Let’s get this out of the way to start this week’s I Got Five on it: Mario Kart 64 is the greatest video game ever made. I could spend the rest of this article arguing why, but others have already done it better than I can, so I’ll defer to them. All you need to know is that it’s the crown jewel of gaming. If you disagree, feel free to leave a comment and share the article with family and friends, so they can click on it, and also share with others how angry they are about it.
“But Colton, what does Mario Kart 64 have to do with Ohio State Football!?”, you ask. It has everything to do with Ohio State Football, especially during a week in which Ohio State plays a team whose mascot is a giant turtle.
Maryland represents the last of Ohio State’s games in the Mushroom Cup portion of the Buckeyes’ schedule. If you aren’t aware, the Mushroom Cup is a collection of the easiest races in the game; essentially the cupcake races that warm you up for the harder cups on the schedule. (Rutgers is Moo Moo Farm, obviously.)
Ohio State is probably going to blowout Maryland tomorrow, just like they’ve done to their last three opponents, so let’s have some fun with this. Here are five things to look for tomorrow as the Buckeyes take on the Terps:
J.K. Dobbins doesn’t give a damn about your red shells
Sticking with the Mario Kart theme, here’s a preview of J.K. Dobbins in the open field against the Terrapins’ defense:
I’m not sure if Ohio State even needs to use a star against Maryland, but it’d probably be safer (and more legal) than trying to use any mushroom power-ups they find scattered on the field. Either way, expect Dobbins, Mike Weber, and the rest of the Ohio State ground game to have another big day.
Jalyn Holmes fills in for Dre’Mont Jones again
Jalyn Holmes is my favorite player for Ohio State. The senior from Norfolk, VA. has flown under the radar since he was a freshman in 2014, and has been their most underrated defender the past two seasons. Holmes doesn’t have jaw-dropping stats this year, (six tackles, two passes broken up) but does a little bit of everything. He’s also the most versatile player on the team. (He’s basically The Royal Raceway of Ohio State defenders).
With Dre’Mont Jones out again with a leg injury, Holmes will kick inside for the second straight week and man the defensive tackle spot. At 270 pounds, he isn’t a typical tackle, but has already proved effective there in the vaunted “rushmen” package, and has the speed and quickness to give guards fits inside. He’ll shift back to end next week when Jones returns, but take some time on Saturday to appreciate just how good Holmes is, while he’s kicking ass at a position he isn’t even supposed to be playing.
Chase Young is terrifying, and he’s only going to get better
Holmes’ move inside also means more playing time for Ohio State’s newest terror at defensive end, freshman Chase Young:
We should have known something was up when Young arrived at offseason camp looking like a created player straight out of NCAA Football 2007 (The second best video game of all time). Sure enough, he’s starting to make his mark defensively, notching four tackles —including two for a loss— against Rutgers to go along with his two tackles (0.5 for loss) against UNLV the week before.
Young should see plenty of time again this week, and Holmes’ move to tackle may mean that more of it comes against Maryland’s first string, rather than the clean-up work he got last week. With Nick Bosa, Sam Hubbard, and Tyquan Lewis still earning the majority of snaps, Young won’t crack the starting lineup anytime soon, but he’s quickly becoming a fearsome weapon for the Ohio State defense.
Don’t let Ty Johnson hit an item box
Getting back to Mario Kart, Maryland running back Ty Johnson runs like he has a golden mushroom perpetually at his disposal. Johnson already has four runs of 40-plus yards this season, and is averaging a gaudy 12.3 highlight yards per opportunity.
With Maryland down to their third string quarterback, Ohio State shouldn’t have to worry too much about getting beat through the air, but Johnson is as dangerous a runner as they’ll face this season — outside of Saquon Barkley.
UNLV’s Lexington Thomas is similarly explosive, and was able to rip off a couple of big runs on the Buckeyes two weeks ago, so I think it’s fair to assume that Johnson is going to hit the burners a few times. Limiting just how big those runs are will ultimately determine how Ohio State’s defense fares tomorrow.
Limiting Johnson will also determine how often we see this on the broadcast:
Maryland’s “EXCESSIVE JUICE!” sign is one of the best things in college football this season, and belongs in the College Football Hall of Fame immediately. It also embodies the energy around the program right now. Just like a lightning in another racer’s item box, it’s the last thing you want to keep seeing if you’re their opponent.
After already beating Texas in Austin, I don’t think Maryland’s going to be all that fazed walking into Ohio Stadium tomorrow. It’s important that the Buckeyes get a jump on the Terps early, keep the “EXCESSIVE JUICE!” references to a minimum, and eliminate any possibility of an upset.
Establishing an early lead also means less of Johnson on the ground, and more of Maryland trying to keep up with a third-string quarterback against the Buckeyes’ nasty defensive line. If the Buckeyes can get out to a fast start, this game should be as easy as a drive through Rainbow Road.