We all got the pick right last week, but let’s not pat ourselves on the back too hard for correctly predicting Ohio State to beat Indiana. Instead, let’s pat the backs of those who got the pick the most correct, and that would be me and Caroline, as we both went with a 42-17 score. The Buckeyes won 49-21, which is basically exactly what we said it would be. Basically.
Who will be mostly exactly basically correct this week? Let’s find out.
The Sooners remember being embarrassed in their home stadium last September, allowing the most points in a half in the history of their friendly confines. Mayfield, who is 1-2 as a starter against non-conference opponents away from home, will need to play near flawlessly against an Ohio State defense and their basic, pseudo-Kansas defensive front.
With the defensive front creating pressure without a dynamic run game to worry about, the secondary and linebackers will have a chance to create turnovers. I like Malik Harrison and Dante Booker to come up with big plays on the defensive side of the ball.
Offensively, the Buckeyes will pound the interior running game with Weber before unleashing the “Hype Train” on the Sooners. Look for the Buckeyes to work the flats in the passing game and targeting the true freshman thrust into action for injured cornerback Jordan Parker. Marcus Baugh and K.J. Hill are due for a big night in the stat column.
150 yards rushing and 240 passing for Buckeyes in this one before the victory bell rings and Carmen Ohio is belted throughout the Shoe.
Ohio State 37, Big Game Bob’s Apprentice 23
Burned couches: 2 (the semester is still young)
This is a classic matchup of strength against strength. Oklahoma’s offense is the real deal, so is the OSU defense. The Oklahoma offensive line is the real deal. So is the OSU defensive line.
The other matchup, the OSU offense against the Oklahoma defense, is where the intrigue really is. The naysayers are confusing this year’s OSU offense with last year’s, and that’s a mistake. This is an improved unit. They are better on the ground and in the air, and that will be apparent against the Sooners and will be the difference in the game.
And oh, by the way, great defense almost always trumps great offense.
Ohio State 31, Oklahoma 20
Last year, the Buckeyes topped the Sooners 45-24 in Norman. This was a huge and shocking road win for the Buckeyes. There will definitely be that revenge factor for Oklahoma in this game because these are two tradition-rich and talented programs…and the Sooners got embarrassed last year at home. I think they are coming to Ohio Stadium ready to battle.
There was a lot of talk last year about the “basic” Buckeye defense, but linebacker Jerome Baker had a great game returning a first-quarter interception 68 yards for a touchdown. I think Baker will have another great game against the Sooners, but the defense will definitely be put to the test against Baker Mayfield and his crew. His favorite target, tight end Mark Andrews, will be a very difficult matchup for the Buckeyes because of his size. Ohio State will be giving up some huge yards to Andrews and Mayfield.
I’m expecting this to be a very back-and-forth game, but I think Ohio State will come out on top. It is a home night game and The Shoe will be a tough environment for Oklahoma, especially with ESPN’s Game Day being present. Both Ohio State and Oklahoma are coming off impressive victories, but I think the Buckeyes will come away with this W.
Ohio State 38 Oklahoma 24
This is going to be a great test for the Ohio State defensive backfield. Not only does Oklahoma have a passing game that can put up big numbers, they also have an offensive line that may make it harder for OSU to force Baker Mayfield to get the ball out in under 3 seconds every play. Mark Andrews presents some matchup issues for the Buckeyes, and I’m expecting him to put up 100+ yards receiving. Jeff Badet is a legit deep threat (he averaged 21.6 yards per catch last year), and he figures to be close to 100 as well.
This all sounds bad, but the real question is how much the Sooners will be able to run it, and the answer may be “not much.” If the Buckeyes can keep OU one-dimensional, those gaudy receiving numbers may not add up to a gaudy score. Rotating 10-12 OSU defensive linemen should keep everyone fresh and ultimately wear down that Sooner O-line.
Offensively, Ohio State ran for 295 yards against the Sooners last year, while J.T. Barrett was efficient if not spectacular against OU. This weekend, they should be able to maintain the balance that Oklahoma can’t, and should end up close to 250 yards both rushing and passing.
This is ultimately going to come down to talent and depth. Oklahoma recruits quite well, and is one of the most talented teams on the Buckeyes’ schedule, but Ohio State recruits at an entirely different level. The Sooners keep it close, but in the end OSU’s depth, coaching and home field advantage win out.
Ohio State 38, Oklahoma 31
If we just make this a comparison between coaches, Oklahoma has no chance. Urban Meyer has three times as many national titles as Lincoln Riley has career wins. This is the biggest game of Riley’s career. For Meyer, it’s just Saturday. How ever Riley handles this week and gameday will influence how this game goes. Players are a reflection of their head coach, after all. The good news for the Sooners is that they have veteran leaders and veteran assistants.
I don’t expect Oklahoma to attack the corners like Indiana did. I’m not sure Baker Mayfield is tall enough to do that. He’ll need to drop back a bit more and move around some. As such, there will be more time for the defense to get after him — but they have to be careful. The defense did nearly a perfect job against him last season, and I expect them to do similar things this time around. Greg Schiano loves tweaks, so they can’t just do the same stuff they did a year ago. I do expect Jerome Baker to be a busy guy, however.
The Buckeyes should run the ball well, and I expect them to involve the outside run more this week. Last week was pretty vanilla, but there should be some Neapolitan stuff going on this week. Oklahoma’s defense can be run on and I expect some big hits to come. That running success will lead to some big plays in the passing game as well. Earlier this week I told the Tulsa World that I liked Ohio State 34-24, but after watching some of Oklahoma’s game last week, I don’t think I went far enough. Ohio State will pull away late, possibly due to a defensive score.