Football is finally back and as the Buckeyes take the field for week one, it sure looks as though Ohio State will start 1-0.
Despite losing a plethora of talent to the NFL draft, the Buckeyes have plenty of unproven talent that is champing at the bit to show what it can do. On the other side, Bowling Green is breaking in a new coach on one of the biggest stages in college football against a hungry team. That is not exactly a recipe for success, especially considering its starting quarterback and leading wide receiver from a year ago have been lost to graduation.
I expect the Buckeye offense to be much more balanced than a year ago and expect to see standout performances from Noah Brown and J.T. Barrett. On the other side of the football, I expect the Falcons to hit a few big plays against one of the youngest defenses in Ohio State history. With no seniors and only three returning starters, the aerial attack from the Falcons is likely to hit the young Buckeye secondary with a few jabs in this one.
In the end however, Ohio State has just too much talent. Mike Weber comes close to or eclipses the 100 yard mark, Barrett throws for 200 or more, and while the Buckeye defense gives up some big plays, it’s not enough to lose. SCORE: Ohio State 38, Bowling Green 17
With so many new faces in starting roles this season for Ohio State, I expect Saturday’s game against Bowling Green to be relatively close in the first half. The new starters will probably have jitters early on, which may lead to some mental mistakes.
Additionally, Bowling Green has players with experience at critical positions on both sides of the ball. Fifth-year quarterback James Knapke started 13 games in 2014 and is expected to be a reliable signal caller for the Falcons, while junior linebacker Austin Valdez is a menace on defense, as he led the team with 101 tackles last year.
It may take a quarter or two for the OSU defense to acclimate to Bowling Green’s offense as well. First-year coach Mike Jinks was a running backs coach at Texas Tech, a program known for a fast-paced offense with wild formations, and he will assuredly implement aspects of that offense at Bowling Green.
Once the Buckeyes make their adjustments to the Falcons’ offense and their new starters get their feet under them, I expect Ohio State to pull away in the second half. Quarterback J.T. Barrett will put his teammates in the right places to make plays on offense. And junior linebacker Raekwon McMillan will come up with critical stops for the Buckeye defense. Ultimately, I see OSU’s talent becoming too much for the Falcons to handle, and that’s when OSU will pull away. SCORE: Ohio State 49, Bowling Green 24
No matter how many players Ohio State has coming back, a loss to an in-state team in the opener isn’t going to happen. Bowling Green is one of the more talented teams in Ohio – not saying much when nobody even comes close to Ohio State – but the Falcons just won’t be good enough to give the Buckeyes a run for their money.
There might be a couple of half stumbles along the way, but the Buckeyes should start early on Saturday. I expect J.T. Barrett to come out looking like the end-of-2015 version of himself to lead the offense to early points. By halftime, Ohio State should have the game in hand with at least 30 points already on the board.
Bowling Green will score too, though, but not enough to make it a nervous talk during the break. The second half could have the Falcons scoring more than Ohio State, though, just because the Buckeyes are so young and need to get those young players as many game reps as possible. Barrett probably won’t end up with a big statistical day, but guys such as Mike Weber, Curtis Samuel and Noah Brown should steal the show while backup quarterback Joe Burrow will get his chance to show what he can do in the second half.
On defense, the Buckeyes should have plenty of success rushing the passer with two of the best defensive ends in the nation. Beyond that, Bowling Green will probably throw it around some and score a few times, but none of it will be nearly enough to give Ohio State a scare on opening day. SCORE: Ohio State 44, Bowling Green 24
Yet another football season is here, and I’m straddling the line between Columbus and Ann Arbor these days. In fact, I’m twice as close to the home of the Wolverines as the Buckeyes, and I’ll be in Michigan Stadium when the 2016 season kicks off Saturday thanks to a freelance gig.
I am more interested in the goings-on in Columbus, though. Living in Wood County, the home of Bowling Green State University, I’ve taken a passing interest in Falcons football, and I think a matchup between the Buckeyes and BG would have been a heck of a show a year ago.
There was a point last year, when the Buckeyes were struggling scoring points and the Falcons’ offensive road show was piling up numbers across America, that I thought BGSU might have been able to take Ohio State. The Falcons’ home bludgeoning at the hands of rival Toledo in early November shut me up, but BG/OSU still would have been a fun game in 2015 considering the biggest storyline for this game is how each team will go about replacing its depleted stars.
As such, I’m excited to see how each team handles the situation. For Ohio State, how will the new kids do in roles that are either newly expanded or flat-out new? I want to see Mike Weber, Michael Jordan, Dante Booker and Malik Hooker in the lineup, and I’m very interested to see who steps up at wideout especially.
And I admit I hope the Falcons turn in a respectable performance while breaking in a new head coach, quarterback, running back and receiving crew. I think if BG hangs in early, they can keep it a game for a while. SCORE: Ohio State 45, Bowling Green 23
Predictions are never easy (just check out my track record in this space over the past few seasons) but they’re made even more complicated when they are for the first game of the season.
The buildup to Ohio State’s season opener against Bowling Green has centered on uncertainties. For their part, the Buckeyes are breaking in 16 new starters on offense and defense and found out this week that they would not have receiver Torrance Gibson (suspension) or safety Cam Burrows (injury) for the entire season. The Falcons, meanwhile, are replacing 11 starters and will be playing under coach Mike Jinks for the first time.
That’s all to say that predicting this game is more of a crapshoot than usual, but I’ll give it a whirl.
I think the Buckeyes will fare well offensively, as the rebuilt offensive line will be able to bully a smaller Bowling Green front and allow Mike Weber and J.T. Barrett to get going on the ground. I also think that receiver Noah Brown and hybrid Curtis Samuel will play well. Pencil in each of those four players for one touchdown with Barrett finding pay dirt on the ground twice.
On the other end I expect some mistakes out of the Ohio State defense. Those errors, I believe, will be more the result of a lack of communication and continuity than a lack of talent, as the Buckeyes have plenty of that. The Falcons, however, will spread the Buckeyes out and attack through the air to some success, though I think that Gareon Conley gets his first interception of the year.
All told, I think the Buckeyes win comfortably but leave the opener with a few things to work on. SCORE: Ohio State 38, Bowling Green 17