Thoughts on Last Week
Well, the result on the scoreboard certainly didn’t reflect what I saw on the television last week. Ohio State’s bland offense let Tulsa hang around for too long, and the defense forced turnover after turnover, yet the Buckeyes settled for punting or field goals? The weather might’ve worsened just before halftime, but the skies became brighter for the Buckeyes. Malik Hooker led the charge when he made a stunning read on Dane Evans’ pass and ran it in for six points. In the waning moments, some questionable play-calling on Tulsa’s end resulted in Marshon Lattimore snagging any easy interception. He followed a convoy of Buckeyes into the end zone to give the Scarlet and Gray some breathing room going into the second half.
Thankfully, the Buckeye offense got it together during the lengthy rain delay. Ohio State put up four touchdowns in the second half, but I’m still concerned with the play at wide receiver. Besides Curtis Samuel and Dontre Wilson, the wide receivers had five receptions, and the longest was only for 16 yards. The Buckeyes are going to need a deep threat this season if they’re going to be a national title contender, and someone needs to step up so J.T. Barrett has a target downfield.
As far as the defense goes, you can’t even tell the team lost eight starters to the NFL. Sure the wins are against Bowling Green and Tulsa, but, when the stats are tallied at the end of the season, those two teams will have two of the better offenses. The Buckeyes have yet to allow an offensive touchdown, and their bend-but-don’t-break attitude has been spectacular so far this season. The Buckeyes are winning the turnover margin by huge numbers each game, and even when the offense struggles to find its identity, Ohio State can rely on Raekwon McMillan and company to hold opposing offenses to almost nothing on the scoreboard.
First road game of the season, in a hostile environment, with a really young football team – I’m concerned, yeah. Talent-wise, Ohio State is as good as anyone in the country, but when you take a young team on the road, all bets are off. Oklahoma comes into the game with gun-slinging quarterback Baker Mayfield and a two-headed monster at running back in Joe Mixon and Samaje Perine. Although Preine has gotten off to a slow start this season, he has the potential to hit his stride at any time and shouldn’t be underestimated. I expect Oklahoma to bring a balanced attack by establishing the run early and testing Ohio State’s defensive backfield down field. The Buckeyes have yet to see a backfield like this, so shutting them down will be a big test.
What am I looking for out of this game? I want to see this team grow up before my eyes on Saturday night. I want them to embrace this challenge head on and put it all out there on the field for Ohio State. I want Mike Weber to pound the rock and the offensive line to push Oklahoma around all night. Ohio State needs the wide receivers to step up and make some plays downfield – guys like Noah Brown and Terry McLaurin must get more involved in the game and catch more passes if Ohio State wants to have a chance. Samuel and Wilson coming out of the backfield and lining up at the H will cause matchup problems for Oklahoma, and the Buckeyes need to take advantage.
Ohio State’s defense has held tough so far, but Oklahoma’s offense has me a little worried. If Ohio State continues to shut down the run game like it has the first two weeks, I really like its chances of making Oklahoma one dimensional. To up the odds, the defensive line and linebackers need to get to Mayfield early and often. Ohio State’s defensive backfield was an area of concern for me going into this season, but its play over the last two weeks has been spectacular. If the Buckeyes can rattle Mayfield into making some mistakes, then maybe they can throw off the Sooners’ passing game as well.
This will not be an easy game for either team, and I think it’ll come down to the fourth quarter. Somehow the Buckeyes will find a way to escape Norman with a 31-27 victory.
A Fan’s Playoff Predictions
Alabama – The Crimson Tide’s last game against Western Kentucky wasn’t anything to write home about, but we’ll see a true test of their mettle this week. Alabama travels to Ole Miss – its nemesis for the last two seasons. Should be a good one.
Houston – The Cougars soundly defeated Lamar despite inclement weather and a backup quarterback, and they toppled Cincinnati easily Thursday night. I didn’t see any letdown after their big win against Oklahoma.
Florida State – Sure they beat up on a depleted Charleston Southern team, but their week 1 win vs. Ole Miss looked good, and redshirt freshman quarterback Deondre Francois looks the part. Between him and Heisman candidate Dalvin Cook, the Seminoles hope to keep up their winning ways when they travel to Louisville this week.
Ohio State – Last week’s game wasn’t the Buckeyes’ best, but they showed resiliency and promise in the second half. Buckeye Nation invades Norman this week, and with a win there, Ohio State will be in the driver’s seat for one of these four spots.
A Fan’s Heisman Standings
Christian McCaffrey – Although Stanford had a bye last week, I’m keeping McCaffrey here because his performance was good enough to remain No. 1. We’ll see how he does this week against a USC team that wants to prove their early loss to Alabama was a fluke.
Barrett – He certainly didn’t look like a Heisman candidate during the first half against Tulsa, but he was able to shake it off. Barrett went on to lead the Buckeyes on four second half scoring drives and ran in two himself.
Lamar Jackson – Jackson has tallied 13 touchdowns for Louisville in two games, and last week he threw for 411 yards and ran for another 199. Let’s see how he does this week against a quality defense in FSU.
Nick Chubb – Georgia struggled against Nicholls last Saturday, but Chubb still had a decent game with 80 rushing yards and a touchdown. He faces Missouri this week, which has been a sieve for opposing running games, giving up over 200 yards per game on the ground. Expect Chubb to have a big game.