The No. 2 Ohio State Buckeyes struggled to find the gas pedal in its season opener against Indiana. No. 7 Oklahoma Sooners blew UTEP off the field. On Saturday, the two teams will meet in a potential College Football Playoff preview, broadcast live on ABC at 7:30 p.m. ET (live stream).
The Buckeyes shook off some first-half malaise to come from behind and blow the Hoosiers’ doors off, turning a 14-13 halftime deficit into a 49-21 Big Ten conference win. The Sooners allowed the Miners to tie their matchup at 7-7 early in the first quarter, then devastated their overmatched foe through the air. With 696 total yards, Oklahoma’s opener wasn’t just a tune-up for Saturday’s showdown in Ohio — it was a statement directed at OSU head coach Urban Meyer.
Time, TV channel, and streaming info:
- Time: 7:30 p.m. ET
- Location: Ohio Stadium, Columbus
- TV: ABC
- Streaming: Watch ESPN
- Odds: Ohio State is favored by 9 points.
Oklahoma vs. Ohio State news:
- The Sooners can throw the ball with the best of them, but the Ohio State defensive line is strong enough to make sure Baker Mayfield never gets comfortable.
In a game where Meyer didn’t even feel the need to put his No. 1 running back in harms way, the Buckeyes physically dominated and took care of business. Hopefully this time around the performance wasn’t too “basic” for any Oklahoma quarterbacks.
- J.T. Barrett was good against Indiana, but never really got a chance to show off any major improvements downfield.
Still, what remains somewhat disturbing given all of the offseason hype is the fact that Barrett never managed to complete a long pass. Even more disconcerting, Barrett attempted just three such passes.
- Ohio State made two key adjustments, and that’s all it took to run Indiana off the turf.
- Barrett may get the chance to throw, but he’ll have trouble against a strong Oklahoma secondary.
Jordan Thomas looked like he was in midseason form by making a few tackles in space and knocking down a deep pass down the field. On the other side, first-year starter Parnell Motley played close to his man, covered well, and also made some nice tackles in space.
- One big third-down hit set the tone for the Oklahoma defense last week.
Senior safety and team captain Steven Parker brought the boom, jarring the ball loose and causing the incompletion. In Parker’s immediate celebratory reaction, I could almost feel the defense’s frustration from 2016 and their elation for the highlight hit. It was as if the impact of the hit was an emphatic statement declaring the return of tough, hard-nosed defense in Norman.
Oklahoma’s aerial attack may be the best way to compete with Ohio State.
The Buckeyes struggled to replace a trio of first-round defensive backs after losing Gareon Conley, Malik Hooker, and Marshon Lattimore this spring. Indiana threw for 420 yards against Ohio State last week, although a second-half deficit forced the Hoosiers into throwing more — and the Bucks did manage three interceptions on the night.
Stifling Heisman candidate Baker Mayfield will be much more difficult than dealing with Richard Lagow. Mayfield completed 19 of his 20 passes for 329 yards and three touchdowns last week — all in the first half. Even if something happens to Mayfield, the Sooners should be in good shape. Backup Kyler Murray went 10-11 with a touchdown in relief against the overmatched Miners.
Oklahoma vs. Ohio State prediction:
The Buckeyes are loaded with talent, but last week’s season opener showcased plenty of rawness in the ranks. Ohio State’s biggest vulnerability — pass defense — is also Oklahoma’s biggest strength, which will create plenty of opportunities for Mayfield and a Sooners offense packed with receiving talent. OSU proved it can adjust on the fly and make the changes needed to keep up, but falling in an early hole against one of the nation’s top offenses will be too much for Meyer’s team to overcome, even at home.