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Opinion: 5 key takeaways from Ohio State’s win against Golden Flashes

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One week after a loss in its home opener, the Ohio State football team responded with a 66-0 thrashing of in-state opponent Kent State.

The win, while by a large margin, was not enough to impress the voters as the Buckeyes fell to No. 23 from No. 22 in the Associated Press Top 25 poll.

The Lantern’s sports editors have compiled a list of five things we took away from the Buckeye victory.

1. Beating a MAC school is not enough

Breaking school records and reviving a once thought-to-be-dead offense are all well and good, but if the Buckeyes want to impress the voters and make a run at the first-ever College Football Playoff, they will need to have games like this week in and week out.

A 66-0 victory against an FBS opponent used to be enough to vault a team up multiple spots in the polls. However, the Buckeyes dropped one spot because, hey, Kent State is not in one of the five power conferences.

With the Big Ten struggling mightily in the first three weeks of play, the Buckeyes will need to dominate in their remaining games if they want to make any kind of impression on the voters.

The Virginia Tech loss to East Carolina didn’t help the Buckeyes either.

2. When given time, J.T. Barrett can lead the Buckeye offense

Last week against Virginia Tech, redshirt-freshman quarterback J.T. Barrett and the rest of the offense looked lost against the “bear” front of the Hokie defense. Against a more traditional defense, Barrett proved he can make his reads and lead an offense.

Barrett not only tied Kenny Guiton’s single-game touchdown passes record, he did it without even playing in the fourth quarter. He was also never sacked throughout the game.

When given time, the Texas native proved he can make plays and distribute the football to multiple players on offense.

Barrett completed passes to 11 different Buckeyes on Saturday and proved that when kept upright, he can be the real deal.

3. Raekwon McMillan and Darron Lee are the future of the Buckeye defense

Since coach Urban Meyer arrived at OSU, linebackers have been a question for the Buckeyes. It got so bad in 2012 that Meyer moved fullback and captain Zach Boren to defense to play linebacker.

Those issues seem to be a thing of the past, as freshman McMillan and redshirt-freshman Lee were flying all over the field Saturday.

In fact, McMillan, who did not start, led the Buckeyes in total tackles with seven, and had two sacks.

Lee, who has started each game this year, was second behind McMillan in tackles for loss, as he tallied two tackles for loss, including a sack.

With these two young freshman patrolling the Buckeye defense, the future could be very bright for the Silver Bullets.

4. Wide receiver is still an issue, but targets are aplenty for Barrett

The OSU receivers combined for seven receptions and a trio of touchdowns against Kent State, but also accounted for multiple key drops, including one that directly led to an interception.

Senior Devin Smith showed his big-play ability with a 50-yard touchdown, but also bobbled a perfectly-thrown ball from Barrett that could have gone for another long score. Redshirt-sophomore Michael Thomas showed off his game-changing ability as well with a pair of touchdowns — one for 63 yards — but dropped the pass that landed in the arms of a Kent State defender.

While the wideouts made their share of plays, Barrett was able to turn to a plethora of other targets when they struggled. He completed passes to 11 players in total, with two running backs and a tight end each tying for the team lead with four receptions.

If the Buckeyes want to continue to have success in the passing game — Barrett threw for 312 yards and tied a school-record with six touchdown passes — they’ll need to continue finding ways to get the ball in the hands of numerous players, especially if the actual wide receivers continue to struggle.

5. OSU’s defensive line will be OK without junior Noah Spence

Spence was expected to take the field for the Buckeyes against Kent State up until the day before the game. Then the news broke that he had failed another drug test and now nobody is sure — at least publicly — what his future will be this season and beyond.

If he does, in fact, have to sit out for an extended period of time — which appears likely — the OSU defensive front will simply have to continue what it has done through the first three games of the season. While they haven’t necessarily dominated every snap, the defensive line has been the best position unit on the team.

Spence is certainly key on the line, but he hadn’t played yet because of a previous suspension for a failed drug test, and the line still held its own. It’ll be up to senior Steve Miller and a group of talented but unproven players to continue to fill the hole, but early feedback says they are up to the challenge.

 

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