Staff Predictions: UNLV

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Buckeye Grove
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Associated Press

The Buckeyes got back in the win column last week against Army West Point and now look to close out their non-conference schedule with UNLV coming to town.

The Vegas line and expectations from around BuckeyeNation are that Ohio State should roll in this game. Expectations around UNLV in week one, with a 45-point line were that UNLV should have an easy day against Howard. When the final gun sounded, it was 43-40 Howard in one of the biggest upsets in college football based upon betting lines.

While nobody nationally is expecting a repeat of that with the Buckeyes being the victim of a heavy upset, there is still a lot that Ohio State needs to work on as we draw closer to October and the resumption of Big Ten play (technically the conference slate resumes this month with the Rutgers game falling on the last day of the month).

All focus is on UNLV now. How do we see this game shaping up and can the Rebels make it closer than the near 40-point spread that the oddsmakers have put on this game? We make our picks.

Kevin Noon - Publisher

Under normal circumstances this would be a classic 'name your score' kind of game for the Buckeyes. But the question is, can the Buckeyes score at will in a situation like this?

The Buckeyes likely could just control this game on the ground, gash a rushing defense that is in the bottom 20 nationally and call it a day. But that is not in Ohio State's best interest in terms of getting better as a team and being ready for the heart of the schedule in a few weeks when Penn State comes to town. The Buckeyes need to continue working on the passing game and continue building more chemistry in the passing game for J.T. Barrett and the wide receivers.

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UNLV was able to bounce back in its second game against Idaho and put up a good amount of points in a win. The Rebels are very good on the ground and the Buckeyes should be ready if that is the plan of attack.

The Ohio State passing game will look sharp but will be outshined by an Ohio State rushing attack that will put up some huge numbers, just because UNLV will not be able to stop J.K. Dobbins, Mike Weber or whoever Ohio State decides to trot out there. Howard (the school, not a guy) ran for 309 yards and four scores in the opener. That seems like a nice bar to set. The passing game will put up similar numbers but maybe in a less dramatic way. Bucks win this one going away (as will many of the fans in the third quarter when this game gets out of hand). Ohio State 59 UNLV 10

Marc Givler - Recruiting Analyst

The week after playing a team like Army can sometimes be problematic. Having to re-adjust to a normal offensive scheme can sometimes take an extra week for defenses. But ultimately it is hard to envision this UNLV team having the horses to make this game close. While I don't think this team is quite as bad as the loss to Howard would indicate, the talent gap here will be too great and there are a lot of young players on this Ohio State team that are improving each week and won't be looking past an inferior opponent. UNLV has talked about committing to its running game, which may help them down the road but will ultimately play into Ohio State's hands this weekend.

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Maybe a slow start for the Buckeyes as they get readjusted, but they will cruise on Saturday and the game will be out of reach in the second half. Ohio State 48 UNLV 14

Ross Fulton - Team Analyst

Saturday provides Ohio State the opportunity to build on its offensive success from last week. Most importantly, the Buckeyes need to stick with the run-pass options that will force defenses to defend the width of the field, opening the run and vertical pass game. Look for whether UNLV commits its edge players to defend the bubble screen or still tries to sneak those players into the box. If they do the latter, it could be another big day for Parris Campbell and K.J. Hill. And then the Buckeyes could hit some shots downfield.

FULTON ANALYSIS: Offense | Defense

UNLV has had some success on offense. After a week detour, it will be a test for whether the Buckeye defense has corrected some of the issues from the first two weeks. Given the inexperienced back seven, Greg Schiano needs to better mix coverages so that offenses cannot guess that they are getting man coverage from Ohio State. And the Buckeye defenders need to better fill their pass assignment, relying on the defensive line to limit the opponent run game. Ohio State 52 UNLV 17

Kirk Barton - Staff Writer/Former Captain

I look for Ohio State to continue improving versus one of the worst defense in the country in UNLV. Offensively, JK Dobbins will continue to lead the charge versus a futile UNLV defense en route to 150+ yards behind our improving offensive line. Offensively, this is another week for JT Barrett to continue to gain confidence in his ability and his receivers. We had better tempo last week versus Army, which I am sure something that Kevin Wilson wanted to go to after we struggled with Oklahoma. We need WRs to continue to step up, and Parris Campbell and Terry McLaurin will get their opportunities to distance themselves from everyone. Terry was singled out by Coach Meyer in his press conference for his outstanding blocking, so you can bet he will get rewarded with some targets in this game.

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Defensively, stopping Armani Rodgers will be a major task. He is their biggest weapon as a scrambling QB. I think there is zero chance they will be able to block us up front and run a fairly conventional form of the spread offense (their HC was at Bishop Gorman before coming to UNLV). Sam Hubbard will continue his march towards All-American honors with two more sacks and that Tuf Borland will become our full-time Mike linebacker. From my seat last week I could see Coach Meyer walk over to him after a series near the end of the game and enthusiastically tap him on the helmet, so that will translate into a lot more playing time. I also think that Greg Schiano being on the field is here to stay, as you need the leadership down on the field much in the way Luke Fickell provided it for a decade as the DC. Ohio State 63 UNLV 14

Colin Gay - Staff Writer

Ohio State is heading into the fourth game of the season as 40.5-point favorites over UNLV. That seems to be about right for how this game is going to go.

The Buckeyes offense should be able to get get passed a Rebels' defense that has had its own share of struggles in 2017. Allowing 414 yards per game, the UNLV rush defense struggled especially in Week 1, facing a Howard team who had 309 yards on the ground and four touchdowns. Despite having some big boys on the line, Army West Point can tell you that J.K. Dobbins is always just a jump-cut away from breaking free for a touchdown.

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The Rebels' offense revolves around running the ball as well. In the last game against Idaho, running back Lexington Thomas, who sounds like a Civil War general, rushed for 190 yards and three touchdowns. This should not be a problem for an Ohio State defensive line that did not allow an Army West Point back to rush over 100 yards.

There are many other ways that you can compare UNLV and Ohio State. All signs point to this one being a bloodbath at Ohio Stadium. Ohio State 55 UNLV 7

Nick McWilliams - Staff Writer

Losing to a team who was the a bigger underdog than Jim Braddock was against Max Baer is not a great way to get things going. UNLV had that unfortunate fate against Howard, but recovered with a win over Idaho, and a bye week.

There has been plenty of time for the Rebels to prepare and mix things up a bit, but this is a case of numbers and stats telling a bit of a lie. UNLV is averages 42 points per game and over 500 yards every contest, but the competion has been ... lacking.

Quaterback Armani Rogers has been a decent passer in limited attempts, as UNLV has ran the ball almost three times as much as passing. Led by running back Lexington Thomas, the run game has flourished for the Rebels.

I see all that stopping against the Buckeyes. Ohio State has proven it can defend the ground game, and Rogers is not going to bring the same elusiveness as Baker Mayfield. The Rebels will have a hard time moving the ball in a game where they are heavily outmatched on the offensive line.

On defense, UNLV has a mammoth defensive line, but is once again outgunned in the secondary and at linebacker. I expect this one to be put away somewhere near the end of the third quarter. Ohio State 49 UNLV 7

NevadaBuck - Bringer of Nuggets

Next up the UNLV Running Rebels--a team that I know a little bit about. UNLV opened up the season with a resounding thud with the loss that is billed as the "biggest upset in CFB history". They then came back and thrashed Idaho(which showed pretty well against a respectable Western Michigan team as well as Michigan State). UNLV is also coming off a bye week--so they will have had a chance to show the Buckeyes some things that we haven't seen on tape.

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For this reason, I actually expect the Rebels to be able to keep the game relatively close in the early going. UNLV will try to run the ball---which plays into a team strength of Ohio State--but they can also throw it a little, so things won't be easy in the beginning.Ohio State will build off the momentum of last week's showing with a more polished offensive attack--and they will score points. The key as always will be keeping UNLV off the field---and I'm still a little leery of our defense(outside of the front four)

Would expect when all the dust settles for Barrett and Dobbins to have another big game. I also expect to see more of Tuf Borland as Worley may be rested for later on in the season. This is the game that OSU hits a few of those long passes and opens up late. Ohio State 42 UNLV 17

Doug DiLillo - Social Media

Another week, another game where we won't learn much about Ohio State. The positives might be that UNLV will at least challenge OSU through the air, helping them garner more experience and practice in that struggling aspect. OSU is a month away from any real test, so this is another game where they can "scrimmage" a team and try and build confidence. JT needs it. The chatter intensified with Haskin's late entrance into the Army game and Barrett's lack of downfield attempts or competitions last week.

JK Dobbins is second in the Big Ten in rushing with 425 yards but only had 26 carries the last two weeks combined. Long story short, feed Dobbins. Give him 25-30 carries a game. That might be the recipe to OSU's offense the rest of the way. Hate to count out Mike Weber, but Dobbins is just too good to give 10-15 carries. He needs more, and this might be a good game to let him carry the load. Dobbins will have another big day on Saturday.

On defense, let's see how Tuf Borland handles a solid rushing attack from UNLV. He looked good last week, and he can assert himself this week with another good performance. It is time to see if what happened in the first two weeks will be a theme all season or if OSU can tighten up their pass defense. UNLV has a solid rushing attack, but OSU should handle that aspect of their offense without much difficulty. Long story short, this is a game OSU will dominate, and Nick Bosa said he thinks they shut out UNLV. Why not go with him on that prediction? Ohio State 52 UNLV 0

Fake Urban Meyer - @FakeUrban

UNLV is an awful, awful football team. After all, they lost their first game of the season to some guy named Howard. If Howard can beat them, imagine what'll happen when my entire team gets ahold of them.

On Saturday, you'll get a very good idea of the freshman who will play this season and those who will be redshirted. You'll get to see guys play who you've never heard of. Hell, I've never heard of some of the guys.

Defensively, the pass defense that I've been displeased with will make great strides against UNLV. On offense, you'll see us throw the deep ball. And make catches! Between that and the running game you've all come to know and love, we will put a bunch of points on the board. Even our kickoffs will land in places where I want the, to land. This is a low-stress game for you and me. Ohio State 69 UNLV 0

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