Written by Cody Phillips
Week 3 is finally here and every college football fan is fired up. We have (potentially) the biggest match up of the year thus far taking place at the Palace on the Prairie. The nation’s longest road win streak is on the line as Ohio State lines up against Oklahoma. The match-up of two playoff hopefuls, as well as, two Heisman chasing Quarterbacks looks to be promising.
Ohio State has been nothing short of unstoppable in this young season. Aside from throwing a pick-six in the first quarter against Bowling Green, JT Barrett has been flawless. Barrett has thrown for 498 yards and six touchdowns, while also adding 85 yards and three touchdowns on the ground. He leads this offensive unit that is second in the nation for points per game (62.5) and fifth in total offense (596.5 ypg).
After an opening loss to Houston, Oklahoma rebounded with a 59-17 victory over Louisiana-Monroe. The offense was far more explosive and more balanced. Only playing 30 minutes, Baker Mayfield put up 244 yards through the air. While the ground attack knocked out nearly 300 yards, showing remnants of last year’s Final Four team. Unlike other top 25 teams who came out flat on Saturday, the Sooners throttled up and posted 42 points just in the first half.
On defense, the Buckeyes still haven’t given up a defensive touchdown, and have held opponents scoreless in five of eight quarters. Ohio State gives up 6.5 points per game (third-best in the nation) and is allowing only 216 yards per game (No. 5 nationally). Needless to say, this Ohio State defense will be on the attack to keep Baker in the pocket or on the ground.
After OU’s Week 1 defensive debacle, Week 2 was a far better showing. But, there are still some major concerns on defense. The Sooners gave up two long touchdowns – passes for 73 and 43 yards. Factoring in Houston’s special teams return touchdown, Oklahoma is gaining an identity of a team that’s liable to give up big plays.
The Game Changer – Limit the Big Play/Control the clock
Oklahoma’s ability to give up the big play is worrisome, especially against Ohio State’s potent offense. If Oklahoma wants a chance to win this game they cannot allow big plays. The Sooners will also need to rely on their rushing attack and controlling the clock. When the Sooners are down two scores they tend to go into panic mode and lean heavily on Mayfield. The Sooner faithful shouldn’t feel too confident in Mayfield. If he plans on going head-to-head against a stout Greg Schiano defense, the game could get out of hand. Give the ball to the work horses and let Perine and Mixon win this game for you.
Prediction: 38 OU, 34 OSU