Win or lose, every week there are a handful of Ohio State players who stood out above the rest.
Following the tradition of the helmet stickers that dates back to the days of Woody Hayes, Lettermen Row shares out our version of the award every week after the game for the best performers on offense, defense and special teams for the Buckeyes.
COLUMBUS — Justin Fields didn’t have the best day of his Ohio State career.
The Buckeyes were struggling in the pass game; Fields threw three interceptions for the first time in his college career. So, the Buckeyes needed an offensive spark — and Master Teague delivered that in the run game.
Teague sliced through the Indiana front for four quarters, ending Ohio State’s thrilling, down-to-the-wire 42-35 win with a career-high 26 carries, 169 rushing yards and two touchdowns, picking up huge gains while the Buckeyes failed to protect in the pass game.
“I think I did get into a good groove today,” Teague said. “However that would’ve looked like, I feel like I would have still produced. But, yeah, overall, I feel like I got in a good groove. I was able to make plays and help the team win, come to a victory. So I feel good about that.”
While Garrett Wilson and Chris Olave still topped 100 yards receiving, the Buckeyes offensive line had trouble blocking the Indiana front that brought pressure from every angle and gap. The remedy? Running the football. The Buckeyes powered over Indiana on the ground with 307 yards rushing as a team. Trey Sermon also had successful runs, and Fields used his legs effectively to complement the attack as well.
And Teague, who ran with power on his way to the best day of his career with two runs of more than 30 yards, was the catalyst of the Ohio State offense when it needed a dominant run-game — and dominant running back — the most.
“When I’m not picking up the offense, other players have to pick me up,” Fields said. “I think Master, Trey and those other running backs did a great job out there. They were just running north and south and being physical with the other team. They helped me out a lot, and they helped the team out a lot. I’m proud of those guys.”
Teague was one of the heroes for the Buckeyes offense throughout the survive-and-advance win over the Hoosiers on Saturday. But he isn’t the only Buckeyes star who propelled the Buckeyes to another win in their undefeated season. Lettermen Row is bringing back Buckeye Leaves for the win over the Hoosiers. And Teague certainly earned his.
RB Master Teague
When Ohio State needed a bell-cow running back, Teague was the answer, topping his previous career high for the best output of the season in his time with the Buckeyes. Justin Fields isn’t going to throw three interceptions and be off his game very often like he was against Indiana. But when he is, Teague can be a powerful and productive option. The redshirt sophomore tailback took control of the starting job Saturday with his best performance. And maybe the Buckeyes have figured out the woes they seemed to have in the run game in the first month of the season.
CB Shaun Wade
With a shaky offense and a defense that was giving up big plays in the secondary, Ohio State needed a play in the third quarter. And the most important player to return for another season, Shaun Wade, came through. Ohio State was up 14, but Indiana had the ball and the momentum. Wade stole it back for the Buckeyes, picking off a Michael Penix Jr. pass on the sideline for a pick-six, upping the Buckeyes lead back to three scores and putting the No. 9 Hoosiers against the ropes. Wade has struggled at times early this season, but when the Buckeyes needed a big play the most, the projected first-round cornerback made the biggest play of the season. And that score proved to be the difference in the game.
KOR Demario McCall
It’s not often a Buckeye Leaf goes to a player who had his best play called back due to a penalty. But the Buckeyes had the good version of Demario McCall in the return game against the Hoosiers. After an Indiana touchdown cut the Buckeyes lead to just 14 points, McCall fielded a kickoff and showed his explosiveness, returning the kick to near midfield, setting the Buckeyes up for what seemed to be good field position. The return was ultimately called back due to a penalty, but McCall offered another reminded of how speedy he can be in the return game with a glimpse of explosiveness.