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Ohio State No. 1 in controlling games, according to FPI

The Buckeyes are the best at keeping games in their favor

NCAA Football: Cincinnati at Ohio State Joe Maiorana-USA TODAY Sports

“Basically, the function measures what a team’s win probability was throughout each game of the season, and compares it to how everyone else would have likely performed against the same schedule. It is no surprise to see Ohio State at No. 1 in this statistic. After all, the Buckeyes have had a very high win probability in each of their first two games.”

- Yesh Ginsburg, USA Today Sports

Ohio State hasn’t exactly played the stiffest competition through the first two weeks of the college football season. Florida Atlantic was a far inferior opponent, and Cincinnati, while possessing a very legit defense, just did not have the athletes to matchup with the Buckeyes. However, even though OSU handled business against two opponents they were expected to beat, they did so better than any team in the country would have — according to ESPN’s FPI rankings.

The Buckeyes rank No. 1 in game control according to the analytics, which by definition “reflects the chance an average Top 25 team would have to control games from start to end,” given the schedule. Ohio State maintained clear control of the FAU game, jumping out to a quick 28-0 lead and never turning back. The defense was dominant against the Bearcats in week two, keeping them scoreless for the entirety of the game with a win never really in doubt. Clemson was right behind OSU at No. 2 in game control, followed by LSU and then (surprisingly) the new offensive powerhouse Maryland.

Ohio State still ranks No. 8 overall in FPI with a 19.0, almost a full 11 points behind the No. 1 FPI team in Alabama at 29.9. The rating system gives the Bucks just a 3.2 percent chance to finish the season undefeated, and a 23.7 percent chance to win the conference (second-best in the Big Ten behind Wisconsin). OSU will get plenty of chances to raise their FPI moving forward, as the index ranks their remaining strength of schedule at 11 — third-best among teams in the top 10 behind only Georgia (3) and Penn State (8).


After a dominant 42-0 win against in-state opponent Cincinnati, Ohio State has named its players of the game with few surprises.

While Offensive Player of the Game could have gone to Justin Fields, the Buckeyes chose the equally deserving J.K. Dobbins for his bounce-back performance against the Bearcats. After 21 carries for 91 yards and a TD in week one, Dobbins turned it up a notch in week two, finishing with 17 carries for 141 yards and two touchdowns — including a 60-yard TD run in the second quarter. Despite almost all of his snaps coming solely in the first half, the junior running back looked to be back to his original self as he gashed the defense time and time again.

The Defensive Player of the Game was another familiar face, as Chase Young took home the honor for the second week in a row. The junior defensive end continues to be an absolute monster in the backfield, recording three total tackles with 1.5 sacks, four QB hurries, 1.5 tackles for loss and a blocked field goal. Young’s size and strength have simply overpowered opposing offensive lineman. As long as the Predator can stay healthy, he will continue to build a campaign worthy of ending up the first defensive player off the board in the next NFL Draft.

Special Teams Player of the Game went to punter Drue Chrisman. While Ohio State obviously doesn’t love to punt the ball, they know they are in good hands when they require Chrisman’s services. The junior averaged 43 yards per punt against the Bearcats, downing two of three inside the Cinci five-yard line with zero return yards. Chrisman received conference honors for his efforts as well, being named Big Ten Special Teams Player of the Week. On the season, Chrisman has dropped four of seven punts inside the opponents 13-yard line and three inside the five.


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