Ohio State football: What to expect against Oregon

The last time the Ohio State Football team played Oregon it was for a national title. Can they beat them again this season? (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
The last time the Ohio State Football team played Oregon it was for a national title. Can they beat them again this season? (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images) /

The 12th ranked Oregon Ducks visit the Ohio State football team on Saturday for a top 15 matchup. The highly anticipated game between two of college football’s premier programs takes place a year after the two schools’ scheduled date in Eugene was canceled due to the pandemic. It has been over 650 days since a full crowd has filled the ‘Shoe; what can Buckeye Nation expect to see in their return on Saturday?

Star-studded defense

Oregon brings some big-time playmakers when it comes to the defensive side of the ball. While Kayvon Thibodeaux, the presumptive top overall pick in next year’s NFL draft, rightfully headlines the unit, Oregon has stars all around the field. Brandon Dorlus complements Thibodeaux nicely on the defensive line, and Mykael Wright leads a secondary unit that is largely unproven. Noah Sewell and Justin Flowe are blue-chip talents at linebacker that are living up to expectation.

While it is still unclear whether Thibodeaux will play Saturday, how can Ohio State exploit the fastest defense they will see all season? The key lies in the backfield. With all the flash that comes from Ohio State’s wide receiver play, it’s important to remember that they are a run-first offense. Their game plan starts with establishing an edge in the trenches, which will keep those talented linebackers and edge rushers honest. If the Buckeyes’ offense can avoid long yardage and obvious passing situations, they should have no issue controlling the game, wearing down Oregon’s defensive line, and neutralizing a talented defense.

C.J. Stroud settling into the offense

Last week, I talked about how Ohio State’s carousel approach to the running back room hurt their offense. Meeting with the media on Tuesday, Ryan Day indicated that the Buckeyes offense will look to simplify the running back rotation. I’d be shocked if that meant anything but TreVeyon Henderson and Miyan Williams getting the bulk of the carries.

This should allow the offense to find more rhythm, opening up the offense for C.J. Stroud as he makes his 2nd career start. I expect this to result in a more comfortable C.J. Stroud. Fresno State’s Jake Haener threw for almost 300 yards last week, and with the weapons at Stroud’s disposable, it’s easy to see him putting up some big numbers.

Oregon has some firepower to hang around Saturday, but for how long? Senior quarterback Anthony Brown proved he was a threat to run the ball effectively Saturday and will force Ohio State to contain and tackle more reliably than they did a week ago.

CJ Verdell and Travis Dye make up a nice backfield tandem for the Ducks, but Ohio State is somewhat battle-tested after dealing with Mohamid Ibrahim last week. Kayvon Thibodeaux’s presence would certainly improve their chances, but I don’t expect Oregon to have the horses to run with Ohio State for four quarters.

Next. Ohio State Football: 3 keys to victory vs. Oregon. dark

Look for the Ohio State football team to win rather comfortably, handing Mario Cristobal’s Ducks their first loss of the season.