This coming Saturday (November 5th) at 8:00 pm on ABC in Ohio Stadium our Buckeyes will find themselves in yet another MUST win big game against a worthy opponent who certainly has other ideas.
No matter how this game pans out, this very well can be a preview of the Big Ten Championship – this though – honestly – is more likely to happen if Nebraska loses.
The Cornhuskers are 7-1 overall and are first in the Big West.
Nebraska is coming off a loss to Wisconsin, but they’re in – still – even with a loss in Columbus, as long as they win out the remainder of the year’s schedule and the Badgers lose again. This is doable for the Cornhuskers as after the Buckeyes they have Minnesota, Maryland, and Iowa. The Badgers have Northwestern this weekend (whom we know are a more formidable opponent then they have been in the past), followed by Illinois, Purdue, and Minnesota.
The Buckeyes will be completely out of the Big Ten title hunt and a possible CFP spot if they lose.
Panic time has been in Columbus before. This year seemingly has a more sour taste as the reality of what initially seemed impossible – is indeed possible. After the close call in Wisconsin, the fourth quarter collapse against Penn State, and the sluggish win over Northwestern, Nebraska isn’t offering any hope. The perspective to swallow here is the last three games past for the Buckeyes is: Wisconsin in Camp Randall is always a tough game, no matter what their record is. In the Penn State game the Buckeyes choked – plain and simple. If they had pulled that one out – they would have deserved the drop in the rankings. And Northwestern is much better than they are given credit for. So now comes a “good” (not excellent) football team from Nebraska.
QB: Tommy Armstrong, Jr. is a “really” good College Quarterback. Thus far this season he has thrown for 1,764 yards, which comes out to 220.5 yards per game. He has thrown 11 TD’s but has also tossed 7 interceptions. His QB Rating is 131.6%
His abilities are unpredictable. He can be awful but within a snap of the finger he can look like a Heisman Candidate. On the ground Tommy has rushed 94 times for 419 yards, a 4.5 average, with 7 TD’s. Keep an eye on him. He will punish you if you look the wrong way.
Running: Terrell Newby is the Cornhuskers man here. He has rushed for 120 times for 588 yards, which breaks down to a 4.9 average, along with 4 TD’s.
The Senior out of Los Angeles is 5’10, 200 lbs. and is a bull. He hits the line with authority and can carry much bigger guys for a few extra yards. There is nothing here to ignore.
Receiving: Stanley Morgan is the sure handed Cornhusker to keep an eye on. He has 23 receptions for 329 yards, a 14.3 per catch average with 1 TD. He makes me think of Brandon LaFell of the Cincinnati Bengals for some reason – a player you don’t know – but will pounce on any opportunity, making you pay for that hesitation of recognition.
The Nebraska Cornhuskers have a solid Defensive group. They are led by Senior LB Josh who in 8 games has 25 solo tackles, 26 assists for a total of 51. He is followed by Senior DB Nathan Gerry who has 31 solo tackles, 19 assists for a total of 50.
They know how to hunt for the ball in the air as well. There are 2 players with 4 interceptions. Safety Kierm Williams, DB Nathan Gerry, CB Aaron Williams and CB Chris Jones have 3 each.
The bottom line on the defensive unit for the Nebraska Cornhuskers is they come to play and are not pushed around.
QB – JT, natural, is our man here. He has thrown for 1,675 yards, a 209.5 yards per game average. He has been good on 17 TD’s and has only 4 interceptions. His QB ratings is a “very” nice 147.0.
We all know JT. Thank goodness he left Texas and came to us. He is a star. JT will make you pay in so many ways. It is always a pleasure to watch JT. But, let’s be real here, sometimes he will cool down and scare the living day-lights out of Buckeye Nation.
Running – Mike Weber gets better each game, regardless of his numbers. I look forward to watching his career as a Buckeye. Thus far this season he has ran for 770 yards 129 times, which averages out to 6.0. He has scored on 6 TD’s.
Mr. Curtis “Everything” Samuel, out of Brooklyn, has rushed 71 times for 558 yards, a 7.9 average, along with 5 TD’s. I like Curtis Samuel … and just wish he gets plenty of touches each game.
Receiving – Yep, Mr. Everything again. Curtis Samuel has 44 receptions for 539 yards, a 12.3 average per catch along with 3 TD’s. Noah Brown slides into second with 24 receptions for 309 yards, 12.9 yards per catch average and 6 TD’s.
The Buckeyes are one of the best units defensively in the nation. Raekwon McMillian leads the team with 21 solo tackles, 30 assisted, for a total of 51. Malik Hooker is 2nd with 28 solo tackles, 22 assisted, for a total of 50.
In the interception category Malik Hooker leads the unit with 4, one of which was returned for a TD. Marshon Lattimore has 3, also with a return for a TD. Gareon Conley has 2. Both Freshman CB Rodjay Burns and Sophomore LB Jerome Baker have 1 interception each. What makes these two interceptions remarkable is that both were returned for a TD.
The Buckeyes defensive unit is certainly a notch above the reliable offense of the Cornhuskers. But we have seen the surprises that can be delivered. So just cross your fingers.
The Buckeyes are no longer the overwhelming and murderous apparatus it was over the first month of the season, it’s still very, very good, and the defense is still getting the job done overall but a cautious approach needs to be looked over. They are still wonderful at stopping opposing passing games, and the turnover margin continues to be terrific, going a +10 on the year and only losing the battle once – in a 58-0 win over Rutgers.
But there is a real, live concern on the offensive front that’s not generating a big-time push. The ground attack is still working – no one seems to have figured it out yet – but it’s not dictating, and the downfield passing game isn’t capable of opening games up.
Basically, Ohio State is playing very Nebraska-like over the last month.
The issue as I see it – again – is the call playing of Warriner and Beck. I don’t get it. But as an armchair wannabe perhaps it is never meant for me to comprehend. I do know that the Buckeyes are loaded offensively. They have 5 & 4 star prospects up and down that roster. The inability to muster the dominance that was projected of them has either been overplayed, and completely over-estimated … not the case in my view, or it is the conservative call-playing which has changed the dynamic core of this team, thus deflating some of the talent. This duo has run their course in my mind. Urban’s loyalty is commendable, but has grown annoying now. I understand we are stuck with these “two” for the remainder of 2016 and even into the Bowl scenarios of 2017. But next season – PLEASE Heavenly Lord …. PLEASE!
Buckeyes – 40 Cornhuskers – 27. And that folks is my final answer.