OSU grade card: Offense implodes in Cotton Bowl

A grade card on Ohio State’s 14-3 loss to Missouri in the Cotton Bowl:


Before Friday night Ohio State hadn’t failed to score a touchdown in a game since a 31-0 loss to Clemson in the 2016 Fiesta Bowl.

The Buckeyes’ 203 yards of total offense against Missouri was their lowest total since the 2015 team gained 132 yards in a 17-14 loss to Michigan State. They were 2 of 15 on third down conversions and got inside the Tigers’ 30-yard line only once.

The collapse included every position on the Buckeyes’ offense. Having to play third-team quarterback, freshman Lincoln Kienholz, after the second-team quarterback, Devin Brown, got hurt and the first-team quarterback, Kyle McCord, left town was a big problem.

Brown was 4 of 6 for 20 yards in a little over a quarter and Kienholz was 6 of 17 for 86 yards, with 25 of the yards coming on a pass to Emeka Egbuka, who had six of OSU’s 10 receptions.

But the performance of the offensive line, which was questionable all season, was the most deficient part of OSU’s offense.

Missouri’s defensive line dominated OSU’s offensive line to the tune of four sacks and 10 tackles for losses. Brown and Kienholz were under constant pressure and the majority of the running plays went for three yards or fewer.

Going to the transfer portal to find some offensive linemen and an experienced quarterback needs to be on Ryan Day’s to do list.


Ohio State held Missouri to 14 points and 331 yards total offense, a performance most defensive coordinators would gladly accept.

The Buckeyes kept the Tigers off the scoreboard in the first three quarters before allowing scoring drives of 95 yards and 91 yards.

OSU’s six sacks were the most in Jim Knowles’ two years as defensive coordinator. Jack Sawyer had three of the sacks and a quarterback hurry. Cody Simon, who started in place of the injured Tommy Eichenberg, had 12 tackles.

It was a mostly good day for the defense before Missouri wore it down late in the second half. The Tigers gained 231 of their 331 yards of total offense in the last 19 minutes, 25 seconds of the game.


The good: Jesse Mirco averaged 48.2 yards per kick on eight punts in his Ohio State finale before entering the transfer portal and Jayden Fielding kicked a 44-yard field goal.

The bad: A delay of game penalty before a punt on the first OSU possession of the game, a holding penalty on a punt return, a questionable decision to fair catch a punt at the 5-yard line and a missed 48-yard field goal.


Two inexperienced quarterbacks, no Marvin Harrison Jr. and the same underwhelming offensive line was a bad combination for Ohio State.

Jim Naveau writes for The Lima News, a division of AIM Media Midwest.

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