Cleat Geeks

B1G Game of the Week

Get hyped up!  Two of the nation’s best teams and most storied franchises are facing off in Norman Saturday night.  No. 3 Ohio State is faced with its first test of the season, and boy is it a big one. Meanwhile, No. 14 Oklahoma gets its first chance to avenge a Week 1 loss to Houston and re-enter its name into the College Football Playoff conversation. This is the first time Urban Meyer and Bob Stoops have gone head-to-head since the 2008 BCS National Championship Game, in which Tim Tebow and a stout Florida defense withstood Sam Bradford and OU’s beastly offensive line. Meanwhile, JT Barrett and Baker Mayfield, two of the best quarterbacks in the nation, each get a shot to add to their Heisman resumes against top-tier opponents. From the looks of it, this game has the ability to top the energy and intensity of the match-up from eight years ago.  Let’s break it down:

Game Preview:

joemixonThrough two games, the Buckeyes are averaging 63 points and almost 600 yards offensively. Obviously, this game will come down to the Sooners having to slow down such a high-powered offense right from the start. OU is allowing under 2.5 yards/carry on the ground, and let’s not forget they almost entirely shut down Houston’s explosive rushing attack, forcing the Cougars to throw the ball all over the field to steal a Week 1 victory. Oklahoma will need to have similar defensive success to eliminate Mike Weber from the game and get Barrett to air it out. Likewise, Ohio State must contain bulldozer Joe Mixon, who helped his three-back rotation gain over 300 yards on the ground these past two weeks. He helped opened up the passing attack for Mayfield, who has a QBR of 192 (!!!) through two weeks, surpassing Barrett’s highly impressive 178. Assuming each defense does its job at least partially against the run game, this match-up will come down to Mayfield and Barrett and what each can do through the air, the latter with several young receivers. More specifically, however, this game will be decided by coaching; after Meyer stole a ring from Stoops in 2008, which coach will make the right moves Saturday and put his team in contention for a College Football Playoff bid?

Keys to a Buckeye victory:

  • First off, Ohio State can not start off slow on Saturday or they’ll give the Sooners a head start on the scoreboard. They looked almost poor on some drives in the first quarter of Tulsa before Barrett and the offense recollected itself to look as explosive as ever. OSU must come out on the opening drive and set the tone by pounding it down the throats of the Sooner defense.
  • mikeweberRedshirt freshman RB Mike Weber must have a day. If Stoops focuses his defense on Barrett, Weber must find lanes and create plays, despite his inexperience. If he plays like he can early, the defense must readjust and Barrett will take advantage himself both on the ground and through the air.
  • Ohio State must continue to dominate special teams, as it’s ranked 9th through two weeks. Buckeye specialists have the ability to change field position, along with momentum, and it must show Saturday. OSU is dominated starting field position thus far; if they pressure Mayfield with long fields, they’re bound to force punts.
  • Stop the run! Don’t let Mixon and co. get going or they’ll make you pay. Even worse, Mayfield will make you pay. If the Buckeyes force the Sooners to throw the ball all day long, they’ll come back to Columbus undefeated.

Keys to a Sooner victory:

  • bakermayfieldContain JT Barrett. Obviously, that’s easier said then done, so they need to make him one-dimensional and get him to air it out. If Barrett can run and throw, it’ll be a long night for OU fans.  However, get him throwing the ball early and often and the inexperience of the Buckeye offense will give the ball away once or twice.
  • Capitalize on all Buckeye mistakes. When the Ohio State offense does stumble and gives Mayfield a shortened field, he must find a way to the end zone. Settling for field goals after having great field position won’t get the W, especially with long fields and terrible field position that the Buckeye specialists can create on other drives. Score after takeaways!
  • Run the ball. OSU’s first two opponents were pass-heavy teams, and not just because they were trailing all game long. Make the Buckeyes prove they can stop the explosive ground attack that showed up in Week 2. Don’t let Ohio State’s defense get comfortable sitting back and playing center field while their aggressive d-line takes shots at Mayfield. Run the ball down their throats.jtbarrett

Prediction: I’m 1-1 on the season and have picked against the Big Ten in each case. This week, though, it’s almost impossible to pick against Urban Meyer and the road favorite (-1) Buckeyes. Meyer is 18-0 in true road games at Ohio State, and Oklahoma hasn’t hosted such a high-ranked team since No. 2 Texas Tech visited in 2008. JT Barrett will prove he’s a Hesiman contender in primetime, while the Buckeyes show the nation they belong in the College Football Playoff after being left out just a season ago.

P.S… As if the Buckeyes weren’t hyped up enough for such an elite match-up, Oklahoma’s backup QB Austin Kendall, on national television, said he expects Mayfield to light up Ohio State’s defense. Put that on the bulletin board, Meyer. OSU by 100.

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