COLUMBUS — Ryan Day is going to put points on the board for Ohio State, there’s no doubt about that.
The first-year Buckeyes coach has proven his creativity as a play-caller, he’s got a core identity that delivers results and he’s got far too much talent on hand to imagine his attack truly sputtering.
But just in case it does, it certainly helps the nation’s top-ranked team to have a defense that can carry its share of the load when necessary. And it’s the combination of a dynamic offense with a shutdown defense that has fueled the unbeaten run to the Big Ten championship game for the Buckeyes, with Day consistently pointing to the balance and its importance to winning titles.
“I think it’s important when you start playing in games like this to play complementary football,” Day said. “I think if you look back at this game, there were times where early on they were moving the ball on us pretty good, but we were going shot for shot. They held them to a field goal, they got a turnover in the red zone, we’re scoring. Then we go up a couple scores. They have to start throwing it more. Now it’s advantage us.
“There wasn’t the 50-50 mix. I think when you play complementary football like that, it really helps. If you’re dominant on one side of the ball, you set yourself up for getting beat if you’re not on both sides of the ball. If you want to make a run at this thing, you have to be great. That’s the focus.”
It’s hard to produce better results than leading the country in scoring and ranking fourth in fewest points allowed — and it’s the latter that has made the difference for the Buckeyes after tripping up in games over the last couple years and finishing last season with the worst statistical defense in school history.
For Ohio State as a whole, it’s been a complete-team effort. And within the defense, it’s been hard to ignore the fact that everybody on the field appears to have bought into the rebuilding effort as the Buckeyes consistently get contributions from jus about every player who takes a snap.
The Buckeyes could win shootouts if forced to do so. They’re also tough enough to win defensive slugfests. But that elite ability on both sides of the football is exactly what has produced so many blowout victories already this season — and Ohio State isn’t done yet.
What has been the most impressive part of the defensive effort for Ohio State? How many more guys can find ways to contribute for the Buckeyes? Where will the key areas be on Saturday night in the Big Ten title game? Former Ohio State linebacker Zach Boren was back in the Lettermen Row film lab breaking that all down and answering those questions in the latest episode of BuckIQ.
Roll the tape!
Lettermen Row senior writer Austin Ward contributed the editorial content for this post.