The Ohio State Buckeyes are on their way to the Big Ten Championship Game with a perfect 12-0 record, but Ohio State is far from untouchable. Their defense has weaknesses that teams can take advantage of with proper execution and personnel.
Yesterday, the Michigan Wolverines fell one incomplete pass short of scoring 43 points on the Buckeyes and ending their perfect season. Those points were the fruit of 603 yards of total offense allowed by Ohio State. Devin Gardner threw for 451 yards and four touchdowns against the Buckeyes, exposing liabilities in the secondary and the a lack of an adequate pass rush by Ohio State.
The Buckeyes are now ranked 98th in the country against the pass, allowing an average of 255.8 yards per game. The problem is complicated. Ohio State lacks an adequate pass rush, struggles in man-to-man and has issues with zone integrity. Ohio State’s only real defense against the passing game of opponents this season has been running the ball on offense and keeping the opposing offense on the sideline.
Ohio State may be able to play keep-away long enough not to expose its pass defense in the Big Ten Championship Game against the Michigan State Spartans‘ limited passing game, but it may get dicey from that point going forward. A Rose Bowl or BCS Championship Game could present a much more formidable passing attack that the Buckeyes would be challenged with. Many of Ohio State’s potential opponents in either are ranked in the top-20 in the country in passing yards.
Stopping the passing game has become the Achilles’ heel for the Buckeyes. Whether an opponent will be able to take advantage of that remains to be seen.