In a week full of misinformation where the future of a 2020 Ohio State football season looks more uncertain than ever, here’s some truth: LandGrantHolyLand on Twitch will give you the closest thing possible to a Buckeye football experience you will have right now.
The Big Ten season could come back. It may not. Personally, I’m not interested in waiting around to find out. Five months ago, Ohio State had Bowling Green on their schedule for this coming Saturday, and I intend to replicate the season both Buckeye players and fans deserve as closely as I can.
Unfortunately, Bowling Green couldn’t make it this week, but they’ll come around Columbus for the first game in October. The Buffalo Bulls graciously offered to reschedule their non-conference game with Ohio State, so they will have the honor of playing the Buckeyes to start the virtual season this Saturday.
Here’s everything you need to know about both teams heading into the home opener, plus some more details from around the virtual college football universe:
Ohio State: Starters, Coaches, Gameplan
Quarterback, Justin Fields, 97 OVR — The second-highest-rated quarterback on the 2020 NCAA roster behind only Clemson’s Trevor Lawrence, Fields very much plays up to the standards of the Heisman candidate fans expect him to be this season. This offense has plenty of talent, but Fields’ pocket poise and opportunistic rushing ability will be on display nearly every drive.
Half Back, Trey Sermon, 91 OVR — The Oklahoma transfer is no J.K. Dobbins, but Sermon serves as a solid overall three-down running back for the 2020 Ohio State offense. Look for Master Teague III to get involved in the mix in a backup role as well, but expect Sermon to handle the bulk of the carries out of the backfield — provided Fields isn’t itching to scramble. Demario McCall will operate as the team’s full-time return man on kicks and punts.
- Chris Olave, 92 OVR
- Garrett Wilson, 89 OVR
- Jameson Williams, 83 OVR
- Julian Fleming, 81 OVR
- C.J. Saunders, 79 OVR
Olave leads what is certainly one of the most stacked receiving groups in college football, while Garrett Wilson is ready for a breakout campaign. Jameson Williams will have his speed fully on display out of the slot, and you can expect to see some appearances from freshman phenom Julian Fleming as well.
- Luke Farrell, 86 OVR
- Jeremy Ruckert, 84 OVR
Farrell gets the start as the more well-rounded player, but look for Ruckert to very much factor into the passing game as both a tight end and rotational receiver. Jake Hausmann will continue to serve in his role as secondary blocker and will give Farrell a breather when needed.
- LT, Thayer Munford, 90 OVR
- LG, Gavin Cupp, 84 OVR
- C, Josh Myers, 90 OVR
- RG, Wyatt Davis, 98 OVR
- RT, Nicholas Petit-Frere, 82 OVR
Arguably the best offensive line in college football for the second year in a row, Wyatt Davis and friends are ready to bulldoze through the Big Ten all over again. New starters Gavin Cupp and Nicholas Petit-Frere will have to prove themselves, but this group promises to be one of the main reasons this team is successful once again in 2020.
- Zach Harrison, 89 OVR
- Tyreke Smith, 87 OVR
- Tommy Togiai, 84 OVR
- Haskell Garrett, 83 OVR
Though only a sophomore, Harrison finds himself tasked with becoming the next great leader of Ohio State’s pass rush, following the likes of Chase Young and the Bosa brothers. Smith will look to make a name for himself rushing the other side, while Togiai and Garrett will enforce the interior.
- Baron Browning, 90 OVR
- Tuf Borland, 89 OVR
- Pete Werner, 87 OVR
Borland enters his senior season and third year as team captain with a 74 speed rating, but otherwise continues to remain a consistent positive presence in the middle of the Buckeye defense. Browning and Werner will keep serving versatile roles along the edges of the line in Kerry Coombs’ Multiple defense.
- Sean Wade, 96 OVR
- Cameron Brown, 85 OVR
- Josh Proctor, 84 OVR
- Sevyn Banks, 83 OVR
Though somewhat inexperienced, Ohio State’s secondary this season boasts plenty of talent and speed. Wade and Brown are two of the fastest corners in college football this season, while Proctor will look build on his strong end to last season out of the safety position. Banks will play a second safety/nickel corner role.
Kicker, Blake Haubeil, 92 OVR — Haubeil has an NFL-caliber leg, as was fully on display when he nailed a 55-yard field goal in the rain against Northwestern last season. He’ll be a major weapon on an Ohio State offense searching for points every drive.
Punter, Drue Chrisman, 90 OVR — Chrisman serves as a very accurate punter, although it’s probably safe to assume you’ll see more end zone touch backs than coffin-corner kicks from him this season.
Ryan Day, Head Coach
Kevin Wilson, Offensive Coordinator
Kerry Coombs, Defensive Coordinator
Much as it did last season, Day’s philosophy centers around balance. You should see a fairly even mix of runs and passes as a variety of players get touches at all levels of the field. I also reworked Ohio State’s playbook to more closely align with what the team ran last season. That means under-center Ace sets with multiple tight ends, a little bit of pistol, and a good amount of shotgun formations too.
Defensively, Coombs spoke earlier this year about how he enjoyed running nearly every type of coverage while with the Tennessee Titans, and planned to do the same in his return to Ohio State. In recognition of this and the fact that the “bullet” position unfortunately doesn’t exist in this universe, the Buckeyes will employ a 4-3 Multiple defense. Much like the offense, variety is key to success.
Week 1: Buffalo Bulls vs. Ohio State Buckeyes
The last time Buffalo came to Columbus, the game didn’t quite go how one would expect a MAC team to play Ohio State. The Buckeyes raced out to a 23-0 lead, then nearly let the game back within single digits after future NFL Defensive Player of the Year Khalil Mack picked off Braxton Miller and outran him 48 yards into the end zone. Thankfully, Ohio State ultimately won that game 40-20, but the lead never got beyond three scores.
Buffalo has a much better defense than the standard set by their conference, though their offense leaves a bit to desire by comparison. Kyle Vantrease will look to lead the way from the quarterback spot, and he does have some dual-threat ability that could cause some headaches in the early part of this game.
If Buffalo can keep from falling behind early, this game could quickly become more interesting than it needs to be. But if Ohio State can jump out to an early lead and protect it going into the half, the season opener should end in success for the Buckeyes.
Other Notes from Around the Virtual College Football Universe:
Technically, 16 teams kicked off the true Week 1 of the season last week, and there were quite a few upsets, including:
- Utah State beat Utah 24-21 in the Battle of the Brothers
- Maryland beat Iowa 27-10 to open Big Ten conference play
- Fresno State beat Georgia Tech 35-32
Trevor Lawrence also kicked off his own Heisman campaign to rival that of Justin Fields with a 41-14 win over Florida Atlantic. Lawrence threw for almost 250 yards and four TD passes.
Follow LandGrantHolyLand on Twitch and Tune in Tomorrow at Noon ET for the 2020 Virtual Season Opener!
We’ll get the stream going about fifteen minutes before kickoff, but feel free to drop by whenever.
Go Bucks! We can’t wait to watch with you!