Bottom line: How did the Buckeyes grade out vs. Oregon? What grade did the defense get?

Brian White
The Columbus Dispatch

Most predicted the Oregon-Ohio State game would be determined in the trenches, with one team owning the lines of scrimmage on both sides of the ball.

Few, however, put the Ducks in the role as the bully.

In a 35-28 win at Ohio Stadium, Oregon stopped the Ohio State run game and scored seemingly at will against a Buckeyes defense that looks seriously deficient. At times, it was so painful for Ohio State fans that some probably were wishing those new but overwhelmed ticket scanners didn't let them in, after all.

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Sunday's film session couldn't have been pretty for the Buckeyes, who likely now have an uphill battle to make the College Football Playoff.

Leaves are awarded on a zero-to-five basis.

Ohio State offense (3 leaves)

Another slow start was followed by a better second half, and the Buckeyes finished with 612 yards. But the comeback fell short when they were stopped twice in the fourth quarter with plenty of time to tie it up. C.J. Stroud was 35-for-54 for 484 yards, but the number of attempts tells you how Ohio State stopped trusting its run game. The Buckeyes ran for only 128 yards and a 4.1-yard average.

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Ohio State Defense (0 leaves) 

The same Oregon offense that struggled to move the ball against Fresno State moved at will against the Buckeyes. The Ducks gained 505 yards, including 269 on the ground for a 7.1-yard-per-carry average. There was no pressure on quarterback Anthony Brown, and three Oregon touchdowns came on nearly identical runs to the left on which there was no exterior resistance. Also, there was a 99-yard Oregon TD drive that  looked all too easy.

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Ohio State Special teams (3 leaves)

Ohio State's new punter, Jesse Mirco, twice pinned Oregon at its 1-yard line during the first and second quarters. It was only the Australian freshman’s second appearance for the Buckeyes after joining the program earlier this year and taking over punting duties from Drue Chrisman. On returns, freshman Emeka Egbuka looked slippery but had no breakaway runs. And he was fortunate that a fumble bounced right back into his hands.

Coaching (2 leaves)

Kerry Coombs' name is not trending for the right reasons. Again, second-half offensive play-calling and 612 Ohio State yards prevented a leaf-less coaching grade for the Buckeyes coaches. Oregon's offensive staff, led by former Penn State coordinator Joe Moorhead, completely dominated Ohio State's defensive strategy and led to plenty of talking heads on TV to ridicule the Buckeyes' schemes. Said Ohio State coach Ryan Day: “Is it personnel? Is it scheme? Or is it coaching? If scheme, we need to get it fixed. If coaching, we have to do it better. If players, we have to make changes.”

Fun quotient (4 leaves)

If you're not a defensive purist, this one was fun. Ohio State put up 612 yards of offense and Oregon flew around for 505. The crowd was loud (well, once it managed to get by all the broken ticket-scanning machines) and for a while an Ohio State comeback win felt like a sure thing.

Oregon Ducks (5 leaves)

They were injured, on the road and coming off an embarrassingly close win against Fresno State. But Mario Cristobal's Ducks showed toughness and dominated much of the game. They jumped ahead and then didn't panic when a comeback ignited the large crowd.

Officiating (3 leaves)

The good news is that television viewers had to see rules expert Mike Pereira only once (Is there an easier TV gig?). And, again, he gave a ruling that was not what a play resulted in. This time, though, Pereira was correct, as Oregon's Noah Sewell should have been penalized for hitting Chris Olave with the crown of his helmet. Replay officials somehow saw nothing and play continued. Otherwise, there were no greatly contested calls, though officials twice confused slippery turf for holding penalties, one for each team.

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