Ohio State grade card: Offense rolls, defense regroups


By Jim Naveau - jnaveau@limanews.com



A grade card on Ohio State’s performance in the Rose Bowl, which became record setting, highly entertaining and memorable after a shaky first half:

OFFENSE: A+

How many college football teams could play without its two NFL first-round level wide receivers and its starting left tackle, who also is predicted to be an early round draft choice, and score 48 points and gain 683 yards?

C.J. Stroud passed for an Ohio State-record 573 yards and tied a school record with six touchdown passes. Jaxon Smith-Njigba caught 15 passes for 347 yards and three touchdowns. He finished the season with 95 catches for 1,606 yards, both Ohio State records. His 15 catches tied his own school record and his 347 yards is the most ever by a major college player in a bowl game. Marvin Harrison Jr. caught three touchdown passes.

The offensive line did not allow a sack and Utah had only one tackle for a loss. The running game averaged 5.5 yards per carry on only 20 carries. A 13-yard run by TreVeyon Henderson was OSU’s longest.

DEFENSE: C

After giving up 35 points and 324 yards in the first half, Ohio State bounced back to allow only 10 points and 139 yards in the second half as it went from trailing 35-21 at halftime to a 48-45 win.

Linebacker Tommy Eichenberg picked a good time to have his career-best game with 17 tackles with Cody Simon, the No. 2 tackler for OSU this season, out of action because of an undisclosed injury. The Buckeyes were so thin at linebacker they moved back-up tight end Cade Stover there and he had six tackles. OSU’s only sack came from Kourt Williams, a defensive back. But there was no repeat of the Michigan game where Ohio State’s defensive line was outplayed by the Wolverines’ offensive line.

SPECIAL TEAMS: B

Noah Ruggles was 2 for 2 on field goals, including the game winner, but the kickoff team allowed a 97-yard return for a touchdown.

OVERALL: B+

The offense looks ready to rock again next year. The defense needs to press the reset button and hold it down all winter, spring and summer.

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By Jim Naveau

jnaveau@limanews.com