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College Football: Breaking Down No. 3 Ohio State Heading into Week 5 in the Big Ten

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College Football: Breaking Down No. 3 Ohio State Heading into Week 5 in the Big Ten

2020-11-20 12:50:32


-by Nate Comp, Staff Writer; Image: Justin Fields attempts a pass against Indiana. (Image Source: James Black / Icon Sportswire)

Looking at the Ohio State Buckeyes as they get ready to take on No. 9 Indiana:

Head Coach: Ryan Day

Overall: 2nd Full Season, 19-1 (.950) Overall

Bowl Appearances at Ohio State: 1

2019 Record: 13-1 (9-0, Big Ten East)

Bowl Appearances Since 2000: 20 (11-9)

Mascot: Brutus Buckeye

Colors: Scarlet and Gray

Outfitter: Nike

National Titles: 8

Conference Titles: 40 (38 Big Ten, 2 OAC)

Heisman Winners: 7

2020 Record: 3-0

Last Week: CANCELLED @ Maryland, COVID Outbreak at Maryland


Passing: Justin Fields (72-83 passing (86.7%), 908 yards, 11 TD, 0 INT)

Rushing: Master Teague III (47 rushes, 211 yards, 4.5 YPC, 4 TDs)

Receiving: Garrett Wilson (24 receptions, 344 yards, 2 TDs)

Tackles: Tuf Borland (16 tackles, 7 solo, 1 Sack)

Stat of the Week: Ohio State is a dominant 2nd quarter team. The Buckeyes have outgained their opponents 419-93 in second quarters this season, outscoring them 45-10. Their defense has held opponents to 1.4 yards per carry and 4.1 yards per pass attempt in this quarter.

Ohio State’s Talking Points

1. Justin Fields Heisman Campaign

This will be the fourth stop on the 2019 third-place Heisman finisher’s campaign. With Trevor Lawrence having to miss a couple of games due to a positive COVID test, many have Justin Fields now as the favorite for the 2020 award given to the nation’s top player, despite the Big Ten’s shortened schedule. And quite frankly, it is hard to argue otherwise.

Fields' greatest strength in 2019 was his accuracy. He has doubled down on that aspect of his game in 2020; Fields has completed 87% of his passes and has yet to throw an interception. He has accounted for more touchdowns (13, 11 passing, and 2 rushing) than he has thrown incompletions (11).

“The craziest? I would have to go with more touchdowns than incompletions, for sure,” Fields said last week before practice. “That’s the craziest one.”

There are plenty of crazy statistics, though. Fields’ offensive tackles have allowed just one pressure in 110 pass-blocking opportunities. His pair of running backs, Trey Sermon and Master Teague III have combined for over 400 rushing yards and 4 touchdowns in just 3 games. Garrett Wilson became the first Buckeye receiver to record three consecutive 100+ yard receiving games since 1998. The list goes on and on for this overpowering offense.

Fields and company will look to continue this dominance in Saturday’s game, which may shape out to be their hardest test during the regular season.

2. Where can they improve?

“I’m really not disappointed in anything, to be honest with you,” head coach of the Buckeyes Ryan Day said last week. How could he be? They’re 3-0 and have shown no real weaknesses early on. So where can they be better? There are two main areas the Buckeyes hope to improve on to accomplish their national championship goals this season.

The first, is penalties. Ohio State is ranked 66th nationally in penalty yards per game. They had a clean start to the year in the game against Nebraska, but since then have committed 18 penalties for 154 yards. The interior of their offensive line and secondary have shown to have a bit of a holding problem early in this season. The Buckeyes have never been the cleanest team (outside of the top 50 in penalty yards per game each year since 2015), but this is something that will need to be cleaned up as Indiana loves to blitz their linebackers on defense and sling the ball all over the field on offense.

The second area of improvement is the defensive secondary. After losing Damon Arnette and Jeff Okudah to the draft, the Buckeyes are low on experience in their secondary. Throw in the loss of Chase Young wreaking havoc and giving quarterbacks more time in the pocket, and you’ll see a secondary that has a bit to improve on before competing at the nation’s highest stage.

Nitpicking? Sure. Is improvement possible? Certainly.

“We want perfection here, we want to be the best in the country at what we do and we’re just not there yet,” added Day.

3. Hardest game on the schedule?

A lot has been made about the difficulty of Indiana’s four wins so far. Despite the names of the teams they’ve beaten (Michigan, Penn State, Michigan State, Rutgers), their opponents have combined for just a 3-12 record despite three opponents starting the year in the AP Top 25.

All that considered, it’s hard to not also say that about this Buckeye team. Two of their wins also come from opponents Indiana has also beaten, Penn State and Rutgers, and their third win came against a 1-2 Nebraska team. Overall, their opponents own a 2-9 record.

Without a doubt, the talent advantage goes to Ohio State. The eye test will give you more faith in the Buckeyes, too. But, if you are going to put Indiana’s wins under the microscope, make sure you do the same for Ohio State; this will easily be the most difficult test for both teams this season.


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