2018 Game Preview: Ohio State vs Nebraska
Ohio State Preview: Its time to let the loss go, and look the the opportunities in front of this team. Earlier in the season, a lot of people had the Purdue game as the Iowa game of this year, and unfortunately, those people were correct. Ohio State has one loss, and are ranked 10th in the initial playoff rankings, but they have everything in front of them still, including a ranked showdown with current #5 Michigan at the end of the regular season. If they win out, Ohio State will potentially play Northwestern in the Big Ten Championship game and still have a chance for the college football playoff. This week, its a noon game, and a called black out for the stadium.
Dwayne Haskins broke almost every record imaginable in the loss to Purdue, and it wasn’t good enough to get the comeback win. It will be interesting to see what the strategy will be offensively for this Ohio State team after coming off their bye week. Dwayne should play in this game a lot, but hopefully Buckeye will get to see Tate Martell make his 4th appearance this season. There has been some discussion of Tate Martell being in as a redzone package, which could be interesting, but if the lineman cane get enough push for JK Dobbins or Mike Weber, than Ohio State is not the team the fans thought they were.
The coaches have discussed the running game a lot during the bye week and this week leading up to the game. JK Dobbins and Mike Weber have not been used as much as they could be, and have had a decrease in average yards per run. This has a little bit to do with the play calling, and a lot to due with the lack of blocking from a seemingly veteran line. They will need to establish the running game to make the offense not one dimensional, and prove a threat for some of the tougher opponents on the last stretch of their schedule.
The biggest concern is the defense, and how they will respond after the bye week. Hopefully, the linebackers are not playing off the line as often, and opening up gaps in the middle of the field which allow for the short yardage and slant plays that have burned them all season. With the experience of Schiano, and Larry Johnson, they should be able to come up with a strategy to get the defense fixed, and become a threat that the fans know they can be,
Nebraska Preview: The prodigal son in Scott Frost came home after leading UCF to an undefeated season, and a proclaimed national championship season, despite not being selected for the college football playoff. The start of his momentous season had not gone as planned. His first game against Akron was cancelled du to weather, and then the Cornhuskers lost 6 straight games. They have rebounded though and now have won two straight against Minnesota and Bethune-Cookman, who as added to the schedule after the Akron game was cancelled.
A lot of the success and reason for the turnaround is due to freshman quarterback Adrian Martinez, who was recruited as well by Ohio State. So far this season, Martinez has thrown for 1656 passing yards, and 11 touchdowns. He also is a threat on the ground with 408 rushing yards and 4 touchdowns.
The rushing attack is lead by Devine Ozigbo, who has 710 rushing yards on 96 carries, and 8 touchdowns. He has big play ability and will be someone who the Buckeye back 7 will need to key on as well, having a 59 yard rushing touchdown.
A familiar name, and a player who had a big game despite a losing effort last season is JD Spielman, who leads all receivers with 686 yards and 7 touchdowns. Not far behind thought is wide out Stanley Morgan Jr, who has 638 yards, and 5 touchdowns. They have been the favorite targets for Martinez, as the next closest receiver only has 153 yards in Jack Stoll. This will be a challenging match up for the struggling OSU secondary.
Defensively, Nebraska has given up big plays, and not a top defense nationally, like the traditional “black shirts” of the past, but they do have momentum, and are preparing to slow down an Ohio State team that is looking to rebound after a disappointing loss.
Buckeye Spotlight: Isaiah Prince. He has been one of the leaders for the offensive line, and had a huge turnaround from his disappointing 2016 season. This season, he has played ok, but he has regressed some to the 2016 form, and less like the 2017 version of himself. If the offense is going to have any production, it will fall on him. He has proved he can do it, and hopefully he can do it again.
Cornhuskers Spotlight: Adrian Martinez. He has already set a school record for freshman passing yards this season with 1,656. Ohio State defense had issues with mobile quarterbacks with Penn State’s McSorley, and Indiana’s Peyton Ramsey. He can extend plays and has been a big reason why the Nebraska team has turned their season around with 2 straight wins.
Water Cooler Stat of the Game: 22-1. Urban Meyer is 22-1 overall for his record in games after a bye week. During the bye week and this week, Urban has emphasized that the coaching staff did a lot of searching for the answers to help solve their issues on the running game and the defensive side of the ball.
Prediction: Ohio State has been head shoulders above what they were typically the week after a loss, and hopefully they are a much better team than the one that showed up in West Lafayette. Ohio State should come in strong, rejuvenated with the bye week and the all black uniforms. Hopefully the crowd is into the game, and the Buckeyes roll for this noon kickoff. Expect to see a lot of designed run plays to get the line confidence again, and get Weber and Dobbins their share of the carries.