What a long, strange journey it’s been. After an extended offseason and similarly extended series of emotional rollercoasters on if a season would even happen, the No. 5 Ohio State Buckeyes are finally ready to take the field and open their 2020 campaign when Scott Frost’s rebuilding Nebraska squad comes to Columbus today.
However, what that game looks like could be very different/ COVID-19 has certainly shifted our expectations for the 2020 season, perhaps most notably with the delayed start for the Big Ten and the absence of fans at games. Oh, and with just an eight-game regular season conference schedule ahead of the Big Ten Championship Game in December.
The downside of such a short season (besides less football) is that every game has major implications. While Clemson and Alabama have already had statement games this season, Ohio State has a lot of catching up to do ahead of the College Football Playoff committee’s selection come December. The good news is Ohio State has a chance to make a mark this week.
Let’s kick it off with the offense. While we don’t yet have any data points for 2020, Ohio State is returning plenty of talent from its 2019 playoff run, led, of course, by quarterback Justin Fields. In his second season as starting quarterback for the Buckeyes, Fields is poised to repeat as the early-season favorite for Big Ten Offensive Player of the Year. While he lost J.K. Dobbins in the backfield, Fields gains Trey Sermon, a transfer from Oklahoma, along with a trio of true freshman receivers ready to make an impact early in the season.
Defensively, cornerback Shaun Wade opted to return to Ohio State when the Big Ten announced the fall season. Wade will be anchoring a secondary that lost its other three starters from last season, but the Buckeyes will be aided on the defensive side of the ball by a trio of veteran linebackers and explosive talent on the defensive line.
Nebraska, meanwhile, is leaving Lincoln for its opener for the first time since 1999. Led by third-year head coach Scott Frost, the Huskers are hoping for a turnaround this fall after a disappointing 5-7 season in 2019. They’re anchored by junior quarterback Adrian Martinez, a two-year starter who is similarly looking to bounce back from a rough sophomore slump that featured 10 touchdown passes and nine picks.
The Buckeyes are 26-point favorites over the Huskers, which sounds like a lot for a Big Ten/season opener, but betters are confident in Fields and Co. on offense and Wade leading the Silver Bullets on defense. Historically, Ohio State holds a 7-1 advantage over Nebraska, including five-straight wins since 2012. Now, Ohio State looks to capitalize on that talent to make a statement on a national stage to kick off its season.
When is the game and how can I watch?
Game Date/Time: Saturday, Oct. 24, 12 p.m.
Location: Columbus, Ohio
Online: FOX Sports GO
Radio: 97.1 FM/1460 AM
Where is GameDay this weekend?
Well, with the start of Big Ten football and all, the College Gameday crew is heading to Minneapolis ahead of the matchup of No. 18 Michigan and No. 21 Minnesota. As has been the case for the rest of the season, Gameday will not feature fans this week. The Wolverines and Gophers are scheduled to kickoff at 7:30 p.m. ET on ABC Saturday night.
What’s the rest of the Big Ten up to today?
With No. 14 Wisconsin taking on Illinois in the official-official conference opener, the Big Ten has six more matchups scheduled for Saturday. While Ohio State takes the opener on FOX’s Big Noon Saturday, Rutgers heads to Michigan State on BTN. In the afternoon slot, No. 8 Penn State travels to Indiana on FS1 while Purdue gets Iowa in West Lafayette on BTN. Rounding out the day, alongside Michigan/Minnesota, Northwestern faces Maryland in Evanston at 7:30 p.m. on BTN.
Join the conversation
Below is your Ohio State - Nebraska GameThread. Be respectful, be kind and as always, keep it classy. If you like GIFs, lay ‘em on us. In all, be good fans, cheer for your teams, be cool to each other (even if somebody else isn’t) and everyone wins. Let’s kickoff the season strong!