Sunday, October 7, 2012
3 Up, 3 Down: Ohio State vs. Nebraska
By Austin Ward
COLUMBUS, Ohio -- A few things Ohio State will feel good about and some issues it will need to correct after staying unbeaten with a 63-38 win over Nebraska on Saturday at Ohio Stadium:
1. Ground and pound: The approach wasn't all that complicated, and it didn't have to be. The Buckeyes have some tricks up their sleeve with the spread offense, but simply lining up and running straight at Nebraska worked just fine, so they didn't tinker much with that formula. Braxton Miller was once again too much for a defense to handle, and it clearly helped him to have a sidekick capable of taking on a full workload and absorbing some punishment, as Carlos Hyde rushed for 140 yards on 28 carries with four touchdowns.
2. Strong John: He might not want to talk about his health, but John Simon certainly looked the strongest he has been this year, whether or not he would admit it. The senior defensive end was a force from start to finish. He might have saved some time if he had just started plays in the Nebraska backfield -- five of his seven tackles were for a loss and he also forced a fumble. Simon's value as a leader has never been up for debate, but that was easily his most productive game of the season statistically to go with his intangibles.
Rex Burkhead showed during pre-draft workouts that he's recovered from a 2012 knee injury.
3. Picking and grinning:Bradley Roby called his shot. In fact, he did one better by adding a second interception to officially end his four-game interception drought. The sophomore cornerback also got a hand on a third pass after taking one Taylor Martinez throw back for a touchdown, then he set up another score with a second-quarter snag, reaffirming his credentials as a big-time playmaker in the secondary.
1. Deep trouble: The Buckeyes were able to balance out a few long gains the defense allowed, thanks to their own high-powered offense, but they probably won't enjoy watching the film of a few plays that went at least 70 yards on them. A 73-yard rush for Rex Burkhead in particular will again give the coaching staff a problem to point out when the team goes back to work this week -- in case the 38 points given up isn't enough ammunition.
2. Mix it up: The way the rushing game was chewing up yardage, there wasn't really much need for the Buckeyes to go to the air. But coach Urban Meyer has talked often about wanting to take more deep shots and expand the passing attack, and there wasn't much progress in that department against the Huskers. Obviously it wasn't a necessity, as Ohio State won in lopsided fashion, but Corey "Philly" Brown was the only wide receiver with a reception in the win.
3. Flag flying: The Buckeyes didn't even take a snap before they were hit with a penalty, thanks to a false start. That would be followed with eight more accepted penalties, a number that, again, will irritate Meyer and provide him coaching fodder on the practice field. All of those violations produced 76 yards for the Huskers and directly led to four first downs.