After the longest off-season in Ohio State football history, the fifth-ranked Buckeyes will host Nebraska in their 2020 season opener on Saturday afternoon. FOX will have coverage with National Telecast.
As always, we have our Ten Pressing questions to prepare you for today’s game. We will provide the answer in our First Look column. here is my:
1. “How has Justin Fields improved and developed his game? – Fields is about to return to the top of the 2019 Heisman Trophy race. He accounted for 51 touchdowns (41 passes, 10 rushing) against just three interceptions a year earlier. We are not sure what he can do to take his game to another level, but we are watching him closely against Nebraska.
* 2. Who is at quarterback after Fields? – OSU coach Ryan Day has not cracked his hands to see whether seniors Gunnar Hoke or freshmen CJ Stroud or Jack Miller will be off the bench to replace Fields. If the Buckeyes – a 26-point favorite Roll on the Hawkers – can build a big lead, you know that De Penn wants to come out of the loss with the biggest game of the season next week against State. So there is some intrigue.
4. “How is Master Teague and Trey going behind the discourse? – Will Teague get the start or does Sermon – who was only called to relocate from Oklahoma when Teague suffered an Akilis injury in March – call? How will the vehicles break down? How will they be used? Many questions will be answered with this on Saturday.
4. * How will OSU’s new players be affected by fourteen squares? – OSU had an unprecedented race of four national top 100 wide receivers in the 2020 class with Jackson Smith-Najiba, Julian Fleming, G. Scott Jr. and Mookie Cooper. Of course, Chris Olave, Garrett Wilson and Jameson Williams are all returning to start vs. Nebraska. There is only one football. Who’s gonna catch it?
5. 5. How does OSU’s new offensive line take hold? – Thayer Munford is healthy from left tackle, All-American Wyatt Davis is back at right guard and center Josh Myers has also returned. Nicholas Petit-Frere stepped in the right tackle and Harry Miller stepped in the left guard. What roles will Paris Johnson and Dawand Jones play for the Buckeyes?
* 6. Can OSU pressurize without Chez Young? – Young was an All-American defensive end for the Buckeyes last year. Zach Harrison seems to have the highest ceiling, but Tyrek Smith, Jonathan Cooper and others are eager to break out of Young’s shadow and become a leader for the defense. Nebraska QB Adrian Martinez threw three interceptions in last year’s game Lincoln, with OSU winning 48-7. Can Bakay be reunited after that?
7. * Who plays in a defensive game? – Defensive tackle spots are wide open. It looks like Tommy Togia and Antwan Jackson can start 2019 with backup Haskell Garrett coming back from a gunshot wound and Tarn Vincent from injury. Garrett and Vincent were not mentioned in Friday’s status report, so perhaps they are actually ready to play.
8. * What does the OSU defensive plan look like? – Kerry Coombs replaces Jeff Halfley as coordinator, although co-coordinator Greg Mattison is back on the OSU staff for a second year. Have the Buckeyes kept a high-security look over the past year or do they go back to the standard two-corner, two-safety look?
9. “Is Sean Wade Ready for Prime Time? – Wade was OSU’s slot corner last year. He returned to play from the outside corner and showed that he deserved to be a first-round NFL draft pick, as was Jeff Okudah and Damon Ernett this past year. Nebraska WR Van’Dell Robinson gave figures to give Wade some fit on Saturday (or not).
# 10. Which new players are ready to make an impact this season? – Everyone gets a free season of eligibility in this strange year, so coaches will not hesitate to play young people early and often.
* Bonus Question No. 1: What would the atmosphere be like without fans at Ohio Stadium? – There will be less than 2,000 people inside Horseshoe on Saturday as the Big Ten begins its season without fans in the stands. Only coaches and players’ families as well as support personnel and some media members (including me, allowed to start their 26th season on the job) will be allowed to attend.
* Bonus Question No. 2: Is Ohio State a National Championship contender? – Clemson and Alabama have already had a few weeks to brand themselves as clear runners in the race for the college football playoffs. Ohio State cannot jump into the race with a game, but Bakaye still needs to take care of his business against a squad they are in favor of strangling. Has Nebraska improved? Is Ohio State ready for the new season? You will get all these answers and more after Saturday’s game.
We will tell you how they do it. Enjoy the game and see Bucknut.com later today for all the coverage.
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