No. 2 Ohio State took care of its last test before No. 3 Michigan, and did it easily.
The Buckeyes beat Minnesota 37-3, never trailed and never gave fans a reason to be anxious about the outcome.
That was the ideal scenario going into Michigan week.
Before we get to the top-3 matchup next weekend, here are a few takeaways from Ohio State’s win Saturday at Ohio Stadium.
— Ohio State Football (@OhioStateFB) November 18, 2023
Ohio State’s offense stayed hot, while not showing a lot
My biggest question entering Saturday was whether the offense could carry over its offensive performance in last weekend’s 38-3 win against Michigan State to this game.
Though the Buckeyes struggled in the red zone — they got inside the 20-yard line five times and kicked two field goals — the offense played well overall.
With the starters in, Ohio State punted just once and scored on seven of its nine drives. Although Ohio State would prefer to turn the field goals into touchdowns, the Buckeyes were efficient.
They went into halftime up 13-0. Running back TreVeyon Henderson opened the second half with a 75-yard touchdown, and then quarterback Kyle McCord found Marvin Harrison Jr. for a touchdown on the next drive.
McCord capped his day with seven straight completions for 48 yards and a touchdown to tight end Cade Stover.
Ohio State’s offense wasn’t perfect — in addition to the red zone shortcomings, right tackle Josh Fryar struggled in the first half.
Still, the Buckeyes deserve credit. In the past two weeks, they’ve combined for 964 total yards. It’s also the first time this season Ohio State has had 400 total yards or more in back-to-back games against Power 5 opponents. Yes, that’s against Michigan State and Minnesota, two teams that aren’t very good, but that’s still an improvement.
The offense is healthy and clicking. And the best thing about it, for the Buckeyes, they did it without showing too much on offense. They were able to keep things basic, win big and save some things for next week’s game at Michigan.
That was the dream scenario for coach Ryan Day.
Defense continues to be dominant, especially the defensive line
Ohio State is missing three starters on defense to undisclosed injuries, and they aren’t nobodies, either.
Linebacker Tommy Eichenberg didn’t play, and he’s an All-American. Then there were standouts safety Lathan Ransom and defensive tackle Mike Hall Jr.
Eichenberg looked like he could’ve played if Ohio State needed him, but there was no reason to risk him.
And still, Ohio State looked dominant. Minnesota had 159 yards of total offense, with 70 rushing on just 2.54 yards per carry.
Defensive tackle Tyleik Williams was terrific, again, with three tackles and a tackle for a loss. Jack Sawyer continues to get better. It seems like each week he’s topping himself with an even better game. He had six tackles, 3.5 tackles for loss, a sack and a forced fumble Saturday.
Ty Hamilton was strong replacing Hall inside. JT Tuimoloau wasn’t asked to do too much but had a fumble recovery.
The secondary held form, too. Josh Proctor returned after missing the previous week’s game after suffering a head injury at Rutgers and nearly had an interception, and Jordan Hancock made an impressive interception setting up an Ohio State field goal.
Last year, going into Michigan, the Ohio State defense gave up 402 yards at Maryland. This year, it remained dominant. This group has been one of the best in the country, consistently, all season.
Buckeyes left the game with no additional injuries
Maybe the most important part of the game is that Ohio State got out of it without any major injuries. And Day said afterward, “I think we should be full capacity next week.”
Right guard Matt Jones left in the first half, but returned in the second half.
On the flip side, Michigan has some serious injury questions after its 31-24 win over Maryland. Top wide receiver Roman Wilson left the game in the first quarter. Offensive lineman Myles Hinton also left the game early, and he was already replacing starting left tackle LaDarius Henderson.
(Photo of Ohio State offensive lineman Donovan Jackson, left, and running back TreVeyon Henderson: Joseph Maiorana / USA Today)