It may feel like a lifetime ago, but the last time the Buckeyes took the field, they lost 49-20 to Purdue.
Some people called it an upset, but it sure didn’t look like it while we were watching it live.
Up next for Ohio State is a team that can do many of the same things that Purdue did, but they also have a quarterback who has rushed for 100 yards in a game twice this season.
Defensively, Nebraska has given up a ton of big plays, but they have gotten better over the last few weeks. The first part of that description also fits Ohio State. The second part? We’ll find out on Saturday because the Huskers have some playmakers on offense.
Could the Buckeyes be headed for a second-straight loss?
Last week, we had two people pick the Boilersmakers. Chip Minnich had it 49-42 for Purdue and Michael Citro had it 45-42. Interestingly, however, the closest score was Mike Meihls, who had it 52-20. Never mind that he had Ohio State winning. I’m not sure we’ve ever said you have to get the teams correct, just the score.
So is anybody taking the Huskers this week? Let’s find out.
There is very little that would surprise me on Saturday. OSU could come out focused by the Purdue loss and put together three hours of merciless rage like they did last year against Michigan State.
Or they could struggle out of the gate, allow Nebraska to build confidence, and suffer another ludicrous defeat.
But the most likely scenario is something close to the status quo. The Buckeyes will throw it a bunch, but won’t be able to run it much. Their defense will continue to give up more yards and points than anyone in Columbus is used to.
But they’ll be wearing those spiffy black uniforms while doing it.
Know the old saying “Look good, feel good, play good?”
Look like Texas Tech, feel like Texas Tech, play like Texas Tech.
Ohio State 38, Nebraska 31
This is the week we get to see if getting curb stomped by an average Purdue team woke Urban Meyer the hell up. It’s easy to be smug and arrogant despite visible flaws when your team is undefeated, but when the Boilermakers dunk on you, you can’t just laugh off 93-yard touchdowns allowed and rushing yardage that Rutgers laughs at.
Did anything get fixed? We will find out in a hurry, because if it didn’t, Nebraska’s offense will run amok. My hunch is that some things got partially fixed during the bye week, but the Buckeyes put forth a response.
Ohio State 42, Nebraska 30
For two weeks, we’ve heard nothing but what is wrong with Ohio State. We’ve all come up with our own solutions to magically fix it all. Some of those involved personnel moves and others were just simple scheme fixes. None of that matters though, because on Saturday we get to see what Ohio State did to fix their problems (if they were even convinced they had any outside of missing tackles).
While the offense has their problems, my biggest concern going into this game is solely on the defensive side of the ball. Those are where the most issues are and Nebraska has the playmakers on the offensive side of the ball to hurt them. I’m watching for personnel changes at all three levels, LBs being put in position to utilize their speed/athleticism and not being forced to be defensive linemen, and finally a renewed sence of urgency with tackling. If I see all three of these things, I will be a little more confident how the rest of the year plays out. If I don’t, I’m convinced it could be a long rest of the year for the Buckeyes.
As far as the outcome, regardless of if these things happen or not, the Buckeyes will beat Nebraska. They are not a good team and their defense makes the Buckeyes look at Alabamaian.
OSU 48, Nebraska 20
The Buckeyes are coming off of an embarrassing loss and they have had two weeks now to dwell on their mistakes and then focus on fixing them. I think they are anxious to get back on the field and get a big win to show what they are capable of doing.
While Nebraska has a good offense going right now, I honestly don’t think that matters that much. In this game, I think all of the focus is on Ohio State.
There was a lot of talk this week that they figured out how to stop big plays, how to run the ball, and how to score when inside the red zone. I think we will see those improvements on Saturday.
If so, then I think this game should be an easy opportunity for Ohio State to get a big win and get some of their confidence back before a tough game next week.
Ohio State 42, Nebraska 17
Like candy corn, a disgusting “treat” that should never find its way into any good candy discussion, the Cornhuskers of Nebraska are one of the bottom tier options in their respective categories. Unlike the bland, boring, awful candies, however, the Nebraska football team has recently shown a flashier side and appears to be on a bit of a resurgence.
Nebraska has won their last two games, after going winless in the previous six, by a combined total of 61 points. In those victories, their yards per play average soared as they posted two of their top three averages on the year. In addition, they cut down on penalties, only getting flagged a total of eleven times in the two outings.
The Buckeyes, on the other hand, have given up a ridiculous seven yards per play to their opponents in their last two contests. With Nebraska’s mobile and talented young QB, Adrian Martinez, I see OSU’s defense struggling again. However, a bye week for Urban Meyer is a cheat code that Scott Frost will not be able to crack. The Buckeyes will move the ball with ease on the Cornhusker defense and outpace them, despite giving up more points to a two-win team than any of us feel comfortable with.
Ohio State 48 – Nebraska 27
Nebraska is coming into Ohio Stadium, with momentum on their side after two consecutive wins and a general sense of confidence that they can pull off the upset over Ohio State. After all, Nebraska beat Minnesota (53-28) much more convincingly than the Buckeyes did (30-14). Nebraska has enough similarities offensively as Purdue, and the Boilermakers were in complete control over the Buckeyes in their win on October 20th. And we all are familiar with Ohio State’s struggles running the ball, scoring touchdowns while in the red zone, and the overall poor defensive performances that have been plaguing the Buckeyes this season.
In the words of Urban Meyer, the Buckeyes are feeling a sense of “urgency” as the calendar moves to November. While I am cautiously optimistic that the Buckeyes will have figured out some things offensively that will work against the Cornhuskers, I do not have the same sense of optimism as it relates to the defensive side of the ball. I am thinking it will be close until the fourth quarter, and that is where I am hoping the dormant Buckeye running game emerges from its slumber and helps Ohio State put this one away.
Ohio State 45, Nebraska 28
Part of me feels bad for fans of the Corn. Their team has gone downhill so fast since firing Bo Pelini. I do believe Scott Frost will get the Huskers back on track, but it takes time to rebuild after three terrible years.
The Husker offense has a lot of talent and playmakers. Adrian Martinez is a dangerous quarterback, he can run as well as he can throw. The Nebraska running backs are very good, and Stanley Morgan Jr. may be the best all-around wide receiver in the Big Ten. And don’t forget JD Spielman, who reminds me of Rondale Moore. Expect B1G Red to move the ball, even if Ohio State really did make big changes to the defense.
However, the Blackshirts this group is not. Nebraska’s linebackers are their best defensive unit, and I doubt they are an upgrade over the LB play OSU has fielded this season. No matter which attack Ryan Day and Kevin Wilson bring, the Huskers won’t stop it.
Look not at the score, but at the improvements to really rate this game for the Buckeyes. Nonetheless, good guys prevail Saturday.
Ohio State 42, Nebraska 21
I am done predicting blowouts until the Michigan game. I expect the Buckeyes to have a renewed focus on the running game, but since they’ll have the same quarterback handing it off in the same offense and the same offensive line blocking, I don’t suddenly see 300 yards on the ground happening.
With Nebraska’s man coverage defense, however, I do see some big plays happening in the secondary. The deep game has been lacking lately, but I think it returns this week. I do expect a better running game, but still below average for an Ohio State offense. Defensively, the Buckeyes better score on offense.
Nebraska’s offense has all of the tools to make life difficult for the Ohio State defense. If the front four can win more snaps than they lose, however, they can go a long way towards protecting the back end before the ball ever gets there.
Ohio State 38, Nebraska 27