bailed out and would score a touchdown on a McCarthy rush.
9) Five touchdowns of forty-five yards or longer against a Michigan team not known for its explosiveness looks really bad and I really can't blame the front seven all that much until the final two drive of the visitors.
10) J.J. McCarthy was a Buckeye fan growing up and as a recruit was thought to be a potential commitment but Ohio State decided to move towards Kyle McCord as their preferred passer in that recruiting class and McCarthy decided to commit to Michigan.
McCord has the inside track to start next season and prove that to be the correct decision but McCarthy has the attitude that it takes to win this game.
You may not like it or him but gotta respect the passion.
11) C.J. Stroud likely has played his final game in Columbus and he will likely leave with a legacy of the most decorated quarterback that didn't win anything.
I know the Rose Bowl win over Utah is nice but that doesn't carry the weight that it used to in program importance.
Stroud is rattled by a good pass rush and he's not the most mobile guy in the pocket.
I understand the financial aspect for Stroud and I can't blame him for leaving with the money involved for his draft projection but he needs another year of development in my opinion.
12) The worst part of this?
Ohio State will enter next year with another first year starting quarterback in either Kyle McCord or Devin Brown and will play the 2023 game in Ann Arbor, which is really a tough out and why winning this game was so important.
13) Because one loss can be explained as an aberration, two is a pattern, and the potential for three is there, Ryan Day thinks he will have heat on him for this year?
Try losing next year's game and fans will tag him with the hyphenated name of Ryan Cooper-Day.
14) This is also a tough loss for recruiting as recruits won't remember all the dominance of Ohio State in the series, they will only remember 2-0 and with the Covid year, next year's recruits would have been high school freshmen when Ohio State last defeated Michigan and the recruits that will be worked out for the following class would have been in middle school for the last Buckeye win.
The players want to win and play on the biggest stage possible and this isn't a problem for Ohio State yet but another loss or two and it could become one.
15) As for the playoff hopes, I really don't think that they deserve to after this but they are still alive with losses by LSU and Clemson on Saturday as well.
I think Ohio State may get in should TCU or USC lose their title games (TCU vs Kansas State, USC vs Utah) and almost definitely should both teams lose.
No one has a better loss of the one loss teams and Ohio State brings the two things that shouldn't count so much but do- Traveling fans and eyeballs on TV.
I think it would be very tough to take Ohio State over an undefeated TCU and maybe even over a one loss USC but from what I saw against Michigan, and while I want the Buckeyes to be successful, I'm not sure it matters if Ohio State would slide in at the fourth seed and play Georgia for the right to have the fact that Ohio State has become a finesse' program slammed into my face.