When: 1:30 p.m. ET

TV: Big Ten Network


-Running back battle

The position battle getting the most attention in Columbus is at tailback, where Bri’onte Dunn and Mike Weber are “neck and neck,” according to Urban Meyer.

Many expected Weber to carve out a role as a highly touted true freshman, but an injury late in fall camp prevented that from happening. Back at full strength, Weber appears ready to make a serious push as a redshirt freshman. Dunn, on the other hand, has an obvious sense of urgency as a senior. He finally has a chance to win the job, but with 48 career carries, he doesn’t have the experience of a typical senior.

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Meyer has maintained that the starter won’t be named in the spring and that the Buckeyes could even roll out a committee approach. The dangerous Curtis Samuel is also a change-of-pace option that Meyer wouldn’t mind having. If this truly is a “neck and neck” scenario, every carry will matter.

-Austin Mack

If there’s one guy who could play as a true freshman on Day 1, it’s Austin Mack. That’s at least what it sounds like out of spring camp, where the early enrollee has shown serious promise already. Meyer said after Mack’s second day of practice that he was going to play as a true freshman. Even for a top-100 recruit, that’s high praise.

Everyone knows that the Buckeyes have a ton to replace with the losses of Mike Thomas, Braxton Miller and Jalin Marshall. With Noah Brown and Corey Smith still recovering from major leg injuries, Mack has a rare prime opportunity to establish himself as an immediate playmaker.

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Meyer is overemphasizing the passing game in an effort to get their outside weapons more involved. Mack will also have the benefit of J.T. Barrett throwing to him. That hype train can keep rolling into summer if Mack makes a few plays in front of 100,000 people.

-New-look secondary

Like they will at receiver, the Buckeyes will roll out a very different defensive backfield in 2016. Outside of Gareon Conley, everybody is competing for a starting spot.

Meyer said that Damon Webb, Damon Arnette, Denzel Ward and Malik Hooker are the candidates to win the remaining jobs. Marshon Lattimore is still working his way back from a hamstring injury, so he’ll likely be limited or inactive on Saturday but part of the rotation come fall.

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Right now, this position is the Buckeyes’ Achilles heel. While everybody would like to see J.T. Barrett look like a Heisman candidate and dice up the Buckeye secondary, that might not be a win-win scenario. Replacing playmakers like Vonn Bell, Eli Apple and Tyvis Powell won’t be easy, no matter how many four-star DBs the Buckeyes have waiting for an opportunity. They’ll have a big opportunity on Saturday.