Preview: #2 Penn State (7-0, BIG 4-0) vs #6 Ohio State (6-1, BIG 4-0)

With a little over 24 hours until the gameday, the anticipation is unbearable.  This highly anticipated clash between two Top 6 BIG teams that are both fighting for a spot in this seasons CFB Playoffs.  A season ago, the higher ranked Buckeyes slept on the Nittany Lions during a White Out and they ended up losing after a FG was returned for a TD.

Black Out at the Shoe

This year Ohio State will host Penn State in another Blackout at the Shoe game that will feature new uniforms for the Buckeyes.  They will be sporting an all gray uniforms that will impress even the most close-minded, traditionalist fans who always seem to complain.

This uniform combination will display the Buckeyes staff willingness to venture outside of the traditional Scarlet and Gray to impress the nation and any recruiting targets that will tune in or be present at the game itself.  This will provide a unique and electric atmosphere that could sway the momentum in the Buckeyes favor because last season they lost at Penn State during a White Out.  The Buckeyes will use this new found swag in their favor to avenge their defeat from a season ago.

Battle of the Dual Threats

J.T. Barrett and Trace McSorley will be leaned on heavily during the entirety of this clash.  Both have the improved as the season progressed and both have the same tools to will their teams to a victory.

J.T. Barrett has improved a lot since the blunder against Oklahoma.  Although it was mostly against inferior teams the Buckeyes high-powered offense is tied for the lead with UCF in scoring offense averaging 47.3 PPG with 44 total TD’s so far this season.  This Buckeye offense will be the toughest challenge for the Nittany Lions this season.  The playmakers are making timely, high impact plays and Barrett is playing at a high, concentrated level, but he will have difficulties against the nations top ranked defense that is giving up 9.6 PPG.

Trace McSorley also has a Top 20 ranked offense coming in at 17th in the nation averaging 40.0 PPG.  They have weapons at every level which will make it interesting to watch.  McSorley has to establish himself early against the inconsistent and often penalized Cornerbacks that Ohio State starts.  Ohio State ranks as the 10th best defense and is giving up 15.4 PPG.

BIA/Linebackers/Rushmen vs Barkley/Gesicki/Hamilton

Ohio State will have their hands full this weekend at every level on defense.  Penn State has by far the most talented offense that is similar to Oklahoma but they have an effective running game with weapons at every level.

McSorley has Saquon Barkley at RB, Daesean Hamilton and a bunch of talent at WR and Mike Gesicki at the TE position.  Combined they make up a formidable offense that could give the Buckeyes trouble early and possibly even often.  Each level have a playmaker and another that is almost as effective as the last.

The Buckeyes must make it a priority to play disciplined and error free to leave victorious.  To do that they must not fall for the misdirection and fakes that Penn State has in their playbook.  They must also bottle up Barkley who is their do it all playmaking back that has Penn State faithful thinking Heisman and eventually a Championship.  Barkely has 1,930 yards combining his one pass, receiving and rushing with 12 total TD’s.

After that the combination of Gesicki and Hamilton scares me a tad bit more that Barkley.  Together they account for 709 yards and 8 touchdowns and that isn’t including Johnson and Blackalls contributions at receiver.

On the Buckeyes side of things, the glaring weakness for Penn State is their Offensive Line which plays into their strength their Rushmen package.  Paired with the Linebackers and Big Play Baker, the Buckeyes could dominate if they control the trenches on defense.  It will not be easy because of McSorley’s ability to run, but it is attainable.

BIA will be challenged in this game until the final whistle blows.  The collection of receivers that the Buckeyes will face poses a threat to them due to their inconsistency and their habit of earning holding and pass interference penalties.

Special Teams Blunders

Special Teams will have a huge chip on their shoulders after last seasons unexpected loss to Penn State.  The recurring storyline for Ohio State is their lack of success or consistency in the Special Teams department, which is coincidentally Urban Meyers specialty.

This season, they have struggled mightily as they limp into this game.  With a combination of giving up big returns to missed or blocked FG’s Penn State could hurt the Buckeyes with Barkley in this phase of the game.

Coach Meyer must be laser focused and the team needs to perform for this phase to avoid another last minute blocked FG.  The importance of this game will not overlook the issues that have plagued the Buckeyes this season and with that, Meyer will look to excel at this phase and all other phases of the game to leave with another win.

Prediction

I personally want to see a blowout win for the Buckeyes but I cannot overlook Penn State because of the many weapons that they possess on both sides of the ball.  This will be another slow burn game that will develop over time.

I believe balance will be the key and Dobbins and Weber will be needed to establish the run while Barrett makes the passes necessary to move the ball into scoring positions.  Barrett will be harassed and the right side will be tested once again.  Prince and Knox will be tested because they were targeted a lot because of their inability to protect Barrett.

Final:  38-31 Buckeyes

 

 

 

 

Recap: #9 Ohio State (6-1, BIG 10 4-0) @ Nebraska (3-4, BIG 10 2-2)

First Half

The Buckeyes won the toss and deferred, which gave Nebraska the first offensive possession of the game.  On the opening kickoff, the Special Teams unit began the game with another error with another free-kick out of bounds penalty that put Nebraska at their 35-yard line.

The Buckeye defense then stepped out on the field and forced a Nebraska punt, but their offense was pinned inside of their 5-yard line.  J.T. Barrett relied heavily on the run game but was also 4-5 despite the windy weather conditions, but J.K. Dobbins scored his 5th TD of the year on a 52-yard sweep toward the left side of the line and broke free with his speed and a well-timed stiff arm before marching into the end zone.

Nick Bosa barely missed an opportunity for another strip sack, but the defense turned Nebraska away once again, but on the ensuing punt return the Buckeyes were flagged for holding which negated the good field position.

With that penalty, the Buckeyes begin another drive in less than desirable field position, but Barrett was ready this drive.  He was 2-3 for 20 yards and he showed the willingness to air it out with a deep shot that fell incomplete.  He was more effective on the ground rushing for 18-yards to convert on a 3rd down before scampering for 6 yards for 6 more points.

The Buckeye offense is clicking after scoring on 96-yard and 85-yard drives.  Nebraska looked more efficient and engineered a drive into Buckeye territory, but a questionable holding call shuts the door on a scoring opportunity before another punt.

Barrett took the field position and drove another 80 yards for another score, this time to K.J. Hill for 16-yards on a drag route.  The Buckeye defense then stuffed another 3rd and short and got Nebraska to punt again.

On this long, 71 yard drive, Ohio State came out with another balanced attack where he mixed it up between Weber runs and with bullets to Victor before airing it out for 31-yards to McLaurin on a great corner route putting the Buckeyes up 28-0.

Stanley Morgan Jr makes his first catch of the game nearly midway through the second quarter for 8-yards.  Shortly after Big Play Baker ruined a swing pass to Ozigbo and got a huge lick in on the running back.  J.D. Spillman nearly scored on a 30-yards but was brought down by a shoelace tackle from Jordan Fuller.

J.D. Spillman nearly scored on a 30-yards but was brought down by a shoelace tackle from Jordan Fuller.  Fuller was targeted a lot on the Nebraska drive but was turned away while attempting to pick on him on a 4th down attempt.

Barrett took shot after shot, showing patience in the pocket and he found his receivers before taking it in the end zone for another rushing TD to put the Buckeyes up 35-0 with a little over a minute left in the half.

At the break, Ohio State leads 35-0 holding Nebraska to 116 total yards of offense and just 5 first downs.  Ohio State ends the half with 366 yards of offense and 22 first downs.

Second Half

Barrett continued the onslaught after taking another long drive for a score with a 9 play 75-yard drive.  He found Baugh for a big gain before hitting Berry on a corner route to add to the lead.

Nebraska beat the zone defense for a big-play by J.D. Spillman, who has had been the lone playmaker for the Cornhuskers for a 77-yard score.  He has 5 catches and he has been hurting the Buckeyes and has 143 yards so far.

The theme of the game is long, extended drives from the Buckeyes.  Barrett had another that ended this 75-yard drive with a pass to Marcus Baugh for an 18-yard score after beating man coverage.

The Buckeyes surrendered their first pass interference penalty after Sheffield was caught grabbing at the jersey.  Not a bad mistake, but at least the improvement is evident.  Afterwards, Ozigbo took a screen for 35-yards to the Buckeye 20.  Morgan made a nice grab after a mistimed jump by Ward to make it 49-14.

Barrett responds with a 15 play, 66-yard drive, that chewed up the clock before finding Hill for another red zone TD for what should be his 5th and final TD of the game.  He should finish with 325 yards and 5 TD’s on 27 of 33 attempts and 2 more TD’s with 48-yards on the ground.

Burrow and Haskins made appearances late in the 4th to get some valuable reps.  Amir Riep seals the deal with an interception with no time remaining.  The Buckeyes head toward a bye week before hosting Penn State at home.

 

 

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.

Recap: Maryland (3-2, BIG 10 1-1) at #10 Ohio State (5-1, BIG 10 3-0)

First Half

Maryland won the toss at the beginning of the game and they deferred to give the Buckeyes the opening possession of the game.  J.T. Barrett took the Buckeyes 70 yards on just 9 plays on 4 for 5 attempts before running it in from the 2-yard line to put the Buckeyes up 7-0.

On the first Maryland possession, it only lasted 3 plays and 1:31 minutes long.  The Buckeye defense pressured Bortenschlager and Nick Bosa blew by the Terps linemen for a strip sack that led to the Buckeyes first defensive touchdown of the season courtesy of Jerome Baker.

The Special Teams play, Urban Meyer’s baby constantly hurts the Buckeyes.  Ty Johnson swung the momentum in their favor as he took it to the house from 100 yards out to cut the Buckeye lead in half.

Barrett gets the Buckeyes back on track as he completes a swing pass to Mike Weber that ended at the Maryland 12-yard line before hitting Binjimen Victor on a skinny post in traffic for another touchdown, but unfortunately, due to a fumbled snap on the extra point attempt, the Buckeyes couldn’t extend the lead much more.  The Buckeyes still lead 20-7.

Ohio State was the victim of the much-hated targeting penalty that earned Denzel Ward a trip to the Buckeyes locker room.  Appearing much worse than it was, Ward appeared to be well within the target zone, but to no avail.  A missed opportunity and a bad call that cost the Buckeyes another turnover and a starter on defense, but they have more talent waiting in the wings for their opportunity to show their worth.

Another starter, this time starting RG Brandon Bowen suffered a lower leg injury during an offensive play, which seemed to kill the momentum and the rhythm.  It had ill effects on the Buckeyes as it resulted in another Special Teams gaffe as Munford and Pridgeon let a defender through for the block.

Once again, the Buckeyes stand up and defend their home turf as they turn away the Maryland offense once again, this time it was on a 4th and 5 attempt.  On the next Buckeye possession, J.K. Dobbins uncharacteristically coughed the ball up as Chandler Burkett rocked him on his rushing attempt.  Like clockwork, Ohio States defense does their job once again to force another punt.

The momentum not in the Buckeyes favor as they are forced to punt for the first time, but Chrisman shanked it inside of their 50 yard line to give Maryland possession in Buckeye territory, but Big Play Baker showed up to the party and sacked Bortenschlager on 4th down to stop the Terps offense

J.T. Barrett drove the ball down the field with his stable of running backs before finding Marcus Baugh tip-toeing on the sideline for a 10-yard touchdown to put the Buckeyes up 27-7.

The Buckeyes with some trickery after forcing another Maryland punt as they hand the ball off to Dobbins before he did the same for Campbell as he took it for 24-yards on the reverse to extend the Buckeye lead to 34-7., for a 24 rushing score to extend the Buckeyes lead to 34-7.

The Buckeye defense stiffened up and gave Barrett the ball on the 50-yard line.  Hill actually returned it for a touchdown but a block in the back by Riep cost them.  Barrett drove 50 yards to add another score when he found Austin Mack with 10 seconds left to extend the halftime lead to 41-7.

The defense has been the star of the game so far and going into halftime, the smothering defense held the Terps to 26 total yards, which is so far, a good sign for this team looking ahead.

Second Half

The second half picked up where the first left off as Ohio State started with a kickoff out of bounds, another Special Teams penalty.  In obvious distress over the error, Urban looks to the ground in disbelief.  Tyquan Lewis shuts down Bortenschlager as he sacks him on 3rd and long, which is their fourth sack of the day.

Barrett takes the opening second-half possession and takes the first play 35 yards to the Maryland 22 yard line, but Nuerenberger missed the easy field goal for another miss on Special Teams.

The Maryland offense couldn’t muster up any points as they forfeit the ball on another punt.  Barrett and Weber punished the Terps on an 11 play drive that went for 65 yards before Weber punched in his fourth touchdown of the season.11 plays 65 yard drive that resulted in another Buckeye touchdown.

Maryland seemed to be clicking but Chase Young got the strip sack on Bortenschalger, then Cornell recovered the ball.  Dobbins took the first touch for 14-yards to the Maryland 13 before juking a Terp before punching it in for more Buckeye points–Buckeyes lead 55-7.

Another Buckeyes was ejected by another targeting penalty, so next week at Nebraska Damon Arnette will be out for the first half of the game.

Maryland back-up running back Leake punched it in on 4th and short to cut into the insurmountable lead, but the Buckeyes still lead 62-14.  The game ends with the same result, but there are still a few improvements that need to be made.

Next week they visit Nebraska which will be another opportunity to show how much they have grown.  With Arnette being unavailable in the first half, the players after him need to be ready, and Special Teams needs to be on point.  Enjoy the win, Go Bucks!

 

 

 

Preview: Maryland (3-1, BIG 10 1-0) at Ohio State (4-1, BIG 10 2-0)

Game day is almost upon us, and in this weeks game, Ohio State will host a scrappy Maryland Terrapins team.  They shocked the world as they went into Austin and defeated the host team, they blew out an overmatched Towson team and they held on to beat Minnesota, again as the visiting team.  Two impressive road wins, and now they find themselves in the same situation as they will once again be the visiting team.

What To Watch For:

Third Stringer Magic?

Max Bortenschlager is Maryland’s current starting quarterback after the previous two starters both suffered season-ending injuries to put him in this very position.  He will make his second start, but this time he will start in the Shoe, one of the most electric and loud environments.  He will try to shake the nerves as he enters his first true road game environment.

So far this year Bortenschlager has been decent so far for the Terrapins, throwing for 290 yards, 3 touchdowns against 2 interceptions and rushing for 34 yards and 2 more scores on the ground.

Bortenschlager will have to be on top of his game against Ohio State, he will need to take care of the football and he will have to lead his team without any mistakes or else the Ohio State defense will make them pay dearly.

The Return of Big Play Barrett?

J.T. Barrett, courtesy of Bucknuts, is irritated with the constant criticism that has plagued him this season, the deep ball struggles.  Ever since the dreadful Oklahoma game, Barrett has been the ire of a lot of criticism from everyone from former Buckeyes, fans and even by top-tier high school recruits and targets.

Barrett actually did pretty well against a depleted Rutgers secondary that was missing its best cornerback, but that is not an excuse because the next two up had enough experience and were upperclassmen to the program.  Barrett was 4 for 4 on deep passing attempts, even though one was called back due to an offensive pass interference call against Dixon, but none the less, he showed improvement.

The Rutgers game was mostly a tuneup game, but it contained a well-deserved opportunity to rebound and to regain confidence, and they achieved that after putting 56 on the board.  Not only has Barrett gained confidence, his receivers are starting to break open, and the progress is there, the execution is not there, but they are close.  I wouldn’t be surprised if the Buckeyes put up big numbers in this game.

D.J. Moore/Ty Johnson versus the Back Seven:

DJ Moore will be another test for Arnette and Sheffield because he hasn’t been stopped yet this season.  He has found the end zone in all four games, he has had at least 8 catches averaging a shade over 100 yards per game, and he has 5 touchdowns so far this season.

He will be accompanied by Ty Johnson, who also has the ability that Moore has, with his ability to score and give defense fits.  In three of the four games, he was well over 120 yards, and the only team to shut him off was UCF, as they held him scoreless and to only 25 yards.  The Linebackers and the Defensive Backs will have their hands full this game, but they will lean on their Rushmen package to confuse Bortenschlager and force turnovers.  Will they be up to the challenge?

Prediction:  This game is another home game before traveling on the road to visit the Cornhuskers.  This is a trap game that will have that slow burn effect before the Buckeyes impose their will and their talent will be the difference.  Maryland is an upcoming team that will keep it close. D.J. Moore scores during the game, but Johnson gets shut down as Baker leads the second half defensive charge.  It will be a sack party, with at least 3 and 2 huge turnovers to salt the game away (1 pick/fumble).  J.T. will have a huge day and Haskins makes an appearance to remind them of what they lost out on.  

Buckeyes over Maryland 42-24

 

The Buckeyes, Literally Control Their Own Destiny: AP Top 25, Remaining Schedule Breakdown

AP Top 25

  1. ALA (5-0)
  2. CLEM (5-0)
  3. OKLA (4-0)  ***Week 3 loss at OSU***
  4. PSU (5-0)  ***Week 9 at OSU***
  5. UGA (5-0)
  6. WASH (5-0)
  7. MICH (4-0)  ***Week 13 at UM***
  8. TCU(4-0)
  9. WIS (4-0)  ***Potential Conference Championship Game Opponent***
  10. OSU (4-1)
  11. WSU (5-0)
  12. AUB (4-1)
  13. MIAMI (3-0)
  14. USC (4-1)
  15. OKST (4-1)
  16. VT (4-1)
  17. LOU (4-1)
  18. USF (5-0)
  19. SDSU (5-0)
  20. UTAH (4-0)
  21. FLA (3-1)
  22. ND (4-1)
  23. WVU (3-1)
  24. NCST(4-1)
  25. UCF (3-0)

Remaining Schedule:

  • Week 6:  Home against Maryland
  • Week 7:  At Nebraska
  • Week 8:  Bye
  • Week 9:  Home against #4 Penn State
  • Week 10:  At Iowa
  • Week 11:  Home against Michigan State
  • Week 12:  Home against Illinois
  • Week 13:  At Michigan

My Observations for Ohio State:.

  • After trouncing Rutgers 56-0, they moved up one spot and back into the Top 10.  The Buckeyes could re-enter the Top 5 if they take care of business.  They will face Penn State at home in week 9, they will travel to Ann Arbor for The Game and if they win the East Division, they could face Wisconsin in the BIG 10 Conference Championship Game.
  • The Buckeyes have a string of tough opponents left on the schedule.  Maryland, Nebraska, Iowa and Michigan State are tricky opponents that could give or that have given the Buckeyes problems.  Nebraska and Iowa are tough atmospheres to play in.  Maryland is a team that gets better, but they are on their third-string quarterback after their top two players suffered season-ending injuries.  Michigan State has beaten the Buckeyes during the worst times and this season could be the same if the Buckeyes aren’t ready.
  • Illinois is still trying to find their way, but in the Battle for Illibuck, anything could happen.  We all saw what Juice Williams did, and we should be cautious not to write them off because it still is a rivalry game.
  • Hypothetically, if Ohio State beats Penn State in week 9, and in dominant fashion (very doubtful), they will most definitely be back in the 5-7 spot.  Teams will eventually lose in between, but the final roadblock (literally on the road) will be TTUN.  Ohio State will travel to Ann Arbor to end the regular season, and it is going to be a tough game if both teams are ranked high.  If they beat Penn State, TTUN will be looking to spoil the Buckeyes CFB Playoff hopes.
  • The Buckeye offense and defense still has a few kinks to work out.  They committed 10 penalties for 106 yards.  They will need to limit the penalties if they want to be successful.

The overall feeling is that the Buckeyes control their own destiny.  If they falter, it will cost them another CFB Playoff berth.  If they win out and win huge, they will most likely be in this years big dance once again.

With the depth at the majority of their positions, and the talent at hand, they could run the table, but they need to be impressive throughout.  They seem to have found some answers with Tuf Borland while Worley recuperates, and the Defensive Backs are getting better every week.

 

 

Rapid Reactions: Five Quick Observations

  • The Buckeyes were completely dominant in this game.  The Defensive Line has an army, and they showed why they are considered to be a Top 5 unit.  They lived in the Rutgers backfield for the entirety of the game.
  • Offensive Onslaught, 628-209!  The Buckeye offense looked poised and confident, two things that lacked early on in the season.  Now, with the offense seemingly clicking, the Buckeyes will continue to build on their success so far this season.
  • QB and RB Depth.  Barrett, Burrow, Haskins and Martell, and Dobbins, McCall, Weber and Williams.  The depth at Ohio State is crazy, but it is a good problem to have.  Barrett had another good game, Haskins and Burrow showed that they can lead, and Martell waits for his name to be called with Emory Jones coming in after Barrett says goodbye.  The QB battle will be fierce.  Weber scored his first three touchdowns of the year, Dobbins was his usual self, running hard, and McCall lit it up and scored twice, his first two of the year and racked up 138 all-purpose yards.  Williams was unable to make the trip to New Jersey and Master Teague and Jaelin Gill will be coming in next year and the depth will once again be a trendy topic.
  • Penalty Monster.  The penalty monster appeared again and it has hurt the Buckeyes a ton this season.  Prior to the game, they were second in the nation in penalty yardage.  This game was no different as they were penalized 10 times for 106 yards with the targeting play on Jahsen Wint being the most notable one.  There was some improvement in this category though because there were no defensive pass interference and holding penalties on the corners.
  • Dixon, Zone 6 Revival.  After multiple seasons of being injured and almost walking away from the game he loves, Dixon showed the nation how talented he is and can be.  He is improving on his craft is starting to impose his will and gain separation.  The rest of Zone 6 has also improved.  Their confidence is rising and they are beginning to help Barrett’s as well.  They need to continue to improve cause their schedule will get harder as time goes by.

Recap: #11 Ohio State (4-1, BIG 2-0) at Rutgers (1-4, BIG 0-2)

First Half:

The Buckeyes began the game with the ball first, but their playcalling was sporadic, and it resulted in a game-opening punt on their first possession.  Their defense stepped up to stop the Scarlet Knights on their own first drive.

On Ohio State’s next possession, J.T. Barrett rattled off a huge run for 37 yards to put him over the 10,000-yard mark to be the first Buckeye to meet that mark.  As they inched closer toward the end zone, Mike Weber punched it in for his first touchdown of the season for the first score of the game.  On their third possession, they were forced to punt once again.

On the next Rutgers drive, they benefited from a bad punt by Chrisman, but they were backed up further after a block in the back penalty.  Rutgers drove the ball inside of the Ohio State 20-yard line, but they were turned away by the defense after Tracy Sprinkle tipped a pass to Dante Booker for the spinning interception.

On the ensuing possession, the offense was clicking as Barrett found his receivers and his Tight End for short pass plays.  J.K. Dobbins also flashed his speed and power as he broke off a 34-yard run on a 3rd and 2 to the Rutgers 44 yard line.  Mike Weber rotated in and scored on another short run to push the lead to 14-0.

After a combination of punts between both teams, J.T. Barrett caught a Rutgers defensive back looking into the backfield and before you know it, Johnnie Dixon was left by himself and he took the ball 70-yards for another Buckeye touchdown.  Dixon stayed hot and tippy-toed the sideline for another long score of 39-yards to extend the lead to 28-0.

Right before halftime, Weber scored for the third time as the Buckeyes take a commanding 35-0 lead after the half.  The yardage discrepancy was encouraging for the Buckeyes.  They led 336-77 in total offensive yardage.

Second Half:

The Defense picked up where they left off as they forced another Rutgers punt to open the second half.  Coincidentally, the Buckeyes were turned down on 4th down on the Rutgers 40, but they were just looking to run some time off the clock.

On the next Rutgers play their backup quarterback threw behind his receiver then Ward picked the ball off for their second turnover of the game.  The Buckeyes then had a 60 yarder to Dixon that was taken away because he pushed off, but the drive was eventually capped off after Barrett found Victor for a 23-yard strike.

The Rutgers then found themselves in Ohio State territory after a screen pass was successful. The Buckeye defense then stiffined up in the Red Zone as they turned away Rutgers on 4th down. Barrett finished the game with around 4 minutes remaining in the game, giving Haskins more reps for Ohio State.  He finished 14 for 22 for 275 yards and 3 touchdowns and 10 rushes for 89 yards.

Barrett finished the game with around 4 minutes remaining in the game, giving Haskins more reps for Ohio State.  He finished 14 for 22 for 275 yards and 3 touchdowns and 10 rushes for 89 yards.

Haskins took some time to get a rhythm, but he eventually lofted a pass to Demario McCall on a wheel route for a 35-yard score to add to the route, 49-0.

On 3rd and 7, Jahsen Wint committed a costly targeting penalty that gave Rutgers first down yards.  It only adds to the penalty tally, but younger players will learn.  The defense forced another punt that nearly was fumbled away by McCall, but they regained possession at the Ohio State 2 yard line.

Joe Burrow came into salt the game away and with less than 10 minutes left in the 4th quarter, Ohio State is looking to run time off of the clock.  The drive took 3:23 but it featured the forgotten man in Tote Nation Demario McCall.  He racked up 80 rushing yards as he ran for 48 yards for his second touchdown of the game and the season.  For the game, McCall has 11 carries for 103 yards and a catch for 35 yards for two total touchdowns.

Rutger drove the ball with 13 plays, which is the most plays called against the Buckeyes, but they were turned away after Hart missed a field goal in Buckeye territory.  Game Buckeyes.  This is the second shutout of Rutgers, last year 58-0 and this year 56-0.

 

Preview: #11 Ohio State (3-1, BIG 1-0) at Rutgers (1-3, BIG 0-1)

Coach Urban Meyer and his Ohio State Buckeyes will travel to Piscataway, New Jersey to face a familiar face in Coach Chris Ash and his Scarlet Knights.  This contest will pit a scrappy Rutgers team that has displayed improvements, but this game should still get out of hand.

Team Stats

Points Per Game 39.3 27.3
Points Allowed Per Game 20.0 18.3
Total Yards 549.0 326.8
Yards Passing 319.3 163.5
Yards Rushing 229.8 163.3
Yards Allowed 367.3 298.3
Pass Yards Allowed 228.3 179.5
Rush Yards Allowed 139.0 118.8

As provided by ESPN, both teams both teams differ in each category, with the closest being Points Allowed Per Game.  Other than that, the offensive statistics favor the Buckeyes, but the defensive statistics favor the Scarlet Knights, with the caveat being that difference in competition.  The Buckeyes faced moderate to great offenses, Indiana and Oklahoma, where Rutgers played a turnover-prone Nebraska team and a Washington offense that is still trying to find their identity.

The Buckeyes faced moderate to great offenses, Indiana and Oklahoma, where Rutgers played a turnover-prone Nebraska team and a Washington offense that is still trying to find their identity. This is by no means an excuse or a shoe-in for a blowout, but it could still be over by halftime.

What To Watch For:

1.)  BACK TO THE START, LEGRAND REUNION.

The current Associate Head Coach and Defensive Coordinator at Ohio State will come back to his old stomping grounds in New Jersey, where he received his first opportunity as a Head Coach.  Schiano was so successful at Rutgers, he eventually received an offer to become the Head Coach of the Tampa Bay Bucs, which did not work out that well.

Now, Coach Meyer and Coach Schiano will face a familiar face in Coach Ash, who was a former pupil of Meyer.  He helped recruit a few of the current BIA members prior to his departure for a tougher challenge, and this game of chess will be one to watch.

A former Rutger player, Eric LeGrand who was paralyzed after a collision against Army will be in attendance to reunite with his former coach, which is a story to follow throughout the day.  It has been five years since that tragic day, but the reunion will be a sight to see even though they are pulling for their respective teams.

2.)  SCHIANO VERSUS ASH.

Both Coaches share the same qualities as both coaches put their DB’s on islands, playing similar styles.  Both benefited from Coach Coombs and both were quality recruiters for the Buckeyes, but now they are pitted against each other. The Old versus the New.

Ash has been invaluable on the recruiting trail and he has brought in a lot of talent in the secondary.  He has developed the Buckeyes prior to leaving and now his former players have thrived in Schiano’s first year, but this year has been a little rough around the edges.

There is no doubt that Schiano and Coombs will have their guys ready, but Coach Ash got some terrible news this week as his best Cover Corner Blessuan Austin suffered a season-ending injury that will leave him thin at Cornerback.  He has two capable bodies, but behind them is a lot of inexperience, which could benefit the Buckeyes offense.

3.)  QB, WR, CB & LB IMPROVEMENTS.

In what seems to be a constant topic within Buckeye Nation, will there be miscues between J.T. Barrett and Zone 6?  Last week, they improved in most departments with Barrett missing a few easy throws even though it was against an overmatched UNLV team.

His decision making was better along with the playcalling, but they still have to work out a few more kinks.  He missed a few throws, but he did well enough in a little less than a half.

His receivers also did well, showing the ability to earn yards after the catch and finding the empty spaces in zone coverage for easy receptions.  They regained their confidence and they will continue to improve against a thin Rutgers team who just lost their best player.

On the other side of the ball, the Buckeyes are struggling at the Cornerback and Middle Linebacker positions.  The Corners are placed on islands all game, but from time to time they get beat and they start grabbing at the receivers to make a play.  This often causes penalties that give the opposite team easy conversions, which often lead to scores.

The Corners are placed on islands all game, but from time to time they get beat and they start grabbing at the receivers to make a play.  This often causes penalties that give the opposite team easy conversions, which often lead to scores.

The Linebackers have improved more than the Corners with the addition of Tuf Borland, who is making plays and improving after each contest.  Big Play Baker has regressed and Dante Booker has been making plays, but he is just as inconsistent as the others.

Prediction:  49-14 Ohio State defeats Rutgers

 

The Good, The Bad and The Ugly

The Good:

The most impressive phase of the game came from the playmakers from Zone 6 and TE Rashod Berry.  In the first time in a while, the Buckeyes found 7 different receivers for scores, setting a new Big Ten record.

J.T. Barrett was taken out just before halftime, but he was very close to the team record for passing yards.  Barrett was 14 yards short of the 10,000-yard mark, which he will break when he travels to Piscataway, New Jersey to face a familiar face in Coach Ash.  The Rutgers head man will most likely have a few tricks up his sleeve, because of his familiarity of the Buckeye playmakers.

Dwayne Haskins had himself an up and down game.  He finished 15 for 23 for 228 yards and two touchdowns, but he did not finish without any errors.  He forced a pass to a well-covered receiver and he watched as the defender took it 65-yards to the house.

Joey Burrow made his debut after being cleared by the team doctors and he picked up where he left off.  Prior to coming out, he hit Trevon Grimes for a pair of 6-yarders before finishing off by hitting C.J. Saunders for a huge gain.  This makes the future bright and if Ohio State manages to hold onto the commitment of Emory Jones, their Quarterback room will be filled with talented playmakers that includes Tate Martell.

The Bad:  

I know that this is not Buckeye related directly, but if you follow recruiting, you know that Florida State has been neck and neck with the Buckeyes for top tier, blue-chippers year after year.  Yes, the ACC won the last CFB Championship and they are pretty darn good, but this might open some doors for the Buckeyes.

With this loss, the Seminoles fall to 0-2 for the first time since 1989, where they rebounded and finished the season 10-2 and with a Fiesta Bowl victory.  While teams can falter early and still make the playoffs (Ohio State loss to Virginia Tech in 2014), this might hurt the Noles on the recruiting trail, which would benefit Ohio State.

The Ugly:

Kendell Sheffield needs to get better, and fast.  It is like clockwork, he constantly gets beat week after week, and he is often the guilty party on defense as he is responsible for multiple PI and holding penalties that extend their opponents drives.

He needs to get better and with Sheffield being the starter at the nickel, he will always be scrutinized for being a part of the BIA.  It will get harder as the season gets further into conference play as the talent they will face will be better than what they have faced so far, minus the ones from the Indiana and Oklahoma games.