Ohio State and Bowling Green are set to meet Saturday for the first time since the 2006 season and for the first time since leaving the Falcons, Urban Meyer is set to take on his former team. With that, we give you five things to watch for once the ball is kicked at noon.
1. Mike Weber's First Game
Anytime someone replaces a legend at Ohio State, the eyes gravitate to the replacement and Mike Weber is no exception to that. Taking over for the Buckeyes second all time leading rusher in Ezekiel Elliott, Weber has large shoes to fill. Not only that, but outside of the 2016 spring game in April, Weber has yet to take his first collegiate snap. Lucky for him, Pat Elflein is anchoring an offensive line that is replacing three starters and J.T. Barrett is sure to take some of the pressure off with both is arm and his legs. With the Buckeyes hoping to be more balanced this season, it will be interesting to see how many carries Weber gets in his first game.
2. Wide Receivers' Time To Shine
Buried behind the likes of Michael Thomas, Jalin Marshall and Braxton Miller last season and hampered by injures most of last season, a plethora of Ohio State wide receivers are finally set to get their chance to shine. Noah Brown and Corey Smith are the most experienced of the group and both are returning from broken legs a season ago. Brown was in line to start a season ago and has not played since the Buckeyes won a national title over Oregon in January of 2015. Parris Campbell is looking to redeem himself from a lackluster 2015 season in which he was plagued by drops and injuries and Smith is back for a sixth season of collegiate eligibility.
3. Secondary To Be Tested
Taking on an aerial attack of Bowling Green, week one should tell us a lot about the Ohio State secondary. The Buckeyes return just one starter in the defensive backfield and while Gareon Conley is poised for a breakout season, the rest of his unit is largely unproven. Safeties Malik Hooker and Damon Webb are sure to be tested deep in addition to their tackling abilities in space as the Falcons like to throw a variety of passes at a defense. The corner position opposite Conley will likely be battle of reps between Denzel Ward and Marshon Lattimore. With a team like BG that likes to pass early and often, Ward and Lattimore will almost certainly be tested most of the day with Conley being the only returner in the group.
4. Bowling Green Offensive Experience
With the Falcons ability to pass the ball getting most of the attention, Bowling Green's experience up front is largely overlooked. According to Phil Steele, the Falcons offensive line has the most career starts of any offensive line in the country at the FBS level and Ohio State is breaking in three new starters along the defensive line. While Sam Hubbard, Tracy Sprinkle and Mike Hill have all seen the field plenty in their careers, they might have never gone up against this experienced of an offensive line.
5. Who Will Redshirt?
More often than not, week one against a non-power five school usually gives us a great idea of which freshman will play and who will redshirt the season. In the case of Ohio State, multiple freshmen were listed on the Buckeyes opening week depth chart. Michael Jordan is set to get the start at left guard and Austin Mack has all but been guaranteed playing time at wide receiver. Nick Bosa is expected to rotate in on the defensive line and Antonio Williams could be used to spell Weber. Jordan Fuller is listed as a backup safety, but many members of the 2016 class are currently off the two-deep depth chart. If the game gets out of hand, make sure to keep an eye out for young players as their immediate fates will be determined sooner rather than later.