Ohio State beats Nebraska in a close contest. Five things we think we learned.

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Well, there’s no way around it. Ohio State went to Lincoln, Nebraska, and struggled mightily to look like a College Football Playoff team, narrowly surviving by putting the game out of reach thanks to a Noah Ruggles field goal late in the fourth quarter.

Now, we must understand that Nebraska is much better than that 3-6 record, losing every game by no more than eight points. At the end of the day, there will be questions, but at least the Buckeyes walked away with a victory and are still alive for some special things.

After each game, we reflect back on what we just witnessed and give you five takeaways from what we saw. Here are the five things we think we learned with Ohio State’s 26-17 win over the Nebraska Cornhuskers.

What happened to the running game?

It used to be that you could count on the Ohio State football program more or less being able to get some yards on the ground. Even under Urban Meyer, the offense was a balanced one that leaned more toward the running game out of the spread look.

Under Ryan Day though, that has slowly been milked away. Yeah, it’s fun to watch the OSU quarterback sling it 50 times in a game, but you have to be able to move the chains on the ground, especially in November in the Midwest. The Buckeyes started to get some yards on the ground in the fourth quarter, but 90 yards rushing on 30 attempts compared to 405 yards passing on 54 attempts is not the ratio of winning football down the stretch.

Something needs to be looked at there before another game ends up in the loss column.

The game plan was a little odd today

We said it during the game, but it’s worth repeating, and we’re using the lack of efforts to run the ball as evidence. It sure felt like Ryan Day gave up on the rush a little too early didn’t it? I mean, you have supposedly one of the best offensive lines in the country and a sensational freshman running back, TreVeyon Henderson, running behind it.

Instead of trying to be tough and impose some will in the game, OSU got a little too cute with screen passes, hitches, and slants with one of its best receivers sitting at home for unknown reasons.

Then, at the end of the game when Ohio State was starting to let the sands of the hourglass run out by getting good yards on the ground, there just had to be some ill-advised drop-back passes in there. To be honest, OSU dodged a huge bullet when Stroud fumbled on a pass attempt and Luke Wypler saved the game by falling on it.

This game needs to be digested and lessons learned from it.

Give Nebraska credit

With this loss, Nebraska cannot get bowl eligible. But man is this team snake-bitten. A lot of it is because the ‘Huskers hold the snake in their mouth, but this team is better than what the 3-7 record would make you believe.

Yeah, Ohio State struggled on offense, but you have to credit an aggressive Nebraska defense that did some really good things both up front and on the back of the defense to make the Buckeyes bring the lunch pale.

If you know anything about football, there’s no doubt this Nebraska program is better than Scott Frost took over, but will the masses see it? Probably not.

What a find Noah Ruggles has been

It was a bit of a footnote when the news broke about North Carolina kicker Noah Ruggles transferring to Ohio State. After all, the Buckeyes already had a kicker for the future we thought, with Jake Seibert waiting in the wings.

However, in a close-shave spring kicking competition, Ruggles came out the winner of the starting job. Since then, all he has done is hit all fifteen field goals, and every single extra point he’s attempted. He was MVP of this game, hitting four out of four field goals, including the game-clinching 46-yarder very late in the fourth quarter.

Don’t be surprised if Ruggles is your Big Ten Special Teams Player of the Week for the second-straight time this week when all the dust settles.

America, meet Jaxon Smith-Njigba

I’ll let you in on a little thing we have going behind the scenes at Buckeyes Wire. We’ve been debating back and forth on losing Jameson Williams to Alabama vs. what Jaxon Smith-Njigba is for Ohio State. Williams is having a very good year for the Tide, but Smith-Njigba showed today why the coaching staff had him pegged as a starter in the slot alongside Chris Olave and Garrett Wilson on the outside.

After blowing up and introducing himself to the nation by catching 15 balls for 240 yards and a touchdown, there was nothing but crickets on the pushback for “allowing” Jameson Williams to get away.

The future is bright for the true sophomore. Yes, the receiver room will be just fine when Olave and Wilson decide to back the U-Haul up to the NFL offices next year.

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