No more talking about practice. The 2017 college football season is here. Ohio State starts off the year with a Thursday night matchup against a Big Ten opponent. Here’s a breakdown of the game:
Thursday, August 31 at 8:00 PM ET on ESPN at Memorial Stadium in Bloomington, Indiana
What to Watch For
Kevin Wilson against his former team, calling plays with J.T. Barrett at the helm of the offense.
It’s no secret J.T. Barrett had a so-so year in 2016 (for his standards). As a three-year captain, the coaches will do everything in their power to make him look good in a bounce-back season. It just so happens that the new co-offensive coordinator who’ll be calling plays on Thursday night has a chip on his shoulder as well after leaving Indiana University following last year’s regular season. Look for the offense to not hold anything back, which means Barrett will likely rack up big numbers.
Ohio State’s defensive secondary gets an early test against a pass-heavy offense.
The Big Ten isn’t exactly known for explosive passing offenses, but the Hoosiers are an exception. Indiana was second in the conference last year in passing yardage, averaging over 270 yards per game through the air. With numerous pieces of last season’s defense now playing at the next level, the new faces in the OSU secondary will be put to the test right away.
Key playmakers in Ohio State’s offense will have the opportunity to step up immediately.
With Curtis Samuel, Dontre Wilson, and Noah Brown gone, it’s only a matter of time until Buckeye fans see who fills their spots getting touches on offense. Whether it’s Parris Campbell, J.K. Dobbins, Austin Mack, Johnnie Dixon, Binjimen Victor, Terry McLaurin, Demario McCall, or someone else, the door is open.
Key to the Game
The defensive line needs to put pressure on the quarterback early and often.
With an untested secondary, the defensive line, which is the strength of this team, will certainly look to get after the QB on Thursday night. Although Richard Lagow put up big numbers last season, he struggled with interceptions, throwing 17 picks. In last year’s matchup between the Buckeyes and Hoosiers, Lagow was only sacked once. Expect that number to be higher this year.
Player Who is an X-Factor
Starting at safety on Thursday night will be senior Damon Webb. Against a QB who has the propensity to throw interceptions and a defensive line applying pressure, the ingredients are there for a multi-interception performance by someone in the Ohio State secondary. Damon Webb is a returning starter on a defense that lost a ton of talent to the NFL and has as good of a shot as any to be that guy.
Ohio State by 21
All things point to an Ohio State victory on Thursday night. An electric atmosphere in Bloomington might provide a small boost for the Hoosiers, but the Buckeyes are simply a better team. The question is: do they cover the spread? Kevin Wilson be on a mission to make J.T. Barrett look good. The D-line will be a mismatch against pretty much anyone’s offensive line. Although there’s unknowns at the skill positions on offense and in the defensive secondary, both are full of talented players.
The answer is yes, the Buckeyes cover.
They win 42-17 and start getting ready for Oklahoma on their way back to Columbus.