COLUMBUS, Ohio — For all its emphasis on speed and getting out of the blocks quickly, the Ohio State offense isn’t running a track meet. If the Buckeyes burst ahead early and grab a comfortable lead, they don’t have to keep up the same pace all the way to the finish line. The point isn’t to try to set a world record, it’s to make sure they simply do what it takes to win a head-to-head showdown on Saturdays.
+ EnlargeGreg Bartram/USA TODAY SportsAs long as the Buckeyes are winning, the scoring disparity between the first and fourth quarters this season doesn’t worry Urban Meyer, Braxton Miller and Co.So, while the coaches are aware of the scoring disparity between what the No. 4 Buckeyes have posted in the first quarters of games this season compared to the fourth and have taken note, it’s certainly not something that is causing them to lose any sleep as they plan for another fast start on Saturday at No. 16 Northwestern. “When you have a 17-point lead in the fourth quarter, the way you approach how you’re going to call the game changes significantly,” offensive coordinator Tom Herman said. “I think any football coach up here, at least I would hope so, would tell you the same. Do the fans want to see everything they saw in the first quarter in the fourth quarter? Absolutely. Good for them, but it’s not going to happen.
“We have a responsibility to win the game, we don’t have a responsibility to put up ‘X’ number of points or ‘X’ number of yards. We have a responsibility to win the game.”
The Buckeyes have really had no issue meeting that standard so far this season, though Wisconsin was able to creep back within a touchdown late in the fourth quarter last weekend and at least make the closing minutes more entertaining than they’ve typically been. The Badgers’ 10 points in the final frame actually gave opponents a combined lead of 17-10 over Ohio State in fourth quarters this season, which sits in stark contrast to a laughably one-sided 116-21 margin the Buckeyes have built in five dominant first quarters.
But there is often a direct relationship between those two numbers, particularly when the outcome is well in hand and the backups are inserted with an easy victory salted away. Even when it’s not a blowout, though, the Buckeyes aren’t going to simply keep the offense wide-open and fire passes all over the field just to accrue some style points, which they made clear as they worked on the clock in the relatively tighter win over the Badgers.
“We played the field position battle,” coach Urban Meyer said. “It worked…
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