Thoughts On Last Week
I sure wasn’t expecting that outcome in the first game of the season! The team came out firing on all cylinders – minus that pick-six – and showed it has the potential to be a serious playoff contender this year. When you put up 77 points and 776 yards of total offense in the first game of the season, there’s a lot to be happy about.
I personally liked seeing so many young guys make their debuts for the Buckeyes against Bowling Green. Last year we only saw four true freshmen break into game action, and we’ve already seen nine so far this year. Skill players like Joe Burrow and Demario McCall had good days – Burrow had his first collegiate touchdown pass, which happened to go to McCall. One of the most popular talking points last game was the selection of Michael Jordan on offensive line. He’s the first true freshman to start the season opener on the line since Orlando Pace did it in 1993. Jordan’s no Orlando Pace, but he surely held his own on Saturday despite some early jitters. We also saw Nick Bosa rack up his first career sack (the first of many, I’m sure), and Rodjay Burns take one to the house on a pick-six late in the fourth quarter.
This team is very young with only six seniors on scholarship, but after what we witnessed last week, the future at Ohio State is bright with all the talent that Urban Meyer and Co. is bringing in on a year-to-year basis.
Tulsa comes to us from the American Athletic Conference, which is the home to some quality football programs like Houston, Cincinnati and ECU. The Golden Hurricane defeated San Jose State last week, 45-10, and racked up 512 yards of offense in doing so. It has experienced leaders on offense in senior quarterback Dane Evans and junior running back D’Angelo Brewer. Considering Tulsa ran the ball 58 times against San Jose State, I expect the coaching staff will try it again against the Buckeyes. Unlike San Jose State, though, Ohio State will be ready to plug the gaps. Tulsa held the Spartans to 287 yards of offense and only 10 points last week, but I think the Buckeyes will at least double those numbers with their arsenal of speed and weaponry.
What am I looking for out of this game? I want the Buckeyes to come in focused on the task at hand and not looking ahead to Oklahoma next weekend. If they do that, they should win this game pretty easily. I hope to see a more dominate offensive line that can open additional holes for Mike Weber, Curtis Samuel, and the other backs. Watching Samuel and Dontre Wilson catch balls is nice, but I really want to see the other wide receivers step up. Guys like Noah Brown and K.J. Hill, even Austin Mack and Parris Campbell, both of whom were held without a catch last week, should get more involved this week.
On defense, I’m hoping to see more of the same. Ohio State kept big plays in check against Bowling Green, and needs to contain Tulsa in a similar manner. We didn’t hear much about the linebackers on the television broadcast last week, but that’s because the defensive line was doing a great job plugging the holes and limiting Bowling Green’s running game to 2.5 yards per carry. The secondary will continue to gel around Gareon Conley and Malik Hooker, with Marshon Lattimore and Damon Webb continuing to grow in their roles. The loss of Tracy Sprinkle for the year certainly hurts as far as depth goes, but the show must go on. I’m looking for Davon Hamilton and Dre’Mont Jones to come out of their shells and shore up that defensive tackle spot.
Overall, I don’t think we’ll see the same offensive output as last week, but I still expect a decent showing. My prediction: Ohio State 59, Tulsa 13.
A Fan’s Week 1 Playoff Predictions
Alabama – A dominate performance on a big stage against a ranked opponent with a freshman quarterback. Not much more you could ask for, in my opinion, but Nick Saban will demand more from his team as they prepare to enter the SEC gauntlet later this year.
Houston – I called it last week when I said the Cougars would beat Oklahoma, but I didn’t see it being so easy. They shut down Baker Mayfield and provided the Buckeyes with a great scouting report on how to win. I expect old friends Tom Herman and Urban Meyer to discuss what went down as Ohio State gets ready to make the trip to Norman.
Clemson – Until they lose, I still think the Tigers belong here. Yes, they struggled against Auburn, but it was a road game in a hostile environment. We saw what the Deshaun Watson-to-Mike Williams combo is capable of, and I expect them to be a dynamic duo the rest of the season. Again, the battle with FSU looms large, as the winner of that game will most likely be playoff bound.
Ohio State – The way the Buckeyes played on Saturday made them look like a playoff contender right out of the gate. The offense got rolling after the early pick-six, and the defense shut down the likely MAC champions. We’ll see what these young Bucks are made of in two weeks in Norman.
A Fan’s Week 1 Heisman Standings
Christian McCaffrey – If you didn’t see the punt return that wasn’t, look it up. We might’ve seen a Heisman moment in the first game of the season if not for a weak block-in-the-back call that reversed it. Add 22 carries for 126 yards and two TDs (not counting the infamous punt return touchdown) and seven receptions for 40 yards to Mr. Does-It-All’s resume. Right now he holds the top spot for me.
Barrett – A six passing, one rushing touchdown performance in the first game of the season vaults Barrett up a spot in my rankings. He bounced back from an early pick-six to settle into a rhythm. Although he favored Curtis Samuel quite a bit, he completed receptions to eight other players, and he looked good running the read-option as well.
Nick Chubb – Boy, did he return from a season-ending injury in a big way. In a game against a tough North Carolina opponent, Chubb put up 222 yards on 32 carries and two touchdowns in Georgia’s come-from-behind victory on Saturday. Chubb didn’t look rusty at all as he ran through the Tar Heel defense.
Watson – Yes, he didn’t look great against Auburn. He didn’t throw or run the ball particularly well, and he has high expectations on his shoulders this year since he’s leading a team that lost very few offensive pieces. He’ll continue to get better throughout the season, and I fully expect him to end up at the trophy presentation at the end of the year.