Top 3 Trap Games for OSU This Season (Guest Post)

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This post is is brought to you by Christopher Owens and you can find him on Twitter at @BigDaddyChrisO.

Looking ahead at the 2014 Ohio State football schedule, there are games where most fans will simply say, “Oh, that’s an easy win, don’t have to worry about that week.” In the history of college football, that is often the kiss of death to national championship runs (2007 Backyard Brawl comes to mind). Ohio State should be, and likely will be, favored in every game this season, Michigan State being the only question. Let’s take a look at three of those games and examine them more closely, and why they might be “trap games” for the Buckeyes this season.

1. VS Navy

The biggest question going into this season is, of course, the Ohio State defense. The defensive line will be fine, but the linebacking core and secondary are basically being overhauled after losing Butkus Award Winner Ryan Shazier and Bradley Roby. We know the talent is there (Vonn Bell, Eli Apple, High School Butkus Award Winner Raekown McMillan), but it’s young and unproven for the most part. The Navy game will be an excellent test of the linebackers. Navy returns their quarterback, Keenan Reynlods, who was the leading rusher and passer last season. He is the star and centerpiece of the Navy Triple Option attack, rushing for 1346 yards last season for the team that was second in the country in rush yards per game. Missed tackles have been a killer for the Buckeyes the last two years. This opening game against a tricky offense will be a huge test for the young defense, and tackling in the open field will be a key to stopping the ground attack from Navy.

2. At Penn State

Most fans will look at this game and think back to last year’s 63-14 embarrassment of Penn State in Columbus. Last year’s edition of this game was probably the Buckeyes’ best defensive performance against a team with a fantastic QB/WR duo with Christian Hackenberg and Allen Robinson. This year, there is no Robinson, which would lead many to think this game will be even easier. However, State College is not nice to Ohio State. Since Penn State joined the Big Ten in 1993, the Buckeyes lead the series 14-7, and over that span, Ohio State is just 5-5 at Penn State, versus 9-2 at home.

3. VS Maryland

Maryland started 4-0 last season, before being squashed by eventual champion Florida State 63-0. Maryland’s biggest problem was not their level of play, but the injury situation. Quarterback CJ Brown, wide receiver (and former OSU recruit) Stefon Diggs, defensive back Jeremiah Johnson, and linebackers Vannik Cudjoe-Virgil and Matt Robinson, who are all considered the top players at the positions for Maryland, were all injured at some point last season. All of these players return under coach Randy Edsall, whose Maryland team has gotten better each year under his tenure (2-10, 4-8, 7-6). This will also be Maryland’s third season in the 3-4 scheme, typically when a scheme overhaul is complete. Maryland will likely have a stronger defense than last season, after already cracking the Top 20 in sacks, Top 10 in tackles for loss, and Top 25 in opponent 3rd down conversion. The Buckeye defense will not be as tested against Maryland as against Penn State’s Hackenberg or Navy’s Triple Option, but the one-on-one test between Diggs and whomever Coach Ash puts on him will be great theatre, given that the Maryland offensive line gives Brown time to find Diggs.

The main concern for any “trap game” this season is the Ohio State defense. We saw what a porous defense could cause last year against teams over which Ohio State was heavily favored, like California, Michigan, and Illinois. A coaching change and new players will help that problem, but the young players will likely make some mistakes. The first game against Navy will be a huge test for this young defense to start the 2014 season.

Comments

  1. Great post, Chris. I like to think all of these games as “games that could make or break the Buckeyes Playoff chances”. A bad showing against a perceived weak team like Navy or Maryland could make everyone think “yep, here we go again, a weak Big Ten”.

    No thanks.

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