Fresh off a bye week, the Ohio State Buckeyes will host the Cincinnati Bearcats on Saturday in what should be an entertaining game. For the Buckeyes to be successful, here three keys to the game.
Set the pace
Ohio State must set the pace with ruthless aggression on both sides of the ball. On offense, the line must communicate, make the correct pre-snap reads and execute. Expect the Buckeyes to attack the edges with jet sweeps and short passes. If they can execute these early, it will open up the middle of the field for big plays.
The success of this rests in large part on the offensive line, which must keep a blitz-happy Bearcats defense away from J.T. Barrett. If the offensive line is able to do this, the Buckeyes should be able to score often.
Lock it down
This will be the toughest offense the Buckeyes have faced to date. It will also be the first time we will see how good Ohio State’s secondary is under pressure. The Bearcats are deep and talented at the receiver position and quarterback Gunner Kiel has a strong arm. Where the real concern lies is in their versatility, as they have had 12 players with receptions so far this season. Their versatility can pose some serious matchup problems, particularly for linebackers.
For Ohio State to shut down this air attack, they need to rely on a consistent pass rush by their defensive line, physical play from their secondary and constant communication from the back seven. If they can accomplish these tasks, they should be able to limit the Bearcats’ big play capabilities.
Show some swagger
Urban Meyer told reporters he wants to see more confidence from his team. Even with a team as young as the Buckeyes are it’s important they have fun and play aggressively. This is an awesome stage for their young team to go against a hungry and talented Bearcats squad. It’s important the Buckeyes start the game quickly and don’t relent until the final whistle. If they accomplish this, they should put themselves into position to win.
Overall, this should be an entertaining contest between two talented and dynamic teams. If the Buckeyes can set the pace, and knock Cincinnati’s offense off rhythm, they should do enough to win.
Special Note: Ohio State will hold a moment of silence before the game for Cincinnati running back Chamoda Kennedy-Palmore who died on Thursday in a motorcycle accident. My prayers go out to his family and friends.