College GameDay is headed to Lincoln, Nebraska to watch the #5 Ohio State Buckeyes take on the Nebraska Cornhuskers. This is a game with a total in the high 60s and what looks to be the Buckeyes biggest test to date. Ohio State is a 17.5 point favorite right now, after opening as a 15 point favorite.
This game is really intriguing because I think that there are two pretty clear ways this game can go. Will Ohio State’s defense continue its dominance or will a talented and dynamic Nebraska attack be able to keep pace with the Buckeyes?
Ohio State is currently second in the country in scoring offense and third in the country in scoring defense. This is very different from a year ago, when they were very average on the defensive side of the ball. With a lot of starters returning, this team looks completely different. Is this because of the level of competition that they have played or it is because they have drastically improved.
Nebraska O vs. Ohio State D
Ohio State overhauled their entire defensive staff outside of their defensive line coach in the offseason and these changes are seemingly paying off. Last year, Ohio State allowed a TON of explosive plays and missed a lot of tackles and assignments. Through 4 weeks, there has been almost zero lapses in the defense and they are tackling better than any other team in the country.
If this continues against a more talented Nebraska team, I think that this game will never be close, but I do think that it’s possible that the Cornhuskers can create some chaos. Adrian Martinez, JD Spielman, and Wan’Dale Robinson are a really explosive trio and Scott Frost is known for operating one of the best offenses in the country. However, I think that the most likely outcome here is the Ohio State talent trumps the Cornhuskers.
Those three Nebraska players would be tough to deal with for any team, but Ohio State has one of the most talented defenses in the country, headlined by future top 3 pick Chase Young and future top 10 pick Jeffrey Okudah. Young has 7 sacks in 4 games and he has not seen more than a half of football yet and he is looking to be like the next undeniable “best player in the draft.”
Nebraska has absolutely no answer for Young and I think that the pass rush of Ohio State, which is one off the lead in sacks while sitting for most second halves, should have no problems frustrating Martinez. Ohio State plays 4 players in the secondary that will be day 1 and 2 picks in the NFL Draft this year or next and they are averaging 1.7 yards per carry. This is one of the most dominant defenses in the country and I think that Nebraska will feel that here, especially in the second half.
Ohio State O vs. Nebraska D
On the other side of the ball, I cannot see how Nebraska expects to stop Justin Fields and the Buckeyes. Ryan Day is one of the best offensive minds in college football and he has added even more wrinkles to an offense that was 2nd in yards per game a year ago. Things like play-action passing from under center and implementing 2 TE looks in certain matchups this season is something to watch for as the season progresses, as these are things that Day has implemented into this offense.
Justin Fields is second in the country in points accounted for through 4 weeks and he has been dominant in every facet of the game. Fields looks really poised in the pocket and he looks more polished than most expected.
Here is the scary part about the Ohio State offense that has still not even been unleashed. Justin Fields is not being asked to run besides in goal line scenarios. Fields is a 6’3, 230lb athletic freak who was clocked at 4.38 in the spring at Ohio State. If Ohio State is in a close game, I expect to see Fields take over with his legs as a secret weapon.
In addition to the lack of Fields’ running the ball, Fields is getting no YAC on passes downfield, which is bound to change. On passes over 10 yards, Fields has thrown for 591 yards and only FIVE of those yards have come after the catch. This is an outlier and I expect even more explosiveness from this offense.
Nebraska’s defense is improved from a year ago, but they really lack “dudes.” Khalil Davis is the only player on this defense that is projected to be drafted by most places and that is in the last few rounds of the draft. Ohio State is going to feature 8-12 guys that will be draft picks within the next three years and this is too much talent for Nebraska to handle.
Let’s get this out of the way, the best bet here is the over on Ohio State’s team total, which looks like it will be something like 42.5. Ohio State will score at will in this game and I think that the only concern for this number is the fact that Ohio State could smother the Huskers on the other side of the ball. At 42.5, Ohio State will never hold back until they are well past that number in this game, so I think you are safe there.
This game is either going to be something like 55-35 or 51-14. The question is can Nebraska’s playmakers duplicate how teams got to Ohio State last year and will Ohio State get burnt by it.
I think that they will do the best they can to repeat these situations and Ohio State will not get beat consistently by those plays. However, these playmakers are good enough to break a few, even against a much improved defense. I’ll take Ohio State 58-20 in Lincoln. Bet on the Buckeyes at our favorite pay per head location at A1PPH.com
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