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Saturday Spotlight

(5) Ohio State Buckeyes at Nebraska Cornhuskers

Ohio State: I really think they’re playing with a serious chip on their shoulders. All Summer, you’ve heard about how they wouldn’t be able to maintain that same success with a different coach and quarterback. Ryan Day has been around Urban Meyer for years and even was the interim head coach last season in the first four games while Urban served his suspension. I think it’s safe to say he knows a thing or two about this team. There’s always going to be exciting players to watch in the country. Justin Fields is one of those guys. I finally got the chance to sit down and watch him play a few weeks back and I was impressed. He can beat you in so many ways with his arm or his legs. He’s the most electrifying player in the country right now. When he’s on the field, I’m wowed as I am when I watch Patrick Mahomes. He’s a magician with the rock in his hands. As a runner, he can make anybody in the open field miss. He makes those zone reads, and he does such a good job of selling that play action. As a passer, he’s improved, especially when people said his arm wasn’t strong enough to spin it. Defenses have dared him to throw over the top and he’s done it. The biggest question mark surrounding the Buckeyes has been their defense. Last year, they played a little too loosely and they did the same few times this season. They’ve tightened things up. The one guy who’s had my attention is defensive end Chase Young. I don’t think this kid is human first. He’s 6’5 and 265 pounds. He’s a force off the edge whether he’s stopping the run or rushing the passer which is his specialty. His first step is deadly, his quickness to shed blocks is at a high-level and he’s one of the guys you must account for. To keep it moving, they will face a tough road test in Lincoln tonight.

Nebraska: There were high expectations for them when Mike Riley was their head coach, but they could never get over the hump. They were so inconsistent, and it led to the university firing Mike. It had to be done. For his replacement, they decided to hire a familiar face. Scott Frost returned to Lincoln after serving as the head coach of UCF where he had a nice run. The Nebraska Cornhuskers could still be a few years away from being a contender in the Big Ten West, but they are headed in the right direction without question and there isn’t a doubt in my mind that Scott is the right guy to lead this team. Their quarterback is a dual-threat guy that goes by the name of Adrian Martinez. His first instinct is to always run the ball and he has nice speed to get to the perimeter and then break away into the second tier of the defense. Also, when given time to throw the football, he can deliver from the pocket with a nice pass down the field. He finds ways to keep the play extended even with defenders draped all over him. He can affect the game with either his arm or his legs if you need it. On Saturday in Champaign, he threw for 327 yards passing and added another 118 rushing. In an ever unpredictable Big Ten West, I think it’s safe to say that they are the third best team in the division behind Wisconsin and Iowa. I saw the highlights of their game against Illinois and I wasn’t too impressed with how they looked because they should’ve won by more against a team that’s been a resident of the basement in the Big Ten. But they squeezed it out and got the win in their Big Ten opener. I saw a lot of grit from this team last weekend. Their offense is one of the best in the conference. They can score quickly and from anywhere on the field. It’s the defense that concerns me because they struggle to get off the field which puts a ton of additional pressure on the offense. It’s one thing when you can score 30 a game, but it’s also an eye raiser when you give up close to 24 points a game. This is a huge game for them with the Buckeyes in town tonight.

Ohio State Player to WatchJ.K. Dobbins: He’s the difference maker for this Buckeyes offense. When you need to check it down to someone, he can catch it and work up the field. He’s the veteran of this offense that knows the ins and outs of the scheme. He and Fields have become quite the tandem to watch.

Nebraska Player to WatchMaurice Washington: He’s going to be a vital piece for the Cornhuskers offense. He displays solid patience as a running back, he’s a hard runner and knows how to work his way around would be tacklers. He isn’t necessarily the fastest guy, but he makes it work for him.

Final Analysis: This is my first time breaking down a Nebraska game! By far, this is a huge game in the Big Ten with two first place teams facing each other. The biggest point of emphasis Ohio State needs to jump on is keeping Martinez in the pocket. I can’t allow him to rush for 100. He’s beating him with his arm all game long. Containment will be necessary. Nebraska needs to establish Washington to milk the clock and control the line of scrimmage. The national audience will finally get to see Justin Fields play. I’ve been impressed with him, hopefully you will be too.

Prediction: Ohio State 41 Nebraska 28