3 takeaways from No. 12 Oregon's shocking win at No. 3 Ohio State
The Ducks entered the game as 14.5-point underdogs without star pass-rusher Kayvon Thibodeaux but controlled the contest with a dominant running game.
Here are three major takeaways from the most significant upset of the young season.
Ohio State's run defense looked lost again
A week after Minnesota ran for over 200 yards on Ohio State's defense, Oregon absolutely dominated the Buckeyes' front. CJ Verdell's 161 yards and three total touchdowns led the attack as the Ducks ran wild for 269 yards rushing. Oregon's 7.1 yards per carry are the third most that Ohio State has surrendered in a game since 2000.
While the yardage total is certainly jarring, the manner in which Joe Moorhead's offense reached that number is the more concerning thing. The Buckeyes' defense failed to adjust throughout, with Oregon running virtually the same play around the left edge for three of its seven touchdowns.
The Buckeyes were among the country's top rush defenses in the past two seasons, finishing sixth and seventh nationally in 2020 and 2019, respectively. Despite consistently bringing in one of the nation's top recruiting classes, it appears the high roster turnover may finally be catching up with Ohio State's defense. The Buckeyes have a couple home games against Group of 5 opponents on the schedule next but will need to make major defensive adjustments before Big Ten play continues Oct. 2.
Joe Moorhead's game plan was brilliant
It appears Moorhead left a lot of plays on his call sheet during last week's narrow win over Fresno State. Oregon kept the offense simple in the close victory at home before unleashing the full list of options on the Buckeyes. The former Mississippi State head coach is familiar with Ohio State from his time as Penn State's offensive coordinator and showed a high level of comfort in the unfriendly confines of Ohio Stadium. Moorhead is no stranger to producing above-average offensive performances against the Buckeyes:
Moorhead consistently put Anthony Brown in very comfortable passing situations, with the veteran quarterback spreading the ball around to 11 different receivers for a very efficient 236 yards. If the Ducks' offense can continue to move the ball as it did against Ohio State, Oregon should remain undefeated heading to Los Angeles to face No. 16 UCLA on Oct. 23.
Stroud is already a star
Don't let his fourth-quarter interception cloud the fact that C.J. Stroud is already a star at Ohio State. After initially struggling in his second career game, the freshman passer came on strong to throw for a whopping 484 yards and three touchdowns. Stroud became just the third player in Ohio State's storied history to throw for 400-plus yards in a single contest.
Through his first two games, Stroud has 778 yards passing with seven touchdowns and two interceptions. The Buckeyes' offense moved the ball at will for the most part despite three failed fourth-down conversion attempts stalling drives. The defense certainly needs work, but Stroud has immediately shown that the drop-off from star Justin Fields isn't as big as many people imagined.
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