Ohio State vs. Toledo: preview and prediction

·5 min read

The Ohio State football team will be hosting its annual in-state rivalry game this week. This year brings the Toledo Rockets to town who are off to a hot start themselves.

The Rockets hold a perfect record thus far and have outscored their opponents 92-10 in just two games. Before you think the Buckeyes will be facing a juggernaut, understand those two wins came against FCS school Long Island University and lowly UMass. Not exactly the toughest of contests.

However, if week 2 of college football is any indication of how the season is going to go, Ryan Day and company had better be ready for anything. Ohio State hasn’t lost to an in-state opponent since all the way back in 1921 when Oberlin College beat the Bucks 7-6.

It’s safe to say the game has changed greatly in the last 100-plus years, but you can bet the Rockets will come to Columbus ready to give it everything they’ve got.

Records and Broadcast Information

Records

Ohio State (2-0), Toledo (2-0)

Broadcast, TV, Game Time

Date: Saturday, Sept. 17
Game Time: 7 p.m. EDT
Network: Fox
Venue: Ohio Stadium (Columbus, Ohio) Capacity: 104,944
All-Time Series: Ohio State leads 3-0
Last Meeting: 
Ohio State defeated Toledo 27-22 in 2011

Ohio State Potential Game Plan for Victory

Let’s start on the defensive side of the ball this week. While Ohio State held Arkansas State to just 12 points this past Saturday, I’d suggest that the unit didn’t look as solid as it did the week before. Was there a letdown after all the hype going into Notre Dame? Possibly. But the fact of the matter is Toledo is a much better team than Arkansas State… and maybe even better than the Fighting Irish.

The Buckeye defense didn’t look totally out of sorts. They only gave up 276 total yards and no touchdowns. Those are impressive numbers, but overall the unit looked uninspired. Especially cornerback Denzel Burke. After an outstanding showing his freshman year, Burke was supposed to be the next great corner at OSU and maybe he will be. But there were far too many times where he was out of position and flat-out looked lost against the Red Wolves.

The Rocket’s quarterback, Dequan Finn, is completing 61 percent of his passes, has three touchdowns to only one interception, and is a very capable runner, rushing for 138 yards which leads Toledo. The defense needs to keep sending pressure with its new aggressive style of play and make sure things get cleaned up before heading into Big Ten play.

Offensively, C.J. Stroud looked like he was back in sync. Without Jaxon Smith-Njigba, Marvin Harrison Jr. stepped up and had a career game hauling in seven receptions for 184 yards and three scores.

The offense still seems to be spinning its wheels with the ground game. TreVeyon Henderson had one long run of 41 yards, but other than that it felt like a grind. The Buckeyes need to find a way to get the running game going consistently as they prepare to play better teams.

It’s hard to say how stout Toledo’s defense is with the two underwhelming opponents it’s faced so far. However, you can be sure that former Ohio State linebacker, Dallas Gant, will be looking to make some noise. Gant entered the transfer portal last season and landed back in his hometown of Toledo. He leads the Rockets with 20 total tackles in two games played.

Two Key Players for Ohio State

TreVeyon Henderson – Running Back

I’m going to go back to the running game here. I’ve been saying it for three weeks now, but Ohio State must get the running game established before it enters the Big Ten part of the schedule. Henderson is one of the best backs in the country and is yet to really get going. The offense may be able to win with the pass alone against lesser opponents, but if this team wants to hoist any kind of championship at season’s end, the running game has to get better.

JT Tuimoloau – Defensive End

JT Juimoloau was one of the top-rated prospects in the 2021 class for a reason. Tuimoloau is getting pressure in the backfield and at the same time sealing the edge. It’s a big reason that Ohio State has been so stingy in giving up yards on the ground. Toledo doesn’t have a great running attack, but they do have a mobile quarterback, which means they have to contain him in the pocket while getting pressure. Tuimoloau needs to be that guy.

The Prediction

On paper, this one looks like it should be another blowout for the top dogs in Ohio. But games aren’t played on paper. They are played on a field with real young men who have real emotions.

Toledo may end up being the best team that Ohio State will face up to this point and you can never take an in-state opponent for granted. Many of those guys feel like they have something to prove after not getting an offer from the scarlet and gray.

Even though the spread is pretty wide in favor of the Buckeyes, I could see this one being much closer than the experts think. I could also see it being over by halftime. It greatly depends on if Ohio State is interested in staying focused on Toledo and not looking ahead to Wisconsin.

As I said earlier, the Buckeyes haven’t lost to an in-state rival since 1921. That stat won’t be changed when this game is over.

Final Score

Ohio State 42, Toledo 17

TIPICO Line

Ohio State -31.5

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Story originally appeared on Buckeye Wire