The nationally televised 34-24 beat down handed to the Ohio State Buckeyes by the Michigan St. Spartans in The Big Ten championship was a disappointment, but it wasn’t surprising. If fans are honest with themselves all the signs were there that the team was leaning on the offensive punch of quarterback Braxton Miller and halfback Carlos Hyde instead of a defense that was helpless against the pass.
It cost the nation’s Number Two team a shot at Florida State in what will be the last BCS championship, but as lousy as their defense is, it might have been a stroke of good fortune for the Bucks to be consigned to the Orange Bowl instead.
The Buckeyes entered the game with the 101st ranked pass defense among 125 college teams. Against the mighty Buckeyes Cal lit up the “D” for 371 yards, Northwestern for 343, Indiana for 320, Wisconsin for 295 and Illinois for 288.
That is not a formula for national championship success (and it wasn’t).
Michigan roasted the Buckeyes secondary for 451 passing yards as the Number two team in the nation needed a rare defensive stop in the end zone on a two-point conversion to eke out a win over their most hated rival. OSU defenders had a good look at the backs of the Wolverines players all day as that school up north hung 600 yards on what is laughingly called “the Buckeyes defense.”
When asked about the meltdown defensive coordinator Luke Fickell answered the questioner with a question of his own?
“Did we win? Did we win?”
“I’ve been up there quite a few times in my 18-year career here and not come away with a win. We know there are things we’ve got to correct. Momentum and things happen, and we didn’t play great on the defensive side of the ball, so there’s a lot of things to correct. But every single week, we have objectives, and the last objective last week was win. And you know what? We came away with a win; we made a play when we had to make a play.”
They didn’t make too many plays against the Spartans.
It is time for OSU to stop issuing checks to the account of Coach Fickell. His defense has been putrid all season long. Illinois exposed how easy it was to throw on the Buckeyes and Michigan and Michigan State learned the lesson well. Any team with a mediocre QB could shred that pass defense.
The Buckeyes defense has been offensive. Illinois exposed it, Michigan shredded it, Michigan St. beat it.
“[I’m] Disappointed with our pass defense,” said OSU head coach Urban Meyer. “We have to get this fixed. We’re going to get back to work.”
There aren’t many quick fixes available to Meyer. Unlike the NFL, there’s no free agency, drafts or trades available to improve the Buckeyes’ defense. Mayer will have to recruit some headhunters for his secondary, but will still need more pressure from the front seven to do any good.
The quicker fix would be to tell Fickel to hit the bricks and replace him. That’s a sentiment I doubt I’m alone in the Buckeye Nation thinking would be a good first step.
- Disappointing End To The Ohio State Buckeyes Season (hearemrantoft.wordpress.com)
- FLOP: Bucks implode in Indy (clevelandsportschat.com)
- O-H N-O, Buckeyes Fall in Indy (cleveland.cbslocal.com)