After two weeks of games in the books by both teams, their highly anticipated matchup with enormous College Football Playoff implications, is upon us. Ohio State and Oklahoma were voted as two of top Blueblood programs in college football. Both considered as college football royalty and both programs have illustrious and storied histories filled with Hall of Fame coaches, elite players and multiple championships between the two programs. Both coaches will looks to add to their legacy and they will go out there to secure a win at any cost. This is an exciting, yet scary matchup for either team considering the circumstances in which both teams are in. This game will also have a recruiting flare to it because the Buckeyes and the Sooners are vying for the same prospects on the recruiting trail. This is a high stakes, high pressure game and I am predicting an unforgettable atmosphere for the fans and the players on both sides of the spectrum.
Ohio State Buckeyes:
The Buckeyes enter the competition with Oklahoma 2-0 and are looking for another win to solidify their CFB Playoffs resume. Ohio State returned J.T. Barrett, Pat Elflein and Billy Price from last years team. They are breaking in three new Offensive Lineman and sometimes their youth and inexperience show along the perimeter. Couple that with a true freshman Guard in Michael Jordan (not his airness), it will take some time to get use to Barrett and the way he surgically operates the offensive juggernaut that Ohio State possesses. The lone question I have is can the younger members of the Buckeyes O-Line block the talent of the Sooner defense? Are they ready for the bright lights and the bump up in talent level? The Buckeyes are also attempting to find a suitable replacement for now Dallas Cowboy, Ezekiel Elliot in the offensive backfield along with a host of new offensive toys at receiver. Mike Weber is the new Cadillac Back at Ohio State and after his first two games, most Buckeyes fans cannot help but feel the excitement because he has the potential to be great. That and with the emergence of Curtis Samuel and Dontre Wilson, the future looks bright as the depth at receiver is something that a hardcore College Football fan cannot deny. They have reserves that can start at other schools. Division I schools. That says a lot and as players are recruited, sure they wait, but they are developed under the close and watchful eyes of the coach staff so their dreams could be realized once they receive their shot.
Case and point, Dontre Wilson. He sat behind Braxton “B Button” Miller and was in and out with injury and once he was healthy enough to contribute he hasn’t looked back. He even performed the patented Buckeye Spin last week against Tulsa. It shows that the coaches can develop the talent into games and into men. Even if they want it to happen as soon as they arrive on campus, they need the patience to develop and follow the plan laid out in front of them by their position coaches and often times with help from their parents who have bought-in to the program and to the coaches that represent the university. Barrett and his array of weapons have amassed 1759 total yards on offense and Barrett accounts for 498 of those yards through the air for six touchdowns and 85 of those yards for 3 total rushes for six. Samuel isn’t too far behind with 162 yards and a touchdown on the ground and 14 receptions for 239 yards and 2 touchdowns through the air. Weber pitches in with 36 carries for 228 yards and a touchdown and Wilson went for 66 yards on the ground with a touchdown and 75 yards through the air and 2 touchdowns. Needless to say, the Buckeyes have a potent offense that could explode at a moments notice. Just give them the opportunity and the talent on the depth chart will show no matter who is placed in the game. Like I had mentioned, there is talent at the top and bottom of the offensive two deep and it is just about patience and opportunity. The next man up mentality reigns supreme in the land of wolves. With 21 offensive scores in the books, can the high-octane offensive attack keep up their end of the bargain against a tough Sooners defense?
Ohio State began the season against the Bowling Green Falcons and the Tusla Golden Hurricanes, only returning 3 starters on defense, Middle Linebacker Raekwon McMillan, Defensive End Tyquan Lewis and Cornerback Gareon Conley. Although they aren’t the big name programs, they both pack experienced and potent offenses that can put points on the scoreboard and do it quickly. There had been a lot of speculation on how Coach Meyer and his staff would adapt and overcome the mass NFL Draft exodus that occurred after the 2015 season. With multiple vacated spots on both sides of the ball many discounted Coach Meyers ability to reload stating that the inexperience would cost them greatly. So far through two games against potent offenses, the young Buckeyes defense proved that they have the talent and depth to succeed. Sure, it was against Bowling Green and Tulsa, but last season they racked up the points and yardage and finished the season ranked 6th and 21st in the nation in scoring offense and 4th and 13th in total offense a season ago. The talent between last seasons team and this years is not as dire as most would expect it to be. The talent that they lost is irreplaceable, but Coach Meyer and company always seem to get the utmost best from their players who are patiently waiting in the wings for their opportunity. Getting younger isn’t always a bad thing because you will watch them develop, but at Ohio State, if you can play and you show the willingness and determination, you will play for the Scarlet and Gray.
The defense is young and inexperienced, but they have only allowed 1068 total yards in two games. Sure those aren’t good numbers, but I feel that they will improve upon as the season goes on as they learn to play with each other. They have held the previous two opponents to a 21.9% 3rd down conversion rate and have only allowed 2 field goals on offense. They have held opposing signal-callers to a 47.4% completion rating without surrendering a score to the opposing offense. The run stopping ability shows as the Buckeyes opponents are averaging 2 yards per rushing attempt and a total of 65 yards rushing per game. The lone touchdown was a pick-six on an errant pass from J.T. Barrett. The Buckeyes boast a stifling defense that has allowed 216 yards per game and has taken the ball away a total of 9 times and is +7 in turnovers this season. They gathered 7 interceptions, 3 for scores, forced and recovered 2 fumbles to go along with their 4 sacks. The Silver Bullets allowed 151 yards through the air and 65 through the ground as they looks ahead to their showdown against the Sooners and their high octane offense. Safety Malik Hooker, who attempted to leave the program due to insufficient playing time is the newly minted playmaker on defense registering 3 interceptions, one of which was for a score. Oft-injured Cornerback Marshon Lattimore made the most of his opportunity against Tulsa when he picked Senior Quarterback Dane Evans off twice, one of which went for a touchdown. Lattimore was hurt for the majority of his Buckeye career and at full health, he showed the coaches that he can be that playmaker that he once was in high school. Gareon Conley also pitched in with a pick, ripping the ball away from an unsuspecting receiver. True Freshman Rodjay Burns also made an impact when he took a Bowling Green pass 75 yards back to the house for a score. Playmakers exist on every level and although they have a lot of new starters, Raekwon McMillan is there to ensure that the new Bullets are up to speed and up to standard.
The Sooners come into the game 1-1, with their lone loss coming courtesy of former Urban Meyer Offensive Coordinator, Tom Herman and his Houston Cougars. The Sooners opened the season up as the #3 ranked team and they lost in heartbreaking fashion during the home opener. They followed up their poor showing with a offensive onslaught on the visiting UL Monroe Warhawks and rebounded with a resounding 59-17 victory to prepare for Ohio State when they come into Norman. Like all true away games, I fully expect some form of shenanigans from the Sooner faithful and from what I had heard, it will be a Stripped Out Crowd. I don’t know the exact details, but to each their own I guess. The Sooners have tallied up 1708 total yards on offense, 160 total yards less than the Buckeyes. Oklahoma scored 7 touchdowns through the air and 4 on the ground. Baker Mayfield leads the offense accompanied by his version of smash and dash, Samaje Perine and Joe Mixon. The account for a combined total of 956 yards and 8 touchdowns of the 1033 and 18 offensive scores. That is a ton of points and yardage. The Sooners also have the ability to spread defenses with their spread attack. They have a big bodies, deep threat in Mark Andrews who stands at 6-5, 250 lbs and at one time while he was in high school, he had high interest in Ohio State prior to committing to the Sooners. Fate has brought both of these teams together for a showdown of the victor and the loser on the recruiting trial. Andrews caught 5 passes for 157 yards and 3 scores. Dede Westbrook is another stellar talent and he has caught 12 passes for 103 yards. Nick Basquine is also capable of scoring, catching 3 passes for 80 yards and a score. The only thing in question for the Sooners is can their young Offensive Line keep Baker Mayfield upright? The Sooner O-Line has given up 8 sacks for -38 yards in two games and with the Ohio State defense that thrives in pressuring the Quarterback, we will just have to see if they can gameplan for the constant pressure that Ohio State is known for. Oklahoma definitely has weapons and this game will be the true test for Ohio State’s young defense.
On defense, the Sooners have given up a total of 1651 yards to opposing offenses. They have held opponents to a 59.7% completion rating and a 2.4 average on the ground. The Sooners are -1 in the turnover difference with zero interceptions and 2 recovered fumbles. The Sooners have given up 25 points per game and are looking to right the ship against a dual-threat Quarterback in J.T. Barrett. Oklahoma has only managed to sack opposing signal-callers four times and that is just as much as the Buckeyes have gotten to the Quarterback, so it evens out in the end. On third down the Sooners are giving up the conversion 47.8% of the time, which isn’t too shabby. They have returned few starters after the loss of Eric Striker and they are just as young and inexperienced as the Buckeyes. Linebacker Jordan Evans, Hybrid Ogbonnia Okoronkwo, Defensive Backs William Johnson and Ahmad Thomas will be leading the charge racking up 50 tackles, 2 sacks and a fumble recovery between the four of them. Another recruit that was won over by the Sooners is Ricky DeBerry, one of the few recruits that got away from the Buckeyes. Who will end up making the key stop, the momentum swinging play? Who steps up to stop the Ohio State offensive attack? This is as high stakes as you could get and the game is going to be electric. With the home field advantage, the Sooners defense looks to salvage their season by upsetting the 3rd ranked Buckeyes in from of their home crowd.
I am truly torn. I am a homer and I would love Ohio State to beat the snot out of the Sooners, but this feels like an ambush waiting to happen. I am a humble fan and I want to remain objective and non-biased so I am predicting a close game throughout. The Quarterback duel will be epic. J.T. Barrett will dice up the shaky secondary for 300+ yards and 2 scores finding Samuel and Wilson for scores, but Baker Mayfield will match and exceed the passing total with 340 and match him with 2 scores of his own. Barrett will give the defense fits with the read option burning them for 100 yards and a score. Mike Weber will eat yardage early and often as he looks to soften up the defense and set them up for a play action deep pass. Weber will churn out another 100 yard performance with a touchdown. The Mixon/Perine combination will succeed in the beginning against the Buckeyes and gouge the defense for huge chunks of yardage. They will combine for 125 yards and 1 scores. Samuel and Wilson will find ways to make plays and they will combine for 150 yards. A newcomer will reveal himself to the nation, I am not sure who it will be, but he is coming. Andrews will be blanketed the entire game but he will overpower the younger DB’s but won’t score. That will leave opportunities for Basquine and Westbrook to score with one of them finding the endzone for a score. The Buckeye defense will seal the win with a pick-six or a key stop to end the game. Hooker will get a pick and the defense will sack Mayfield twice. The Oklahoma defense picks Barrett off twice and sacks him once. This will be a good ole’ barnburner (WWE’s J.T. voice), but the suspense will be consistent throughout. The crowd noise will be a factor early forcing the younger players into false starts, but they will get through it as the game goes on.
Final: 35-28 Ohio State