Ohio State Football: Key Takeaways from Dominant Win over San Diego State

Alex BallentineFeatured ColumnistSeptember 7, 2013

Sep 7, 2013; Columbus, OH, USA; Ohio State Buckeyes quarterback Kenny Guiton (13) cuts back towards open space against the San Diego State Aztecs at Ohio Stadium. Ohio State won the game 42-7. Mandatory Credit: Greg Bartram-USA TODAY Sports
Greg Bartram-USA TODAY Sports

The Ohio State Buckeyes took the next step toward their ultimate goal of winning the national championship on Saturday with a dominant 42-7 win over the San Diego State Aztecs in Ohio Stadium. 

Beating the Aztecs was expected. After all, they opened their season with a 40-19 loss to Eastern Illinois in Week 1. There won't be a parade in the streets of Columbus for drubbing a subpar Mountain West team anytime soon.

That doesn't mean we didn't learn anything about this Ohio State team in its win, though. The college football season presents teams with 12 opportunities to get better or worse, and the Buckeyes made the most of this opportunity.

Here were the biggest takeaways as the Big 10 favorites continue to progress through the season.


The Buckeyes Are More Than Braxton Miller

When it comes to Ohio State, Braxton Miller gets all the headlines. That's to be expected when you have a quarterback who threw for over 2,000 yards while rushing for 1,000 more.

However, this game showed that Ohio State is a dangerous squad even without its star signal-caller. 

Miller was forced out of the game early in the first quarter as he strained his MCL, per Brett McMurphy of ESPN. 

Although ESPN (via CBS Sports) reported that Miller could have returned to the game, Urban Meyer wisely chose to turn over the reins to senior Kenny Guiton. 

He didn't disappoint. 

Guiton, whose late-game heroics against Purdue in 2012 allowed the Buckeyes to remain undefeated in relief of Miller, turned in a performance that should put Buckeyes fans at ease about ever losing Miller this season. 

Meyer was able to ease him into the game with plenty of easy passes into the flats to get him into a rhythm as he completed 19 of 28 passes with two touchdowns and an interception.

He proved that losing Miller doesn't take away the running threat from the quarterback position, either. He led the team in rushing with 83 yards on nine carries. 


The Defense Is Improving

As noted earlier, each game represents a chance to improve. The primary concern with this Buckeyes team is on the defensive side of the football.

The defensive line had to replace both John Simon and Johnathan Hankins, and the secondary ranked just No. 78 in the nation against the pass at 243.5 yards per game. 

Although the level of competition has to be taken into consideration, the defense certainly looks on schedule to be a strong unit when it gets to the Big 10 portion of the schedule. The Buckeyes defensive line held the Aztecs to just 2.3 yards per rush and seven points on the scoreboard. 

After allowing Buffalo to score 20 points last week, this was as dominant a performance on the defensive side of the ball as you'd like to see. 


Pass Protection Remains a Concern

If you had to pick nits about the Week 2 performance, the offensive line is a good place to start. It didn't protect Braxton Miller all that well against Buffalo, and there wasn't much improvement to get excited about this week. 

After giving up four sacks to the Bulls, the offensive line surrendered three sacks to the not-so-vaunted San Diego State pass rush. 

Against the likes of San Diego State, there's not much to worry about here. The offense's ability to utilize quick three-step drops and a punishing running game was more than enough to pick up the win. 

Still, it's an area that will need to improve if the team is going to realize its maximum potential. Miller got hurt on a play in which he was running beyond the line of scrimmage, but he can't afford to take too many sacks, and the lack of protection could be a major issue.