Last week, the Hawkeyes were able to pick up a big home win against the Minnesota Gophers. However, this week, the Hawkeyes face an entirely different beast in an Ohio State Buckeyes team who was ranked number six in the first College Football Playoff ranking of the season and currently sits with an overall record of 7-1.
The Buckeyes come into this game with a lot of confidence following a massive come-from-behind win against Penn State last Saturday, and will look to keep their playoff hopes alive with a win in Iowa City this weekend.
With that said, let’s take a look at what exactly the Buckeyes are bringing to the table on Saturday.
Ohio State On Offense
On offense, the Buckeyes are basically what they have always a been: An athletic team that can attack you in a number of ways while featuring an impressive ground game, which includes the quarterback; this season has been no different.
Standing at the helm for the Buckeyes this season is none other than senior J.T. Barrett who has seemingly been there for an eternity. Following a less than stellar outing against Oklahoma in week two of this season, Barrett has gone on to really turn around his play and bring this year’s offense to unexpectedly new heights.
As a passer, Barrett won’t wow you with his arm strength, size, or overall athleticism. However, his demeanor in the pocket, ability to throw with anticipation, and willingness to take a shot and make a big play make him a serious threat anytime he has the ball in his hands, especially so this season.
As far as weapons are concerned, per the usual, the Buckeyes are loaded with offensive talent. Whether it be freshman star running back J.K. Dobbins, sophomore running back Mike Weber, junior wide receiver Parris Campbell, sophomore receiver K.J. Hill, junior receiver Johnnie Dixon, or senior tight end Marcus Baugh, the Buckeyes have a number of guys capable of breaking off a big play and doing damage.
With that said, the most dangerous weapon the Buckeyes possess is freshman standout J.K. Dobbins who has racked up nearly 1,000 yards from scrimmage through the first eight games of the season. As a player, Dobbins is incredibly quick and explosive and if you let him capture the edge…it’s all she wrote. This Saturday, the Hawkeyes defense will likely take a similar approach in defending Dobbins as they did Barkley earlier on in the season: be conservative and take away the sideline.
The Ohio State Buckeyes have a formidable trio forming in Columbus after 9 weeks of football. pic.twitter.com/8ssToVfYFs— PFF College Football (@PFF_College) October 31, 2017
The Hawkeyes defense will be facing a serious challenge on all three levels this Saturday and if they hope to find success, they’ll have to be the same bend but don’t break defense that showed up against Penn State earlier on in the season. However, that’s obviously much easier said than done.
Ohio State On Defense
On defense, the Buckeyes come in with unquestionably the most talented and deep defensive line that the Hawkeyes have faced this season and as a unit, it certainly ranks as one of the best in the country.
Up front, the Buckeyes are led by sophomore defensive end Nick Bosa who comes into Saturday’s contest with 10 tackles for loss and four sacks in eight games. In addition, guys like Tyquan Lewis, Sam Hubbard, Tracy Sprinkle, Dre’mont Jones, and Jalyn Holmes are also capable of being disrupters and making big plays up front for the Buckeyes defense; it’ll certainly be a test across the board for the Hawkeyes.
When you look at the linebacker position for Ohio State, the standout play comes in the form of junior Jerome Baker, senior Chris Worley, and senior Dante Booker. With that said, Baker and Worley are the two guys who really steal the show when you turn on the tape due to their rangy athleticism, instincts, and ability to make plays.
There’s no question that the Buckeyes can move laterally with the Hawkeyes offense and this weekend, finding room to run will likely once again be a huge concern.
In the secondary, junior cornerback Denzel Ward has played lights out this season against both the run and pass, as he displays impressive physicality when coming down in the flat and shows great fluidity, change of direction, and technique while in coverage.
What To Expect
This Saturday, the Hawkeyes will be facing their biggest overall challenge of the season and will be taking on a team that is unquestionably more talented across the board than any other team they’ve seen so far this season.
In order for the Hawkeyes to hang around in this game, they’ll have to play turnover-free football on offense and force turnovers on defense, as I don’t expect what has been an unimpressive Hawkeyes offense to suddenly awaken against one of the more talented units in college football.
With that said, if you’re a Hawkeye fan who is searching hard for a sense of hope, look no further than the Hawkeyes’ matchup against Penn State this season.
Throughout the game, the Hawkeyes looked outmatched on both sides of the ball. However, despite the total yards the defense gave up, the only thing that mattered were the points on the scoreboard and through more than 59 minutes of that game, the Hawkeyes defense did an exceptional job at keeping the Nittany Lions off the scoreboard.
Keeping Ohio State off the scoreboard will be a much more difficult task this weekend in my opinion. However, if the defense is able to force turnovers and the offense is able to capitalize, maybe, just maybe, the Hawkeyes will be able to pull off a massive upset.