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Ohio State: Snap Judgments as Buckeyes pull away, defend Big Ten crown

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Ohio State defended the Big Ten championship with and celebrated a win over Northwestern. (Birm/Lettermen Row)

Ohio State Football

Ohio State: Snap Judgments as Buckeyes pull away, defend Big Ten crown

INDIANAPOLIS — There is nothing left to do but wait for Ohio State.

The Buckeyes might not be getting any good news when the College Football Playoff field is announced, but they have some shiny consolation prizes to take back home with them from Lucas Oil Stadium.

Dwayne Haskins set more records. The defense generated turnovers. And No. 6 Ohio State defended its Big Ten crown, knocking off Northwestern 45-24 on Saturday night to cap a season that was never short on intrigue. If it feels like Ohio State didn’t fully reach its potential, there still isn’t much to complain about for the program after winning 12 games and the third conference championship under Urban Meyer.

There’s much more coverage coming from Indianapolis ahead of Selection Sunday. But Lettermen Row is kicking it all off right now with Snap Judgments about the kings of the Big Ten.

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Ohio State wide receiver Terry McLaurin after a touchdown in the Big Ten championship. (Birm/Lettermen Row)

Ohio State won a title, but it might not be enough

No outside assistance ever arrived for Ohio State, and the sting from the loss at Purdue in October might still be felt on Sunday afternoon when the College Football Playoff field is announced. There is a legitimate debate to be made that the Buckeyes deserve a shot at the national championship after just losing once and ultimately winning one of the toughest leagues in the country. But after coming into Championship Saturday trailing Oklahoma, Ohio State may have needed to play an almost perfect game to impress the committee enough to jump into a top-four position. That didn’t quite happen, which feels like kind of strange way to describe a comfortable victory over a ranked opponent for a conference title. Ordinarily that should have been plenty good enough to turn heads around the nation, but that probably won’t be the case on Sunday.

Dwayne Haskins should be heading to New York

The finishing flourish on the record-setting season authored by Dwayne Haskins should be more than enough to earn him an invitation to the Heisman Trophy ceremony. Is there too much ground to make up for the redshirt sophomore to actually be a winner? Maybe so, but what he did to lead the Buckeyes to the conference championship after carving up Michigan the week before left no doubt that he’s one of the most special performers in the country. Haskins delivered arguably his best play of the season with a ridiculous scramble to buy time and find Terry McLaurin for an early touchdown that qualifies as one of those unforgettable kinds of Heisman plays. And by the time he was done, Haskins had pushed his season total to an eye-popping 51 touchdowns accounted for in his first season as a starter.

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Ohio State quarterback Dwayne Haskins added to his record-setting season with a Big Ten title. (Birm/Lettermen Row)

Chase Young has elevated play down the stretch

Imagine what the Rushmen would have been capable of this season with Chase Young lined up on the opposite side of Nick Bosa for more than three games. The sophomore has blossomed at the end of the year into the ferocious, game-changing threat off the edge that was expected of him all along, and it’s understandable why there might have been some inconsistency with him being thrust into a more prominent role than he was originally slated for this year. Either way, Young is a handful for any blocker right now, and his sack and forced fumble in the first half provided yet another reminder that he’s going to be in line for a monster season as a junior.

Mixed bag overall for Ohio State defense

The Buckeyes again played at extremes on defense, which probably should come as no surprise given the way this season has gone for the Silver Bullets. Either Ohio State was cranking up the pressure, forcing turnovers and making life miserable for Northwestern — or it was getting gashed for big plays or flagged for costly penalties. With the Buckeyes looking to rack up style points, it was imperative for the defense to hold up its end of the deal to build a solid margin of victory. And the Buckeyes were just never consistent enough on that side of the ball.

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Why do Borland and Werner play? There is sooooo much talent behind them – Browning, Mitchell, Pope, Jones and etc.


Borland is serviceable and makes some plays, but why #20 is out there at is is truly baffling.


Austin Ward is Lettermen Row's senior writer covering Ohio State football and basketball. The award-winning journalist has covered the Buckeyes since 2012, spending five of those seasons working for ESPN after previous stints at the Casper Star-Tribune and Knoxville News Sentinel.

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