As good as Ohio State looked in Week 1, they were 180 degrees from that in Week 2. And the “days between games” excuse can only go so far, especially at home against a team that has lost 14 of its last 20 games.
Thanks in large part to a suffocating defensive effort from the Silver Bullets, top-ranked Ohio State was able to go home with a more-impressive-than-it-looked 38-0 win over Hawaii. The win marked the defending national champion’s 15th straight, the longest such streak in the country.
If the Buckeyes are once again a unanimous pick for top spot in the Associated Press poll — and that may depend on how the Oregon-Michigan State game plays out tonight — a large percentage of the credit should go to the defensive side of the ball.
One week after dropping Colorado 28-20 on the strength of Max Wittek‘s three touchdown passes, UH could manage just 165 yards and no points against the talented, swarming OSU defense. The Rainbow Warriors couldn’t crack the century mark in either rushing or passing yards, managing 80 in the former and 85 in the latter.
The Buckeyes’ defense punctuated its dominance with a fourth-quarter touchdown, a 14-yard Vonn Bell fumble return that essentially put the game out of reach, as if there was any doubt leading up to the return.
One of the few positives offensively was Ezekiel Elliott, who extended his streak of 100-plus yard rushing games (a workman-like 101 on 27 carries) to seven straight and scored three of the Buckeyes’ five touchdowns on the ground. The offense as a whole totaled 356 yards, it’s lowest output since the loss to Virginia Tech in Week 2 of last season.
Where the most angst may come for Urban Meyer and staff, and where his focus will likely be with a full week of practice, is the passing game. The old adage of “if you have two quarterbacks you don’t have any” was true for at least a week as Cardale Jones and J.T. Barrett combined for 20-of-35 passing for 181 yards, no interceptions but no touchdowns.
Neither quarterback could seem to find a rhythm, and it might be time for Meyer & Company to pick one signal-calling horse, saddle him up and ride him for the rest of the season. Both appear to be playing tentative, afraid to make a mistake that could either drop them down the depth chart or prevent them from moving up. Certainly Meyer has experience in successfully using a two-quarterback system; Chris Leak–Tim Tebow at Florida, however, was another animal entirely as each had specific roles and knew them entering each and every game.
Other than Jones is the starter, neither seems certain what his role is or should be. The good news for this situation if you’re Meyer is the Buckeyes likely won’t be tested until at least a Nov. 7 game at home against Minnesota, so there’s plenty of time to sort it out. Still, the sooner the most important position on the field is settled, the better off the team as a whole will be — especially one with back-to-back title aspirations.