2018 Game Preview: Ohio State vs Tulane
Ohio State Preview: The biggest storyline for this game is that this is Urban Meyer’s first game this season as the acting head coach, taking the reigns back over from Ryan Day, who guided Ohio State to a 3-0 record, and a come from behind win against a talented TCU team. Urban Meyer had his first press conference on Monday, showed up 4 minutes early, and spent roughly 57 minutes quickly breaking down the TCU game, and the majority of the time apologizing and answering all of the questions the media had for him about the suspension and events around it. The last few minutes he spent talking about football for this upcoming week.
This is a sort of microcosm of the week ahead against an overmatched Tulane team, who comes in 1-2 after losing to UAB. Not to discredit the game, because they are on the schedule, but there shouldn’t be a lot of discussion in regards to a game plan to beat the Green Wave. This is the final tune up game for Ohio State before it starts back up the Big Ten schedule, and will have a big time game against Penn State, which was announced to have a 7:30pm start time on ABC. This will be Penn State’s white out game for the season.
The offense struggled a little in the first half when faced with some disguised blitz packages. Haskins looks confident still in the pocket, even with the low snaps, and was only sacked once. Some of the offensive struggles though were with some dropped balls, that could have converted into yardage, and on the first drive, points. J.K. Dobbins ran for over 100 yards in his homecoming game, and looked to take back the first rep snaps for the running backs from Weber. It is a great competition they are having and an almost unfair advantage for Ohio State to have these two talents getting better every week.
Defensively is where we will need to work on some improvements. Our defensive line was as advertised and did what we expected them to do. Nick Bosa will sit out of this game due to an abdominal injury in the TCU game, but hopefully he will be back inn the rotation for next week against Penn State. I wrote that the star of the game was Dre’Mont Jones, who most likely increased his draft stock after last Saturday’s performance. He will look to anchor the line in Bosa’s absence, but the Rushman should be fine against a smaller Tulane offensive line. The bigger concern, as it was with the previous games, is the back 7. We need a solid safety opposite Jordan Fuller. Ohio State gave up its longest play against them in program history when TCU run a 93 yard run for a touchdown. A few bag angles, and our linebackers being out of position caused that play to break down that poorly. It needs to be fixed if there is any hope of competing for a playoff. Looking at what could be the best teams in the country, Tua from Alabama and Kelley Bryant from Clemson would pop quick slants and bubble passes all day if we can’t stop the perimeter and backfield.
All is not doom and gloom, but when you expect to compete every year for a national championship, you have to clean up the little things, and play sound, fundamental football.
Tulane Preview: Tulane comes into this game with a 1-2 record, losing to Wake Forest to start the season, and last week to UAB. It’s lone win so far was against FCS opponent Nicholl State. Statistically, they are doing decent, but the team make up is more suited to compete in the AAC conference than it is against power 5 opponents. Not to say that as a knock on them, because they are still players competing at the Division 1 level.
They have a dual threat quarterback in Jonathan Banks, who has passed for 651 yards and 5 touchdowns so far this season. He has not had the running lanes to exhibit his running game threat with only 29 yards on 33 attempts. He could be someone the defense can key on, but he could be dangerous with enough open space.
Tulane has made some big plays as well in their running and passing game. Running back Corey Dauphine has broken out a 65 yard touchdown run this season, and has 236 yards total on the ground. The top two receivers, Darnell Mooney, and Terren Encalade, both have over 11 receptions for the season, and have long receiving touchdowns of 44 yards and 74 yards respectfully. This could be a key match up for our secondary who has had trouble with deep routes.
On the defensive side of the ball, they do bring back some talent, and could challenge Ohio State early on in the game, but they have also be susceptible to big plays this season, and should give up a few more to the potent Ohio State offense.
Buckeye Spotlight: I do not expect our starters to play much of this game, but my spotlight player will be on linebacker Malik Harrison. He turned it around in the second half, coming up with a big interception to stop the TCU comeback. He will need to be a key piece for the defense, and hopefully be an impact for our linebacker group which is in desperate need of assistance.
Green Wave Spotlight: Darnell Mooney. This marks the second week where I have highlighted the wide receiver for the player spotlight, but he is the favorite target for Banks, and will pose a challenge to our secondary. If we are able to lock him up and force Banks to make plays, we will have a good day defensively.
Water Cooler Stat of the Game: 173. It would take an Oregon State-esque performance for Dobbins that Weber was able to demonstrate in that game, but this past Saturday, Weber joined the Ohio State elite to rush for 2000 career yards. Dobbins would only need 173 more rushing yards to join that group, which is impressive in itself, considering the great running backs who have worn the Scarlet and Gray who are in that group.
Prediction: Urban Meyer will be focused for his first match up back. He has the potential to finish 9-0 for the regular season, and many would love to see him go 12-0, hoisting the playoff trophy in Levi’s Stadium in January, but as we have learned, we have to go one game at a time. As much reflection that Urban has had with the suspension, I am sure he was introspective of the season moving forward. I wouldn’t be surprised if he turns on the jets and have this game unreachable in the second quarter, letting his starters rest in the second half for Penn State. Ohio State crashes the Green Wave in this game comfortably.
Ohio State 56 – Tulane 10
Photo Credit to Letterman Row