The nations’ eyes will be focused on Columbus, Ohio tonight, when #5 ranked Oklahoma invades the Horseshoe to take on #2 Ohio State.
This is a matchup that I have been waiting for. Two great football teams with a lot on the line, national broadcast, in prime time. This is what it is all about. This could very well be one of the biggest games of the year for both teams, and it has all of the potential to live up to the hype. In just the second week of the season, this can have major playoff implications.
Last year Ohio state took to the road to head into Norman, Oklahoma and took it to the Sooners. OSU left with a 45-24 victory in which they dominated in the first half, and never looked back. Because of this, Oklahoma will be heading to Ohio with a big chip on their shoulders. A lot of the media figures OSU being at home this time, will once again dominate the Sooners and continue their bid for a perfect season, and ultimately, a national championship. I’m not so sure that it will be that easy though.
Oklahoma has big play capabilities on offense, led by quarterback Baker Mayfield. In their opener against a far weaker UTEP, he went 19 of 20 and racked up 329 yards and 3 touchdowns. That could be a concern for the Buckeyes who struggled early against the very good passing attack of Indiana in week one. The Buckeyes were able to do what good teams do, and make adjustments in the second half to eventually blow the doors off of Indiana, and come out with a win. How do these games compare to this weeks matchup? They don’t really because Ohio State is definitely not UTEP, and Oklahoma is definitely not Indiana.
I expect this to be a tough, hard fought game that will be won or lost at the line of scrimmage. Whichever team takes charge in the trenches will win this game. If the Sooners’ offensive line is able to hold up against the pass rush and run defense of the Buckeyes, they should be able to run the ball effectively, and also allow Mayfield to dissect the somewhat weak Buckeyes’ secondary. If they can’t establish a run game, and force the Sooners out of a somewhat balanced offensive attack, and rely solely on the pass game, I think the Buckeyes’ defense will be able to adjust and clamp down the receivers.
The Buckeyes are going to need to do more on offense. You have to catch the ball! Last week, Buckeyes’ receivers dropped several passes in the first half, including a potential touchdown. The Bucks will need to tighten up their offense and not wait until the second half to put it all together. I’m not completely down on their effort from last week however. They went on the road in their season opener…in prime time…on a Thursday night…against a good offense with an excellent passing attack. They have two extra days to build on the last game and prepare for the Sooners.
With all of that being said, here is my prediction. I feel like the Buckeyes have a huge advantage being at home. It is going to be very uncomfortable for the Sooners when the Horseshoe starts rocking. I think both teams will come out with a lot of intensity, but OSU will get out to a fast start and score first. Oklahoma will be held in check for the first couple of drives but eventually get on the board in the first half. I see the Buckeyes going into halftime with a lead somewhere around 17-14. In the second half, it should get a little more exciting, and possibly see the teams trading scores in the third quarter. Heading into the fourth, the score will be in the neighborhood of 31-28. A few big stops by the Bucks, with a raucous home crown will help drive OSU to victory. Final score will be, 38-31.