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#3 Ohio State vs Arkansas State Game Preview

Photo by Ben Jackson/Getty Images

Ohio State overcame their first challenge of the season by defeating No. 5 Notre Dame to open up the year. Now they must tackle a new problem this week: The letdown. Every team has them, a big win one week, followed by an epic collapse the following week. We have yet to see this happen to the Ryan Day led Buckeyes, and while they aren't likely to lose their Week 2 matchup, letdowns can still happen.

Ohio State will host Arkansas State this Saturday and have entered in with the spread set at 45.5 points. Needless to say people are not expecting much out of the Red Wolves who won their week one matchup against head coach Hue Jackson's (former Cleveland Browns head coach) Grambling State 58-3.

Ohio State had lots of things go right in Game 1 of the season. The ground game was efficient, Stroud and his receivers found their rhythm, and the defense was excellent, as Tommy Eichenberg was named the Bronko Nagurski National Defensive Player of the Week, but ultimately, they dropped in every major poll in the nation because they didn't score 50 points on one of the nations best defenses. This week, Ohio State must go big, and they must never let up. We've seen it in years past where they will go up by a boatload at the half and put in the young boys to ride out the second half. That can't happen this week if Ohio State wants to garnish the respect they deserve, and the respect that the SEC gets, than they will have to push it at least through three perfect quarters this week against Arkansas State.

The Buckeyes will likely be without starting wide receiver Jaxon Smith-Njigba, who will not play unless cleared by the medical staff and at 100% per Ryan Day. This is a big hit to the offense, as we saw some early struggles from Stroud as he worked on his timing with his new receivers. Julian Fleming will be a game time decision as well.

Former Nick Saban assistant and Tennessee Volunteer head coach Butch Jones is going into his second year with the Red Wolves, who finished 2021 with a 2-10 record and finished last place in the Sun Belt conference. This year, they are a much improved team and bring in a handful of guys bound to give the Buckeyes at least a little trouble come Saturday.

Kivon Bennett is a monster pass rusher out of his defensive end spot. C.J. Stroud felt the pressure last week but was only sacked once. Bennett was a no show against Grambling last week, but rest assured, he will be looking to make his name known coming in to Columbus. The Red Wolves collected four sacks last week as a team without Bennett getting to the QB.

A very experienced quarterback in James Blackman put together a clean performance in their Week 1 game, throwing for over 200 yards and two touchdowns on 75% completion percentage. He teams up with their top wide receiver in Champ Flemings, who had seven receptions a week ago for 122 yards and a touchdown. This offense is full of weapons as they bring in former Buckeye in Johnny Lang, who was a top-100 prospect in the 2018 class.

He was dismissed from the program, but he has found his way back to the Shoe after spending four seasons with Iowa State before transferring to ASU last season. Last week, he was dominant on the ground putting up 124 yards on 13 carries, getting a touchdown, and put together an ureal 9.4 pards per carry. He is joined by a talented running back room in A.J. Mayer and Brian Sneed, who each had rushing touchdowns in Game 1.

This will be a good test for the new and improved defensive unit that showed dominance at the line of scrimmage against Notre Dame and now square off against a team that loves to run the rock but isn't afraid to send through the air as well. The linebacker core for Ohio State will need another great performance. The defensive line was led my Mike Hall Jr. last week, who had the lines only sack. He's just in his second year with the Bucks, but it looks like the Silver Bullets may have found their next elite guy on the line.

Ohio State's offense should have no problem picking apart this defense, as C.J. Stroud picked apart Notre Dame's top ranked secondary last week, and Arkansas State does not have near the talent in their secondary, so as long as the line does their job, and Ryan Day doesn't let off the gas as we've seen in the past, then the Buckeyes should come out with a 50-point victory against the Red Wolves, and C.J. Stroud will find himself right back in the conversation for that Heisman Trophy.

Final Score Prediction:

OSU 69, ASU 13

Watch and Listen:

Big Ten Network: Joshua Perry, Mark Followill, Elise Menaker

Radio 97.1 The Fan: Paul Keels, Jim Lachey, Matt Andrews

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