Football

Ohio State Offense Is Best Thing Going In College Football

One of the great things about sports is seeing something special — and knowing it is special while you are watching it.

Right now, what the Ohio State offense is doing is special and you need to know it.

Have the Buckeyes been doing it against the nation’s best defenses? No, but how many great defenses are there in college football today? And will those best defenses be able to stop this offense should they ever find themselves on the same field?

I’ll believe it when I see it.

What I believe right now is that Ohio State has the best offense in the nation and whoever is No. 2 may not be on the same page of the stat book.

The Buckeyes are leading the nation in scoring at 49.3 points per game. Alabama is second at 45.9 points per game.

Ohio State has scored 46 touchdowns through seven games this season, which is already two more than they scored last year in eight games.

Those 46 touchdowns are more than the 2009 and 2011 OSU teams scored.

The Buckeyes are leading the Power Five in yards per play (8.44) and are over 2 yards better than any other Power Five team. Baylor is second in that category, but they are closer to the 49th-best yard-per-play offense overall than they are OSU.

Against conference opponents, the Buckeyes actually increase their average to 8.62 yards per play.

That means on average the Ohio State offense is left with a second-and-one on every other play. They have only had 78 third-down situations this season. Only Kansas State has fewer (76) in the Power Five. Of course, those two teams have had their numbers for very different reasons. For the Buckeyes, it’s because they average 9 yards per freaking play! For Kansas State, it’s because they have one of the worst offenses in the country and don’t convert enough first downs to have that many third-down situations.

The Buckeyes lead the nation with 559.3 yards of total offense per game. They are sixth in passing yards per game (352.1) and 25th in rushing yards per game (207.1).

Don’t be deceived by the enormity of those passing yards, however, because the Buckeyes can run the ball when they want to.

Ohio State is second nationally in yards per carry (6.2), behind Florida’s 6.3 yards per carry. Twenty-one percent of the Buckeyes’ rushes go for at least 10 yards. That’s a full percentage point better than the Gators and way better than Alabama’s 14.7%.

So Ohio State may not have the most prolific running game in the nation, but that doesn’t mean they don’t have the best.

Freshman running back TreVeyon Henderson is arguably already the most dynamic back in the country, even though he has carried the ball just 78 times so far this season. He is averaging 8.8 yards per carry and is sixth in the nation with 11 touchdown rushes.

Maybe the most amazing part of his numbers is that he’s doing all of this while essentially getting shut down in the fourth quarter by Ohio State head coach Ryan Day. Henderson has just six carries in the fourth quarter this year because Day doesn’t want to risk any unnecessary injury. That’s how valuable Henderson. He gives the Buckeyes an advantage that no other team nationally has. There is nobody else like him and right now he is being protected.

Eventually, however, it will be the opposing defenses who need to be protected.

Of course, I keep saying eventually with this offense because at some point there is going to be a close game and Henderson will be on the field for 35 carries in a must-win situation. The irony to that, however, is that it would actually require teams to stop him a bit for him to really take over a game.

And yet, with this offense, the Buckeyes may just prefer to close out a close game by throwing the ball.

Quarterback CJ Stroud is second nationally in pass efficiency (192.79) and second in yards per attempt (10.6). He is completing 67.6% of his passes, and that number goes up to 70.8% in conference play. Stroud has thrown 14 touchdowns and zero interceptions in his last three games. He is dropping dimes like the football field is his own personal wishing well.

He has the best trio of receivers in the nation, and some young guys just itching to take part in all the fun.

Receivers Chris Olave, Garrett Wilson, and Jaxon Smith-Njigba are all on pace to post 1,000-yard seasons this year, which is something that few schools have ever done. And even if a defense can slow those guys down a bit, there does always seem to be an open Jeremy Ruckert to throw to. He has 10 receptions in his last three games.

All of this is made possible by an offensive line that can mix and match on a whim and then dominate with whatever whim has taken hold.

No matter what a defense wants to take away from the Buckeyes, the Buckeyes will have more cards up their sleeves. They will also have more sleeves with more cards.

Ohio State’s offense has answers for everything. You may as well call them Google.

Defenses can type whatever they want into their browsers, but when they hit enter, they’re going to end up with a bunch of 404 errors.

There are no sure things this year in college football, but the Ohio State offense is as close as anybody is getting.