Hey there Buckeye faithful.  I’m back with another installment of winning performances.  For those who missed it last week, a “winning performance” is a measurable that I believe will lead to a Buckeyes win this week and toward future wins.

1.     Return of Hall, Williams

Jordan Hall is set to return to action this week and his return could not have come at a better time for the Buckeyes as they will be without Carlos Hyde.  How much of a load Hall can handle is yet to be determined, but his return should give the Buckeyes a change of pace to the other bigger backs on the roster.  Having your top playmaker back is never a bad thing.  With his workload in question, it is hard to put a number to a measurable winning performance, so I’m going to set a winning performance from Hall as 12 touches.

Also, expected to return to action this week is Nate Williams.  Williams played more in the opener than was expected and his resulting soreness delayed his return to action.  In his only game, Williams just missed on a sack against Miami, so a winning performance by Williams would be at least one sack and two TFLs this week.

2.     1st Down Conversion on Short Yardage

In the first two weeks, the Buckeyes offense has had difficulty converting short yardage situations into first downs.  Against Miami, Carlos Hyde was stuffed on a touchdown run from the one yard line and last week the Buckeyes missed on two other short yardage tries against UCF.  However, Urban said the gameplan adapted and, on the third short yardage try last week, the power off tackle to the right side was changed to an inside zone, which was successful.

The Buckeyes offensive line needs to improve as Cal and UAB are the only opponents left before the Buckeyes head up to East Lansing to face what some consider the best defensive line in the Big Ten.  Quite simply, when the Buckeyes need one yard, there cannot be any question in their ability to impose their will and pick it up.  While I am optimistic when I hope that a fourth and short situation does not present itself, I am looking for the Buckeyes to convert any and all of those opportunities that occur this week.  Winning football teams get the needed yard and it is demoralizing to the other team – that is what the Buckeyes need to become.

3.     100 Yards Receiving, 80 Yards Rushing by RB

Last week I set my winning performances for any player who finished the game with 100 yards receiving or any running back who ran for 100 yards.  And Braxton added another Buckeye leaf or two as he made UCF look “very foolish.”  Miller aside, none of the Buckeyes came close to meeting either of my winning performance marks as Devin Smith led all receivers with 57 receiving yards and Philly Brown totaled 33 rushing yards, which was the most behind Braxton.  Following Philly, Dunn led the running backs with 29 yards.

Despite the lack of production aside from Braxton, there is reason to be optimistic that a Buckeyes receiver will gain 100 yards receiving this week as, through two games, including the likes of Nevada Wolf Pack and Southern Utah Thunderbirds, the Bears passing defense has allowed a 72.73% passing completion average, 522 total passing yards, and four total passing TDs.  So again, a winning performance is any player who is able to gain 100 yards receiving.

This week, the running game is likely to feature a multifaceted attack with carries spread between Hall, Dunn, Smith, Boren, Miller, and Philly, so gaining 100 yards by any one running back may be difficult.  With my expectation that the number of opportunities will be numbered, any Buckeyes running back to gain over 80 yards on the ground will be a winning performance.

4.     Mistake free

Last week’s offense included a number of miscues by Buckeyes offensive lineman, wide receivers, and running backs, leaving Braxton with no other option than to pick up the slack and take off for whatever yards he could gain.  Although the plays were not nearly as bad as they could have been because of Braxton’s athleticism, the offense looked sloppy and the mistakes will yield worse results against better competition.

Adding to the broken plays, the Buckeyes had 10 penalties for 79 yards, two fumbles, and one interception at home in a stadium that was so quiet that when the Buckeyes offense was on the field, Braxton’s clapping for the snap count could be easily heard.  The environment won’t get friendlier and the mistakes need to be eliminated.

It goes without saying, but given the Buckeyes performance it must be said, that the goal is to not have any turnovers in the game, but I’m also hoping that the Buckeyes offense will look more polished eliminating penalties (although I think 3 penalties is more reasonable).

5.     Roby v. Allen

One of the biggest on the field matchups to watch this Saturday is shutdown corner Bradley Roby v. Cal receiver Keenan Allen.  Allen ranked 10th in FBS last year in receiving yards per game and Roby will have his hands full as Cal will undoubtedly test Ohio State’s 96th ranked pass defense which is currently allowing 281 yard per game.  A winning performance by Roby will be to hold Allen under 50 yards receiving.   For the Buckeyes secondary, a winning performance will be to hold Cal under 200 yards passing.

6.     Pressure and Disruption

For all of the hype for our defensive line coming into the season, it is among the least productive.  Currently we are 77th in sacks with three through two games and 119th out of 120 in tackles for loss with a measly five.

Plain and simple … if the sacks and tackles for loss are not doubled by the end of the game, then it is not a winning performance by the Buckeyes.

7.     Atonement for the Big Ten against the Pac 12

Last week was a rough one for the Big Ten, including losses by Nebraska, Wisconsin, and Illinois to Pac 12 squads.  As it often falls on the Buckeyes shoulders, we have an opportunity to save face for the league.  A loss would be catastrophic.

What would grade out as a winning performance for you?

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