Ohio State: 5 things I'd like to see from Buckeyes vs. Tulane
Ohio State completes the nonconference portion of its schedule on Saturday when the Buckeyes face Tulane (3:30 p.m. ET, Big Ten Network) at Ohio Stadium.
The game marks head coach Urban Meyer’s return to the Buckeyes sideline after his three-game suspension for his handling of domestic abuse accusations against former assistant coach Zach Smith.
As far as on-field concerns, there are a few for OSU even in a game which is expected to be a rout. So here are our 5 things we’d like to see for the Buckeyes against the Green Wave:
Plenty of rest for Nick Bosa
The All-American defensive lineman will sit out this game with an abdominal/groin strain injury he picked up last week against TCU. Bosa has sacks in six consecutive games dating to last season, so the rest of the OSU defensive line will have to pick up the slack. Fortunately for Buckeye Nation, that unit is perhaps the deepest and most talented bunch on the entire roster. They’ll be fine without him against the Green Wave. Penn State on Sept. 29 might be another matter.
Depth at running back
The Buckeyes look like they have a pretty lethal RB combo in J.K. Dobbins and Mike Weber. They are both averaging more than 6 yards a carry and have split their carries almost evenly — Dobbins has 281 yards on 46 carries and Weber has 45 attempts for 268 yards. If OSU takes a big lead, which seems likely against a Tulane squad which has not beaten a Power 5 team since 2006, the two big dogs should get plenty of rest in the second half to save them for the Penn State game.
Just as OSU will want to be winning big in the second half so Weber and Dobbins can get some rest, coaches will want the same for Dwayne Haskins, who is already a star after three games at quarterback. Backup Tate Martell was just as much fun to watch against Rutgers (10-for-10 passing for 121 yards and a score, plus 95 yards rushing and a TD) so if the Buckeyes take a big lead again, look for Martell to shine in spot duty.
Better run D
It’s astonishing that Ohio State, sixth in the nation in rush defense last year, is tied for 72nd in that category in 2018. That ranking is inexplicable when the Buckeyes defensive line is this good. TCU’s Darius Anderson ran for 154 yards on just 12 carries against OSU including a 93-yard touchdown run, the longest in Horned Frogs school history and the longest TD from scrimmage the Buckeyes have ever allowed.
Salve for special teams
The Buckeyes have just been average in the return game and 54th in the FBS in punting average. Sean Nuernberger has been a pretty reliable kicker for OSU the past four years but he missed a field goal late in the first half against TCU. Here’s one thing Nuernberger is very likely to accomplish against Tulane: His 200th career extra point. He has never missed in 199 college attempts.