Believe it or not, there are good things coming out of this season for Ohio State. The problem is, most of the good is looking towards the future; and most of it concerns Braxton Miller. Though he struggled early, the highly touted freshman is beginning to come into his own. His arm is obviously not developed yet, but the athleticism is there in full. At Nebraska, Miller was 5-8 for 95 yards and a touchdown while running nine times for 91 yards. It’s likely that OSU would have won the game had Miller not sprained his ankle in the second half.
Though Ohio State is struggling, his performance gives Buckeye fans something to look forward to. But the good for the Bucks doesn’t end there. Carlos Hyde has developed into a solid running back. He has 400 yards and five touchdowns on the season with an average of 5.3 yards per carry. It will be interesting to see how Hyde’s touches adjust with the return of Dan Herron, but Hyde will be joining Braxton Miller in the backfield in a big way in future seasons.
This season, however, still holds some positive. Despite the setbacks and the .500 record, Ohio State has managed to keep a positive attitude.
“We always go into a practice with the same attitude – we are hungry to get better,” senior tight end Jake Stoneburner said. “I think we were energetic and were ready to play. It doesn’t matter what our record is and we will continue play hard for our coaches and fans.”
The Buckeyes are 3-3, and have started 0-2 in the Big Ten. The team has to travel to Illinois to play the undefeated Fighting Illini, and risk losing three straight in the Big Ten for the first time since 2004.
Many people expected the Bucks to struggle this season after the turbulent offseason in Columbus, but the struggles have been incredibly difficult on a game-by-game basis.
The Buckeyes nearly lost at home to Akron, got blown out by Miami, and racked up just 178 yards in a 10-7 home loss to Michigan State. The ground game, OSU’s best offensive weapon this season, was simply nonexistent, racking up just 35 yards on 39 attempts. Yes, that adds up to just 0.9 yards per carry.
The defense, Fickell’s bread and butter, has been better, ranking 17th nationally in scoring. Few players have stepped up on defense however, and the unit lacks any serious playmakers. Andrew Sweat is the only Buckeye in the top 50 in the Big Ten in tackles with 43. After six games, only two players, Sweat and Christian Bryant, have 30 or more tackles.
The Nebraska game was the definition of ugly. Ohio State was up 27-6 before giving up 28 unanswered points, the largest comeback in Nebraska history. Braxton Miller was injured, and Joe Bauserman was forced into a difficult situation. Bauserman had had a rough season to that point, but the difficult situation at Nebraska brought out the worst in him.
The senior was 1-10 for 13 yards and an interception, meaning as many Nebraska players caught his passes as Buckeye players. Ohio State had little to no chance to win with Bauserman at quarterback.
Further off the field issues have also topped Ohio State’s ugly situation. Dan Herron, suspended for the first five games, was suspended again for Nebraska for receiving improper benefits. Worse even than that, wide receiver DeVier Posey received a second five game suspension for the season.
And to add injury to insult, literally, defensive end Nathan Williams and wide receiver Verlon Reed are expected to miss the remainder of the season, both with knee injuries.
The ugliest, however, may be still to come. If Ohio State loses at Illinois, the Buckeyes will have a losing record for the first time this millennium. A bit overdramatic, yes, but it is representative of just how far OSU has fallen.
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