Blowout puts Buckeyes back in CFP conversation

Staff Writer
Buckeye Xtra
Ohio State Buckeyes offensive lineman Joshua Alabi (58) takes the field prior to the NCAA football game against the Michigan Wolverines at Ohio Stadium in Columbus on Nov. 24, 2018.

Saturday: Ohio State 62, Michigan 39

Next game: Big Ten championship game vs. Northwestern

Where: Indianapolis

TV: Fox (Ch. 28)

Radio: WBNS-FM/AM (97.1/1460)

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After the stunning romp in The Game, Ohio State fans must morph their battle cry this week into Go Bucks-Roll Tide-Hook 'em Horns.

In the CFP rankings

All that matters now, rankings-wise, is where the Buckeyes sit in the College Football Playoff lineup headed into the weekend. They were No. 10 last week, but a 62-39 roughshod run over No. 4 Michigan and losses by several ahead of them should provide an ascent in the new rankings Tuesday night. If they are No. 6 this week, it puts them in position to grab the No. 4 spot in the final rankings on Dec. 2 if: they beat Northwestern in the Big Ten title game; Alabama beats Georgia in the Southeastern Conference title game; Texas beats Oklahoma again in the Big 12 title game.

Who’s hot?

Dwayne Haskins Jr. — no one has ever had a better passing season in the Big Ten than the third-year sophomore. He’s so hot that on Sunday in a review he had 78 yards and another passing touchdown added to his already Big Ten season records for each. OSU officials found photo evidence that the exchange between Haskins and Parris Campbell was a quick flip forward — a pass — on Campbell’s 78-yard jet sweep, instead of a handoff as scored Saturday. Call it Haskins’ Heisman Throw-ment, because it upped his game totals to 396 yards and an OSU record-tying six TD passes, and his B1G season record totals to 4,081 (No. 2 in the country) and 42 (No. 1 in nation), respectively.

Whose seat cooled a little?

That of defensive coordinator Greg Schiano. Warm all season, it heated dramatically in the 52-51 overtime win at Maryland a week earlier. But despite the Buckeyes giving up 39 points to Michigan, there were timely stops, two interceptions and the punt block by freshman receiver Chris Olave and return for TD by freshman Sevyn Banks on a play that was schemed by Schiano. The punt block was the tipping point in The Game.

Whose stock clicked up?

Almost every member of the receiving group who saw action, from fifth-year senior Campbell (team high six catches for 192 yards and two TDs) to junior K.J. Hill (four catches, including one for a TD) to freshman Olave (two catches, both TDs). Also rising is the offensive line, which launched 567 yards of total offense against the No. 1 defense in the nation and gave up zero sacks. And that of the back seven of the defense, which at least put a bandage on the gash plays that had plagued them at Maryland and against others.

Dinged up

Right guard Demetrius Knox suffered what’s believed to be a left foot sprain late in the last OSU possession. He is out for sure Saturday, which means Wyatt Davis will make his first start.

Up next

Northwestern, which despite dropping all three of its nonconference games (Duke, Akron and Notre Dame), rallied to win the Big Ten West going away. The only league loss was 20-17 to Michigan. Since then, the Wildcats have won seven of their last eight games, leaning on timely plays from their defense and usually just enough offense (their highest-scoring game in the league this year was a 34-31 win over Nebraska).

This week’s challenge

It’s not as simple as win and you’re in the CFP for the Buckeyes. As noted before, they likely need help. But paramount, coach Urban Meyer said, is winning a second straight Big Ten championship, and third in five years.


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