Oklahoma vs Ohio State: The Blue Bloods Meet Again
For the second time in as many weeks, the world will be treated to a top five match-up as the fifth-ranked Oklahoma Sooners will travel to Columbus to take on second-ranked Ohio State. The Buckeyes dominated the game a year ago, winning by three touchdowns in Norman. The complexity of each team and season is different, but we’ll look at how this year could be different.
Looking back to last week…
Both teams started a little slow in their opening game a week ago. The Oklahoma Sooners found themselves tied against an outmanned UTEP squad midway through the first quarter. However, the Sooners reeled off 49 consecutive points to end the game. The Sooner defense buckled down and shut out the Miners for the final four and a half quarters. Baker Mayfield spearheaded his 2017 Heisman campaign going 19 for 20 with 329 yards and three touchdowns.
Comparatively, the Buckeyes found themselves in a fight with Indiana for nearly three full quarters of play. Ohio State trailed the Hoosiers 21-20 with a little less than five minutes to play in the third quarter. However, Ohio State showed their championship pedigree and responded the way you would expect. Twenty-nine unanswered points to close the game, sealed the victory for Ohio State. True Freshman J.K. Dobbins stole the show offensively in rushing for 181 yards in 20 totes while playing for injured starter Mike Weber. J.T. Barrett got hot as the game went on to finish with 305 passing yards including a 74-yard connection with Parris Campbell.
Looking WAY back…
Oklahoma and Ohio State have only met on three previous occasions with the Buckeyes winning two of those three meetings. The loss is one that Ohio State fans would most likely like to forget. Forty years ago, in a game known as “The Kick” Oklahoma defeated Ohio State 29-28. Much like this weekend’s battle, this game was also a top five contest with Oklahoma ranked number three and the Buckeyes ranked fourth. Oklahoma dominated the game early leading 20-0 in the second quarter.
Capitalizing on turnovers and multiple Sooner offensive injuries, the Buckeyes scored 21 straight to take the lead midway through the third quarter of play. The lead would grow to eight points, but the Sooners would counter with a score of their own to make the score 28-26 in favor of the Buckeyes. Oklahoma was able to get the ball back and drive to the 23-yard line with six seconds remaining. Uwe Von Schamann came in and booted a 41-yard field goal to win the game.
Oklahoma Keys to the Game
Sooners Must Have Success Running the Football
The front seven of Ohio State is the strength of the defense and the Sooners must keep them honest with the run. Last week, Indiana had absolutely no success in running for a total of 17 yards on 27 carries. Oklahoma averaged 4.7 yards per carry a week ago for a total of 180 yards. Oklahoma will need to rush for at least 100 yards in this game to come out on top.
Baker Has to Carry the Load
Baker Mayfield was nearly flawless last week against UTEP. He will need to play extremely well this week if Oklahoma is able to win. Arguably, Mayfield had his worst game a year ago only throwing for 226 yards and two interceptions. One of those interceptions was a pick six that changed the momentum early in that game. Mayfield must limit turnovers, play with poise and remember that punting is not always a bad option.
Match Ohio State’s Physicality
Last year, the Sooners appeared overwhelmed early by the physicality from Ohio State on both sides of the ball. On offense, the Buckeyes ran for nearly 300 yards on the ground. Defensively, the Buckeyes forced two turnovers and sacked Mayfield three times. Oklahoma must match that aggressiveness at the point of attack on both sides of the ball.
It can be very difficult to gauge how great of a season either of these teams may have before this game begins with such a small sample size. The strength of both of these squads will be against each other. The Oklahoma offensive line against the Ohio State defensive line. But, can the Sooner secondary cover the speedsters from Ohio State? Can Oklahoma tackle in the open field? How will the Sooner newcomers in key positions react to the atmosphere? This game looks to be more even and competitive than it was a year ago. The Buckeye secondary is not quite as daunting as it was last year. Oklahoma looks more prepared and ready defensively than they were a year ago. This game will be back and forth, but I think the Buckeyes make enough plays down the stretch to win the game, 35-30.