Will Ohio State return to form vs. WMU?
Who: Western Michigan vs. No. 1 Ohio State
When: Saturday, 3:30 p.m. ET
Where: Ohio Stadium, Ohio State
Spread: Ohio State -31.5
Matchup to watch: Eli Apple vs. Daniel Braverman
The No. 4 receiver in the country right now, Braverman has torched every DB in his path. He opened the season with a 13-catch, 109-yard game against Michigan State. He hasn’t, however, seen a cornerback like Eli Apple. For all the talk about the offensive struggles the Buckeyes have had recently, overlooked is the fact that Apple and Gareon Conley have been tremendous in coverage. According to the great Phil Steele, Ohio State has had the best pass defense in the country through three weeks. The speedy Braverman will present the toughest challenge of the season so far, but none that Apple and Co. can’t handle.
Thing I’m excited for: Confident Cardale
Let’s make one thing clear. Urban Meyer did not make that “Cardale Jones is still our starter” announcement Wednesday for the media, the fans or the boosters. He didn’t even make it for the rest of the team. That was said 100 percent for Jones’ confidence. I don’t know what’s going on in Jones’ head — nobody does — but he’s looked tentative. Part of that, I believe, is his lack of designed runs, which I wrote about in-depth. Jones also hasn’t had the same zip on his ball that he did at the end of last season. Why? Because he could be replaced after every poor throw he made. Meyer can deny that either of his guys worried about having somebody else looking over their shoulder. That won’t be an excuse anymore. We should see something more like the national championship version of Jones than the NIU version. Here’s hoping.
Number to remember: 100
That’s how many yards Darius Phillips returned a kick for against Michigan State in the season opener. Western Michigan avoided long drives against that Spartan defense and hung around because of Phillips’ returns. The Broncos are going to have to find unique ways to score against Ohio State because methodically marching down the field isn’t likely going to work against the Silver Bullets. Phillips has the ability to make 105,000 people awfully uneasy in about 12 seconds. Outside of Braverman, there might not be another Bronco capable of doing that.
Prediction: Ohio State 42, Western Michigan 7
The No. 1 team in the country finally looks like the No. 1 team in country. Bold prediction, right? I know I’ve predicted blowouts in each of the past two weeks, but so did the rest of the world. I’ll predict the revival of Cardale Jones for this one. Watching the way MSU pounded the Broncos on the ground, I wouldn’t be surprised to see Ezekiel Elliott play his best game, either. Finally, Columbus can relax.