The #3 Ohio State Buckeyes (3-0) return home from their first road trip of the season to take on the Florida A&M Rattlers (1-2).
This will be the first meeting between these two programs. Florida A&M – an FCS school – is 1-21 against FBS competition.
After winning their first game of the season over Mississippi Valley State, the Rattlers have dropped two in a row to Tennessee State and Samford.
This is a battle of two schools with legendary bands, as Florida A&M’s “The Marching 100,” is well known and returned to action this year after being suspended a season due to hazing.
When Florida A&M Has The Ball
The Rattlers offense is still getting their feet wet in the early part of the season.
They are led by quarterback Damien Fleming, passing for 383 and two touchdowns. The 6’3” 180-pound junior is completing 48% of his passes on the year and has thrown five interceptions.
The Buckeye secondary, that was victimized a couple of times for big plays against California last week, should get a boost of confidence this week, albeit against an inferior opposition.
It would be shocking if the OSU secondary does not come away with at least one turnover and it is likely there will be more than one.
If Florida A&M are able to get any aerial attack, the man on the receiving end would likely be junior Lennon Lenworth. He has 14 receptions this season 229 yards and a touchdown.
They will use short passes and screens, which have caused the Buckeye defense problems already this year. Defending these types of plays is something OSU worked on this week, so fans will get hopefully see improvement.
On the ground, the Rattlers have used a slew of players but are yet to have one establish himself. Freshman Omari Albert is the leading rusher with 85 yards, but senior James Owens has the most carries with 23 for 66 yards.
The Ohio State defense should be able to get pressure on the quarterback and keep the run game to a minimum. A&M have struggled to stop pressure and move the ball on the ground and the Buckeyes front seven continues to get better.
They will be without the services of Adolphus Washington again this week, but those who have filled in – namely Joey Bosa – have shown there is depth along the defensive line.
Ryan Shazier continues to play at a high level, leading the team in tackles with 24 and second in tackles for a loss with three. He should be a factor again when on the field.
The Florida A&M offense is not an explosive unit and has 77 more yards this season than Ohio State had in their last game.
The Buckeyes should dominate defensively, which should give them a shot of confidence before they head into Big Ten play.
When Ohio State Has The Ball
Florida A&M are giving up over 321 yards per game this year. Ohio State’s offense is averaging more than 504.
This does not bode well for Rattler nation.
The question for the offense – for the second-straight week – is who will be the starting quarterback for the Buckeyes. In reality, this will not matter. Urban Meyer has said that both Braxton Miller and Kenny Guiton will play and they may not be the only two quarterbacks that see the field for the Scarlet and Gray.
Regardless of who is out there for OSU, the Buckeyes should record big numbers through the air unless they elect to run the ball the majority of the game.
Florida A&M has actually been effective defending the pass this season, despite two sophomores listed as starting cornerbacks. The safeties are experienced, both seniors, but they have not seen an attack like Ohio State’s.
The Rattlers play a 3-4 scheme with a Akil Blount in the “rattler” position – similar to what the Buckeyes saw with San Diego State – where he will move all over the field. The 6’3”, 225 pound sophomore will be part of the frequent blitzes for A&M utilizes.
As long as the quarterback has time to throw, as Guiton did against the Golden Bears, multiple receivers should have another big day.
Big plays are Devin Smith’s forte so far in his career and there are bound to be a few of those in this game. It would not be surprising to see him come up with another quality performance.
If Guiton is the quarterback for much of the game, expect Chris Fields to be a benefactor. Two of the three touchdowns Fields has scored this year have been thrown to him by his roommate, Guiton.
The record for rushing yards in a game for Ohio State is 718; the Buckeyes may have a chance to put that record in jeopardy.
Florida A&M may only be giving up 201 yards per game on the ground, but this is against fellow FCS schools.
OSU is averaging over 285 over their first three games on the ground, yet they have also looked to develop their passing attack. Ohio State put up 332 rushing yards on a Cal last week and may be looking to raise the bar.
Will they break the record? Most likely not. 1930 against Mount Union was a different time, but with the return of Carlos Hyde, along with Jordan Hall, Dontre Wilson, and the other backs Meyer keeps insisting will get touches, there are many talented mouths to feed.
If the Buckeyes get up big early and don’t want to embarrass their opponents, they may turn almost exclusively to the ground game to grind things out, and that could lead to some big statistics.
Linebacker Michael Ducre and safety John Ojo, the two leading tacklers for the Rattlers, will look to stop Ohio State from getting anywhere near those numbers.
How It Will End Up
The Buckeyes are 50 point favorites. If there’s one thing you can bet on, it is that Ohio State doesn’t cover the spread often.
Somehow OSU tends to find a way to allow a team to hang in there – on a relative scale – and anger all those who picked Ohio State to cover.
The Buckeyes should see a sizeable lead early, which will allow them to play many of their backups. There is a lot of young talent on this team that is not ready to see the field on a regular basis that could find themselves in front of what’s left of the over 100,000 fans in attendance.
Experience will push the lead; inexperience will bring it back down.
Ohio State 63 Florida A&M 14
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