top of page

Air Raid Incoming - #6 Ohio State vs Western Kentucky Game Preview and Betting Line

2023 Ohio State University

After another week where the Buckeyes fell in the Associated Press Top 25 following a win, the Scarlet and Gray get set to take the field again at home against yet another team that presents a unique challenge. This time it's the Hilltoppers of Western Kentucky who are off to a (2-0) start to the season with dominant offensive showings through the first two weeks of the year.

The Hilltoppers quarterback Austin Reed has just shy of 600 passing yards and seven touchdowns with no interceptions in what has been a high scoring start to the year. The Hilltoppers have posted an incredible 93 points in just two weeks with wins against South Florida and Houston Christian. While these may not seem like the most difficult opponents to take down, it does go to show what the WKU offense is capable of.

Western Kentucky took on two Power Five teams a season ago in Indiana and Auburn. They lost both games, but took Indiana to overtime and was in a one-score game at the half against Auburn. Austin Reed led the game in passing yards in both games. This will not be a new stage for Reed and the Hilltoppers, so don't expect an easy game for the Buckeyes this weekend. However, this is the first road game of the year for WKU and they picked up three of their five losses a year ago in road games. Two of their seven road games went to overtime.

The Buckeyes through two weeks of play have held opponents to a staggering five points per game, which is the second best in the nation, and just 191 yards per game, which is the fourth best in the nation. However, they have done this against slow paced running oriented offenses in Indiana and Youngstown State. Two teams who came in with the game plan of keeping the ball away from Ohio State and force the game into a low scoring affair. A game plan that worked as Ohio State was held to their lowest point total through two weeks since 2008. Don't expect the same game this week as WKU prioritizes throwing the football and relies on explosive plays to pick up the win. This game is likely to be higher scoring than previous games this season as both teams should have far more possessions than what the Buckeyes have seen this season.

Kyle McCord was named the full time starter after the win over YSU and as a result should finally be able to create some much needed chemistry with his entire offense now that he is not splitting drives with Devin Brown. Through two weeks of the season and less than fifteen drives under his belt McCord has thrown for around 500 yards on 64% completion, with three touchdowns and one interception. Despite the struggles of Ohio State's offensive line through two weeks he has yet to be sacked.

This will be the first meeting between Ohio State and Western Kentucky despite the two schools being separated by less than 400 miles. They are around the same distance apart as Ohio State and Illinois. This weeks game is scheduled to kickoff at 4:00 p.m. ET on FOX. The betting line has Ohio State favored at -29.0 with an over/under of 64.5.

Game Preview:

While the Hilltoppers may be all about offense, they are not bad on defense either. This game won't quite be a Big 12 level air-raid showcase, but both teams are likely to rack up some yardage. With an increase in passing by the Hilltoppers, both teams see more possessions as a result of the clock stopping for incompletions. As a result, expect to see both teams hit the scoreboard in the first quarter in Columbus. But, the Buckeyes will hit at least once more than the Hilltoppers and lead 17-7 after the first quarter.

WKU is not a team that will go quietly into the night, expect a big time response after a double digit deficit. Buckeye fans will get a good look at this new and "improved" secondary for Ohio State, as well as seeing whether or not the defensive line apply pressure to the quarterback. Either way the Buckeyes should be able to keep up on offense even if the defense struggles in their first game against a passing attack. At the halftime break the Buckeyes should be leading 31-17.

People will likely be doubting the Buckeyes as they enter the second half as they have all year, but this is where the game turns around for the scarlet and gray. We've seen in years past Ryan Day's ability to light a spark under his team out of the halftime break. With the experience of multiple big time games and big time losses under both his and his coordinators belts, Day should be able to bring out a whole new level that we saw just once during his tenure in the loss to Georgia last season. With a new intensity and settled down defense the Buckeyes pitch the second half shutout gathering multiple sacks and forcing at least one turnover. The offense flourishes with the help of their defense and the Buckeyes should be sending in the second unit early into the fourth quarter.

Prediction: Ohio State wins 55-17

The Buckeyes have been slow on both sides of the ball this season. The defense hasn't been able to get off the field on third downs and the offense can't convert on third down. These will both continue to be big story lines throughout the year, especially with Notre Dame next week and the upcoming conference slate of games right behind that. But here against the Hilltoppers they should have a better chance to do both of those against a pass heavy team that doesn't have a great defense.

Betting Line: -29.0 | O/U 64.5

As my prediction suggests, I would take the spread in favor of Ohio State and take the over of 64.5 points. The spread is the only one of those that I don't have total confidence in. The Buckeyes have had some struggles putting up huge points on offense through the first two weeks. However, I think they've got their best chance to do so this week. WKU is allowing 23 points a game and they haven't faced anyone good so far this season. Their defense is huge problem for them this season. A big part of that is the pace of their offense, which doesn't focus on time of possession, but instead puts an emphasis on number of possessions. As a result of that increase in possessions both of these teams will see the field plenty and Ohio State should be able to score. The only question mark will be can WKU score the ball enough to cover the spread. I think either way the over of 64.5 feels pretty safe. The Buckeyes should hit at least 40 points and that leaves 25 points unaccounted for between the two teams. Four touchdowns is not a huge ask with these two high powered offense.

How to Watch

  • TV: 4:00 p.m. ET, FOX

- Jason Benetti (play-by-play), Brock Huard (analysis), Allison Williams (sideline)

  • Radio: 97.1 (The Fan) WBNS-FM/1460 AM

- Paul Keels (play-by-play), Jim Lachey (analysis), Matt Andrews (sideline)



Post: Blog2_Post
bottom of page