Ohio State grade card: Offense and defense come up short in The Game


A grade card on Ohio State’s first loss to Michigan since 2011:

OFFENSE: C+

C.J. Stroud threw 49 passes, which even Ryan Day said was too many. The ball was in the air that many times not because Ohio State found a weakness in Michigan’s defense it could exploit, but because OSU had no other strength to rely on. The Buckeyes averaged 2.1 yards per running play while Michigan gained an average of 7.2 yards per running play.

Stroud completed 34 of his 49 passes for 394 yards and two touchdowns and Jaxon Smith-Njigba (11 catches), Garrett Wilson (10 catches) and Chris Olave (7 catches) did what they usually do. But the passing game was inconsistent and couldn’t carry the whole load on offense. OSU was 8 of 18 on third-down conversions and was penalized for false starts five times.

The offensive line did not have a good day. It allowed four sacks, three of them by Aidan Hutchinson, and eight tackles for losses.

DEFENSE: D

After giving up more than 200 yards rushing to Minnesota and Oregon to start the season, Ohio State held its next nine opponents to an average of 75 yards a game on the ground. This was promoted as a sign that OSU’s defense had improved significantly.

But the defense reverted to its early season troubles when Michigan rushed for 297 yards and out-gained the Buckeyes 487 yards to 458 yards overall. Hassan Haskins rushed for 169 yards and tied a Michigan record by running for five touchdowns. Blake Corum had 6 carries for 87 yards, including a 55-yard run on which no defender touched him in the first 54 yards.

Michigan quarterback Cade McNamara (13 of 19 for 159 yards, no touchdowns) didn’t have big numbers but he had completions of more than 30 yards to three receivers.

SPECIAL TEAMS: A-

Noah Ruggles was 2 for 2 on field goals and Jesse Mirco averaged 44.8 yards per punt. Julian Fleming’s uncertainty about fielding a kickoff meant Ohio State started its first offensive possession on its own 4-yard line.

OVERALL: C

If defense wins championships, Ohio State was not destined to be a champion this season.

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