Archives for October 2019

The Ohio State Buckeyes @ The Northwestern Wildcats

Ohio State Buckeyes (6-0, Big 10 3-0) vs Northwestern Wildcats (1-4, Big 10 0-3)

The Ohio State Buckeyes will travel to Evanston, Illinois in a rematch of the 2018 Big Ten Championship from a season ago. Both teams clawed and fought, but the two teams that will face-off on Friday as two re-built teams on two different paths with Ohio State having success under a new coach and a Northwestern team that is limping through the season.

The success was evitable for Ohio State under Coach Day and the rebuilt offense along with his new players have meshed well and had consistently beat up on every opponent up until this point. With a new quarterback, new batch of receivers and a semi-new offensive line, many questioned if they can succeed under new management. So far so good for the Buckeyes.

After the conference title game, the hangover with the Wildcats has been evident and after Thorson departed for the NFL, their offense has been less explosive and their defense has been average at best. With just a single win, the Wildcats have pulled out all the stops to ensure this is a close, hard-fought game in a night game and with an alternate uniform to spice things up a bit. It is awesome, but they need to come out swinging to derail this Buckeye train.

Justin Fields shedding defender.

Another Field-s Day?

Justin Fields has been as good as advertised, but he still has untapped potential when he is dialed in. In the passing game, he has 1,298 passing yards and 18 TDs for the year. He has completed 70% of his passes and he has a 94 QBR through six games. He also chipped in 57 rushes for a respectable 283 yards with 8 TDs. He has been shouldering the offensive load when called to do so, but he has that game-breaking knack to swing the momentum at a moment’s notice which should and will concern Coach Fitz and his team. Can they find a way to disrupt the offense and stop the offensive attack? Or will they fight until he puts the game away early?

J.K. Dobbins in the 2018 Big Ten Championship Game.

Ground Game Dominance

Like Fields, Dobbins has also been on a tear on the ground and he has yet to play meaningful snaps in the second half of a game this year, and it doesn’t look like it’ll change with this porous Northwestern defense. With 116 rushes, he has amassed 826 yards on the ground and 6 TDs and he added 6 catches for 44 yards and a score. The Wildcat defense needs to play better than they have been in order to stop Dobbins and his stablemates in the backfield. As stated above, Dobbins hasn’t played in a close game in the second half, but if they show some fight, he may get a shot to pad his stats and grind the defense into the ground.

Big Ten Championship Game.

Trench Warfare 2.0

The Buckeye offensive line has been more consistent in recent years and with this installment, they will be looking to find a way to stop Joe Gaziano. Gaziano, along with the Northwestern defense made it a game and kept it close, but with this season’s offensive line, he’ll need to be more relentless to disrupt this group who found their swagger as a unit. They have been burying teams in the trenches and this game could be another blowout if they can get things going early and often. This defense really needs to work on their gameplan, but they have to pick their poison.

Northwestern Wildcats QB Hunter Johnson.

Fallen Five-Star

The former five-star Quarterback Hunter Johnson transferred to Northwestern after the departure of Clayton Thorston and the transition hasn’t been as smooth as another fellow five-star signal-caller, Justin Fields. Justin Fields has been on a tear and is having a breakthrough season. Johnson has had the opposite and his offense has been struggling. They haven’t been as crisp and as good as before, but all players, regardless of high school rankings are different in their growth within their offense and in the way they develop. He is still rough around the edges, but the potential is certainly there and it hasn’t clicked yet.

The Great Defensive Chase

Chase Young has been keying in on the hapless offensive players on opposing teams and this game, he should be feasting on Hunter Johnson and the running backs. Young has accounted for 8 of the 28 and the Northwestern line has surrendered 12 total sacks and they have been giving up 2.40 per game. This number could be higher with the caliber of Rushmen available with Young leading the way. Not to mention the Linebackers, they will also be another tough matchup for this offensive line. The defense has been stout and they are one of the best in the nation. It will be a tough sell, but we will have to see if they can stop Young and company.

Key Matchups To Watch

  • Fields versus Johnson In The Battle of Former Five-Stars
  • The Trenches For Both Teams
  • BIA versus Northwestern Receivers
  • Linebackers versus Receivers In The Seams
  • Special Teams and Field Position

Prediction:

The Ohio State Buckeyes defeat The Northwestern Wildcats 45-13.

Michigan State (4-1, Big Ten 1-0) at Ohio State (5-0, Big Ten 2-0)

Ohio State versus Michigan State for another heavyweight bout between intra-conference rivals. This game has a lot on the line, beginning with the Big Ten Conference East crown. This game usually has a lot of twists and turns and the Buckeyes have fallen in losses to Michigan State more often at home than at East Lansing.

Jacolbe Cowan high school photo. Credit: 24/7 Sports Database.

This game looks to be the stiffest test to date and with their game at home and during a Blackout, this game has a lot on the line with it becoming another big recruiting weekend. Speaking of recruiting, the Buckeyes received good news last night and got another commitment from Jacolbe Cowan from North Carolina. He will play along the line and he is a stud that adds more depth and talent to the class. He will be attending the game to link up with the other recruits to try to close out the class and get future teammates.

Battle In The Trenches

The battle in the trenches will be my primary concern with this game because the Buckeyes can easily fall into the trap that saw Zeke barely touch the ball and a walk-off FG later, we end up losing the game at home and we were all devastated. This year’s Buckeye team with the steady string of performances that this line has had, I will look for them with a now healthy Brandon Bowen to assert their will on this stout Spartan D-Line and we will have to see when they begin. They could start out slow and they will eventually turn it on, but it is all up for interpretation until a rhythm is set and established.

Can the Offensive Line continue the effort against a bigger and more stingy Michigan State defense? Joe Bachi and his buddies will attempt to make it hard for this offense to do so, but it is within the realm of possibility to potentially. The Spartans and Coach Dantonio always seem to play the Buckeyes tightly and this could be another classic between the two teams.

Defensive Battle Looming

The Silver Bullets are back and I cannot understate the importance of defending against two mobile quarterbacks for this game. Discipline is a must and with Lewerke and Lombardi, they have options in the running game if the passing game is inept and shut down. With the way the defense has been playing, the improvement is obvious and Chase Young will look to continue his sack streak that has spanned seven games with at least one sack. He is on quite the streak and he could continue it with an atrocious line that lost against a true freshman quarterback from Arizona State.

The DB’s have been playing with the swagger that was missed a season ago, and this time they could lock down the Spartan receivers. The only problem is that the passing game has been off and the offense is having a down year. The Buckeyes can take advantage and they could force a ton of turnovers.

The Justin and J.K. Show On Turf

The greatest show on college turf includes a pair of stellar offensive players that both don the scarlet and gray. Justin Fields has been on a tear after enrolling and he has accounted for a ton of the Buckeye offense. The other half runs through J.K. Dobbins and he also has been on a similar atmosphere when using his legs. It is a pair made in heaven and with Dobbins running through people and tackles and with Fields doing damage with both his legs and his arm, defensive coordinator are searching for weaknesses.

The points come in bunches and a resounding blowout win against a familiar for and fellow conference eastern power can send shockwaves throughout the nation. Beating Michigan State is a major plus, but if they could run them out of Columbus after dark, the nation will be put on notice.

Match-Ups To Watch:

  • Buckeye Offense vs Spartan Defense
  • Fields/Dobbins vs The Front Seven
  • Lewerke vs The Back Seven
  • The Trenches
  • Special Teams and Field Position

Prediction:

The Ohio State Buckeyes defeat The Michigan State Spartans 42-13.

I just have a feeling that Ohio State plus the adrenaline of a Black Out with recruiting implications will not leave them as vulnerable as people think. The O-Line has been fiery and with the return of Bowen, the extra juice will be there to help them suffocate Lewerke and shut down the noise. I could be wrong, but a let down this far into the season would be a tragedy, but they will start slow at first, but blow-by once the momentum gets in their favor. This feels like a turnover-prone contest and with Michigan States’ struggles, this could be a good display of power and poise for the Buckeyes. Go Bucks!