COLUMBUS — The warning signs have been there all along, but Ohio State now has a full-blown disaster on its hands defensively.
If the season ended right now, these Buckeyes would easily go down as the worst unit since Urban Meyer took over the program in terms of yardage allowed, giving up more than 390 per game after the fourth-quarter meltdown at Purdue. Ohio State has been gashed for explosive plays dating back to the season opener, it has seen its pass rush disappear and the breakdowns in the secondary can no longer just be chalked up to inexperience.
To be fair, there were signs of life during the first three quarters in the upset loss to the Boilermakers, and the Silver Bullets had largely done enough to put the offense in position to grab a lead and potentially keep the unbeaten record intact. But those numbers on the scoreboard at the end of the game are forever down in the record book now, and maybe 49-20 will serve as a wakeup call that something clearly needs to be changed during the off date if Ohio State is going to right the ship and win the Big Ten.
“I really don’t have any explanation,” Ohio State safety Jordan Fuller said. “I mean, we just definitely have to evaluate, watch film on it. … We kept shooting ourselves in the foot.
“I think every week we have just focused on getting better and focused on doing our jobs. We never go into a game thinking, ‘Oh shoot, we might lose this one.’ To uphold the standard at Ohio State, all those big plays aren’t what we want at all. That’s definitely been the message, but we just couldn’t get it done tonight.”
For the first time, those shortcomings actually cost the Buckeyes a victory. And in the process, it leaves Ohio State without any margin for error as it tries to defend the Big Ten championship and potentially get back to the College Football Playoff.
Can the Buckeyes get it corrected? What exactly are those issues plaguing the defense? Former Ohio State linebacker Zach Boren returned to the Lettermen Row film lab to analyze it all in the latest episode of BuckIQ.
Roll the tape!
Lettermen Row senior writer Austin Ward contributed the editorial content for this post.