Breaking it down: Buckeyes looking to get offense rolling vs. NIU
Who: Northern Illinois vs. No. 1 Ohio State
When: Saturday, 3:30 p.m. ET
Where: Ohio Stadium, Ohio State
Spread: OSU -34.5
Matchup to watch: Kenny Golladay vs. Eli Apple
The Northern Illinois junior is three yards away from leading the nation in receiving after Week 2. To hang with the Buckeyes in Columbus, the Huskies are going to have to take some deep shots with their big-play wideout. The Buckeyes have one of the top lockdown corners in the country to shut him down. At 6-4, Golladay has the size advantage. Nobody has been able to slow him down in the first two games because of it. Apple is big and physical enough to hold his own, and he should have plenty of over the top help from Vonn Bell. The emerging Gareon Conley might get a few looks on Golladay, too. Though if the Buckeye pass rush is able to generate pressure with four down linemen, Drew Hare isn’t going to have much time for five-step drops and deep balls to Golladay.
Thing I’m excited for: Buckeye offense on full rest
I could probably say this every week. Not that I’m making excuses for last week’s effort, but I do think the Buckeyes looked like a team playing on four days rest. There should be no excuses for Cardale Jones to come out sluggish. The offensive line that paved the way to 359 rushing yards in the opener should return to form. On a full week of practice, we might even see Braxton Miller throw the football. Urban Meyer talked about how the Buckeyes could easily go to the air out of the wildcat. You know, because the Ohio State offense was lacking playmaking options.
Number to remember: 3-0
That’s Northern Illinois’ record against its last three Big Ten opponents. Meyer said that North Illinois is like a Big Ten team. They’re one of the few mid-majors to make a BCS bowl ever and have churned out their share NFL prospects. This is still an 11-win team that returned a ton of defensive talent. Is the spread still 34.5? Yes, but the Huskies aren’t your typical non-conference cupcake.
Prediction: Ohio State 45, Northern Illinois 14
Of course all of that is mute once the Buckeyes get rolling, which will happen. It would make Buckeye fans breathe a little easier if they weren’t still sitting on 17 points in the fourth quarter. We’ll chalk that up to a short week, Jones’ first start at the shoe and a Hawaii defense that actually isn’t bad. Meyer will have the Buckeyes ready to roll early and often on Saturday.