Ohio State hasn't played since their 66-0 beat-down of Kent State two weeks ago, but the Buckeyes are now a day away from playing the in-state Cincinnati Bearcats. With a true possibility of an upset, the Bearcats are going to be charged up for any chance they have at upending the Buckeyes on their home field.
With Cincinnati already undefeated at 2-0, they look at their first challenge of the year under head coach Tommy Tuberville and quarterback Gunner Kiel. For the game tomorrow night, we give you five things to look for come gametime.
Gunner Kiel is the real deal
Ohio State's secondary is going to be in for a hellish night on Saturday. Facing one of the better quarterbacks they'll face all season in sophomore quarterback Gunner Kiel, the Buckeyes will be tasked with at least minimizing the damage that Kiel will most likely cause. In his first two starts for Cincinnati, Kiel threw six and four touchdowns, respectively, leading the Bearcats to two victories and an undefeated start to the year.
To be fair, those two games were against Toledo and Miami, not exactly the cream of the crop (even in the MAC). Kiel gets his first crack at shining in the spotlight on Saturday, however, and will be sure to try and light up a secondary that has been suspect at times over the course of the past two seasons.
A simple offense is a comfortable offense
Keeping J.T. Barrett protected and calm on Saturday will go a long way in determining how much success the Ohio State offense has. We saw against Virginia Tech, when the pressures of the defense are closing in as soon as you get the ball in your hands, you don't perform as well (shocker). But against Kent State, Barrett had all day to throw and ended up throwing six touchdowns through the air, tying a school record by Kenny Guiton.
If Ohio State head coach Urban Meyer and Tom Herman want to be successful on Saturday, making sure the playcalling isn't too out of this world, and the blocking techniques are simple enough for the linemen that they can accomplish, then Ohio State should cruise along nicely.
Curtis Samuel, the future, and now
Ohio State true freshman running back Curtis Samuel has been the most impressive runner in the Buckeyes' backfield, and I don't expect that to stop anytime soon. The staff has clearly seen what everyone else has, as the youngster is tied with Ezekiel Elliott (who's had solid games himself) for the most carries on the team, with 27 each. Now, going against Cincinnati, Samuel and the backfield will have fresh legs after the bye week, and I expect big things from Ohio State's backfield.
The Cincinnati defensive front is no Kent State, but they're not quite Virginia Tech, either. The Buckeyes shouldn't have too much trouble attacking up the middle or even getting to the outside with their run game. Expect a lot of screens to be run as well, to keep the defense honest.
Jalin Marshall, Dontre Wilson, and the jet sweep
Against Navy, the two H-backs Dontre Wilson and Jalin Marshall, saw plenty of jet sweeps and misdirection plays. They've had plenty of success running the ball and becoming decoys to open up both running lanes for the running backs and holes in the defense through the air, so that Barrett can get the ball to his wideouts.
I think the Buckeyes should be running some more jet sweep against the Bearcats. Their speed compared to Cincinnati's defense is still greater and they should take full advantage of the little things like athleticism and speed to counter any attack by the Bearcats.
The 'Shoe will be rocking
No surprise that the 'Shoe being noisy will come in to play on Saturday. Knowing full well that the Bearcats are charged up and ready for an upset will be enough to get the scarlet and gray-clad fans up off their seats (as long as people don't text in about them being rowdy, hey-o) and get excited about this in-state match up.
Cincinnati head coach Tommy Tuberville said earlier this week that Ohio Stadium isn't that loud compared to other places and the last time a coach said something about the noise level at the 'Shoe, they payed for it with a shelling from the Buckeyes (looking at you, George O'Leary and UCF).