One week after I perfectly encapsulated the exact Army score with a staff pick of 38-7, everybody now wants a shot at the title.
How do I feel about that?
Well, as a great American once said, “I’m your Huckleberry.”
I will not back down from a picking competition. My practice picks are so difficult that it makes the staff picks easy by comparison.
I’m just glad we’ve all forgotten about my 42-17 Oklahoma prediction.
Anyway, expect some big numbers to follow.
There’s not much doubt about which team is going to win the JaJa Riley Bowl, and there’s not even all that much question how lopsided it’s going to be. (SPOILER ALERT: Very) However, there is still a lot to be intrigued about this weekend.
We should get a more substantial look at Dwayne Haskins and possibly Joe Burrow as well. Trevon Grimes got some time at WR last week, and figures to get an extended run this Saturday. On defense, I’m hoping to get a good look at Chase Young at DE, and also see a few of the young CBs like Jeffrey Okudah. All of these guys have played before, but assuming things go as they should, Saturday will provide a much larger sample of work for all of them. Even Blake Haubeil should have plenty of opportunities to work on his kickoff placements.
UNLV has a decent enough offense. They will move the ball a little bit, so don’t freak out if they score once or twice. On the flip side, their defense is a smoldering trash fire, so if Ohio State doesn’t move the ball a whole lot, you have my permission to freak out juuuuust a little.
Ohio State 70, UNLV 10
The wise guys don’t think this will be much of a game and have installed the Buckeyes as 40-point favorites. Hard to argue with that. They also have set the over/under at 63, which tells me that they looking for a score on the order of 52-12. I see the Buckeyes getting past that 52 number, but I’m still a little skeptical about the OSU defense. If the Buckeyes are going to cover the spread they’ll have to score more than 52, and I think they will. Take the over, because the Buckeye defense has a ways to go.
Ohio State 59, UNLV 17
Every Ohio State season has a game where the fans and media can determine which true freshmen are definitely being redshirted for that year, and that game this season is UNLV. The Rebels are going to come in and give it their best effort, but Ohio State should be able to put this one away comfortably before halftime.
J.T. Barrett will continue to pad his B1G touchdown record. He will play the first half, get a series in the third quarter, and then watch as Dwayne Haskins and Joe Burrow both get early auditions for the starting quarterback job in 2018.
Ohio State 63, UNLV 7
I know everyone saw Howard run for 300+ yards on UNLV, but you have to remember that over 190 of that was by the quarterback position. If you look at what running backs are doing against UNLV this season, it is only down in the 3.4 ypc range. With that said, it shouldn’t matter in the slightest for J.K. Dobbins and hopefully Mike Weber.
Ohio State should be able to absolutely dominate up front on both sides of the ball because of their size and athleticism. The Running Rebels are severely undersized at CB, LB, and DE on the defensive side of the ball, which should allow the Buckeyes to continue expanding their playbook a little more.
I think we will see a very dominant performance by the defensive line and we will see a huge game by one of those defensive ends. I’m not sure which one, but I think this is the type of game where we see a DE get 3 or more sacks. My money is on Nick Bosa. UNLV will get a lucky touchdown on a blown coverage or read but they won’t have any substantial drives.
Ohio State 59, UNLV 10
The Buckeyes are beginning to find their stride as they slowly add more ingredients to their offense. The power run game has always been there, but the horizontal passing game is starting to take form as well. We saw glimpses of what it can produce vertically with tight end Marcus Baugh attacking the middle of the field for a big gain last week.
This game should provide more opportunities for the passing game to improve against an outmatched secondary, but the running game will steal the spotlight as UNLV has struggled at stopping the run against poor competition thus far. I look for the Hype Train to have a big day on the ground and Barrett to have a workmanlike day through the air, i.e, 10-16 passing for 187 and 3 TD on the day. I hope to see Burrow in live action as well.
Defensively, the Buckeyes will be happy to see a spread offense again, especially one that lacks a true passing component. The defense should be improved with the familiarity to the scheme and the personnel on the field. Hopefully the linebackers continue to improve and play disciplined.
Players of the game will be K.J. Hill, provided his plays don’t get called back due to penalty, and Jerome Baker.
Ohio State 56, UNLV 10
The Rebels are coming off a bye week, giving them extra time to prepare to face the No. 10/9 Buckeyes. The first thing I notice in this match-up is that UNLV is very good offensively and the Rebel running game can get things moving. This will be the primary threat to the Buckeyes. UNLV is ranked No. 8 nationally in total offense, averaging 564 yards per game. So far this season they have been able to put up a large amount of points, but I don’t see this happening against the Buckeyes considering they have only played Idaho and Howard. Ohio State’s D-Line is too strong to give up that many yards, and they will stop the UNLV run game, holding them way under their season average.
Last week against Army, the Buckeyes put up a solid performance on both sides of the ball. I think they will do the same against UNLV. I don’t think the Rebel defense can come close to stopping J.T Barrett and J.K. Dobbins enough to impact the outcome of this game. I think Barrett will pass Bobby Hoying and move into second place on the Ohio State all-time passing yardage list as he only needs 94 yards to do so. Dobbins will have a big game, and later on in this matchup I think we will see a lot from players that haven’t had much playing time yet.
I am expecting the Scarlet and Gray to dominate the Rebels. This is a good opportunity for the Buckeyes to really make a statement and show what they can do.
Ohio State 56, UNLV 10
UNLV is going to be the closest thing to a “regular” matchup on both offense & defense for the Buckeyes so far this season. They want to pound the ball at you and let that lead to either a breakaway run or an over-the-top play-action pass. The Rebels are also the team playing the most “over their heads” in relation to the talent-level difference and how they match up with Ohio State.
The Rebs will do the same thing nearly every team Ohio State plays when there is this much of a talent gap: they will get a fluke touchdown and move the ball early. Then Ohio State will remember there is a game being played and knock off seven-straight touchdowns.
This will be fun when you look at the scoreboard after the game, but it will come down to how do the Buckeyes continue to improve on both sides of the ball? It could easily be a “loss” in execution but a win on the scoreboard. I think OSU will continue to improve and shows signs of life for the run through the B1G.
Ohio State 63, UNLV 7
UNLV gave up 43 points in a season-opening loss to FCS program Howard three weeks ago, so there’s no reason to think the Buckeyes can’t at least score 31 or so in this game. The Rebels had a bye week prior to this game, so they’re going to be almost as prepared for the OSU game as they were for Howard.
Ohio State should be able to run the ball for however many yards they would like. I’d say they should be able to do the same through the air, but I don’t want to push it. UNLV plays a man defense, but since nobody has really played man against the Buckeyes yet, we probably shouldn’t expect it here either. Rebels head coach Tony Sanchez said the No. 1 priority this week is tackling in space, which means he is expecting some more bubble screens.
This game should be a stat padder for every Buckeye involved. This should be their third game nearing the 600-yard mark this season, which is pretty good for an offense still searching for an identity. J.K. Dobbins will have a home run or two, as will Parris Campbell. Dwayne Haskins will throw his first touchdown as a Buckeye, and expect him to come in early enough to take some shots downfield. Facing an inexperienced quarterback in his third start ever, this should be a shutout, but I need to see it first.
Ohio State 63, UNLV 14