Ninth-ranked Ohio State hopes to gain back some confidence on both sides of the ball after a dispiriting loss as it hosts unbeaten Army on Saturday in the first meeting between the schools. The Buckeyes have allowed 806 yards through the air in their first two contests of the season, including 386 in a 31-16 loss to Oklahoma last Saturday in which they permitted 28 second-half points.
While the team’s pass defense needs some fixing, Buckeyes coach Urban Meyer is concerned about the passing offense, which has not been able to provide a consistent compliment to a rushing attack that could be more formidable as the season goes on. “It’s not one thing,” Meyer told reporters. “It’s several things. I have some ideas that we’re going to work on as a staff.” Freshman J.K. Dobbins has rushed for 253 yards in his first two games to lead Ohio State while sophomore Mike Weber (1,096 yards rushing last year) still is being nagged by a hamstring injury, but Army can match the Buckeyes on the ground. The Black Knights are averaging 417.5 rushing yards, with senior quarterback Ahmad Bradshaw (324 yards) leading the way, but will face an Ohio State defense that has given up a total of 121 over its first two games.
TV: 4:30 p.m. ET, FOX. LINE: Ohio State -30.5
ARMY (2-0): The Black Knights rallied for 14 points in the fourth quarter last week to edge Buffalo 21-17, getting a pair of touchdowns from junior running back Darnell Woolfolk (186 yards rushing in 2017). Bradshaw and Woolfolk both have scored three times this season while coach Jeff Monken told reporters the team “just gutted out” the win over Buffalo and were better fundamentally in the second half. Senior linebacker Alex Aukerman (nine tackles, two sacks) and sophomore defensive back Jaylon McClinton (10 tackles, one sack, one interception) lead Army’s defense.
OHIO STATE (1-1): Senior quarterback J.T. Barrett has not been as sharp as he was earlier in his career, completing 39-of-70 passes with three touchdowns and one interception, and offensive coordinator Kevin Wilson told reporters, “We have to put him in better situations.” Weber, who still is not 100 percent according to Meyer, gained 29 yards on three carries against Oklahoma after missing the opener while Barrett has added 127 rushing yards. Junior wide receiver Parris Campbell has made nine catches for 163 yards and one touchdown while sophomore K.J. Hill had a career-best five receptions last week.
1. Barrett needs 132 passing yards to become the third Ohio State quarterback to reach 7,000 in his career.
2. Army, which has recorded just 17 yards passing this season, has received 11 rushing touchdowns from six different players.
3. Ohio State senior LB Chris Worley finished with a career-high 11 tackles in the loss to Oklahoma.
PREDICTION: Ohio State 38, Army 14