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2017 Big Ten football preview: Ohio State Buckeyes

Freshman running back J.K. Dobbins (2) scores a touchdown during the Ohio State- Oklahoma game on Sep. 9. Credit: Jack Westerheide | Photo Editor

Location: Columbus, Ohio

2016 record: 11-2 (8-1)

Head Coach: Urban Meyer

2017 record: 1-1 (1-0 Big Ten)

What has happened thus far in 2017

Though Ohio State could not find an offensive flow in the first half of its game against Indiana and went into halftime down 14-13, the Buckeyes pulled ahead of Indiana in the third quarter and ran away in the fourth quarter to beat the Hoosiers 49-21. The next week, the then-No. 2 Buckeyes played host to then-No. 5 Oklahoma under the lights in Ohio Stadium. Though the game was tied at three points at halftime, the Sooners, led by quarterback Baker Mayfield who completed 27-of-35 passes for 386 yards, scored four second half touchdowns and stymied Ohio State’s offense en route to a 31-16 upset victory.

Impact player

Filling in for redshirt sophomore running back Mike Weber who suffered an injured hamstring early in fall camp, freshman J.K. Dobbins took 29 carries for 182 yards, the highest total by any Ohio State running back in his opening game in program history. The shifty back with a dynamic jump-cut that leaves defenders’ bodies and feet moving opposite directions once again rushed for a team-high 72 yards in Week 2. After Saturday’s loss, Weber said he will likely be dealing with hamstring tweaks throughout the season, which increases the importance of Dobbins for an offense that relies on its run game.

Strengths

With four defensive ends — Nick Bosa, Sam Hubbard, Tyquan Lewis and Jalyn Holmes — who could start for most teams in the country and defensive tackle Dre’Mont Jones, who will likely be a high-round NFL draft pick if he leaves school early in the spring, not many teams possess a more threatening defensive line than Ohio State. The Buckeyes’ talented front held Indiana to 36 rushing yards on 27 carries and allowed Oklahoma to rush 37 times for just 104 yards. On offense, the Buckeyes’ Dobbins-Weber tandem, as well as quarterback J.T. Barrett’s ability to run, give Ohio State multiple options to help move the ball swiftly on the ground.

Weaknesses

Ohio State has struggled throwing the ball and defending the pass in its first two games. Indiana and Oklahoma combined to average 403 passing yards — the highest yardage total any team in the FBS — against a young Buckeye secondary. On offense, Barrett has not found a rhythm through the air. He was named Big Ten co-Offensive Player of the Year for his Week 1 performance, but went 19-for-35 for 183 yards with an interception against Oklahoma. Johnnie Dixon and Parris Campbell broke big plays against Indiana, but they and their fellow receivers haven’t produced consistently.

One comment

  1. Really getting tired of half-wit so-called fans that call for the ouster of a QB (or even Meyer) every time a game is lost. The reality of modern college football with the balance and exodus to the NFL after a couple of years is that going undefeated every year is just not going to happen. JT is not an NFL QB for sure but having so many coaching changes, a line that is average, and receivers that can’t catch a cold surely leads to the occasional defeat. Add new a new defensive backfield that is pretty sub-par at this point in the season and play calling that makes no sense and you will get some losses and tight games.

    Let’s all grow up, realize it is just a game, and root for the Bucks as they find their way.

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