Ohio State by the numbers: the defense.

Here is the Buckeyes' NCAA executive summary, and the numbers paint a picture of a team with a dominant defense, to say the least:

Total defense: 258 yards per game (#16)

Rushing defense: 99.75 yards per game (#24)

Scoring defense: 11.25 points per game (#7)

Passing defense: 159 yards per game (#20)

Pass efficiency defense: 91.66 (#11)

Sacks: 2.75 per game (#17)

The Buckeyes haven't given up a single point since USC's game-winning drive in week 2.  Since then, the Buckeyes have posted consecutive shutouts against Toledo (38-0) and Illinois (30-0).  Toledo managed only 13 rushing yards and 9 first downs against the Buckeyes, and the Rockets didn't produce so much as a 20 yard drive until late in the third quarter, and didn't have the ball on the Ohio State side of the field until then, either.  OSU held Illinois to an unfathomable 170 yards, 88 in the air and 82 on the ground.  The Illini's first drive ended at the OSU 29 with an interception.  Illinois never against crossed the 30 and obviously never came close to the red zone.  The shutouts don't quite tell the story: obviously, the OSU defense is outstanding.   Even against USC, the Buckeyes allowed only 313 yards and 4.3 yards per offensive play, and 86 of those yards came on the game-winning drive late in the fourth quarter.  Only Navy has moved the ball with any success against the Ohio State defense, and given the unique problems that Navy presents and the oddities of any opening game, it is difficult to assign much significance to that game.  To this point, against mostly inferior teams and a suspect Michigan defense, the IU offense has put up solid but basically average numbers: the Hoosiers' offensive numbers are between #40 and #70 in total offense, scoring offense, rushing offense, passing offense, passing efficiency, yards per rush, and yards per pass attempt.  IU's only outstanding offensive statistic relates to pass protection: IU ranks first in the nation with only two sacks allowed.

While Ohio State has played well, this will be the Buckeyes' first road test.  The Hoosiers have not challenged the Buckeyes since 1996, and if IU shows any ability to move the ball early, that will be encouraging.  I'll discuss the OSU offense tomorrow.

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