War Room Wednesdays: #9 Ohio State (5-1, BIG 10 3-0) at Nebraska (3-3, BIG 10 2-1)

Barrett Blossoming?

As J.T. Barrett continues to become more comfortable with the new offensive coaching staff and his playmakers, he still manages to catch flak even though he is winning.  Questions about his lack of accuracy and the scarcity of deep shots downfield, people of all walks of life are still calling for his benching despite the 5-1 start.

Barrett has actually been playing well so far, he is 111-174 for 1513 yards and 16 TD’s against and just a single interception.  He also has 311 rushing yards for 3 TD’s on 60 rushing attempts.  Sure, it has been against mediocre competition but he has improved since that lone loss at home against Oklahoma.

Ohio State ranks 14th in the nation through 6 games this season in passing offense and 7th in team passing efficiency.  Barrett has led his team and for now, is the 4th best scoring offense in the nation, averaging 45.8 PPG for a total of 275 points so far this year.

Barrett will now face a string of tougher opponents and the cupcakes were essentially used to build up his confidence.  The first test will be the contest against Nebraska and their 47th ranked passing defense who has only allowed 7 TD’s this season, 6.74 YPA, 10.44 YPC and 208.8 YPG.  This will not be an easy task, but Barrett seems to be clicking and what better opportunity is there than to test himself in Lincoln.

 Right Guard Reset?

As we all witnessed, starting RG Branden Bowen suffered a major injury and he has been lost for the rest of the season.  This does not bode well for the Buckeyes, as they had trouble keeping Barrett upright last season.

This is an opportunity for Burrell, Knox and Pridgeon to earn playing time, one as a starter and the other in the two-deep.  Burrell came in the game and he did fairly well,  but Urban Meyer was stated that the contest at RG is “wide open”.

I for one thought he did quite well being thrown into the fray, but for Meyer, he wants the best on the field and RG is no exception.  All three players will compete with each other to see who bested the rest.  For now, we can only speculate who wins the competition and if that player can maintain their success.

Turnover/Line Troubles.

Tanner Lee is looking for answers as he limps into this game throwing for 1406 yards and 11 TD’s, but he has also thrown 10 picks and his completion percentage has suffered and stands at 54%.

He will face a rebuilt secondary that has struggled with takeaways, but they blanket the opposing receivers relentlessly, leaving little room for error against the Buckeyes.  Damon Arnette will be out for the first half due to a silly targeting penalty, so Ward, Sheffield and Okudah will be tasked early to stop Morgan, Pierson-El, Spielman, Hoppes and former Buckeye target Tyjon Lindsey.

Collectively they are responsible for 1333 yards and 11 touchdowns, and they will all need to perform to help Tanner Lee out if they want to win this game.

His Offensive Line also needs to help because they have given up 9 sacks and the constant pressure leads him to make terrible decisions.  Ohio State is tied for 19th in the nation in team sacks and has racked up 17 so far.  They will be active and after the Quarterback to give their secondary a shot at turnovers.

Prediction:

I expect Barrett will do his thing and he will continue his trend of not giving the ball away on turnovers.  Another slow burn type of game with the addition of a new RG, but they will piece it together before the half and before blowing the doors down.  Barrett will continue to develop his confidence and he will find a rhythm.

Dobbins and Weber will each have a score and Victor will continue his hot streak and will also find the end zone.  The defense will get at least 3 sacks and 3 turnovers because the pressure will force Lee into some, one of which will go for a score.

The Buckeyes starters will leave mid 3rd quarter to rest for their clash with Penn State, but they will have the game in hand.  This game will be a warm-up without looking ahead to next week to gain traction in the CFB Playoff conversation.

Final:  Ohio State defeats Nebraska 52-20.

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