Buckeye Football Looking Ahead by Mike Scharf

Last Week

After nearly a consistent recording of a 0% positivity rate since August, chaos entered the Buckeye program as their game against Illinois was canceled when additional positive COVID-19 tests were discovered after a round of testing took place Friday afternoon. Head coach Ryan Day was amongst those positive. Ohio State did not disclose the identities of the others who tested positive for privacy reasons. 

The Big Ten requires all programs to suspend organized football activities including practices and games for a minimum of seven days if both their positivity rate exceeds 5% and their population positivity rate surpasses 7.5%. The Buckeyes positivity rate crossed the 7.5% threshold, but had not gone above the 5% test positivity rate.

With the Buckeyes not going above the 5% threshold, Athletic director Gene Smith and head team physician Dr. Jim Borchers believed the best decision for the program going forward was to cancel, slowing down the spread of the virus.

Going Forward

Good news came as the Buckeyes resumed small group workouts on Monday at the Woody Hayes Athletic Center according to a Ohio State spokesman — Team meetings will maintain being held virtually.

The noon ABC kickoff against Michigan State this weekend is up in the air as we still don’t know the exact number of positive cases the program is dealing with, but this is an enormous step in the right direction going forward.

#MOTSAGRising Buckeyes-Hoosiers Preview by Mike Scharf

The Buckeyes and Hoosiers are set to clash in a top-10 battle this Saturday in the ‘Shoe.

Buckeye football is back in action, after last week’s game being canceled due to a coronavirus outbreak within the Maryland program. As of now, the Hoosiers are first in the Big East Division because of the extra game and the Buckeyes are ready to attack the objective this weekend and keep their championship hopes alive.

When the Big Ten reinstated the season, and the shortened schedule was announced, no one had eyes on the Hoosiers coming into Columbus. Frankly, this noon kickoff on FOX against the 9th ranked Hoosiers is the biggest regular-season game for the Buckeyes.

THE HOOSIERS

Tom Allen, and his enthusiastic Hoosiers started their season off with a thrilling 36-35 overtime victory against Penn State and have not looked back since. Winning their next three games against Rutgers, Michigan, and Michigan State convincingly with a combined score of 99-41.

The Hoosiers offense is led by Sophomore quarterback Michael Penix Jr. who has looked like a true leader throwing for 1070 yards to go with 9 touchdowns this season. Penix threw for 25-38, 320 yards, 2 touchdowns, and 2 INTs last weekend vs the Spartans.

The key matchup to watch is how the Buckeye secondary covers star wide receiver Ty Fryfogle. Fryfogle was last week’s Big Ten offensive Player of the Week after having 11 receptions for 200 yards, and 2 touchdowns. Fryfogle also had a monster game against the Wolverines the week before with 7 receptions, 142 yards and 1 touchdown.

Along with the offense, this Hoosiers defense is no joke as they lead the Big Ten in interceptions (10), and sacks (12). The Hoosiers are tied for second nationally in turnover margin at plus-2 per game.

THE BUCKEYES

Fryfogle, and the Indiana receivers have been a huge threat for opposing defenses all year long. The Buckeye secondary has received criticism for their play in this early season, but look for Shaun Wade, Sevyn Banks, and the rest of the Buckeye secondary to respond in a major way with a big task ahead.

As we know, Justin Fields is off to an astonishing start to the 2020 season, having the same number of touchdowns as he has incompletions (11), with a near perfect 87 percent completion. Heisman hopeful Fields looks to improve his resume against a talented Hoosier defense.

The Buckeyes are waiting for a running game to emerge at a high level with both running backs still splitting carries. Master Teague III and Trey Sermon are both averaging a little 5 yards per carry (Teague 4.5, Sermon 4.8), but neither has established as the main back for the Buckeyes.

With that being said, left guard Harry Miller, and the offensive-line look to improve this week from the multiple penalties they were called for against the Scarlet-Knights two weeks ago. Miller was called for holding on multiple occasions but is learning and teammates look for him to bounce back. Center Josh Myers met with the media this week saying. “It’s not an easy thing to do, to be a young guy starting,” Myers said. “It took our offensive even last year a couple weeks to get rolling and looking like a solid unit together.”

THE GAME

The Buckeyes have won 24 straight games over Indiana. The Hoosiers last victory against the Buckeyes came in the year of 1988. The Buckeyes have averaged 42.2 points per game in the past 10 meetings with the Hoosiers. Although this is IU’s highest rank (9) ever facing the Buckeyes look for Ryan Day and his team not to take this game lightly and come out hungry.

PREDICTION

47-24

Buckeyes-Knights Clash

Ohio State will be playing its first game under the lights this 2020 season at Ohio Stadium as the Buckeyes clash with the Rutgers Scarlet Knights Saturday at 7:30 p.m. on the Big Ten Network.

The environment in the Shoe won’t have the fiery, loud atmosphere it usually gets during past prime time games due to the no fan rule. With that being said, the Buckeyes are heavily favored in the matchup.

Since meeting in 2014. Ohio State has won 6 in a row, including all games being won by 35 plus averaging 46.5 points in those matchups.

The Scarlet Knights head coach, Greg Schiano returns to Columbus. Schiano has not faced a Ryan Day coached team, and so far, so good for this Buckeye group to start the 2020 season as it continues their quest for a championship.

This Rutgers team is different than years past. The Scarlet Knights head into Columbus already winning a road game which they haven’t done in years past, beating Michigan State 38-27. The Knights followed that up with a 37-21 loss to No. 17 Indiana but showed flashes of good plays throughout.

The Scarlet Knights are led by Nebraska-transfer dual threat quarterback Noah Vedral, who has 299 yards and 3 touchdowns on the season.

Justin Fields looks to continue his dominance this Saturday. Fields has an incredible QBR of 97.2 (1st in the nation) to go along with 594 yards, and 6 touchdowns. There’s no denying Fields will look to continue his Heisman campaign Saturday night. In company with Fields, wide receivers Chris Olave and Garrett Wilson set an all-time Ohio State record. For the second straight game, each of them accounted for 100+ yards receiving. Olave and Wilson look to keep it rolling come game time.

Since clashing with the Scarlet Knights in 2014, the Buckeyes have only not scored 50 plus points one time. (in 2015, when the score was 49-7). Schiano’s team has improved greatly from years past, look for the Buckeyes to continue their dominance this season.

KEYS:

Ohio State K Blake Haubeil and TE Jake Hausmann will not be active for the game.

PREDICTION:

58-10