3:30 pm EST
It was only 3 weeks ago that Ohio State’s OOC schedule was widely considered a joke. That laughter has died down a little bit, particularly for the Buckeye faithful. Before the season kicked off, Washington was being tabbed as the toughest game outside of Big 10 play on the Buck’s schedule, and that was no compliment. The Huskies are amidst the group of Akron, Youngstown State, and Kent State, and were figured to still be treading water in the Pac 10. After two games, Tyrone Willingham and Co. are firing on all cylinders, and everyone is taking notice. In the opener, UW dismantled Syracuse on the ground as Frosh QB Jake Locker and RB Louis Rankin combined for 230 yards and 5 TDs. Next, they pulled off a bit of a shocker in cruising past Boise State 24-10, this time with a balanced attack, and forcing a plethora of turnovers.
The Huskies come into Saturday’s game with momentum, and with what figures to be a raucous environment in Husky Stadium, that makes Buckeye fans a little nervous. Don’t count me in that group. The reason? Ohio State’s Defense. They only allowed 69 yards on 51 plays last week, the definition of dominant. I am completely aware that Akron isn’t a powerhouse by any means, but to only allow 1.4 yards a play is flat out nasty. What that reveals to me, is that the Bucks Defense is well disciplined, very fast to the ball, and making sound, fundamental plays. If I’m not mistaken, Akron only managed one offensive play for over 10 yards, one! All it takes is a lack of focus, a misstep in coverage, a poor tackle, and you will end up giving up a significant amount of yards on a play, reducing what could have been an extraordinary performance to a great one. That didn’t happen against Akron. Now, do I expect Ohio State to play that flawlessly against Washington? Not in the least bit. What I am saying, is that this defense is very cohesive, tenacious, and exceptionally physical, and those stats shed light on those facts. This unit seems content on carrying the team until the offense gets it together (which is another story all its own), and that’s bad news for Washington. On the flip side, UW has a very talented athlete in Jake Locker. He has good size for a QB and likes to run, so expect Jake to make some plays, as he will be hard to contain. OSU, in my opinion, is going to game plan on forcing Locker to use his arm instead of his feet. Blitz, spy, knock him on his rear, and make Jake think twice before running toward the defense. Let’s not forget he is a freshman and will be very excited, so the idea would be to force him into mistakes with an uncomfortable situation, which is limiting his scrambles. One thing I know, this will be the first test for both Ohio State’s Defense, and Washington’s offense on this young season. I fully expect a decent ballgame, but Ohio State just has too much, and will wear down a very determined and feisty Husky team.
Prediction: 27-13 Buckeyes, with a defensive score somewhere along the line for the Silver Bullets. The offenses will struggle for both teams, and whichever offense can be opportunistic, will come out on top. (Sad I have to talk about offenses being opportunistic, that’s a term usually reserved for defenses)
Ohio State Offensive Line vs. Washington Defensive Line
Ohio States offensive line is struggling and the strength of the Huskies Defense is their defensive line. Put two and two together, and Ohio States offense may continue to struggle this week. The Bucks need Beanie and Saine to run, and run early, to establish a workable offense for Todd Boeckman. If that happens, it will be a long afternoon for UW. If not, this is going to be a low scoring affair for most of the game, but in the same instance as last week against Akron, this O-line may be able to wear down UW’s D-line, with the name of the game being depth. Ohio State can, and will, rotate on their line and that should be the difference in outlasting the strong Husky defensive front.
Player to Watch:
Ray Small, WR, OSU: Ray is making his way back from an injury that has kept him out the first two games of the season. If he is 100%, and it has been reported as such, he could really propel his offense. He is a speedy playmaker and it may just be what the doctor ordered.