Haskins and his wingmen are soaring
Saturday: Ohio State 49, Indiana 26
Next game: vs. Minnesota
When: noon Saturday
Where: Ohio Stadium
Radio: WBNS-FM/AM (97.1/1460)
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Who needs the Air Force Thunderbirds when you’ve got Haskins and his Wideouts? Even with the run game stalled, the Buckeyes are still flying high.
In the polls
Ohio State stayed No.3 in both the coaches’ poll and the Associated Press media poll, behind No.1 Alabama and No.2 Georgia. The Buckeyes have one first-place vote in each.
Dwayne Haskins Jr., who finished Saturday just three yards shy of Art Schlicther’s school-record 458 passing yards (vs. Florida State in 1981), is off to the hottest passing start in school history. He is averaging 319.8 yards through six games; the school season record is 277.5 set by Joe Germaine in 12 games in 1998. Haskins already has the No.2 and No.8 (344 yards against TCU) passing yardage games in school history. His six touchdown passes vs. Indiana tied the school record shared by Kenny Guiton and J.T. Barrett (twice), and his 19 TD passes overall have him on pace to beat Barrett’s school-record 36 of last season.
Who else is hot?
Urban Meyer, because the defense keeps giving up a big play or three or more. It was obvious that Indiana’s game plan was to take shots (it officially tried 49 passes) at the Buckeyes’ man-to-man defense because, who knows, at the least a fling might draw an interference call. It worked for a half. Meyer wants more immediate pressure on the quarterback, tighter-but-legal coverage and/or perhaps a little more zone coverage to confound opponents. Though OSU is No.5 in the nation in total offense (565.7-yard avg.), it is a middling 56th in total defense (365.2).
He’s still hot
The coach has further concern about the running attack after a third straight game in which it was held in check for the most part (Tulane, 3.9-yard average per carry; Penn State, 3.2; Indiana, 3.2). Opposing defenses have started to sell out to stop the run, then keep coming in an effort to disrupt Haskins in the pocket. So far, he and his wingmen (Parris Campbell, Johnnie Dixon, Terry McLaurin, K.J. Hill, Austin Mack and Binjimen Victor) have made them pay eventually.
Meyer was sent to his knees early in the fourth quarter by what he said later was head pain apparently caused by the arachnoid cyst he has dealt with for years. Whether he elects to have a procedure done again to alleviate the pressure remains to be seen. Linebacker Malik Harrison and defensive end Jonathon Cooper were hurt at the end of the same play, Harrison’s interception return to midfield on a two-point conversion attempt in the third quarter. Their status wasn’t clear Sunday though they were believed to be in concussion protocol.
Minnesota, which, in the second year under P.J. Fleck started 3-0 but has dropped its first two Big Ten games, 42-13 to Maryland on Sept.22 and 48-31 to Iowa last week. Freshman walk-on quarterback Zack Annexstad has played to mixed results (eight TD passes, five interceptions, 52 percent completions). Maryland ran for 315 yards on the Gophers while Iowa passed for 314 yards and four TDs.
This week’s challenge
Meyer has laid it out there: keep the passing game flying; add juice to the running game; defense, stop giving up big plays. He didn’t mention penalties, but OSU is the 11th-most-penalized team in the country (80.83 yards per game). That doesn’t look good on any resume.