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.
40. Michigan CB Ambry Thomas vs. WR Chris Olave
Ambry Thomas is dealing with a health issue right now, so his season is a question mark. He could be back by the time the Ohio State game rolls around. If he is, he’ll run into Chris Olave a time or two. When he does, he might want to stay closer to Olave than the Wolverines did in 2018.
39. Penn State WR Jahan Dotson vs. CB Jeff Okudah
Jahan Dotson had four starts and put up 203 yards receiving as a true freshman last season. He is an exciting young receiver and he will be doing battle with arguably the Big Ten’s best cornerback in Jeff Okudah. (Provided Penn State has somebody to throw the ball.)
38. Northwestern DE Samdup Miller vs. RT Branden Bowen
Samdup Miller has 27 career starts and is a veteran of many Big Ten battles. Miller had two tackles for loss and a sack against the Buckeyes in the Big Ten Championship Game last December. He has yet to match up against Branden Bowen, however.
37. Wisconsin RB Jonathan Taylor vs. LB Pete Werner
Given Wisconsin’s power run game, you can expect the Buckeyes to go with three linebackers more than they will against most teams. That means Sam linebacker Pete Werner will be on the field and he’ll need to make sure Badger running back Jonathan Taylor stays in check.
36. Michigan OG Ben Bredeson vs. DT Jashon Cornell
Ben Bredeson is one of the best interior linemen in the Big Ten. Jashon Cornell, on the other hand, has one career start to his credit. If he wins this matchup, Ohio State’s chances of beating Michigan go way up.
35. Northwestern DE Joe Gaziano vs. LT Thayer Munford
Samdup Miller and Branden Bowen are the undercard to the main even of Joe Gaziano and Thayer Munford. Gaziano finished with 7.5 sacks last season. Munford is returning from a back injury, but he should be well beyond full go by the time this game comes around in the middle of the season.
34. Michigan C Cesar Ruiz vs. NT Robert Landers
This is going to be a fun one. Cesar Ruiz gets better by the day. He was a Third-Team All-Big Ten selection last year and will be pushing for first-team status this year. Robert Landers is a unique nose tackle at around 6-0 and 280-odd pounds. Leverage is always key and Landers makes life difficult for taller linemen — which is all of them.
33. Penn State SAF Garrett Taylor vs. QB Justin Fields
Justin Fields is a dangerous runner, but he is even more deadly throwing on the run. For a safety like Garrett Taylor, he is going to have to be careful not to let a receiver get behind him on a scramble. Taylor is a veteran, but Fields will be as well when they finally meet up against each other in late November.
32. Michigan State SAF David Dowell vs. WR KJ Hill
David Dowell was a first-team all-conference selection as a sophomore in 2017, but regressed all the way back to third team last year. KJ Hill is expected to be the Buckeyes’ top target this season. He and Dowell should have some interesting battles out of the slot this year.
31. Northwestern QB Hunter Johnson vs. BUL Brendon White
Everybody is looking forward to seeing Hunter Johnson this season. The former 5-star transfer from Clemson is the biggest thing to hit Northwestern since Gary Barnett. Johnson is going to have to know where Brendon White is at all times because he will be lining up all over the place. He will be at deep safety some, linebacker other times, and possibly as an edge rusher as well. Buckle up.
30. Michigan DE Kwity Paye vs. LT Thayer Munford
Kwity Paye is expected to be one of Michigan’s three defensive ends in heavy rotation. He started four games last year and piled up two sacks and 5.5 tackles for loss. Paye watched Rashan Gary and Chase Winovich last season, and expectations are high for him this year. Thayer Munford is one of the best tackles in the Big Ten. He can’t let Paye get the best of him in this one.
29. Michigan WR Nico Collins vs. CB Damon Arnette
Nico Collins led the Wolverines with 632 yards receiving last year. He caught four passes for 91 yards and two touchdowns against the Buckeyes, but you may not remember that because of the 62 points from Ohio State that distracted you. Damon Arnette is playing for an NFL contract and all eyes are going to be on him in this game.
28. Indiana RB Stevie Scott vs. LB Malik Harrison
Stevie Scott is a big, physical running back at 6-foot-2 and 235 pounds. Malik Harrison is a big, physical linebacker at 6-foot-3 and 240 pounds. Let’s watch!
27. Northwestern LB Paddy Fisher vs. QB Justin Fields
Northwestern will need to put a spy on Justin Fields and middle linebacker Paddy Fisher might be the ideal candidate. Fisher won’t be able to match Fields’ speed, but he’s big, athletic, and a sure tackler.
26. Michigan State QB Brian Lewerke vs. LB Tuf Borland
Both players here are looking for a bit of a redemption tour after playing injured last year. Brian Lewerke was one of the Big Ten’s best players in 2017, but he took a turn for the worse last year. Healthy now, he should be able to bring back his mobility and accuracy, which were both missing last year. Tuf Borland is going to have to deal with Lewerke all game long when they meet up in early October.
25. Wisconsin LT Cole Van Lanen vs. DE Chase Young
Chase Young is an All-American candidate at defensive end for the Buckeyes. He tied for the Big Ten lead with 10.5 sacks last year. Cole Van Lanen, on the other hand, is a junior with one career start to his credit. The Badgers have a way of putting together great offensive lines, and they’re going to need Van Lanen to be one of their best.
24. Michigan DE Aidan Hutchinson vs. RT Branden Bowen
Aidan Hutchinson had a solid true freshman year last year, but didn’t get as much time as he may have liked. This year, that shouldn’t be a problem. Branden Bowen is looking like the starter at right tackle for the Buckeyes. Of course, given his versatility and the possibility of injuries along the line, he may be somewhere else by late November.
23. Nebraska CB DiCaprio Bootle vs. WR Chris Olave
DiCaprio Bootle is an All-Big Ten candidate this year. He led the conference with 15 pass breakups last year. Chris Olave will be splitting time, but he’ll still have plenty of opportunities to make plays against one of the more savvy cornerbacks in the conference. This is going to be the biggest game of Ohio State’s non-Michigan season. A win for Olave here will be important.
22. Northwestern QB Hunter Johnson vs. SAF Jordan Fuller
It’s probably not a great sign that Hunter Johnson hasn’t been named the starter yet, but you could say the same thing for Justin Fields at Ohio State and we know how that story is going to work out. Would it be better if he had played well enough to be named the starter a week ago, sure. Will it matter? Probably not. Does Jordan Fuller care right now? No. Will he care later? As the Buckeyes’ last line of defense, he better.
21. Michigan LB Josh Ross vs. QB Justin Fields
Josh Ross is an athletic linebacker with good range. His skill set should come in handy against Ohio State and Justin Fields. Mobile Ohio State quarterbacks have been bad news for Michigan defenses over the years. Of course, so have drop-back quarterbacks. However you slice it, Josh Ross is going to have a lot to watch against the Buckeyes.