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Get to Know the Opponent: Ohio State

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Ohio State remains one of the best offenses in the country, but has struggled at times defensively.

NCAA Football: Indiana at Ohio State Joseph Maiorana-USA TODAY Sports

Well it looks like, despite the issues that are going on in Columbus with COVID, Ohio State has restarted football activities this week and is planning to play the game this weekend with Michigan State. OSU was in danger of losing too many games to the virus and missing out on a chance at the Big Ten Championship Game, and possibly the College Football Playoff. So for now at least, the game is on, so let’s take a look at the Buckeyes.

School: The Ohio State University

Nickname: Buckeyes

Conference: Big Ten (East Division)

Location: Columbus, Ohio

Head Coach: Ryan Day (second season, 20-1 overall)

Record: 4-0

Mascot: Brutus Buckeye

All-Time Series: Ohio State leads 33-15 and has won four straight

We don’t know for sure how many players may not be able to go because of exposure or positive COVID tests, but we do know that head coach Ryan Day will not be on the sidelines this weekend after testing positive a week ago. Whether or not that, or the fact the Bucks missed some practice time recently, will have an impact remains to be seen.

Team Stats

When they actually do take the field, it is the same old Buckeyes we have come to expect. They put up points. In their four games so far OSU is averaging 45.3 points per game, good for seventh nationally.

On the ground the Buckeyes are racking up 233.25 yards per game at an average of 5.18 yards per carry. The total number is 15th overall, and the yards per carry checks in at 25th in the country. They have also found the end zone 10 times on the ground.

Through the air the Buckeyes check in at 20th nationally, averaging 302 yards per game and are fifth in the country at 10.7 yards per attempt. The team quarterback rating is third in the country, with OSU throwing for 13 touchdowns and three interceptions.

On defense, the Buckeyes have been more vulnerable. They are 45th in scoring defense, allowing 26 points per game. They have given up at least 25 points in each of their last three games.

Ohio State is still pretty tough against the run, checking in at 11th in the nation allowing 98.5 yards per game. The yards per carry number is a little better for opposing offenses at 3.55 YPC, which is 32nd overall.

Through the air is where teams have really had success against OSU. The Buckeyes are 117th in the country in total pass defense, allowing 291 yards per game. They are at 83rd nationally allowing 7.8 yards per pass attempt and 91st in opponent passer rating. Teams have thrown for nine touchdowns while being picked off just twice.

OSU remains on the good side of the turnover battle, with a plus-four overall margin. The bulk of that is thanks to seven recovered fumbles, so the Spartans need to hang onto the ball, an area that has been an issue this year.

Players to Watch

Justin Fields remains good as the OSU QB. He is completing nearly 80 percent of his passes at a clip of 10.7 yards per attempt with 13 touchdowns and three interceptions. He is at over 300 yards per game and has a total of 1,208 passing yards, which is more than MSU has as a team with an extra game.

NCAA Football: Indiana at Ohio State Joseph Maiorana-USA TODAY Sports

Fields can also beat you with his legs. The sophomore has 135 yards rushing and three touchdowns on the season after running for 484 yards a year ago.

From the running back position, Master Teague is the team’s leader in rushing yards, carries and touchdowns. Teague has 380 yards on 5.21 yards per carry and has found the end zone six times. He has also hauled in three passes for 37 yards, so while he isn’t a big threat in the receiving game, when he gets one, he makes it count.

Senior Trey Sermon has 232 yards on the ground and four catches for 35 yards out of the backfield.

The Buckeyes have two big time receivers that have done a lot of damage this year. Garrett Wilson has 513 yards on 31 receptions, averaging over 16.5 yards per catch. Chris Olave has 389 yards on 26 catches for an average of almost 15 yards per grab. Both players have scored four touchdowns.

The rest of the yards and catches are spread out among a bunch of players, with no other player recording more than nine catches. In the red zone you need to watch out for tight end Jeremy Ruckert, who has three touchdowns on nine catches.

On defense, junior Tommy Togiai leads the way with three sacks and three tackles for loss.

Senior linebacker Pete Werner leads the team with 24 total tackles and has 2.5 tackles for loss, a sack, and a forced fumble.

In the secondary, Shaun Wade has a pick six and two pass breakups, and Sevyn Banks has three pass breakups and a fumble return for touchdown.

The kicking game has been inconsistent for OSU, not that it has really mattered. Three kickers have combined to go just two-for-five on field goal attempts, but are 25-for-25 on extra points.

Punter Drue Chrisman remains one of the best in the country averaging 42 yards per punt. His performance at Spartan Stadium two years ago crippled any MSU hopes for a win by pinning MSU inside the five seemingly every time.

That’s it on the Buckeyes. Let’s see if this game actually gets played or not.