Damn – I miss these guys this week. (AP Photo/Paul Battaglia)
As much as I love Buckeye football, this bye week does have a level of blissful relief while the fan base can catch their breath and all of the players can get a chance to heal up – even if it is only slightly – to be rested and ready for the final three games. The plague of injuries, especially affecting a secondary that was already thin to begin with to start the season has been very usual. Even a couple years ago when Beanie went down it was still only one player, this year has been something completely different. Consider this – we have lost Barnett, Moeller, Bryant, Evege for all or part of the season. Torrance limps from time to time as he plays with a pain in his hip, Howard has sat out after being dinged, Homan has missed two and a half games, Shugarts plays with a bum ankle, TP had a bum quad that slowed him down for a couple weeks and when Rolle was helped off the field against Minnesota I really think I shit myself a little – I mean seriously WTF? Cannot say enough about how timely this bye week is for the health of our players. Which is why it seemed so weird for Tressel to say he would rather play this week and have Thanksgiving weekend off.
As for the Minnesota game – Gopher stew it was as the Buckeyes rolled the coachless Minnesota team 52-10. Other than about seven pass plays and a couple runs in the first quarter the Minnesota offense was shut down. It was nerve wrecking as hell though to watch Weber pick us apart deep over the middle. This has to be tightened up before Iowa – Stanzi can make those throws too and has better weapons on the outside. As we found out against the Gophers it really comes down to being able to get pressure on the QB to help our secondary out. Once the front four started getting to Weber the offense went nowhere and we even ended up getting some turnovers out of Weber’s bad decisions.
Also some special mention should go to special teams for blocking a punt and scoring, however the special goes away when you think about Barclay missing the chip shot off the upright.
The offense basically blew up again. Boom got his first hundred yard game (hard to believe) which is awesome. He has really shown up the past few weeks – he has been able to run down hill and see the creases much more effectively than before and still finishes off runs well. The offensive line, especially Boren and Adams, have fed off his success. I know it was only Minnesota, but it looks like we got a running game now. Pryor played an amazing game save for a brain fart interception. That was the only blemish on a night when he went 18/22 for 222 and 2 TDs through the air and gashed the Minnesota defense on a couple occasions for 55 yards and a score (on a sneak) while showing off running skills that looked much more like the TP we know. The quad looks to be better and another week off can just make it all the better. Posey also got back on track with a 6 catches for 115 yards and a TD on the night. The TD being late in the first half 38 yard TD strike from Pryor was a thing of beauty.
The most interesting aspect of the offensive performance though was the balance. An incredible breakdown was done in the Along the Olentangy blog – which fully illustrates how well the offensive scheme was for what the Gopher defense was doing. It is extremely encouraging that the offense is clicking on all cylinders going into the final stretch. Even if it was against a 1-7 Minnesota team.
This week in the conference is pretty lame with Sparty playing the Gopher team we just spanked, Iowa taking on the Hoosiers and the Badgers playing Purdue. Lame. So really other than planning for a Penn State team that we should easily handle the only other thing to prognosticate about is how the whole thing plays out at the end of the year. As much as I want the Buckeyes to go the Rose Bowl I just don’t see it happening. I don’t see Wisconsin losing again with Indiana, TSUN and Northwestern to close out the season. And with Da U going down in flames this year our BCS ranking won’t climb much further even with a win against the Hawkeyes regardless of style points. So I have made my peace with a shared conference championship (we will beat Iowa) and a BCS Bowl bid. I am thinking we are Nawlins bound and will take on an SEC team. This year we get that monkey off our back.
This week was nice, but watching the Buckeyes next week will be better.