Back in July, Ohio State’s prime time non-conference match up with the Oregon Ducks tragically got cancelled due to coronavirus concerns. Sadly, had the game remained scheduled, it likely would have received a cancellation anyway in wake of the ongoing wildfires up and down the West Coast this week. But in the virtual world of college football we’ve created at LandGrantHolyLand over on Twitch, there are no pandemics or natural disasters.
There are no injuries or suspensions.
And there is no Kevin Warren.
There is only beautiful Buckeye football in the closest form we’ll get to experience it in 2020. Last week, Buffalo gave Ohio State a bit of a panic attack to open the season thanks to shockingly effective read option attack and an uncharacteristically shaky performance from Justin Fields.
But there were some great moments! Trey Sermon had some big runs, Pete Werner exploded onto the scene with four sacks, and Master Teague III salted the game away late with a beautiful 49-yard touchdown run off of an option play:
Master Teague says BALLGAME.— Land-Grant Holy Land (@Landgrant33) September 5, 2020
The RB takes it to the house on the speed option play, and Ohio State will put a bow on the season opener, defeating the Buffalo Bulls 29-14 after some first-half jitters. pic.twitter.com/HytznZoeCR
This week, the Buckeyes have a much more daunting challenge awaiting them in Eugene, Oregon. The Ducks have an excellent pistol-based rushing attack to go along with a strong and swift defense. Lets take a look at how they match up with Ohio State on both sides of the ball:
What to Watch: Ohio State Offense vs. Oregon Defense
Oregon’s defense shines in the trenches and in the secondary, with a stalwart defensive line led by future first round NFL draft pick Kayvon Thibodeaux. Unfortunately for Ohio State, Thibodeaux likes to do a lot of his pass rushing from the offense’s strong side, which means Nicholas Petit-Frere will have the honor of trying to stop the Ducks’ top defensive weapon instead of the more seasoned Thayer Munford.
NCAA Football 14 also has terrible block assist AI, so the odds that Wyatt Davis can lend a helping hand to NPF are slim to none. In any event, everyone on Ohio State’s offensive line figures to have their hands full, as the Oregon defensive linemen are all strong and agile players.
The Ducks’ secondary boasts a similar physical profile. Nearly all of their defensive backs have the speed and strength to keep up with Ohio State’s receivers on routes and bat down jump balls. Justin Fields is going to have to exercise more caution with his passes than he showed last week, or else the Ducks could very easily walk out of this game with multiple interceptions.
Fortunately, Oregon’s linebackers are not quite up to the standards of the other levels of their defense. Ohio State’s offense traditionally had hardly made use of tight ends, but if the middle of the field remains the most reliable option throughout the game, expect Fields to pepper Luke Farrell and Jeremy Ruckert with targets.
What to Watch: Oregon Offense vs. Ohio State Defense
Oregon’s offense does not quite have the explosive reputation of its past in 2020, but there still remains plenty of talent for the Ducks to work with. Grad transfer Anthony Brown has moved across the country from Boston College to assume Oregon’s quarterback vacancy, and running backs C.J. Verdell and Travis Dye round out a solid run game for the Ducks. Brown has very good talent as a runner, so if Ohio State hasn’t corrected their read option defending woes from the Buffalo game last week, this offense could cause a lot of headaches for the Buckeyes.
Brown is no slouch throwing the ball, either. Before a knee injury ended his season after only six games a year ago, Brown threw for over 1,250 yards and nine touchdowns against just two interceptions. Oregon likely offers a far higher level of talent at the receiver spot with Johnny Johnson III alone than what Brown had to work with in Boston College, so the offense definitely has the potential to trend upwards.
The offensive line is led by another future first round NFL draft pick in LT Penei Sewell, but its other members don’t come close to matching the ability of the only sophomore to ever win the Outland Trophy.
All things considered, the entire Ohio State defense will need to come to play in order to win this one. Fortunately, with a minimum of all-conference talent at all levels, the Buckeyes should have all their ducks in a row for this contest.
Other Notes from Around the Virtual College Football Universe:
With the first full week of the season in the books, there are already some interesting stories beginning to unfold:
- UCLA took down Texas 28-21 in the season opener for each team. Even in the virtual college football universe, the Texas is Back! meme is still going strong.
- Probably should have mentioned this earlier on, but Oregon actually lost their home opener to Old Dominion by a score of 24-19. After starting the season ranked #9, the loss dropped the Ducks to 24th overall. No top-10 opponent for Ohio State this week.
- Michigan barely managed to grind out a 17-10 home win over Miami (OH).
- Reigning National Champions LSU lost their home opener to Texas State in a massive 24-21 upset. Texas State won on a go-ahead touchdown pass with two minutes left in the game.
- The game of the week last week was unquestionably #9 Florida vs. #1 Clemson, and Trevor Lawrence absolutely balled out on his way to 336 passing yards and four TDs in what proved to be a 41-21 win for the Tigers. The loss dropped Florida to 11th overall.
Follow LandGrantHolyLand on Twitch and Tune in Tomorrow Night at 7:30 ET to watch Ohio State vs. Oregon!
We’ll get the stream going about 10-15 minutes before kickoff, but feel free to drop by whenever! I’ll also be going over this week’s modifications to sliders during pregame.
Go Bucks! We can’t wait to watch with you!