Bank Blog: Week-Eight Ohio State Preview

Ohio State travels to Rutgers this week looking to stay undefeated and keep their number-one ranking. How will this game unfold for the Buckeyes?

- I love the move to J.T. Barrett and think it had to be made for Ohio State to become the type of offense Urban Meyer wants to put out on the field. Obviously, it's hard to bench a national championship quarterback, especially one that has never lost a game, and time will tell if this was the right move or not. I believe it is the right move, although like any big decision there are risks involved.

- Barrett looked great against Penn State, and that made Meyer's call a lot easier. What about this week against Rutgers? The Knights are not horrible, and have been playing better lately. They had a miracle win over Indiana last week, and nearly beat Michigan State the week before that. Can they defend Barrett and Zeke Elliott? 

- Rutgers is actually pretty good defending the run, but has an awful pass defense. Assuming they sell out defensively to stop Barrett and Zeke, will Ohio State be able to throw the football well enough to make Rutgers pay for loading the box? Here's where Barrett has to earn his keep, and he simply must be able to get the football to Mike Thomas, Jalin Marshall, Braxton Miller and Nick Vannett. We haven't seen Barrett throw it much this year, and what we saw prior to the past few games was not pretty. The key to this game offensively for Ohio State is Barrett throwing the football. 

- For the Ohio State defense, injuries are starting to pile up and depth is now being called into question. The loss of Tommy Schutt might not seem like a big deal, but the guys playing behind him haven't exactly set the world on fire this season. Joel Hale, Michael Hill, Donovan Munger and Tracy Sprinkle need to be better as a group. I would slide Joey Boisa inside in obvious passing situations, which gets your best four on the field on the defensive line. Sam Hubbard comes in to join Adolphus Washington, Tyquan Lewis and Bosa in this set. 

- For the linebackers, the Big Three needs to be healthy and out on the field. Depth behind Darron Lee, Josh Perry and Raekwon McMillan is unproven and has not been impressive. Lee coming off the edge could be huge for Ohio State in this game, as I can see Chris Ash using Lee to disrupt blocking schemes in the run game and also pressuring the passer. This could be Darron Lee's coming out party, and I'm expecting him to be a big factor Saturday night. 

- The defensive backs are playing at a high level, and I expect that to continue against Rutgers. I don't see the Knights hurting Ohio State too much through the air, and really think Rutgers will look to pound the football at the Buckeye defense. If Rutgers can run the ball effectively, then they can hang around in this game. That would also open up their passing game, but if they're one dimensional and have to throw it 50 times they're in big trouble. 

- The key defensively for Ohio State is to stop the run, and that might be asking a lot because they have been getting gashed for the last month. There's no doubt that Ash's point of emphasis is to stop the passing game, but this week might be the time to come off that strategy. I would like to see Ohio State stack the line of scrimmage to stop the run by bringing Tyvis Powell into the box, and dare Rutgers to throw. Winning first down and putting them in second and long situations is the key. Make Rutgers throw when they have to, not when they want to, and you turn Bosa, Washington and Lee loose to go get the quarterback. 

- If Ohio State can stop the run defensively, and Barrett can throw the football well, then the Buckeyes are going to have a fun time in New Jersey. There is a talent gap between the two teams, but we've seen talent neutralized this year by bad teams like Northern Illinois and Indiana. If Ohio State goes back to being penalty laden and a turnover machine, then they aren't that good of a football team. The move to Barrett should make the offense more efficient, and less of a street ball operation. 

- THE PREDICTION: Finally got back on the beam last week, as the call of Ohio State beating Penn State 38-17, was pretty close with the Buckeyes winning 38-10. What about this week? I would feel more confident predicting a blowout if I had actually seen Barrett manage a whole game this year, but I have not seen that yet. I think this week of practice should help him, as should the upcoming bye week. I can see Ohio State coming off the bye as a monster, but I'm a little bit more cautious about this week. Let's call it: Ohio State 42  Rutgers 20

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