The 2016 season for the Ohio State Buckeyes is eerily similar to the team’s 2014 campaign. Both seasons were considered to be rebuilding seasons after talent moved on to the NFL, especially after 12 starters were drafted from the 2015 team. With inexperience on both sides of the ball, the 2016 Buckeyes were not expected to not reach the postseason when the College Football Playoff came around. However, after three out-of-conference games under its belt, the statistics show that this team might be here to stay.
After winning their first three games against Bowling Green, Tulsa and Oklahoma, the Buckeyes scored an average of 56.7 points per contest while giving up an average of 12.3 points. This huge margin of victory is due to production of the players on both sides of the ball.
The offensive unit has averaged 7.1 yards per play while racking up an average of 545.3 yards per game in its first three games. It helps to have a dual-threat quarterback under center.
Redshirt junior quarterback J.T. Barrett has thrown 10 touchdowns with just one interception. With a QB rating at 184.4, Barrett has completed 67.1 percent of his passes this season. As a dual-threat option, Barrett has also been a reliable piece in the rushing attack. On 39 carries, he has rushed for 159 yards and has a team-high three rushing touchdowns.
Barrett has had some help in the rushing attack. Led by freshman Mike Weber, the running game has averaged 6.1 yards per rush and has scored eight times. The primary rushing attack for OSU this season has come from H-backs junior Curtis Samuel and senior Dontre Wilson. Samuel has been a threat in the passing game and rushing attack. He has 519 all-purpose yards and four touchdowns, with two rushing and two receiving.
However, Samuel has been overshadowed a bit on the receiving front. Even though redshirt sophomore Noah Brown is second on the team with 134 receiving yards, he has become one of Barrett’s favorite targets, already receiving five touchdowns this season, which is near the top in FBS rankings.
Even though the OSU offense has done its job, it is not the story of this season. The story has been the defense and its ability to put points on the board. In three games so far, this season, the defense has forced 14 turnovers, including nine interceptions, and has produced 52 points off of those turnovers.
The Buckeye secondary has been shutting down opposing quarterbacks. Sophomores Malik Hooker, Marshon Lattimore and junior Gareon Conley have a combined seven of the team’s nine interceptions and have returned two of those for touchdowns.
The Buckeye defense also has done well at bringing pressure at the line of scrimmage. The front seven have sacked the quarterback seven times. In times of pressure, the defense has been solid, limiting opposing offenses to 27 percent conversion rate on third down and only 13 percent of the opposing team’s red zone chances have ended in a touchdown.
Statistically, as the game proceeds, the defense improves as the clock ticks down. In the second halves of their games this season, the Buckeyes have only given up a combined seven points, while not allowing a single score of any kind in the fourth quarter.
All of this is to say that statistically, the Buckeyes have been getting better and better as the games have gone on. With a convincing win against Oklahoma two Saturdays ago, the Buckeyes hope to have the momentum going into Big Ten play to keep the success up on both sides of the ball.