Game Preview: Ohio State vs Western Kentucky

The last days of summer are upon as and this might be the warmest remaining game on the schedule. Ohio State will host Western Kentucky at home before their highly anticipated road trip to South Bend, IN the following week. 

This week will bring a test of its own for the Buckeyes. While Ohio State is heavily favored to beat Western Kentucky, the Hilltoppers are coming to town with a passing offense that ranks among the nation’s best – a stark contrast from Indiana and Youngstown State, who both utilized run-heavy offensive game plans in Ohio State’s first two games of the season. The Hilltoppers are just 3-17 against Power 5 opponents over the last 10 years. 
There are still a lot of tickets left still for this game, so if you are looking to go to an OSU game for a cheaper ticket, and a great environment, this week is a great opportunity. 
Lets get hype!

Know the Opponent:

Head Coach: Tyson Helton (4th season)
2023 Record: 2-0
Location: Bowling Green, KY
Conference: Conference USA

Ohio State Preview

No longer will the Buckeyes have to comb through the smallest of details in style and play between Devin Brown and Kyle McCord as Ryan Day went ahead and announced this week that the starting quarterback for the season will be McCord. This gives a sense of relief for an answer, but increases a sense of urgency as the biggest test looms next week, and this is the last tune-up game to get their offense right. 
Kyle McCord’s consistency and elevated play helped him win the quarterback battle, that really felt a little one sided in his favor due to the playing time in the previous games, but now is the time to get right, and compete. He has thrown for 497 yards and 3 touchdowns to 1 interception, or the equivalent of 1 game for Dwayne Haskins. Now that he is the starter, it will be interesting to see Day and Hartline are a little more free and loose with the passing attack.
TreVeyon Henderson has been the lead back in the committee room with 17 carries for 103 yards and 2 touchdowns. For my fantasy football team, I am hoping to see him increase his output. Chip Trayanum has been the surprise of the offense so far, and is second on the team with 14 carries for 77 yards. Miyan Williams was limited in play last week against Youngstown State, but still has 13 carries for 50 yards and 2 touchdowns. 
Marvin Harrison Jr recorded the fastest speed on his first touchdown at over 22 miles an hour. Wow. With the low output in week one, he now has 103 yards on 9 catches for 2 touchdowns. Emeka Egbuka also is over the 100 yard mark with 110 yards on 8 catches and 1 touchdown. Cade Stover did not catch a single ball last week, but is still 3rd on the team with 5 catches and 98 yards. Julian Fleming has been a little more involved early this season, and is arguably the best blocking receiver in the room. He has 9 catches for 83 yards.

Western Kentucky Preview

The Hilltoppers enter this game with a 2-0 record and an offense that make this week a little more exciting, and challenging, for the Buckeye defense. Western Kentucky is led by their head coach Tyson Helton, who was a former Tennessee offensive coordinator, and took over the program in 2019. In his first year as head coach, Helton was able to turn the program around and finished the season 8–4 including a statement 45–19 win over the Arkansas Razorbacks. In his first season, Helton won 2019 C-USA Coach of the Year.
The top quarterback, and a name who will be heard several times on the Ohio Stadium loud speakers, is Austin Reed. He has thrown for 589 yards and passed for 6 touchdowns with 0 interceptions. He also has made some plays with his feet, rushing 7 times for 41 yards and 2 touchdowns. 
The running game is not the core of their offense, but an element to help compliment their passing game. Davion Ervin-Pointdexter is the lead running back with 15 carries for 78 yards. He also adds 5 catches with 28 yards receiving. Markese Stepp is the second leading rusher with 13 carries and 69 yards with a touchdown. 
The receivers are the stars if this offense, and the Hilltoppers like to spread the ball around. Malachi Corley is the top receiver, and was injured in his first game this year, but is expected to play against the Buckeyes. Easton messer is the leading statistical receiver this year with 11 catches for 134 yards and a touchdown. Dalvin Smith is the next leading receiver with 9 catches for 107 yards and 1 touchdown. 

Buckeye Spotlight

Wide Receivers. This game will be about how well the Buckeye offense can perform now that Kyle McCord is named the starter. We all know Marvin and Emeka are going to get their plays, but who from this group can emerge and help the Buckeye offense stretch the field. Will it be Julian Fleming? Jayden Ballard? Carnell Tate? The options are limitless, but the answer needs to happen sooner rather than later. 

Hilltopper Spotlight

Austin Reed. The gunslinger for the Hilltoppers is quick to pass, and threw for over 4700 yards last season. Getting to him will be key for the Buckeye defense, our it will be a long afternoon of seeing him throw it all over the field.

Water Cooler Stat of the Game

1. This game will be the first match up ever between these two teams. The Hilltoppers will be walking away though with $1.8million for this schedule game 


The Buckeyes used last week against Youngstown State to work out their quarterback battle with live game reps, and based on the outcome, this should be Kyle McCord’s team, and this is the game to let him prep as the starter as the Buckeyes prepare for Notre Dame. The Hilltoppers though are not a team to take lightly as they will challenge the Buckeyes through the air, so there will be a lot of passes to try and stretch out the defenders who let Youngstown State pass for more yardage than expected. To help the secondary, the defensive line needs to get more pressure than they have in the first two weeks, and generate more sacks, and force Austin Reed of Western Kentucky to make mistakes. If the Buckeyes can get their offense in rhythm, and keep it simple with one quarterback, they should be in good shape. I anticipate the offense will get a lot more plays because there will be a lot of passing in this one which should help calm Day’s grievance with the running clock.

Ohio State 45 – Western Kentucky 17


Photo Credit – Silas Walker/Getty Images

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