Tuesday, October 20, 2009
Midseason review: Ohio State
Posted by ESPN.com's Adam Rittenberg
Ohio State Buckeyes
Record: 5-2 (3-1 Big Ten)
After being top dog in the Big Ten for most of the decade, Ohio State has some work left to maintain its title as the league's premier program. The Buckeyes have spent the first half riding a dominant defense and winning games in spite of an offense that lacks a true identity. The formula worked decently until Saturday's trip to Purdue, where Ohio State coughed up the ball five times and lost to a 1-5 Boilermakers squad. Ohio State hoped Terrelle Pryor's progress at quarterback could offset the losses at both running back and wide receiver, but Pryor has seen his turnovers total increase with added responsibility. The run game has been average, and aside from the big play, the offense lacks a staple. The defense, meanwhile, has been nothing short of brilliant, especially the front seven. Linebackers Brian Rolle and Ross Homan have emerged, and linemen Cameron Heyward and Thad Gibson are consistently disruptive. Safety Kurt Coleman has improved his draft stock with a tremendous senior season. The national title is off the table for Ohio State, and the Buckeyes must win out to continue their streak of winning or sharing the Big Ten crown.
Offensive MVP, WR Dane Sanzenbacher -- Ohio State's offensive production consists almost entirely of big plays, and Sanzenbacher has been the primary beneficiary. The fearless junior averages 20.4 yards per reception and has scored four touchdowns, including a 76-yarder. An honorable mention goes to wide receiver DeVier Posey.
Defensive MVP, S Kurt Coleman -- There are many more candidates on this side of the ball, and Coleman tops the list with a superb first half. He has recorded a team-high three forced fumbles and two interceptions, returning one for a touchdown against Wisconsin. Coleman also has a sack and a fumble recovery. Honorable mentions go to Rolle, Homan, Heyward, Gibson and safety Jermale Hines.