What we learned: Week 9

October, 27, 2013
10/27/13
10:00
AM ET
COLUMBUS, Ohio -- Lessons from No. 4 Ohio State’s 63-14 rout of Penn State on Saturday night at the Horseshoe.

Style points are starting to matter: Just one week earlier, the conversation was centered around simply taking care of business, staying undefeated and letting everything else fall into place. The discussion from the Buckeyes after thrashing the Nittany Lions remained the same, but now that the BCS standings are out, their actions delivered a totally different message. Ohio State racked up style points early and with frightening consistency, and it would be tough for voters or computer formulas to ignore what it accomplished against Penn State. Whether the Buckeyes admit it, those style points could be critical if they don’t start seeing the teams ahead of them lose.

Spence is special: The potential has always been obvious, and playing in certain situations as a freshman was supposed to help speed up the learning curve for Noah Spence. But it still takes experience to help unleash potential, and midway through his sophomore season, the talented defensive end is starting to show that he’s truly capable of rushing the passer. Spence was close to unblockable against the Nittany Lions, and while he finished with only a pair of sacks, he was seemingly in the backfield on every snap and made life miserable in the pocket for Christian Hackenberg.

The rushing game is ruthless: The Buckeyes were tough enough to contain when it was just Braxton Miller and Carlos Hyde in the backfield. Now Ohio State is incorporating even more weapons from its deep arsenal, and it’s getting more and more difficult to figure out what’s coming when it steps to the line of scrimmage. Dontre Wilson has been more valuable as a decoy than with the ball actually in his hands over the last two weeks, and his 26-yard touchdown catch against the Nittany Lions might make the mere threat of him getting a touch more terrifying for defenders moving forward. On top of that, Jordan Hall showed he’s healthy and capable of lending a hand when needed, rushing for 81 yards on eight carries and giving opponents yet another option to prepare for heading into the final month of the season.

Austin Ward | email

Ohio State/Big Ten reporter

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