Ohio State might be one of the most consistent college football teams when it comes to one thing: margin of victory. When you play the Buckeyes, there’s a high probability that the game will not be close.
Besides Ohio State’s one-point win over Penn State (which did involve a two-touchdown PSU lead in the fourth quarter), the Buckeyes have been exclusively playing blowout games.
The phenomenon goes back to the Fiesta Bowl.
Sorry, Ohio State fans, we gotta get this out of the way. You weren’t remotely competitive against the eventual national champs, and the 31-0 result was surprising in the fact that Urban Meyer had never been blanked as head coach.
Saturday brought the worst loss for an Urban Meyer-coached team since Alabama’s 32-13 win against Meyer’s Florida in the 2009 SEC Championship Game. It was Ohio State’s worst loss in a while, too. Meyer’s now been in Columbus for five seasons, and he’s lost a total of six games. Two of those have come against Clemson, with the first being an Orange Bowl loss to close the 2013 season.
It was so bad, Clemson’s band dunked on you with the score.
But 2017 brought much happier times in the season opener.
The Indiana game to start the season saw the Buckeyes’ DBs under siege, but they recovered to win 49-21. The dam burst and Ohio State’s talent won out.
What Ohio State couldn’t do was stem the tide of Oklahoma and Baker Mayfield in that 31-16 loss. The Sooners spread the wealth and beat the Buckeyes badly on the road.
Nine Sooners caught his passes. None had more than seven catches or 98 yards. All had at least 12 yards. One way to beat a talented defense is to make it treat every eligible receiver on the field as a legit threat.
But Ohio State would absolutely bounce back to bury Army, 38-7, and there’s something in there about how Urban Meyer teams play the service academies. My intrepid colleague Steven Godfrey believes that Meyer-coached teams respectfully beat down Army and Navy when they come across them, instead of 60-0 drubbings.
56-0 against Rutgers, 62-14 against Maryland, and 56-14 against Nebraska bring us to these last three games.
The Penn State game looked like it was on track to be a blowout, with Saquon Barkley returning the opening kick and the Nittany Lions controlling proceedings with 21-3 and 28-10 leads. Ohio State notably came back to win in the closest game of the season.
The next week was not as close. The 55-24 loss against Iowa was the worst scoring loss of Urban Meyer’s career (here’s how Iowa did it), and the Hawkeyes put some salt in the wound running this 1950s trick play.
And if you thought Ohio State wouldn’t come out with some focused reckless abandon in the game against Michigan State, you’d be mistaken.
The Buckeyes drubbed the Spartans 48-3, in a game in which OSU was favored by 16-points. They’ve more than doubled the spread, and won the way they should, by out-talenting an opponent.
The Buckeyes are the best non-Alabama recruiting team in the country, while Michigan State adds talent at a top-25 level. The 247Sports Team Talent Composite says Ohio State’s roster is the second-best in the sport, and Michigan State’s is 30th.
The demonstrative results are a big reason why advanced stats like S&P+ love the Buckeyes so much.
Despite getting their asses handed to them every now and then, the Buckeyes entered at No. 2 in the opponent-adjusted rankings. A direct cause of that is the fact that their wins are so lopsided. They dominate almost everyone.
And when they lose, they get dominated too. It’s an uneven resume, but at least it’s consistent in its own way.