College Football Game of the Week: Ohio State vs. Oregon
This weekend, Ohio State and Oregon will matchup in a pivotal non-conference showdown at The Horseshoe in Columbus, Ohio. The defending conference champions will face each other for the first time since the first ever College Football Playoff game back in 2015.
Both teams come into this game after beating their opponents last week, but these wins were not void of fretful moments.
The Buckeyes beat Minnesota 45-31 after an electrifying second half performance by freshman quarterback CJ Stroud. After trailing 14-10 at half, Stroud threw four touchdowns in the second half to secure the win.
Stroud found his primary target, senior wideout Chris Olave, four times for 117 yards and two touchdowns. This passing performance, paired with running back Miyan Williams’ 125 yards on the ground, once again establishes the dominating force that is Ohio State football.
On the other side, Oregon survived a late push by Fresno State to win 31-24 last Saturday. The Ducks were in control until the third quarter when Fresno State picked up its scoring.
With the game being tied 24-24 late in the fourth quarter, quarterback Anthony Brown took off for a 30-yard touchdown run that ultimately was the game winning score. Brown threw for 172 yards and a touchdown and rushed for 56 yards and one rushing touchdown. The big target for the Ducks was Johnny Johnson III, who tallied three catches for 76 yards and a touchdown.
This is the biggest matchup of the year for Oregon as they play a pretty weak Pac-12 schedule moving forward, with the exception of UCLA. The biggest test for the Ducks will be on the defensive side of the ball. With the possibility of their Joker, Kayvon Thibodeaux, being out for Saturday's game, their defense will have to come together to shut down the big play producing offense of the Buckeyes.
During his Monday press conference, Ducks defensive coordinator Tim DeRuyter said: “I am not sure I have faced two wideouts on the same team who are as good as Olave and Wilson.” The Ducks’ speed and pressure defensive scheme will be important for getting to Stroud and forcing mistakes, but they need to be more balanced in the secondary to combat the threat of the Buckeyes passing game.
Ohio State will have to deal with the quick and fluid offense that Oregon has been known for. The Buckeyes will rely heavily on their front seven to get pressure on and force mistakes from this RPO style offense. Oregon’s offense relies heavily on making people miss in the open field, which is a place Ohio State will need to improve upon after a few key defensive mistakes in the open field against Minnesota.
Both teams have an electrifying style of play that is sure to be shown off. The key in this game will be the question of who can stop the big plays, which ultimately comes down to the defensive play of both teams.
With both teams boasting mobile quarterbacks who can move almost anywhere on the field to make a big play, containing the quarterback and capitalizing with strong front sevens will ultimately decide the outcome of this game.
Charlie Murray is a second-year majoring in sports journalism. To contact him email firstname.lastname@example.org.