The Buckeyes and Sooners will meet up on Saturday night in an early-season matchup with playoff implications. After Ohio State handed them a loss on their home turf a year ago, Oklahoma will look to return the favor. Here’s a preview of the game:
Saturday, September 9 at 7:30 PM ET on ABC at Ohio Stadium in Columbus, Ohio
What to Watch For
Baker Mayfield will look to attack the Buckeyes’ secondary through the air.
We saw it last week when Richard Lagow and the Indiana Hoosiers attempted 68 passes. It’s no secret the Ohio State defensive backs are a relatively untested bunch. Baker Mayfield played pitch and catch with his receivers last week, racking up 329 yards with three touchdowns in just one half of football against UTEP. Mayfield’s going to have to play four quarters on Saturday night, but look for him to try to exploit the Buckeyes’ perceived weakness early and often.
How different does the Ohio State offense look with a healthy Mike Weber back in the lineup?
Head Coach Urban Meyer has already announced that freshman J.K. Dobbins will start at running back this week, even with Mike Weber expected to be fully healthy. Regardless of who’s on the field for the first snap of the game, co-offensive coordinator Kevin Wilson has a myriad of options at his disposal in the running game, which should be the primary focus on Saturday. Weber is capable of carrying the load, Dobbins showed he can make big plays, and we know J.T. Barrett can make things happen with his legs. Don’t be surprised to see Parris Campbell get a touch or two out of the backfield either. With Mike Weber back, expect the Ohio State ground game to once again be effective, just like it was a week ago in their win over Indiana.
J.T. Barrett will attempt to have a more consistent performance than he did last week against Indiana.
Last week was the story of two halves. After completing 10 of 21 attempts for 95 yards in the first half, J.T. Barrett went 10-for-14 with 209 yards in the second half against the Hoosiers. Mike Weber’s return to the rotation will help keep the offense balanced while the big plays from Parris Campbell and Johnnie Dixon will keep the opposing defense honest. With more weapons around him, knowing he’s picked the Sooner defense apart in the past, and the success he saw late last week, look for J.T. Barrett to keep things going and play with a little more confidence against Oklahoma.
Player Who is an X-Factor
Jerome Baker had quite a game against the Oklahoma Sooners last season when he recorded seven tackles, 1.5 sacks, and had a 68-yard pick-six. What we can glean from those numbers is that he’s always around the ball making tackles, he can contain and pressure the QB, and he can make plays when he drops back in coverage. The junior linebacker could be involved in covering Mayfield’s top target from Week 1, tight end Mark Andrews, which means if Jerome Baker has a good game on Saturday night, things likely went well for the Bucks.
Ohio State by 7.5
Both Ohio State and Oklahoma have potent offenses with different strengths. The Buckeyes are most effective on the ground, making big plays with their athletic backs. The Sooners, on the other hand, make things happen through the air with the gifted right arm of Baker Mayfield. Both teams are going to move the ball and put points on the board, so this game is going to come down to whichever defense has the most success getting the other guys off the field.
That’s where Ohio State has the edge.
Their defensive line makes opposing quarterbacks make quick decisions which will force mistakes over the course of the game. Between that and the boost the Buckeyes will get from 100,000+ making themselves heard in a night game on national television, the path towards an Ohio State victory becomes pretty evident.
Buckeyes win 41-28.