Ohio State Purdue Preview

It wasn’t the most visually appealing game against Minnesota last weekend, but in a weekend when 4 of the top 10 teams lost, the Buckeyes survived. The Ohio State defense gave up 396 yards, but in the second half the managed to shut out the Golden Gophers. This young defense looks to be coming together, they just need to get healthy. Ohio State had 5 starters out during the game, that does include Nick Bosa, who, sadly, will not be returning to Ohio State. Side note: Nick is making what he feels is the correct choice, and any Ohio State fan who bad mouths him needs to get a grip on reality.

The more concerning part of Ohio State’s game right now is the running game. Ohio State got out rushed by a Minnesota team who gave up 315 yards on the ground to Maryland. Ohio State managed 92 yards with a backfield featuring two 1,000 yard rushers. The offensive line play was not good the last two weeks, and if Ohio State wants to be the championship team they want to be, the offensive line needs to be better. The running game needs to get going.

Dwayne Haskins was 33-44 for 412 yards and three touchdowns, to once again carry the offense.  Haskins now has back-to-back 400 yard passing games, and I see no sign of the slowing down.  Until Ohio State can become the balanced offense they want to be, they will have to continue relying on the passing game. Purdue is giving up 267 yards in the air per game which is ranked 106 in the country.  Haskins will have another 400 yard passing game in West Lafayette on Saturday.

The battle of the wide receivers. KJ Hill vs Rondale Moore. Both of these receivers have electric this season. Hill has 40 receptions for 551 yards and 4 touchdowns. Moore has 45 receptions for 558 yards and 5 touchdowns. Both defenses have been susceptible to the pass this year. Ohio State is ranked 52nd giving up 221 yards per game. If either of these players get going it will be a long night for both defenses.

Purdue also has a QB who can sling the football around. David Blough won the starting position after their loss to Missouri, but he had 572 yards going 39-55 and 3 touchdowns. He is completing 78-109 for 990 yards at home.  He has a 5 to 1 touchdown to interception rating.  Blough and company will be looking to exploit the Ohio State defense through the air.

Ohio State has had its troubles in West Lafayette.  They have 3 wins in 7 trips to Purdue since 2000. Urban Meyer is 1-0 there with a 56-0 victory. That was against a very bad Purdue team however. This Purdue team will be giving everything they have against Ohio State, as most of Ohio State opponents do. Jeff Brohm is a great offensive coach, and turned Purdue around in 1 year. Taking them to 7-6 with beating Arizona in their bowl game. Purdue this year could easily be 5-1, 6-0 if it weren’t bad luck and some bone headed plays towards the end of their games. Which means this team could very well be ranked in the top 20.

With both teams struggling in the passing game and both teams having great success through the air this season I am predicting a shootout type of game here. The Penn State game should have been a shootout type of game, but the defense had a bend don’t break mentality and it payed off. This game could be very similar. On the road. At night. ABC. This game has all the makings of the perfect upset for Ohio State. I do not believe Ohio State will be getting upset this Saturday night. Social media has been talking about this “trap game” so much this season I’m not even sure you can call it a trap game any more. The players on both sides will be ready for a battle. I am predicting a 56-35 game.  Ohio State has been great on defense in the second half the last two games, and I see that continuing. The adjustments, even if Schiano says there aren’t any, they are making are working. It’ll be a close first half like Ohio State is accustomed to this season, but relax Buckeye Nation Ohio State will not be getting upset.

Penn State Preview

It is finally here. Ohio State vs. Penn State. Normally, this game is played mid to late October, but this year this potential College Football Playoff match up is coming already in September.  The Big Ten this year, so far, has seemingly been down this year. This makes this game even bigger than what it has been in years past. And in the last few years, this game has been huge.  This game seems like it will decide the winner of the Big Ten East with Michigan State and Michigan looking subpar, so far.  Ohio State the #2 scoring offense.  Penn State the #1 scoring offense. Ohio State has had the better schedule so far with traveling to Jerry’s World and playing a very good TCU defense.  Penn State has been tested at home to Appalachian State, and tested in the first half of the Pitt and Illinois games before pulling away in the second half of each game. Lets compare these two offenses.

QB:

Haskins: 87/115, 1194 yards, 16 tds, and 1 int.

McSorley: 57/106, 763 yards, 8 tds, and 2 int.

RB:

Dobbins: 56 attempts, 323 yards, 2 tds. Long of 21 yards

Weber: 52 attempts, 299 yards, 3 tds, Long of 49 yards

Sanders: 71 attempts 495 yards, 5 tds, Long of 48 yards

Ohio State has a clear advantage at quarterback. Dwayne has been absolutely incredible this year. Making every single type of throw with ease.  Even in the TCU game he was stellar, especially on the blitz.  Trace’s numbers don’t tell the complete story.  His wide receivers have had some drops.  But he also misses open people.  Trace is a gamer though. He makes plays when it counts, and really its all about wins and loses at the end of the day. The Penn State run game is what concerns me.  They run the qb read option very well.  McSorely is making the correct read time and time again rushing 41 times this year for 5.7 yards a carry.

Penn State will be without backup Mark Allen at the running back position.  But Miles Sanders seems to be picking up where Saquon Barkley has left off.  He has been  very good this year. Especially, in the Illinois game where he had 200 yards, and 3 touchdowns.  Ohio State has split carries the whole year, and will continue to do so. Mike Weber has been practicing this week, after leaving the game early against Tulane.  Ohio State has been missing the big runs this year, so far.  With the passing game being so great to begin the year, I am surprised to see that Dobbins hasn’t broke one yet.  Ohio State will need the running game to be excellent in Beaver Stadium.

With both offenses performing so well this year, both teams will have to rely on their defenses to step up, and limit the big plays.

Defense:

Opponent yards per game: Ohio State is ranked 22 vs Penn State is ranked 36

Rushing Yards per game: Ohio State is ranked 52 vs Penn State is ranked 78

Passing Yards per game: Ohio State is ranked 30 vs Penn State is ranked 24

Third Down Conversions: Ohio State and Penn State are tied for 54th giving up 5.2 3rd downs per game

To me this is where the game will be decided.  With both offenses dominating early on in the season limiting 3rd down conversions will be the key.  It will keep both defenses fresh, and will allow these potent offenses to stay on the field.  Ohio State linebackers will have to play fantastic if Ohio State wants to earn this W.  They CAN NOT crash down on the running back as soon as the play starts out.  McSorley is very good in open space, and will destroy the Ohio State defense if the linebackers do not keep containment of him.  McSorley also can take a hit, and seemingly likes to get hit, as it is rare for him to slide.  He will fight for every yard he can get.

The defensive line is going to miss Nick Bosa for this game.  I for one, and deeply saddened we wont get another Bosa double sack in Happy Valley. But this defensive line is going to play just fine, even without the BEST player in college football.

This game on Saturday night, 7:30 on ABC, will be exciting, and well agonizing.  With both offenses playing so well, and both defenses playing okay, not great not bad, the big plays will come, and honestly they might come often. This game might give Tressel fans heart attacks, but this is who Ohio State is this year.  I feel Ohio State has an advantage over Penn State, since we had to play a good team away from home. (Yes, I know it was mostly Ohio State fans). Penn State’s schedule so far, has been well terrible.  Penn State has also struggled in 3 out of 4 games so far, and just had to use their depth to help them win because none of the teams they played so far have no where near the depth Penn State would have.  But Penn State has shown up in the second half, and have shown why they are the #9 ranked team in the country.

I feel Ohio State is prepared for this game.  I feel the defense will be ready for the #1 offense in the country.  I feel Dwayne will continue to have the Heisman type year in this game.  However, Happy Valley is an animal. It scares the crap out of me every other year.  I hate going their. Those fans are loud.  Weird things happen. Blocked punts. Blocked kicks. However, Ohio State is 2-2 in whiteout games, and after Saturday I believe it will be 3-2.  The game wont be easy, and I for one will be glad when it is over. I’m feeling a score of 56-45.

Ohio State vs Rutgers Preview

 

The first week has come and gone, already.  We wait 7 months only to have the season blink by it seems.  However, we are moving on to the second week of the season where Ohio State will open its Big Ten play with Rutgers.

A successful first week for the Ohio State Buckeyes as we now start the season off 1-0.  The Buckeyes put up 77 points in the first game of the Dwayne Haskin era. 70 of the points being offensive, the other would be a Nick Bosa fumble recovery.  The Buckeyes didn’t have a top power 5 opponent, but the Oregon State Beavers are a power 5 school.  It was the first time since 2016, against Bowling Green, the Buckeyes put up 77 points in a game.  The offense looked stellar.  They could seriously do no wrong.  They had to punt one time, and it was during a drive with Tate Martell at the quarterback position. The Buckeyes had the right game plan, right matchups, and well the better talent.

The defense side also played very well.  There is cause for concern at the safety position. However, Jordan Fuller was absent from the game with hamstring issues.  Also, Marcus Hooker was suspended for the first game of the season and is expected back.  So, the safety concerns may be fixed here in no time.  The only other problem was the first two drives in the second half where Oregon State had back to back touchdown runs of 80 and 78 yards, respectively.  The game was strange.  It was a beautiful day in the first half.  There wasn’t really a cloud in the sky. Both teams went to the locker room for halftime, then had to sit there an extra hour and a half due to a crazy rain storm.  The start of the second half and the rest of the game was then beautiful outside.  Ohio State goes the ball to start, had a quick strike to Terry McLaurin from Haskins for a 75-yard touchdown.  Then Oregon State had an 80-yard run. Ohio State had a 10 play drive for a touchdown that only took 2 minutes and 30 seconds off the clock.  The Oregon State had a 78-yard run.  Four touchdowns in the span of 3 minutes and 54 seconds.  I’m going to say the delay had something to do with the big running plays.  So with the whole offseason and a new quarterback, this was almost a great of a first game as Ohio State could have hoped for.

Rutgers has the number 1 defense in the country in terms of yardage per game.  Seriously.  Haha. Okay, I know many of you would never buy that.  Rutgers did hold the Texas State Bobcats to 176 yards last game.  Held the quarterback to 7/20 for only 79 yards.  But this is Texas State we are talking about.  They finished 2-10 last year.  Rutgers is probably getting better like many, many are hoping for, but I’m not so sure, yet.  Sadly, their best cornerback, Blessuan Austin, will not play on Saturday with an ongoing knee injury.

Rutgers offense is still not quite there yet.  Artur Sitkowski, the quarterback, threw 20/30, but also threw 3 interceptions, 2 of them being in the red zone.  They ran the ball decently for 218 yards.  Johnathan Hilliman had two rushing touchdowns on only 15 carries. But, again, that was against Texas State.

Ohio State has played Rutgers now 4 times.  In 2014, the Buckeyes won 56-17.  In 2015, the Buckeyes won 49-7.  In 2016, the Buckeyes won 58-0.  In 2017, the Buckeyes won 56-0.  I do believe this is the best Rutgers team Chris Ash has had so far.  But I also believe this could very well be the best Ohio State team Urban Meyer has had, especially in terms of recruiting.  Now the first game of the season we saw almost every play work to perfection.  Will that happen here against Rutgers? Probably not.  However, Urban Meyer returned to the practice field this week, and that really only can help the Buckeyes get better.  I see no reason Ohio State should even come close to losing this game, and since everyone is talking about the defense and how awful they were(they weren’t).  We could see a very fired up defense. I am going to predict the score to be 70-6.

What to Expect: Secondary

The Ohio State Buckeyes will have some real experience at the cornerback position. Kendall Sheffield will look to on a good season last year, but not the season most expected the former 5-star, Alabama transfer to have.  Sheffield is looking to be the next first-round pick out of Ohio State at the cornerback position.  I expect him to have the breakout season he wants to achieve. I am going to the guess the Junior will have at least 3 interceptions this year.

On the other side of the field will most likely be Damon Arnette.  Arnette started last year, so this is a no surprise he will be the starter this year.  Splitting carries is Jeffrey Okudauh.  Okudah got the starting job for the Cotton Bowl last year after Denzel Ward chose not to play in the risk of injury before the 2018 NFL Draft.  The coaching staff is high on Okudah and I’m expecting him to have a  huge season.  I wouldn’t be surprised if Okudah didn’t get the starting job at some point in the season, but I’m giving the job to Sheffield and Arnette do to their experience already.  The next in line player is Shaun Wade.  Another 5-star player.  Wade will be a big key for the Buckeyes, especially if one of our other cornerbacks go down with an injury.  Ohio State shouldn’t miss a beat though.  Wade has been committed to being a Buckeye since 2015, and is ready to show Buckeye Nation what he can do.

Jordan Fuller should return as one of the starting safeties. Fuller had a good year last year, and I’m expecting him to have another good year this year.  The big question mark for the Buckeye Secondary is the other safety.  I’m expecting it to be Isiah Pryor who had playing time last year, but not in any real meaningful time.  The safety position is the only real place where the Buckeyes don’t have real depth.  Josh Proctor is coming in this year, but he will be a true freshman.  They also have Brendon White who has only played in 1 game against Rutgers, where the Buckeyes won 56-0.  Shaun Wade may move to the safety position if need be this year since the Buckeyes have 3 reliable corners, but hopefully Fuller and Proctor can stay healthy throughout the year.

The Buckeyes will also miss hype-man Kerry Combs, who left the program to become the secondary coach for the Tennessee Titans.  the Buckeyes are bringing back Taver Johnson who coached the Buckeyes in 2007-2011 with Jim Tressel.  Johnson has coached talent before including Malcolm Jenkins and Kurt Coleman.  I expect the Buckeyes secondary to be the same secondary that has been sending cornerbacks and safeties to the NFL year after year.

 

What to Expect: Linebackers

The Ohio State linebackers had some up and down moments during last season.  The highlight of last season was the Michigan State game.  The low point, sadly, was the game before against the Iowa Hawkeyes who absolutely torched us, and cost us a spot in the College Football Playoffs. A topic I could go on and on about because a certain team played Mercer last year, but I digress.

The 2018 season will feature players that had quite the roll in last season as backups, but played more and more as the season went along.  Tuf Borland will most likely be the starting middle linebacker, as he is the best player for the job. However, he is coming off an Achilles injury where he missed all of spring ball.  Hopefully, he comes back the same player, or even better than last year because this kid has talent.  In the MSU game, he had 11 total tackles with 8 of them being solo and 1 sack.

If Borland can’t go or just loses the starting job, look for Baron Browning to be the next guy up. Browning was the No. 1 linebacker in the 2017 class, and was on the field during special teams last season. I expect Borland and Browning to play a lot this season back and forth, and having two guys with same level of skills is never a bad thing. Browning can also play outside linebacker, so if Borland does come back healthy, expect Browning to be on the field at both middle and outside linebackers.

Justin Hilliard, who lost his starting position to Borland last year, is the older player, but he has dealt with lingering injuries.  If Borland or Browning can’t go Hilliard is looking to improve from last season, and the Buckeyes will need him to be his former 5-star self.

Malik Harrison is expected to be the starting Strongside Linebacker.  Harrison got in games last year in garbage time, and to give the other guys some rest for a play or two, but he did show what he can do, especially in the MSU game.  Dante Booker will most likely be the backup even though he chose to comeback, and forego the NFL Draft.  Booker didn’t have the best of season last year, and that wasn’t entirely his fault.  He has been injured almost his whole career at Ohio State.  He wants to come back and show everyone, including the scouts, what he really can do.

Weakside Linebacker is the big question mark for the Buckeyes.  Replacing 3rd round draft pick Jerome Baker is no easy task.  But expect Keandre Jones to be the starting linebacker with Pete Werner to back up. Both players have seen plenty of time on special teams, but not much action at the linebacker position.  Jones is the the older player which is why I’m giving him the starting job, but Werner and Browning will be coming for the spot.

After the Iowa game, Urban and Greg Schiano made some linebacker changes for the Michigan State, and they payed off big time.  Putting in the young guys really helped the Buckeyes defense come alive.  I expect this season to be much better at the linebacker position, and they will help get the Buckeyes off the field on the 3rd down plays.  The Buckeyes have a history of great linebackers, and this season should be no exception.  With 4 and 5 star players all over the field the Buckeyes should have plenty of depth and talents to keep the NFL linebacker talent alive.

What to Expect: Defensive Line

Ohio State is expected to remain one of the top defensive lines in the country.  Even with three seniors leaving, Jayln Holmes, Tracey Sprinkle and Tyquan Lewis, and one early departure, Sam Hubbard, Ohio State has raw talent. The group is young and looking to make a name for themselves with hard footsteps to follow.

Headlined by Nick Bosa at defensive end.  Bosa is looking to improve his 8.5 sacks and 19 solo sacks a year ago. He is already dropping jaws at his stellar performances and wants to continue his and his family legacy at Ohio State.  In my opinion, Bosa will do just that.  As he had to share snaps last year with second-round draft pick, Tyquan Lewis, Bosa will get plenty of playing time this season, and earn his top 5 draft pick.

On the other side from Bosa is another familiar name, Chase Young.  Young saw playing time last year, but really only in garbage time.  With so many older, more experienced players in front of him, it was hard to get him in.  However, going into his sophomore year Young will get a chance to really show off his talents.  Young has all the makings of being a top ten draft pick, and this year is the start of it. Splitting the snaps with Young and Bosa will be Johnathon Cooper, a redshirt freshman, and Jashon Cornell, a redshirt sophomore. Cooper is the third defensive end and will get the bulk of the playing time alongside Bosa and Young.  Cornell can earn significant playing time if he shows up in camp and on the field.

The middle guys are the big question here.  Dre’mont Jones and Robert Landers saw playing time last year and most likely will be the two starters at the defensive tackle positions.  However, Antwuan Jackson is a transfer from Auburn.  Jackson was going to commit to Ohio State or Auburn back in 2015 but chose Auburn at the time.  Now in 2018, Jackson is where he belongs and will have a huge part on our defensive line.  Haskell Garrett and Davon Hamilton are also “backups.” The coaching staff is loving the depth at the defensive line position and all these players could earn significant time this year.  The coaching staff also loved Tommy Togiai the true freshman who had a great spring and is hoping to get in the rotation.

What I am expecting this year is the defensive line to continue dominating like in years past. The only real problem Ohio State has right now is creating enough game time to get all these players in.  Ohio State has recruited well at the defensive end position ever since Urban got into Columbus, and with Larry Johnson at the helm the only thing stopping these players from making a name for themselves is themselves. Even with all the talent that has left in the last few years, the Buckeyes just keep on reloading.

Tyreke Smith to Visit Buckeyes

College football has become a twelve months a year thing for fans (it always was for coaches). The recruiting season never ends, but is especially noisy after bowl games.

Now it’s spring football time and most programs are back on the field. Anytime a college team is on the field is a time to show the program to recruits.

This weekend Ohio State will host Tyreke Smith, a big time recruit from Cleveland who visited Penn State last weekend (video here).

Smith is a consensus top ten defensive end who undoubtedly is impressed by the NFL success Buckeye linemen have enjoyed. Buckeye line coach Larry Johnson has a reputation for developing talent and in 2016 Joey Bosa burst into a big rookie year.

Defensive line is certainly a position of need. The Buckeyes are likely to lose Sam Hubbard, Tyquan Lewis and Jalyn Homes to the NFL after this year. Joey’s brother Nick could also be gone the following year.

Smith would seem to be a natural Ohio State lean. We will be paying attention.