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Know Your Foe, Week 5: The Ohio State Buckeyes

Two top ten teams battle it out in Happy Valley for THE game of the season … 

NCAA Football: Ohio State at Texas Christian Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

The Ohio State University

  • Location: Columbus, Ohio
  • Enrollment: 64,444 (all campuses, undergraduates and post graduates)

The Ohio State Buckeyes Football Facts

  • Home Stadium: Ohio Stadium (Capacity 104,944)
  • Head Coach: Urban Meyer, 7th season, 77-8 (.906
  • Conference: Big Ten (East Division)
  • Overall Bowl Record: 23-25 (.479)
  • Conference Titles: 39 (2 OAC, 37 Big Ten)
  • Claimed National Titles: 8

Series History

  • First Game: November 16, 1912 (Penn State won, 37-0)
  • Last Game: October 28, 2017 (Ohio State won, 39-38)
  • Overall: Ohio State leads, 18-14
  • Current Streak: Ohio State, 1

Last Season (12-1 overall, 8-1 in the Big Ten)

The Ohio State University Buckeyes had a stellar year in 2017, starting the season ranked at No. 2. The Buckeyes lost just two games: their second game of the season to then No. 5 Oklahoma 31-16 at Ohio Stadium, and losing to unranked Iowa at Kinnick 55-24. The Buckeyes went on to plow through the competition with their closest game of the season the Penn State game, winning just by one point over the Nittany Lions, 39-38.

By the end of the season, Ohio State was the Big Ten East Division and Big Ten champion, and earned an invitation to the Cotton Bowl Classic, easily defeating the USC Trojans 24-7. The Buckeyes ended the season ranked No. 5.

Recruiting and Offseason

The Ohio State Buckeyes’ 2018 class ranks as the nation’s second recruiting class (first in the Big Ten) as compared to Penn State’s 2018 class,ranked at sixth in the nation and second in the Big Ten (per 247 Sports).

The biggest news of the offseason was Urban Meyer’s firing of wide receivers coach Zach Smith, and in August, Ohio State placing Urban Meyer on administrative leave due to allegations that he was aware of domestic violence incidents involving Smith. Ryan Day was named acting head coach. After an investigation, Meyer was suspended for three games for what Ohio State called his poor handling of the situation.

Last Week

In Urban Meyer’s return to the Buckeyes after a three-game suspension, No. 4 Ohio State easily took a 49-6 win over the Tulane University Green Wave. Buckeye quarterback Dwayne Haskins was 21 for 24 and 304 yards before backup Tate Martell came in to ease the pain on the Green Wave in the second half. Overall, Ohio State recorded 570 yards of total offense.

Parris Campbell was the primary target for Haskins, catching eight passes for 147 yards, both career highs, and two touchdowns. Running back J.K. Dobbins had 11 carries for 55 yards and one touchdown.On defense, the Buckeyes racked up 14 tackles in the win.


Saturday’s game will feature the nation’s No. 1 (Penn State) and No. 2 (Ohio State)-ranked scoring offenses. Both are averaging better than 50 points per game and both have the nation’s second-and third-longest winning streaks (OSU with nine straight wins, and Penn State with eight).

Ohio State is third in the nation in total offense (599 YPG), sixth in passing offense (as compared to Penn State at 62nd), and 27th in rushing offense (as compared to Penn State at tenth).

It’s definitely going to be a game of offense, in large part to sophomore Buckeye quarterback Dwayne Haskins. Haskins, who last week was 21 of 24 for 304 yards just in the first half against Tulane, is one of the nation’s leaders in touchdown passes with 16 in the first four games for the Buckeyes. So far this year, Haskins has completed 87 of 115 passes (75.7%) for 1,194 yards.

In the air, K.J. Hill is the leading Buckeye receiver with 21 receptions for 259 yards and one touchdown this year. Parris Campbell is right behind, with 19 receptions for 299 yards and five touchdowns. Austin Mack and Johnnie Dixon are also major threats in the receiver corps along with Terry McLaurin.

Running back J.K. Dobbins, the leading rusher for the Buckeyes so far this year, has 56 attempts for 323 yards and two touchdowns. Last year Dobbins had 194 attempts for 1,403 yards and seven scores, and looks well on his way to match or exceed those stats this season. Mike Weber is second on the team in rushing with 52 attempts for 299 yard and 3 scores. ThePenn State defense will have to contend with these two strong running backs along with other talented backs Parris Campbell, Master Teague and freshman Brian Snead.

The offensive line returns right tackle Isaiah Prince, a 6’ 7” 310 lb. senior along with experienced junior center Michael Jordan. Senior guards Malcolm Pridgeon and Demtrius Knox and sophomore tackle Thayer Munford round out the o-line. This unit is talented and massive, with three players who are 6’6” or taller and all who are 308 lbs. or more.


Ohio State fans are a little worried about their defense with nearly unstoppable junior defensive end Nick Bosa out indefinitely, after a core muscle injury and surgery. Bosa is a hard player to replace as one of the Buckeye’s leading tacklers with 14 this year. Other concerns for the Buckeyes include a defense that’s allowed big plays, like that 93-yard run in the Texas Christian University game and a somewhat young (yet talented) linebacker unit.

Still, the Buckeyes are 25th in total defense (as compared to Penn State at 45th) and fifth in the country for total team sacks (15) so Penn State’s offensive line and Trace McSorley better be aware.

Ohio State’s defensive line is experienced, especially with junior defensive tackle Dre’Mont Jones (14 tackles this year and 5.5 TFLs). Joining Jones is junior defensive end Jonathon Cooper and sophomore defensive end Chase Young (who looks to be in for Bosa), rounded out by junior nose tackles Davon Hamilton and Robert Landers. Landers is questionable for this week’s game after dealing with an arm injury, which would be a major concern for the Buckeyes.

The Buckeye secondary has a wealth of talent including freshman safety Jordan Fuller (14 tackles, 1.5 TFL), sophomore safety Isaiah Pryor (12 tackles, one TFL) plus junior cornerbacks Kendall Sheffield (9 tackles) and Damon Arnette (13 tackles). Redshirt freshman safety Jahsen Wint is the Buckeye’s leading tackler with 15 ( five tackles in the Oregon State game alone).

Ohio State’s linebacker unit is young but has some talent and performed well against Tulane. Sophomore Tuf Borland (eight tackles) returns after an injury last year along with junior Malik Harrison (12 tackles), but one of the most talented in the unit is sophomore Baron Browning (eight tackles, 1.5 TFL, one sack) who has seen quite a lot of play time. Sophomore Pete Werner (nine tackles, 1 TFL, one sack) rounds out the starters. A host of other players have rotated in including Shaun Wade, Justin Hilliard and Dante Booker.

Special Teams

Senior kicker Sean Nuernberger returns after a 2017 where he was 17-21 on field goals. So far in 2018, he’s 3-of-4 on field goals. Also returning is sophomore punter Drue Chrisman, who averaged over 44 yards per kick last year.

For punt returns, CJ Saunders and Demario McCall have primarily been splitting duties along with K.J. Hill. McCall and Johnnie Dixon have been splitting duties at kick return.


If you really want to, you can read more about Ohio State sports at their SB Nation blog Land Grant Holy Land.