Written By Alan Brads
The Ohio State University football team made their much-awaited season debut on October 24th against the Nebraska Cornhuskers. After a relatively slow first half for the Buckeyes, they pulled away with a 28-3 second half and steamrolled the Huskers 52-17. Garrett Wilson and Chris Olave both caught for over 100 yards, setting the standard for the talented wide receiver corps. This win vaulted Ohio State all the way to third place in the AP poll, which is where they remain today (trailing only Alabama and Notre Dame.)
The main storyline was the highly anticipated return of Heisman trophy candidate, quarterback Justin Fields, and he did not disappoint. He led the team in rushing yards and carried one into the end zone. Through the air he was all but flawless completing 20 of his 21 pass attempts totaling 276 yards and 2 touchdowns including a 42-yard strike to Garrett Wilson. Fields has remained dominant through the season and has thrown as many touchdowns as incompletions (11) and has yet to be picked off.
The next two games were no walk in the park for the scarlet and gray but caused Buckeye fans little worry in terms of simply winning the game. On Halloween night the Nittany Lions of Penn State hosted the Buckeyes but were overpowered by coach Ryan Day’s offense and Ohio State took home a comfortable yet unconvincing 38-25 win. Next up were the perennial bottom feeders up the Big Ten, Rutgers. Once again, the result of the game was never in doubt, but a usually stifling defense allowed a surprising 27 points. While a 49-27 victory seems like a major success, the Buckeyes were 39-point favorites, so a 22-point victory was truly underwhelming
Moving on to Maryland, right? Wrong! On Wednesday, November 11th the University of Maryland announced that 8 players had tested positive for Covid-19 and the matchup on the 14th with Ohio State would be canceled. With cancelations across the NCAA and coronavirus cases spiking across the nation, the future of the season is in some doubt, although information on the subject is highly limited.
Thus far Ohio State has been a team of several weaknesses made up for by very powerful strengths. The Buckeyes are known for producing incredible running back talent, but that just does not seem to be the case this year. Trey Sermon and Master Teague III have split carries and both have been average at best. The most glaring weakness for the Buckeyes has been the secondary. Penn State wide receiver Jahan Dotson shredded Ohio State’s defensive backs including star cornerback Shaun Wade. Dotson caught for 144 yards and 3 touchdowns, absurd numbers against a Buckeye defense.
With all that said, it is not all doom and gloom for the reigning conference champions. Justin Fields is playing like one of, if not the best QB in the nation, rivaled only by Clemson’s Trevor Lawrence and Florida’s Kyle Trask. Wideouts Olave and Wilson are the best healthy WR duo in the nation averaging a combined 200+ yards per game. Finally, Ohio State’s run defense has been unrelenting. Led by defensive tackle Haskell Garrett they have not allowed a single rusher to go for 70 yards in a game.
With several likely easy wins coming up, all eyes turn towards The Game against archrival Michigan, the Big Ten Championship Game, and ultimately the College Football Playoff.