It’s Michigan week at last, with two proud rivals hobbling towards each other for a monster showdown.
Will Blake Corum play? Will Miyan Williams? Will TreVeyon Henderson or Matthew Jones? Will CJ Stroud be able to walk on Sunday after being beaten up for the first time all season?
Get ready for an interesting week.
Here are five things we learned from Saturday’s game:
Dallan Hayden’s ball security should be emphasized
Freshman running back Dallan Hayden was the hero of Saturday’s 43-30 win over Maryland. Pushed back into duty by injuries to Williams and Henderson, Hayden rushed for 146 yards and three touchdowns. But what is remarkable is what he has not done in the last few weeks in the emergency service: He has not fumbled.
A year ago, he was beaten by high school kids. Now he’s getting pounded by men trained to slap and strip. Still, Hayden was trusted to hold the game in his arms on Saturday and he excelled.
Part of his success is actually hitting the holes and running forward. Henderson and Williams too often like to run sideways and seek the home run. Hayden stays with himself and takes the yards that are there. He doesn’t seem overly hungry for the highlight game, and the result is that he’s moving the chains.
A year later, the hardship declaration was not made on the offensive
It was the story of the season for the Buckeyes. After Michigan defeated OSU 42-27 last year, the Wolverines loudly claimed that Ohio State was a soft “finesse” team with an airstrike that didn’t carry over to the Big Ten in November.
The Buckeyes vowed to prove that wasn’t the case.
How was OSU’s offense rated?Bottom Line: How Did the Buckeyes Compare to Maryland? How was OSU’s offense rated?
Well, short-distance running has been a problem for the Buckeyes this year. And on Saturday, the Terps led 33-30 with 6:36 to play and the season may be on the line with a fourth and 1 at the Maryland 42, and Hayden ran for 5.4 yards per carry that the Buckeyes…passed. With a quarterback that’s limping badly.
Stroud was flushed out of the pocket and hobbled to the left, throwing incomplete. It seemed like a good time to flex some muscles against another finesse team.
Ohio State won’t just let TreVeyon Henderson heal
The Buckeyes are limping into the Michigan game in part because key players are suffering sustained setbacks from injuries. It seems that Jaxon Smith-Njigba came back too early and reinjured his hamstring at least once.
Henderson has shown few flashes of greatness or even kindness this year, repeatedly wincing and limping off various fields. Since Ohio State doesn’t even list which body parts its players injured, it’s a good guess that Henderson has a foot injury because he frequently wears a shoe, including in Saturday’s second half. It’s also a good guess that Henderson tells the coaches he’s feeling good, only to find out after just a game or two that he’s extremely limited and basically ineffective.
If Michigan has always been the focus and Hayden has proven reliable, it makes sense to keep Henderson on the shelf and healing as much as possible so he can be unleashed in Game of the Year.
On Saturday, after the opening drive, it was clear that Henderson was in pain. But the Buckeyes kept sending him there. His day ended with 19 yards on 11 painful carries — that’s 1.7 yards per carry — and he likely won’t be available next week.
Emeka Egbuka becomes a third down wonder
With Jaxon Smith-Njigba off the radar and unlikely to play for the Buckeyes again, Marvin Harrison has been grabbing all the national headlines. And he’s sensational and will be a star in the NFL in a few years.
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But Saturday might have been a different story had it not been for Emeka Egbuka’s clutch catches. Egbuka finished with six catches on 11 goals for 82 yards that led the team, numbers that don’t pop off the stat sheet. (Harrison had five catches on 10 targets for 68 yards). But four of Egbuka’s receptions came in third, a big deal when you’re facing an offense that clicked like Maryland’s.
Zach Harrison steps forward
Zach Harrison was once the indispensable defensive end. The next Bosa or Chase Young. But even though he was good, he wasn’t like those guys.
On Saturday, with Maryland on the last ball and trailing 36-30, red-hot quarterback Taulia Tagovailoa started possession at the Terps 16-yard line with 36 seconds left. But all Maryland hopes were buried by Harrison.
On the first down, Harrison sacked Tagovailoa for a 7-yard loss. In the next game, he hit Tagovailoa again, this time forcing the ball to bounce from the quarterback’s hands into the arms of linebacker Steele Chambers, who went in a yard for the final score.
Harrison was a hero in a big moment.