Here are 5 things we learned from the Ohio State Buckeyes' 49-20 win over Michigan State
At long last, Ohio State is bowl eligible.
In all seriousness, although the Buckeyes have yet to meet an opponent who has tested them, at least OSU can answer how much of their early-season dominance has been the result of playing five straight games at home: none at all.
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Here are five other things we learned from Saturday's game:
Ohio State does indeed have two starting running backs
Ohio State running backs coach Tony Alford this week insisted that Miyan Williams' five-touchdown performance against Rutgers, while TreVeyon Henderson was sidelined with an undisclosed injury, did not mean that he was going to change the running back rotation.
“I look at it as we have two starters,” Alford said.
Saturday, Williams was out with what coach Ryan Day described to ABC television as a recurring knee injury, and Henderson ran with purpose. He had 118 yards and a touchdown on 19 carries.
When Henderson was hit hard in the knee or thigh on his first carry of the second half, he fought mightily to stay in, but with the game in hand, there was no way OSU was going to try its luck.
Ryan Day is one smart coach
After OSU struggled last year in the red zone, scoring touchdowns on only 64% of their trips inside the 20-yard line, Day went about solving the problem. So far this season, the Buckeyes have 26 touchdowns in 28 red zone opportunities and two field goals.
Day's scripted opening series are often works of art, and against Michigan State those plays were again explosive. On its first offensive drive versus the Spartans, OSU had gains of 16, 26, 24 and 19 yards.
OSU's defensive backs have an up-and-down day
OSU fifth-year cornerback Cam Brown returned from an undisclosed injury he suffered Week 3 against Toledo, and on the Spartans' second play from scrimmage, gave up a 20-yard reception to Jayden Reed. In the second quarter, he was whistled for a pass interference call, which was declined, and then a personal foul that paved the way to Michigan State's first offensive touchdown of the day.
Seen on the sideline banging his helmet to the ground, he was replaced by JK Johnson.
But the play of OSU's defensive backs also led to at least one coverage sack Saturday. The Buckeyes gave up only one offensive score before garbage time. And for the fourth game in a row, Ohio State recorded an interception.
Just like everyone predicted, Tommy Eichenberg has been outstanding this season
Probably no player has benefitted more from Jim Knowles taking over as Ohio State's defensive coordinator than Tommy Eichenberg.
The linebacker was outstanding again Saturday, leading the team with eight tackles, five solo, 1/2 tackle for loss, a quarterback hurry and a pass breakup.
Truly, he is a man of few words and many stops.
Xavier Johnson sets the tone
When Day was asked this week who is providing Ohio State with leadership this season, he mentioned (among others) Ohio State wide receiver Xavier Johnson. The fifth-year senior showed an example of that against Michigan State. When Henderson went out, Johnson helped handle the load at tailback. Johnson played both cornerback and running back at OSU before being converted to a receiver.
"He ran hard. He's a weapon for us," Day said. "He's a good player."
His fellow Buckeyes clearly appreciate it. On a first-half, eight-yard rush, Johnson was greeted by teammates as if it was an 80-yard gain.