The Ohio State Buckeyes and Oklahoma Sooners took care of business in Week 1 of the College Football Regular Season. Here are five things you need to know before the two clubs go head to head on Saturday night in Columbus, Ohio.
The Oklahoma Sooners Have The Longest Current Winning Streak In College Football
Bob Stoops stepped down as the head coach of the Oklahoma Sooners in June, followed by offensive coordinator Lincoln Riley being promoted and taking his place. This came as a bit of a surprise considering how well the team finished last season.
The braggadocious attitude of quarterback Baker Mayfield propelled the Sooners to a hot finish and has them on the fast track to a second berth in the College Football Playoff in three seasons. Oklahoma has the longest current wining streak in all of college football. Their biggest obstacle, however, is one they couldn’t avoid last season. That’s the Ohio State Buckeyes. The last team to hand the Sooners a defeat.
There’ll be plenty on the line in “The Shoe” on Saturday night.
Baker Mayfield Is Off To A Record-Setting Start And Found A New Offensive Weapon In The Process
Oklahoma Sooners quarterback Baker Mayfield didn’t do anything to slow down the hype train that followed him heading into the 2017 College Football Regular Season. Mayfield broke a school record from the get-go, completing his first 16 passing attempts of the campaign en route to a 56-7 victory over the UTEP Miners. However, the bigger storyline might be his new favorite target he discovered on Saturday afternoon; Mark Andrews. Andrews is listed at 6-5, 254 pounds and brings a lethal combination of size, power and speed at the tight-end position to Oklahoma’s offense. In his season debut, Andrews hauled in 7 receptions for 134 yards and a touchdown, all in the first half.
The Buckeyes Might Be Best Served Using A Ground-And-Pound Strategy Against The Sooners Defense
While the Buckeyes showed they were both effective on the ground and through the air against the Hoosiers in Week 1, there are several reasons that add up for the Bucks to have a run-heavy offense against the Sooners this weekend. Here they are:
- True freshman J.K. Dobbins had an outstanding debut at running back in Bloomington, Indiana on Thursday evening. The youngster had 29 carries for 181 yards, proving that experience shouldn’t always be at the top of the priority list.
- Mike Weber, who was the expected starter and running back, hasn’t even hit the gridiron yet. If he’s ready for Saturday night, the 1,000-yard rusher will give the Bucks an added physical punch at the position and may even lead the team in carries this weekend.
- It’s easy to look at the final score and say the Sooners run defense didn’t have any problems over the weekend. However, their defensive line struggled mightily on their first possession of the game, giving up gaping holes for Miners’ RB Walter Dawn Jr. Dawn Jr. rushed for 49 yards and a touchdown on UTEP’s first offensive possession of the game. Inexplicably, Dawn only had three more rushing attempts for the remainder of the game.
- While it’s fair to say the Buckeyes have one of the best defenses in all of CFB, they’ll still want to keep Baker Mayfield & Co. off the field as long as possible. Mayfield, like other elite quarterbacks at the college level, thrives when he’s in an offensive rhythm and seeing plenty of action on the field. Although the Bucks have the offensive firepower to match the Sooners, having long offensive possessions could get Mayfield anxious and a little bit out of his element before returning to the field. Any little bit helps when you’re facing one of the top early-season contenders for the Heisman Trophy.
A One-Dimensional Approach Might Be The Best Strategy For The Sooners Offense
Ohio State’s defensive line essentially turned Indiana’s offense into a passing machine last week. Richard Lagow, starting QB for the Hoosiers, attempted 65 passes in the game. If you negate sacks, the Hoosiers only had 22 rushing attempts on the night.
Fast forward to this week…
Even with the Sooners having three backs who rushed for 50+ yards over the weekend, it’s hard to imagine any of them having consistent success against the seemingly unstoppable D-line of the Bucks.
The matchup between the Sooners offense and Buckeyes defense is one of the more intriguing ones in recent memory. There are NO holes in the defensive line for OSU, but the secondary proved to be vulnerable on several occasions against Indiana. With Mayfield at the helm, one could argue every time he doesn’t throw a pass is a wasted opportunity.
Could we really see back-to-back weeks of opposing quarterbacks attempting 60 passes or more? I wouldn’t doubt it at this point.
Home-Field Advantage Is Huge For Ohio State
For every Buckeye fan that says “Home field advantage didn’t matter for the Sooners last year” my rebuttal is this.
THAT WAS LAST YEAR.
This year the Buckeyes aren’t facing a Sooners squad that’s reeling from an early-season loss.
The 2017 Oklahoma Sooners are a confident bunch.
No fan in college football however, should feel confident about their team heading into Columbus, Ohio and returning home with a victory in hand.
Every big play for the Buckeyes will follow with heavy reverberations from 100,000+ in attendance.
Then add the difficulty Mayfield will have not only to change plays at the line of scrimmage, but have an effective snap count, which in the end may have to be a silent count.
Buckeye Nation will be in full force on Saturday night, and don’t (even for a single second) think it won’t make a difference.