2018 Game Preview: Ohio State vs. Oregon State
Ohio State Preview: Ohio State will be without head coach Urban Meyer as part of his suspension for the first three games of the season due to the Board of Trustees findings of his mishandling of cumulative actions against previous wide receiver coach Zach Smith. Ryan Day will take the role of head coach in his place for the next three weeks, and will be calling the plays with assistance from co-offensive coordinator Kevin Wilson, both of which are in their second season for Ohio State. Day has been heralded by his peers as well as mentor Chip Kelly as an up and coming coach, who is an great offensive mind. He had reportedly turned down offers from Mississippi State and a position with the Tennessee Titans to remain at Ohio State.
Ohio State will also have to replace 4 year starter JT Barrett at quarterback, and Ryan Day has announced Dwayne Haskins as the starter. There was a three way quarterback competition this spring between Haskins, Joe Burrow, and Tate Martell, but then was down to two when Burrow transferred out to play at LSU. Joe Burrow had graduated in May and was immediately eligible to play this season. He has been named the starter for LSU, who will go up against Miami this opening weekend. Day has addressed that although Haskins will be the starter, he expects Martell to play, and not just in limited packages. Should Ohio State get into a high enough lead, Martell should finish the game and get valuable experience for the season.
The running backs will be by committee, with J.K. Dobbins assumed to get the lion’s share of the carries with Mike Weber, who is listed as the co-starter. Both running backs have eclipsed 1000 yards rushing the previous two seasons, and Dobbins set a record for rushing yards as a true freshman, one that was previously held by National Champion Maurice Clarett. Antonio Williams was with the team before transferring to North Carolina, where the NCAA ruled he was eligible for immediate playing time.
The wide receivers have one of the deepest positions on the team, lead by veterans Parris Campbell, Terry McLaurin, Benjamin Victor, and Johnnie Dixon. Expect this position group to have a rotating group throughout the season. Demario McCall, who was once a running back, has switched to H-back and has been working all offseason with the receivers. He will also be the starting punt and kick returner.
On the defensive side of the ball, Ohio State has arguably the best defensive line in the country, and is starred by top 5 projected draft pick Nick Bosa, who is entering his junior year, and will help anchor the line with Dre’Mont Jones, Robert Landers, and a rotation at the other end position with Jonathan Cooper and Chase Young. As has been the standard for the defensive lineman under Larry Johnson, the line will rotate throughout the season.
The linebackers and defensive backs will have to fill In the gaps due to early departure and graduating seniors, and will be relied on early and soon as they continue to get through the heart of the season and the Big Ten gauntlet. Jordan Fuller has stepped up as a leader in the secondary, and Greg Schiano has commented that he expects big things from him.
Oregon State: Oregon State is coming off a 1-11 season under head coach Jonathan Smith, who was the previous offensive coordinator at Washington. Last year, the Beavers ranked 112th in total offense, and 120th in total defense. They have been recruiting with more in-state prospects and trying to rebuild a foundation to help compete in the PAC-12 North, against perennial favorites Oregon and Stanford. They have new coaching staff who are coming into the team with previous experiences of success, and hoping to instill that success back to Corvallis.
Buckeye Spotlight: All eyes will be on quarterback Dwayne Haskins. He will make his first official start for Ohio State after rallying back against Michigan in 2017, and sealing the victory in Ann Arbor. Haskins has been characterized by his throwing ability, gaining similarities and comparisons to Cardale Jones. He has the ability to run, and has taken reps during practice with the traditional RPO plays that Urban Meyer’s offense is built around, but with the playmakers in the backfield and at receiver, Ohio State should hopefully play to Haskins’ strengths, and spread out the field with his arm strength.
Beaver Spotlight: Quarterback Jake Luton will take the spotlight for the Beavers as he returns back after a surgery which caused him to miss the last 8 games of the season. He also has the ability to throw the ball deep, and should he have the time to throw, will challenge a fresh secondary for Ohio State. Look out also for his favorite target Isaiah Hodgins, who has the ability to stretch the field with his speed.
Water Cooler Stat of the Game: 2-0. These teams have met only twice before, with Ohio State holding a 2-0 lead in the series. They played on September 8, 1984 (Ohio State 22 – Oregon State 14) and September 21, 1974 (Ohio State 51 – Oregon State 10)
Prediction: Talent-wise, there is a huge advantage for Ohio State with several high star recruits and one of the best coaching staffs in the nation. Ohio State would have to play their worst, undisciplined game coupled with Oregon State playing their best game to bring a threat to the outcome. Ohio State should ease into a limited playbook this game and get Dwayne Haskins comfortable with his veteran receiving corp, and running back duo to help take the pressure off of him against a rebuilding program. Defensively, the lineman should be disruptive enough to allow the linebackers and secondary to make plays, and take control of the game early on.
Ohio State 42 – Oregon State 7