Everybody loves college football.
If somebody tells you they don’t love it, they’re wrong.
We look forward to particular games and watching certain players.
Each week we get to see something new.
That is especially true if you think about the sheer number of individual matchups there are to watch this season.
And that’s just the Ohio State games.
And that’s just the regular season Ohio State games. There could be three other games after that!
Since we are in the home stretch of our federally mandated 9-month hibernation period, it’s okay to start talking about the matchups we’re going to see, because it’s not so far off as to be considered classless teasing.
So let’s take a look at the 100 Ohio State matchups to watch this season, beginning from the bottom, which is still going to be a hell of a lot of fun to watch.
20. Nebraska LB Mohamed Barry vs. RB JK Dobbins
Mohamed Barry only tackled JK Dobbins three times last season, which is probably why the Huskers lost. Dobbins had his best game of the year against the Blackshirts, rushing for 163 yards on just 23 carries, scoring three times. Expect Barry to be much more involved this time around if Nebraska is going to get revenge.
19. Wisconsin C Tyler Biadasz vs. NT Robert Landers
Tyler Biadasz was a First-Team All-Big Ten center last year and he outsizes Robert Landers by a couplefew inches and 40-odd pounds. But it’s still gonna be a fun one to watch.
18. Nebraska WR JD Spielman vs. DB Shaun Wade
JD Spielman is a dangerous slot receiver. As Ohio State’s nickel corner/strong safety/who-the-hell-knows, Wade will be matching up with Spielman quite a bit. OSU’s defensive coaches ask a lot of a 6-1 corner like Wade to handle these 5-9 dudes.
17. Michigan LT Jon Runyan vs. DE Chase Young
Jon Runyan was a first-team all-conference pick last year. Chase Young was merely second-team. There should be an iso cam just for these two.
16. Northwestern LB Blake Gallagher vs. RB JK Dobbins
Nobody in the Big Ten had more tackles last year than Northwestern weakside linebacker Blake Gallagher’s 127. He brought JK Dobbins down three times in the Big Ten Championship Game last year, but those tackles happened — on average — around 10 yards downfield. A stout Friday night for Gallagher when the Buckeyes come to town on October 18 could derail Ohio State’s season.
15. Nebraska QB Adrian Martinez vs. LB Malik Harrison
The reason there’s a lot of matchups with the Huskers is because this is a very big game and each of the individual battles is significant. Will Malik Harrison spend time shadowing Adrian Martinez? And if he does, can he effectively bring him down or mirror him in the passing game?
14. Michigan CB Lavert Hill vs. WR Austin Mack
Lavert Hill was an All-Big Ten selection last year and put the NFL on hold for a year, presumably to come back and win this game. Austin Mack may or may not be injured right now, but should be fine by the time this game rolls around. We’ve seen big moments from Mack before in this game…especially on the road.
13. Wisconsin RB Jonathan Taylor vs. SAF Jordan Fuller
Jordan Fuller is Ohio State’s last line of defense against arguably the biggest home run hitter in the Big Ten. Jonathan Taylor’s lowest-output game of his career was the 2017 Big Ten Championship Game against the Buckeyes. He was held to just 41 yards rushing on 15 carries. Taylor came into that game averaging 150.5 yards rushing per game.
12. Michigan LB Josh Ross vs. RB JK Dobbins
Last year was the first time since 2009 that a Buckeye didn’t rush for at least 100 yards against Michigan. Sadly, Mike Weber could only manage 96 yards on 13 attempts. Josh Ross looks to be the Wolverine middle linebacker tasked with pushing this under-100-yards streak to two games.
11. Michigan State DT Raequan Williams vs. RG Wyatt Davis
Raequan Williams will line up on both the right and left side of the line, so either right guard Wyatt Davis or left guard Jonah Jackson would have fit in here. Williams may be the best defensive tackle in the Big Ten, and Davis will be out to show he is the best guard in the Big Ten. Ohio State has to be able to run the ball a bit in this one, and the Spartans are routinely stingy in allowing that to happen.
10. Michigan WR Donovan Peoples-Jones vs. CB Jeff Okudah
This could be ranked anywhere in the top 10. Donovan Peoples-Jones and Jeff Okudah were both 5-star prospects in the 2017 recruiting class. DPJ was the No. 12 player and the No. 1 receiver, while Okudah was the No. 8 player and the No. 1 cornerback. DPJ caught seven passes last season against the Buckeyes, but he was shut down quickly after each catch, totaling just 64 yards receiving. The year before, he was held catchless. Both could be turning pro after the season.
9. Penn State LB Micah Parsons vs. RB JK Dobbins
Micah Parsons led Penn State in tackles last year (83) as a true freshman off the bench, so that’s pretty impressive. He had his quietest game of the season, however, against Ohio State and JK Dobbins with just one tackle (an assist). But it’s not like Dobbins had a great game either, with just 57 yards rushing on 17 carries. You know what, maybe this isn’t that big of a matchup after all…
8. Penn State DE Yetur Gross-Matos vs. LT Thayer Munford
Yetur Gross-Matos was a First-Team All-Big Ten selection last season. He led the team with eight sacks and 20 tackles for loss. Gross-Matos had four tackles and one tackle for loss last year against the Buckeyes, but never got to Dwayne Haskins in the backfield. If Thayer Munford can keep him off of Justin Fields this year, the Buckeyes should be okay.
7. Nebraska QB Adrian Martinez vs. LB Brendon White
Brendon White will probably be on the field quite a bit against Nebraska’s spread offense. Sometimes he’ll be rushing Adrian Martinez, sometimes he’ll be dropping back, and other times he might be spying.
6. Michigan State LB Joe Bachie vs. RB JK Dobbins
All-Big Ten middle linebacker Joe Bachie has 202 tackles over the last two seasons, but only nine of them have come against Ohio State. And only two of those have been solo tackles. Bachie hasn’t been his typical self against the Buckeyes. He needs to fix that this year. Dobbins, meanwhile, only managed 28 yards on 14 carries last year, after going for 124 on 18 carries in 2017.
5. Wisconsin RB Jonathan Taylor vs. LB Malik Harrison
You’ve got the Big Ten’s best running back against Ohio State’s leading tackler. The winner of this battle could very well decide the game. No big deal. It’s just the most important thing ever.
4. Penn State LB Micah Parsons vs. QB Justin Fields
It wouldn’t be a surprise to see Micah Parsons and Justin Fields meet more than a few times in this game. Parsons may spy, he could rush the passer, but wherever he is, he’ll be ready to peel off and attack a scrambling Fields. He’ll also be patrolling the middle of the field looking to blend in with the background and pick off an intermediate pass or two.
3. Michigan State DE Kenny Willekes vs. LT Thayer Munford
Kenny Willekes had his way with the Buckeyes last year. Thayer Munford will be asked to keep that from happening again, at least from the left side. Willekes will go full effort all game long, so Munford will have to match him snap for snap.
2. Nebraska QB Adrian Martinez vs. DE Chase Young
It may not be the best move to chase Adrian Martinez out of the pocket, which is why Chase Young will want to make sure he brings him down, or at least chases him into a waiting teammate. Young will also want to make sure he doesn’t lose containment when Martinez heads his way.
1. Michigan QB Shea Patterson vs. SAF Jordan Fuller
A chess match between two grand masters. Or, if that’s too much for you, a battle between two veterans who have seen everything there is to see on a college football field. Expect Patterson to be a dangerous runner this season, which will put Jordan Fuller in conflict. Since Michigan is moving to a spread offense, however, Fuller likely won’t be the only deep safety. Generally. Michigan quarterbacks have made some very bad decisions in this game. Can Fuller keep that streak alive?