College Football News Preview 2020: Ohio State Buckeyes Keys To The Season
Biggest Key To The Ohio State Buckeyes Offense
The offensive line has to find its groove again. Justin Fields was in the mix for the Heisman, JK Dobbins ran for over 2,000 yards, and the receiving corps was brilliant.
It all started with an offensive line that helped make it all go.
Of course it was a function of the offense – the decision-making of Fields was a big help – but the line’s ability to thump away for the ground game turned out to be one of the biggest difference-makers.
There were too many sacks allowed, and it was possible to get into the Buckeye backfield, but the running game went off for 3,735 yards and 39 scores after running for 2,398 yards and 23 touchdowns in 2018.
Of course having a more mobile quarterback than Dwayne Haskins was a big factor in the difference, but the line also did its part as it took over games the longer they went on.
Left guard Jonah Jackson is off to the NFL, and right tackle Branden Bowen is done, but there’s not much of a problem filling in those two spots around center Josh Myers, guard Wyatt Davis and left tackle Thayer Munford.
Biggest Key To The Ohio State Buckeyes Defense
It has to be Next Guy Up in the secondary … fast. Even by Ohio State’s amazing standards, the pass defense was something special last season.
It allowed 259 yards and two touchdowns to Trevor Lawrence in the College Football Playoff loss to Clemson, but that’s the cost of doing business – the pass D wasn’t exactly ripped up.
The Buckeyes gave up just nine touchdown passes with 15 picks on the year, and Lawrence was the only one who hit them with double-digit touchdown passes. And now …
Jeff Okudah is a Detroit Lion, Damon Arnette went to the Raiders with the 19th overall pick, and Jordan Fuller was selected by the Rams.
Fortunately, Shawn Wade is back to step in at corner – he could work at safety if needed – and there’s more than enough talent returning to be okay. However, the date at Oregon comes up in the second week of the season, and the pass defense has to be ready to be special again.
Key Ohio State Buckeyes Player To A Successful Season
DE Zach Harrison, Soph.
Of course the key player is QB Justin Fields – he has to stay healthy – but assuming he does close to what he did last year, it’s up to Harrison, and junior Tyreke Smith, and senior Jonathan Cooper to rise up and rock.
Harrison is the leading returning sacker from the defensive line with 3.5 last season, and now it’s his time to shine as the next superstar Buckeye pass rusher. No pressure or anything, but the last four killer OSU defensive ends? Chase Young, Nick Bosa, Tyquan Lewis, Joey Bosa.
With all the new parts in the secondary, the pass rush has to kick in from the start. Considering the starting defensive tackles are new, too, the spotlight will be on Harrison to play up to his former five-star prep hype.
Key Game To The Ohio State Buckeyes Season
at Penn State, Oct. 24
The Buckeyes miss Wisconsin from the West, and they get Michigan and Iowa in Columbus. As long as the team is able to maintain the laser-straight focus it had throughout last season, there shouldn’t be too much of a problem outside of two huge showdowns – at Oregon and at Penn State.
The Nittany Lions kept it close in last year’s 28-17 loss to OSU, and they were in the game late. The previous two games between the two were each decided by one point, and the 2016 thriller in Happy Valley was Ohio State’s only regular season loss.
Come up with the road win this time around, and it’s going to take a mega-upset to miss out on a trip to the Big Ten Championship for the fourth year in a row.
– Ohio State Buckeyes Schedule Breakdown & Analysis
2019 Ohio State Fun Stats
– 2nd Quarter Scoring: Ohio State 237 – Opponents 51
– Rushing Yards: Ohio State 3,735 – Opponents 1,452
– Red Zone TDs: Ohio State 59-of-75 (79%) – Opponents 12-of-29 (41%)