After a successful Week 1 game on the road against Indiana, the Buckeyes will head home to face Oklahoma this weekend. With ESPN’s College Gameday in town for this matchup between two top-ten teams, all eyes will be on Columbus. Here are six impact players to watch:
Baker Mayfield, Quarterback
Oklahoma’s senior QB is coming off an impressive game in Week 1 against UTEP, completing 19 of 20 attempts while racking up 329 yards along with 3 touchdowns and no interceptions before spectating for the entirety of the second half with a big lead.
Those kinds of numbers aren’t uncommon for Baker Mayfield, who threw for nearly 4,000 yards to go along with 40-8 TD-INT a year ago.
The one statistical blemish last season for Mayfield came on September 17 against Ohio State, when he only completed 53% of his passes and threw a pair of interceptions.
He’s a confident player, and if he puts up big numbers on Saturday night against the Buckeyes, it certainly bodes well for the Sooners’ chances of picking up the W.
Parris Campbell, Receiver
There will likely be a big focus on the running game this week. True freshman J.K. Dobbins had an impressive debut against Indiana. Returning starter Mike Weber, who didn’t even see the field in Week 1, is expected to be ready for the matchup against Oklahoma.
Buckeye fans saw last week the kind of impact Parris Campbell can have on a game. Although he dropped a touchdown pass in the third quarter, he made up for it a few plays later with an impressive 74-yard reception when he outran the Hoosier secondary to find the endzone.
What the offense showed on that play was that it doesn’t always take a deep ball down the field to make a big play happen in the receiving game. Expect J.T. Barrett to get the ball to Parris Campbell in space on Saturday night and let the athlete do his thing against the Sooner defense.
Mark Andrews, Tight End
At 6-foot-5, 254 pounds, Mark Andrews presents a mismatch with just about any defensive back in the country.
With Dede Westbrook and Joe Mixon moving on to the NFL, Mark Andrews is the leading returning receiver from last year’s squad. If last week’s game against UTEP is any indication, Andrews is clearly Baker Mayfield’s favorite target in 2017.
The junior TE led the team in receptions (7) and yards (134) last week. Like most of the rest of the offense, Mark Andrews put up those numbers in just the first half.
While the Ohio State defense will be a tougher test for the Sooner offense, Andrews is a player who Greg Schiano and company will need to keep an eye on throughout the entire game this weekend.
Denzel Ward, Cornerback
There was no other defensive player in the country who defended more passes last week than Ohio State corner Denzel Ward.
Indiana QB Richard Lagow had 65 pass attempts last week against Ohio State, with six of those going in Ward’s direction. He broke up five of the six and came away with an interception in the victory.
With Oklahoma’s offense as centered around the passing game as Indiana’s, expect a heavy workload for Denzel Ward and the rest of the Buckeye secondary on Saturday night.
Ogbonnia Okoronkwo, Defensive End/Linebacker
Following the success Ohio State had against Indiana on the ground, the Sooners are going to need someone to step up to slow down the running game. That’s exactly what Oklahoma senior Ogbonnia Okoronkwo will be tasked with this weekend.
While the Buckeyes certainly aren’t a drop back, pass-first offense, the Sooners will be looking for Okoronkwo to put pressure on J.T. Barrett and disrupt the running game, allowing Baker Mayfield and the offense to get back on the field and put points on the board.
Jordan Fuller, Safety
If anyone in the Ohio State secondary is going to slow down tight end Mark Andrews, it’s going to be the 6-foot-2, 207 pound safety Jordan Fuller.
While Andrews is clearly the bigger human, Fuller is the only one in the OSU secondary who even gets close.
Fuller isn’t just a big body, however. The sophomore recorded five tackles last week and picked off a pass in the victory.
Even if he isn’t matched up up with Mark Andrews, Fuller will play a big role in this week’s game against the Sooners. With Baker Mayfield slinging the ball around the field, Fuller should see plenty of action.