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NCAA Football Big 10 FootballOhio State Buckeyes

Ohio State Has Made Great Strides

Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

Ohio State extended their winning streak to 21 games yesterday, and has outscored their last two opponents 119-14. Yes, you read that right, the Buckeyes have won their last two games by a combined 105 points. It’s absolutely fair to question how much of a challenge Penn State and Purdue offered, but it’s obvious how much Ohio State has improved over the course of this season.

The Buckeyes won their first three conference games by an average margin of just nine points, and were outplayed in the first halves of those games against Wisconsin, Northwestern and Iowa. The improvements on both sides of the ball are clearly shown by the numbers.

In their first three conference games, Ohio State allowed an average of 404 yards of offense to their opponents. The past two games, just 237 yards of total offense allowed. Through their first three Big Ten contests, the Buckeyes forced only four turnovers. Last week and yesterday, Ohio State took the ball away five times.

On offense, the improvement goes beyond the increase in points scored. Quarterback Braxton Miller‘s efficiency increasing has been a large part of the reason for that improvement. His completion percentage has gone up by 12 percent over the past two weeks. The average yards per rush last Saturday was almost twice what it was against the Badgers four weeks ago.

Special teams have also improved for Ohio State over the past two weeks. The average starting position for their opponents’ drive has retreated by 13 yards in the past two games.

This Buckeyes team is starting to turn into one reminiscient of the powerhouse program that Urban Meyer built in Florida. While they may not reach the BCS championship game this year, it would be hard to keep them out of the playoff next year if they continue to play at this level.

Derek Helling is a writer for Rantsports.com. Follow him on Twitter, “like” him on Facebook and add him on Google+. Read more here