When it comes to pregame previews, Vegas lines usually tell the story as succinctly as any blogger, writer or random tweeter could. The point spread of this game is somewhere between -51 and -57 in favor of Ohio State. So, what can the Buckeyes do to cover that spread?
Third Down Conversions
FAMU has a terrible offense, and a decent defense (by FCS standards at least).The Buckeyes will have to win third down on both sides of the ball and make punter Colby Blanton beat his season high of 7 punts. The Silver Bullets will have to have a better game than they did against Cal and keep the FAMU offense off the field. On the flip side, Ohio State's offense will need to execute its gameplan and have solid rushing yardage. With the return of Carlos Hyde and an already overmatched FAMU front seven, the Buckeye offense must take advantage and get to either third-and-manageable situations, or simply skip third down altogether.
The Buckeyes have to dominate on the line of scrimmage. The expectation is that they will be - however, we've seen in recent years that the Buckeyes tend to play a little bit down to their competition. This can't happen. FAMU should not be good enough to give the Buckeye offensive line and defensive line a challenge - even with Adolphus Washington out, look for the Rattlers to get pushed around on both sides of the ball. If that doesn't happen, the game could be a whole lot more interesting than most people expect.
The FAMU run defense is sketchy at best, but they do have an aggressive secondary that has some decent players who can jump routes. To combat this, expect a run-heavy attack from the Buckeye offense, interspersed with a few intermittent play-action passes. The FAMU corners can be beaten deep, and expect Devin Smith and Corey Brown to be the main beneficiaries of a strong running game. It's highly doubtful the Buckeyes will see much man coverage, so the play-action fakes will need to be excellent and the running game effective in order to catch the Rattler defense looking in the backfield. This is a week where a short, quick pass based offense may not work as well as expected.
Just Like They Drew It Up
Josephus once said of the armies of the Roman Empire, "Their drills are bloodless battles and their battles are bloody drills." While a bit extreme of an example for a football game, the Buckeyes will need to perform the same way. Execution is paramount and Urban Meyer will be expecting perfection against a lesser opponent. False starts, penalties, missed reads, drops, etc. are part of the game, but Ohio State should not have too many. The Buckeyes will need to keep their focus and intensity level high all game. The goal for the Buckeyes should be to get a win with some style points, and if they execute like they do in practice, they'll accomplish just that. The FAMU players aren't good enough to get in the way of that.
While the two-deep doesn't seem to have many freshmen on it outside of Joey Bosa and Dontre Wilson, expect more freshmen and newcomers to see some playing time in the fourth or even third quarters. These guys are the future of Ohio State football, and they deserve a shot at real game time in the 'Shoe. Expect some of the younger linebackers such as Joe Burger and Trey Johnson to get some non-special teams time, as well as some of the younger offensive linemen. Those two position groups are especially important, as the O-line will graduate four players next year, and the linebacking depth needs to be improved in a hurry. Sometimes the only way to make that happen is real, live game action.
The FAMU game should be a laugher. Other than covering the spread, what are you looking for the Buckeyes to do this week?