COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) — Before Ohio State’s game against Western Kentucky, coach Ryan Day said at Skull Session the Buckeyes were going to “turn everything up.” They did exactly that against the Hilltoppers, winning 63-10.
Kyle McCord showed he is in fact the right man for the quarterback job, the Buckeyes’ defense rose to the challenge against Western Kentucky’s aerial attack, and OSU’s ground game showed its potential. Below is more on the three takeaways from the Buckeyes’ win.
Kyle McCord strikes the right chord
In his third game as Ohio State’s starting quarterback this season, Kyle McCord proved he has what it takes to lead the offense. In the first half alone, McCord went 13-of-15 for 271 yards and three touchdowns. He finished 19-of-23 for 318 yards.
His most impressive throw came on a 75-yard touchdown to Marvin Harrison Jr. one play after Western Kentucky made it a one-score game at 14-10. The best part about the throw was that went 50 yards in the air and in stride to Harrison, who finished with five catches for 126 yards and one touchdown.
An underrated throw by McCord came just before halftime. Western Kentucky blitzed its high safety, McCord recognized it and threw a 40-yard completion to tight end Cade Stover who was left open because of the blitz. Stover had five catches for 90 yards.
Perhaps the most important moment for McCord came after he turned the ball over on OSU’s second drive. McCord took too long to throw and was strip sacked by the Hilltoppers who recovered the ball. McCord responded by leading the Buckeyes on five-straight touchdown drives.
Buckeyes’ defense stifles the Hilltoppers
Ironically, the Hilltoppers are known for taking the top off of defenses by throwing early and often. Entering the game, Western Kentucky ranked fifth in the country in pass attempts per game and 12th in passing yards per game.
The Buckeyes’ defensive line and secondary worked in unison to contain WKU’s aerial attack. Austin Reed completed 21 passes on 37 attempts for 207 yards, nearly 100 yards less than his average through two weeks. Western Kentucky also only averaged 5.4 yards per pass, well below their season average of 10.7 yards.
Denzel Burke had several pass breakups and forced a fumble that resulted in a touchdown as he continued his red-hot junior year. Meanwhile, Steele Chambers had an interception, Jordan Hancock remedied two coverage mistakes by forcing a fumble, and Josh Proctor returned by breaking up a long third-down pass on the Hilltoppers’ first drive and made several plays in run coverage.
Ohio State establishes the run
Going into this game, OSU had yet to dominate in the run game. The Buckeyes changed that against Western Kentucky, rushing for a season-high 204 yards on 6.2 yards per carry, much better than their 4.6 yards per rush and 133 yards per game average through the first two games.
TreVeyon Henderson had his best game of the season with 88 yards on 13 carries and two touchdowns, including a 21-yard score on the first drive of the game. Chip Trayanum also added a 40-yard touchdown in the win. OSU’s ability to win at the line of scrimmage will be an emphasis against No. 9 Notre Dame in South Bend next week.
Most importantly, the offensive line put together its most complete game protecting McCord, opening up the run game and not committing any costly penalties.