Few people around the Ohio State program expected the Buckeyes to be 1-1 going into this game against Army West Point. The game against the Sooners showed multiple vulnerabilities with the Ohio State offense, defense and even play calling and created an uncomfortable week for anyone associated with the program, even at a rooting interest.
Now the Buckeyes will host a team that despite a 2-0 record, the Buckeyes should be able to overwhelm in terms of football talent. But will there be any sort of hangover from the Oklahoma game or will the Buckeyes respond. And how will the Buckeyes look against a team that runs a unique offensive set and almost never throws the ball?
We make our picks.
Kevin Noon - Publisher
Well, I certainly missed last week's game by a large margin, or at least how I saw things playing out. Let me try again here.
Army West Point is going to be able to run. Navy ran all over Ohio State in the week one opener for 2014. And that was with Ohio State having all offseason to prepare for the triple option. Urban Meyer has to be happy that Martin Jarmond is heading to Boston College and cannot schedule any more games against the service academies.
The good news is that the pass defense numbers will get better, at least passing yards allowed per game, because Army West Point does not throw the ball. Dividing the current number by three instead of two is a major improvement.
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All snark aside, this may not be the game where we see how Ohio State has changed how it does things, at least on defense. The defense will have to play sound assignment football against a well-trained and disciplined team running the triple option. There will be some opportunities on offense for the Buckeyes but they will have to face the three-man front once again. Will Dwayne Haskins get an opportunity? I tend to think the answer is yes but if he comes in and throws the ball well, that is going to make this quarterback controversy even more real.
The Buckeyes will remember they have running backs to run the ball and Ohio State will pick up a lot of yardage on the ground while they execute a high-percentage passing game better against a team that will be much better suited for protecting our great nation than protecting the middle on defense. It may not be the resounding rout everyone is hoping for but Army West Point will try and hold on to the ball and limit Ohio State's drives. Ohio State 38 Army 14
Marc Givler - Recruiting Analyst
I'm not going to be 'that guy' and go on my, 'why do Top programs schedule triple option teams like Army' rant. I'll spare everyone that. You're welcome.
The best thing for any team to do after getting its soul cleansed is to get right back out there and put the previous week's game even further in the rear view mirror. There were plenty of things to work on this week, oh boy were there plenty of things, but sometimes a loss can bring a laser focus to a team and with a group of veteran leaders over at the Woody, it would be disappointing if that didn't happen here.
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Army's triple option is a bear to prepare for and will be a vastly different type of scheme to get ready for after facing Oklahoma's high-powered spread attack last week. But with all due respect to the fine young men at West Point, the talent gap here is going to be far too wide to keep this thing close for long. It may take a few series to click, especially defensively, but Ohio State's athletes will take over and cruise. Unfortunately, nothing that happens the next couple of weeks will provide the answers the fans are looking for right now, but they'll just have to be content with getting back in the win column this weekend. Ohio State 48 Army 7
Ross Fulton - Team Analyst
It's tough to turn around after losing to Oklahoma and have to play a triple option team. I expect Army to gain some yards against a defense that has struggled with playing assignment football. Army will likely play keep away early, causing further teeth gnashing among the Ohio State fan base. But the Buckeye defense may be able to squeeze down in the red zone.
I also expect an offensive game plan that better fits the Buckeye personnel. An emphasis on running the football with J.K. Dobbins and Mike Weber, sprinkled with run-pass options and play action passes. Ohio State may not score as much as they otherwise could because Army could eat time off the clock, but it will be a more efficient performance. Ohio State 38 Army 20
Kirk Barton - Staff Writer/Former Captain
What a week. The Bucks struggle in a night game at home versus Oklahoma and turn right around to facing a triple option unit. The last two times we faced Navy(who runs the triple like Army does) they've moved the ball pretty well. Those games were in 2009 and 2014, which were both strong OSU teams. I can see the same issues popping up here as well.
On offense, we have to manufacture some easy completions for JT to get his confidence going in the right direction. His performance has been up and down, and it'll be interesting to see what kind of ovation Dwayne Haskins receives. In terms of running versus their 3-4 defense, it will be a cluster. However, I still think you need to pound the A gaps.
Defensively, we have a fantastic opportunity to improve our passing yards per game average, which is somewhere north if 400(!) yards per game. Our five man DL front will be useful in defending the triple, and I pray none of our guys get hurt from the constant cutting they do. Army will get their yards, but we'll keep them in check. Ohio State 42 Army 14
Colin Gay - Staff Writer
This game against Army is much different than anything Ohio State will face this season. On one side, that is an unfortunate thing. On the defensive side of the ball, the Buckeyes have much to improve on in the passing game, but not get a chance to work on it much this week with preparing for the triple-option.
Defensive lineman Tyquan Lewis said that he hates to play against the triple-option. That's a valid opinion. Army West Point is second in the FBS, averaging over 500 yards rushing so far this season. This rush offense has the ability to tire out offenses and that will definitely be a struggle for the Buckeye defense. However, despite giving up 104 yards last week, Ohio State allowed the Oklahoma offense to average only 2.8 yards per rush. No matter how much the Black Knights run the ball, that number would do the trick.
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As for the offense, all eyes are on quarterback J.T. Barrett. Whenever coach Urban Meyer talked about keeping him as the starting quarterback against Army West Point, he said that Barrett has "been there before." After a home loss to Virginia Tech in 2014, Barrett had one of the best games, statistically, in his career against Kent State, throwing for 312 yards and six touchdowns.
Yes, Barrett is facing an Army West Point defense that has not given up more than 250 yards passing this season. However, those teams were Buffalo and Fordham.
This is not a statement game for the Buckeyes. However, this game can help Ohio State get back on track. Ohio State 42, Army West Point 10
Nick McWilliams - Staff Writer
Ohio State lucks out with a relatively easier matchup against Army after losing to Oklahoma last Saturday. The Black Knights triple option is a daunting task, but Greg Schiano has experience against that kind of offense.This will be a quick game due to the heavy reliance on the run, which is something I expect both teams to use. Ohio State’s passing attack was a mess last week, but part of the issue was a lack of a run game to help establish vertical threats.While Army is returning lots of starters and has one of the more hard-working teams in college football, I don't see any way the Buckeyes lose this one. Urban Meyer will likely rely on the combination of J.K. Dobbins and Mike Weber on zone runs and up-the-middle plays, which will wear down a physically loss dominate defense. Ohio State 38 Army 13
NevadaBuck - Bringer of Nuggets
These are the games that you envision an Ohio State team breathing fire and still stinging from the loss to come out and crush the hapless Golden Knights. Unfortunately, I don't see it playing out that way. I think OSU with methodically move the ball down the field and will score points. I've said over and over that I don't think the offense is that far off--and they will take a step forward this week. However, the way that Army possesses the ball, and bedevils teams that abandon their responsibilities has me a little spooked---as that's the weak spot of the OSU defense.
I see OSU maintaining sustained drives--but I think Army will toss a few in there as well----so I think this will be a lower scoring game then people might imagine. I've got Ohio State 35 Army 21 in a game that will leave some players banged up from chop and cut blocks--and making us wonder "why in the world do we schedule these service academies again???"
Doug DiLillo - Social Media
Where does Ohio State go from here? Well if they stick with JT Barrett and all indication is he will be their guy until his eligibility runs out, this is the first of four or five games where JT can rebuild his confidence. The offense will look much like it did against Indiana and OSU is going to pound the ball, taking out some frustration on Army. Why they abandon the run in big games is a conundrum, but the pressure will be off, and OSU will end up having a well-balanced day on offense. Hopefully, this is the first step in clicking more as a unit.
This might also be just what the doctor ordered for the defense. In the drama that has been the offense's play in the last week, the defense has gotten off easy for what was an alarming performance against Oklahoma. The Army running game won't be nearly the challenge OSU faced in the first two weeks against pass happy offenses. Expect this to be a game where OSU doesn't necessarily blow Army our by 50 points but uses it as a way to get some of the kinks figured out. Ohio State 45 Army 13
Fake Urban Meyer - @FakeUrban
This week has stunk along with the inside of the Woody Hayes Athletic Center. After Saturday night's game I met with my coaches and we tried to determine what the hell happened. Our passing game looked disjointed. We should have ran the ball more but we didn't. We missed several blocks, couldn't defend the pass, committed stupid penalties and flat out stunk. So I told my coaches they couldn't leave the facility until we figure things out.
Now Army comes in and it's time to defend the run. A lot of runs. They won't throw the ball much since they do that triple option stuff. Our defenders better know what's going on and make the right plays. Army is disciplined (they're the U.S. Army...duh) and won't make mistakes. We are going back to the basics this week. Let's umm...drive, drive on down the field with the run, and then help J.T. get his confidence with short, safe passes to running backs, intermediate routes to the receivers, a ball or two to the tight end and even some deep routes. We did this all back in 2014 and we have better talent now than we did then. Trust me, people. I've won three more national championships than ALL of you combined (assuming Saban's not reading this) and we've got this. Ohio State 47 Army 13