There is a famous saying in football, “Defense wins championships.”
This season, though, the Ohio State football team might have to rely on its offense if it wants an opportunity to play for the national championship.
Currently, the Buckeyes are ranked fourth in the BCS standings with just three games left to play in the regular season. OSU’s schedule is not doing it any favors, as no ranked opponents are scheduled for the rest of the year.
So to impress the voters in hopes of jumping a team or two in the BCS rankings, OSU needs to not only win, but look good doing it.
In their previous two games, against Penn State Oct. 26 and against Purdue Saturday, the Buckeyes’ average margin of victory was 52.5 points.
Freshman running back Dontre Wilson said the big wins were statements to the rest of the football world that OSU can play with anybody.
“People (are) down on us all the time. We’re undefeated, we’re blowing teams out,” Wilson said after the Buckeyes’ 56-0 win against Purdue. “Everybody (is) saying we don’t play much competition, but we’re still proving we can play good teams and blow other teams out.”
Junior linebacker Ryan Shazier said blowing teams out is important, but as long as the Buckeyes get the win, the final score doesn’t matter.
“I feel like it’s really important of us to dominate opponents, but still I feel like a win is a win. You do your job and show everybody that you’re doing your job,” Shazier said. “You really don’t have to blow people out. They understand that you know what you’re doing and you have the players and the coaching staff to do what you gotta do then, that’s all that matters.”
Although OSU’s recent wins have been by large margins, it was a different case when Big Ten play started. In the first three conference games against Wisconsin, Northwestern and Iowa, OSU only won by an average of nine points a game.
The difference, junior wide receiver Evan Spencer said, is the offense’s ability to execute.
“We’re doing well, we’re executing really well. When we can execute like that and come out of the blocks like that it’s going to be a good day for us,” Spencer said.
Senior running back Carlos Hyde said it’s not that the offense has taken the next step but that it is finally playing up to its expectations.
“I expect this from the offensive group: just come out and be explosive all day,” Hyde said. “Just come out and put up points and put up yards and that’s what I expect from us.”
Hyde is the Buckeyes leading rusher on the season, tallying 701 yards and seven touchdowns on the ground this year.
In their second season under coach Urban Meyer, the Buckeyes are averaging 48.2 points per game, up 11 points from the undefeated 2012 season.
Meyer said his offense is “pretty close” to living up to the standards he set before the season.
“The offensive line is blocking people, there were a bunch of targets. (Junior tight end Jeff Heuerman) had a great day today … Push the fast rewind button to one year ago facing the same team. Who are you going to throw the ball to? We don’t know,” Meyer said. “Now you got five, six targets that you actually want to see the ball in their hands, and they’ve earned that right.”
Heuerman, who almost doubled his season total of receiving yards against the Boilermakers with a five catch, 116-yard performance, credits his career day to the number of weapons OSU has on offense.
“I don’t think it’s me as much as it is the other guys,” Heuerman said. “Like I’ve said before, having a running back like Carlos Hyde and a quarterback like Braxton Miller and some of our offensive weapons — Dontre Wilson, (junior wide receiver) Devin (Smith) and Evan (Spencer), ‘Philly’ Brown — the defenses, they’ve gotta respect all of them … Having all those guys being so productive, it puts me in a position where I can make my block easier sometimes. It makes my route easier.”
Freshman running back Ezekiel Elliott, who tallied 60 total yards and a touchdown Saturday, said playing against OSU has a “pick your poison” feel to it.
“We just have great players all over the field so it’s like pick your poison, we can move the ball around. Anyone who touches it can score,” Elliott said.
Although against the Boilermakers it was junior cornerback Doran Grant who kicked off the scoring with a 33-yard pick-six, the OSU offense might need to put up big numbers to impress voters as the season wears on.
The Buckeyes have the week off but are set to continue their push for a spot in the BCS National Championship game when they take on Illinois Nov. 16 in Champaign, Ill.