Ohio State was the biggest loser on a day full of huge matchups in college football.
Things could have gone worse for the Buckeyes, but not my much.
Here are six takeaways from Week 10 in college football:
1. Like the 2014 Michigan State game, 2017 Penn State was probably a fluke for Ohio State.
J.T. Barrett has done a lot of great things at Ohio State, but he’s a hot and cold passer. He was great in those games mentioned above but not so much in a half-dozen other key matchups, including two other games against the Nittany Lions, last year’s games against Michigan State, Michigan and Clemson and again when Oklahoma visited in September.
He was also great at Oklahoma last season, but there’s still a pretty clear trend.
It was fair to think the senior and his wishy-washy offensive coaches turned the corner a week ago, but obviously they didn’t.
If anything, it must have made Ohio State’s play callers overconfident in what they had.
RELATED: Iowa shocks Ohio State in Iowa
Nearly four years of evidence show against good defenses, you can’t have a game plan that is predicated on Barrett picking apart defenses and then rely on a running game that consists almost entirely of zone read.
They had no choice but to throw themselves back into the Penn State game last week, and it worked out because Barrett found a rhythm and made some clutch throws.
How often has that happened overall though?
(By the way, Penn State gave up 400 yards passing to Michigan State on Saturday.)
He’s not a talented enough runner or passer to do it alone unless he happens to be hot or the defense is incompetent.
(There are a lot of incompetent defenses in college football.)
2. Barrett will be gone next year, but the Charmin running game unfortunately is expected back.
The best way to fix Ohio State football might be with a deluge of stories and tweets about the junky, soft running game that’s been undercutting the program for nearly three seasons.
Urban Meyer was shamed into trying to make the Buckeyes something they’re not, a sophisticated passing team, and let his running game rot on the vine.
Now the Buckeyes can’t rely on either one.
Ohio State manufactured a running game in the 2014 postseason because it didn’t have a true running quarterback. It was a beautiful thing. It made Ezekiel Elliott a star. Columns were written about how smart the coaching staff was to come up with this great attack. We’ve hardly ever seen it again, and the result is tougher execution for both the run and throw games.
3. Of course, I would have thought 24 points would be enough to win at Iowa.
There’s no giving the defense a pass even though the offense did the Silver Bullets no favors with a pick-6, another interception that gave Iowa a short field and two three-and-outs to start the third quarter.
Ohio State wasn’t ready to face a pro-style offense. Even though it lacks the offensive line to run the ball consistently, Iowa was able to throw it all over the yard because Ohio State doesn’t have many real game reps against, you know, traditional play action.
To his credit, Nate Stanley came out hot, and the Iowa quarterback executed a great game plan from his coaches. I doubt he does that every week, either.
Then I think the defense wore out and became susceptible to the run as the game wore on.
4. Nick Bosa’s ejection was garbage.
I know people who want to look enlightened were quick to Tweet the refs got it right, but the fact is this was another example of how bad this rule is and how hard it is to apply.
That was incidental head bumping that happens nearly every play.
It looked bad in slow motion, but the “victim” said he didn’t really notice it when it happened.
I’ve maintained from the start the biggest problem with the targeting rule is its broadness and the ambiguity of the term “forcible contact.”
If that call was correct - and I don’t think it was - then it reinforces my belief that they could actually call targeting about 800 percent more than they do but refs realize what a sticky situation it is so they are pretty conservative most of the time.
Except this guy who drastically altered the game by throwing that flag and giving Iowa new life in what was then a tie game.
5. Michigan suddenly looks like a tough matchup for Ohio State again.
Jim Harbaugh’s team, which has questionable personnel everywhere on offense but running back, ripped Minnesota with an old-school power attack far more creative than Ohio State seems willing to commit to since Tom Herman left. (See point No. 2.)
Based on how Ohio State’s defense looked against Iowa, the Wolverines could prove to be dangerous against the Buckeyes if they keep developing over the next few weeks because Harbaugh is great at game-planning and his new quarterback seems capable of at least executing basic stuff off a successful running game.
Fortunately for Ohio State, Michigan could come into the season finale a little banged up from what’s sure to be a physical game against Wisconsin.
6. First comes another showdown with Michigan State.
I only saw the Michigan State-Penn State game up to the point it was delayed, but I thought MSU quarterback Brian Lewerke looked more confident than I had seen him. He was playing fast and decisively compared to previous games when it always felt like MSU’s offense was hanging on by a thread.
I guess he kept that up because (as mentioned above) he finished with 400 yards passing with two touchdowns and an interception as MSU stunned Penn State 27-24.
The Buckeyes and Spartans are the only one-loss teams in the Big Ten East (and both have the tiebreaker over Penn State), so the winner of this game would have to lose its last two to avoid going to the conference title game.
Based on the past two weeks, I have no idea what will happen when the Spartans visit Ohio Stadium on Saturday.
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