Tuesday, October 12, 2010
Midseason review: Ohio State
By ESPN.com staff
Ohio State Buckeyes
Record: 6-0 (2-0 Big Ten)
Ohio State entered the season as a bona fide national championship contender, and the Buckeyes are halfway to their Glendale goal. Six double-digit victories propelled Jim Tressel's crew to the No. 1 ranking in both polls Sunday, a label the Buckeyes hope to keep in what will be a tougher second half of the season. Ohio State has surged behind an opportunistic defense (17 takeaways, third nationally) and junior quarterback Terrelle Pryor, who has met and arguably exceeded expectations through the first six games. All of Pryor's passing numbers are way up from 2009, and while he remains a threat to run, he hasn't had to take off nearly as much this season. Receiver Dane Sanzenbacher is having an All-Big Ten type season, and DeVier Posey isn't far behind. The improved pass game has been vital because Ohio State still lacks consistent production from its running backs, a big key going forward. The defense has been a little banged up -- the season-ending loss of safety/linebacker Tyler Moeller (chest) really stings -- but boasts enough depth and enough playmakers to make life miserable for most opponents. Ohio State will be tested on the road with upcoming trips Saturday to No. 18 Wisconsin and Nov. 20 to No. 15 Iowa. While the Buckeyes looked shaky in their only game away from Columbus -- a 24-13 win at Illinois -- their recent Big Ten road record under Tressel speaks for itself.
Offensive MVP, QB Terrelle Pryor: He'll always be a victim of his recruiting hype, but Pryor has delivered in a big way for Ohio State in the first half. The junior ranks sixth nationally in pass efficiency (170.5 rating) and 23rd in total offense (283.8 ypg), and while he hasn't run the ball as much, he remains very dangerous, rushing for 354 yards and three touchdowns on 57 carries (6.2 ypc). Pryor has played through some pain and deserves to be in the Heisman mix. Sanzenbacher also merits a mention after recording a league-leading seven touchdown grabs.
Defensive MVP, LB Ross Homan: One of the nation's most underrated defenders, Homan does so many things to help his team win games. He leads the Buckeyes with 37 tackles and boasts a sack, an interception, a forced fumble, a fumble recovery and three pass breakups, including a deflection against Indiana that fellow linebacker Brian Rolle intercepted. Rolle, Moeller, cornerback Chimdi Chekwa and defensive lineman Cameron Heyward also have been big for the defense.