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Get to Know the Opponent: Ohio State

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The Buckeyes can score with the best of them, but their defense has been vulnerable.

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

This week’s matchup was a game that many thought could once again decide the Big Ten East champ. In a way it still might, but not in a way that either of the two teams involved in it would have preferred. Despite the fact that MSU’s chances at Indy are (effectively) done, the Spartans still have a shot at a major bowl if they can win out, and that starts with Ohio State this weekend.

School: Ohio State University (they lost the “The” in the battle with Purdue but could regain it with a win over MSU)

Nickname: Buckeyes

Conference: Big Ten (East Division)

Location: Columbus, Ohio

Head Coach: Urban Meyer (7th season)

Record: 8-1 (5-1 in Big Ten)

Mascot: Brutus Buckeye

All-Time Series: Ohio State leads 31-14

This has been a weird season for Ohio State with Meyer being suspended to start the season, but it looked for a while that the Buckeyes were going to power through it en route to another Big Ten title and an appearance in the playoff. But a beat down at the hands of Purdue has set the Bucks back and they haven’t looked quite right the last month or so. MSU will give them a good defensive test, but Ohio State has been an explosive offense this year.

Team Stats

Ohio State checks in as the number ten scoring offense in the nation, averaging 42.2 points per game. That makes them the second best scoring offense the Spartans have faced this year behind Utah State.

The Buckeyes are 57th in the country in rushing, averaging 178.11 yards per game, and 56th in yards per attempt at 4.52 yards per carry. They had a big game against Nebraska their last time out, racking up 229 yards at 5.73 per carry. Previous to this however, they had five consecutive games where they were held below four yards per attempt. They face the nation’s best rushing defense this week in MSU.

Through the air things are a different story. Ohio State is third in the country in passing yards per game, averaging 369.1 yards per contest. They are 13th in yards per attempt averaging 8.9 yards per pass and fourth in passer rating. Their 70.7 completion percentage is the second best in the country.

Defensively OSU ranks 45th in scoring defense, allowing 23.8 points per game.

The Buckeyes are 55th against the run, giving up 153.44 yards per game on the ground, and 70th in yards per attempt allowing 4.26 yards per carry.

In the passing game, Ohio State is 83rd against the pass, yielding 243.9 yards per game, and 7.6 yards per attempt. They have given up twice as many TD’s (12) as they have interceptions (6).

OSU is middle of the road in forcing turnovers, with 14 takeaways on the season ranking 56th overall. They do get after the QB though, ranking 14th nationally with 27 sacks on the season, right at three per game.

Key Players

First year starter Dwayne Haskins has been fantastic for Ohio State. He is completing nearly 70% of his passes, has already eclipsed the 3,000 yard mark, and has 32 touchdowns against six interceptions. He’s not a huge rushing threat, with just 45 yards on the season on 38 attempts, but he isn’t a statue back there either. But it’s not the same as it was with Barrett in terms of running ability.

NCAA Football: Ohio State at Penn State James Lang-USA TODAY Sports

The two headed monsters of J.K. Dobbins and Mike Weber handle the rushing attack plenty for OSU. Both are over 600 yards this year, with Weber averaging 5.78 yards per carry and Dobbins at 4.78 per tote. Dobbins has seven TD’s on the ground to Weber’s three. The two backs have also combined for 31 receptions for 270 yards and a pair of touchdowns out of the backfield.

K.J. Hill and Parris Campbell are the top pass catchers, with both of the receivers over 50 catches and 600 yards. Campbell leads the team in receptions and touchdown catches and is second in yards.

Senior Terry McLaurin is tied for the team lead with eight receiving TD’s on just 21 total receptions. He averages a team best 18.95 yards per catch.

On defense, Dre’Mont Jones leads the team with 6.5 sacks and 10 tackles for loss. He also has one interception that he took back 28 yards for a touchdown. Chase Young is second in both categories with 4.5 sacks and 8.5 tackles for loss.

Kendall Sheffield has a team leading two interceptions for the Bucks secondary.