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Tonight, the No. 3 Ohio State Buckeyes conclude their 2022 non-conference schedule before kicking off the Big Ten season next week against the Wisconsin Badgers. OSU will welcome the Toledo Rockets to The Horseshoe looking to extend a 101-year unbeaten streak against in-state opponents.
Toledo comes in with one of the best (statistical) offenses in the country, buoyed by competition that would need to improve dramatically just to approach the term sub-par. So, what can the Buckeyes hope to accomplish in their final B1G tune-up game?
Earlier this week, we asked Buckeye fans to tell us what they were looking for in tonight’s game against Toledo, and now it’s time to take a look at the results.
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Question 1: What are Ohio State fans most looking for in the final non-conference game?
A pretty decent split here, which I think accurately reflects what is facing the Buckeyes after the first two games of the day. As I mentioned in an “Ask LGHL” podcast on Friday, anytime you can get a player as talented as Jaxon Smith-Njigba back on the field, that is going to dramatically improve the ability of an offense to produce and put up points. So, I am totally on board with this leading the way.
However, for me, I would have gone with the third-place option. While fixing penalty issues and finally getting in the turnover column is important, to me, getting the cornerback play figured out is by far the most important thing long-term for the Buckeyes. With all due respect to the rest of the Big Ten, there aren’t a ton of elite wide receivers in the league, so perhaps OSU has some time to work through those problems.
But, if they want to win in the College Football Playoff, they can’t continually get beat in one-on-one matchups on the outside. The cornerback room is uncomfortably thing for Ohio State this season, with only six scholarship CBs on the roster, so they can’t have their top guys either injured (Jordan Hancock) or regressing (Denzel Burke).
The Buckeye coaching staff has reiterated their belief in Burke throughout the week, and given what we saw from him last season, I do agree that there is reason to believe that he can turn it around at any moment. Hancock is potentially slated to return today, giving defensive coordinator Jim Knowles and position coach Tim Walton another key, athletic piece to mix into the rotation.
I wouldn’t expect Toledo to set the world on fire in the passing game, but if Hancock returns, tonight’s game should give the Buckeye players and coaches a chance to work through some problems and develop a flow and rotation to build upon moving into conference play.
Question 2: Which of these freshmen are Ohio State fans most excited about in the future?
Coming off of his performance against Arkansas State, this one shouldn’t be a surprise to anybody paying attention. In fact, I picked him as the true freshman most likely to become an OSU legend in a column earlier this week.
Throughout his tenure as head coach, Ryan Day has not gotten younger players into games as quickly or as often as I would generally like, and that has even decreased so far this season as Knowles has talked about keeping the best players in the game as long as possible to get them as much experience as possible.
However, with how obvious Curry’s athleticism was against the Red Wolves, I would not be surprised if defensive line coach Larry Johnson worked him into the rotation a little more than he might have previously planned — especially if there is any lingering concern about defensive tackle Mike Hall following his reportedly very minor injury from last week.
Question 3: What is your confidence level in Ohio State winning the national title?
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