Ohio State football: 5 bold predictions for game against Arkansas State
A week after playing likely the marquee game in college football, Ohio State figures to have a real dozer of a game when it hosts Arkansas State on Saturday. The Red Wolves went 2-10 last year and lost to Coastal Carolina, the only ranked team they faced, by 32 points. They did open with a 58-3 win last week against Grambling, but this still figures to be easily the weakest team Ohio State faces this season (after all, Nebraska is off the schedule this year).
Still, the emotional tank for OSU has to be down a few notches after a tough fight from Notre Dame last weekend. Much of college football is emotion … but much of it is also Jimmys and Joes, and OSU has a massive edge there. Here are 5 bold predictions for OSU’s Week 2 tilt with Arkansas State.
For first time as starter, Stroud goes 2 straight weeks with sub-300 passing yards
Several odd factors make this one come to fruition. Stroud is, of course, one of the most important players in the nation. Ohio State doesn’t want to leave him out there for 4 quarters in what could be a JV game for the Buckeyes. He’s also playing with a cut-down receiving corps, with Jaxon Smith-Njigba, Julian Fleming and Kamryn Babb all questionable.
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So if he plays 2 or 2 ½ quarters, and OSU leans fairly heavily on the run game, it makes it hard for Stroud to rack up a ton of passing yards. Don’t misunderstand this as saying he has a bad game. But fewer than 20 passes wouldn’t be shocking, and with likely short fields and good runs from the backs, don’t be shocked if Stroud goes for 280 or 290 yards in the air and the holds a clipboard while the reserves play.
Henderson and Williams each go for 100
On the other hand, the running backs, who combined for just 29 carries last week, will get more opportunities. TreVeyon Henderson and Miyan Williams averaged 6.1 and 6.0 yards per carry against Notre Dame. Against an Arkansas State team that gave up 261 yards rushing per game and 6.4 per carry last year, the opportunities will be there early and often for big plays. Neither back will break 150 yards, because neither will be on the field that long, but don’t be shocked to see OSU manage the double 100s for its twin backs.
6 sacks for Buckeyes
Arkansas State struggled badly a year ago in protecting the quarterback. It allowed 48 sacks on the season, including 6 sacks in 3 different games. Horrifyingly, the Red Wolves lost 4 OL starters, so this is an inexperienced group that features a couple of transfers. Ohio State’s got way too many talented edge rushers to not have a big day against this group. Put down Tuimoloau for a couple sacks, and 4 other Buckeyes to join the party in the Arkansas State backfield.
Denzel Burke gets a pick-6
Former Florida State QB James Blackman had a big game against Grambling. But with Arkansas State likely to be behind the chains, Butch Jones’s team (yes, the former Tennessee coach, you read that right) will have to rely on Blackman time and again. And with Jim Knowles’s defense flexing its muscles a bit, look for Denzel Burke to jump a pass and nab a pick-6. Burke had a fairly quiet opener with a tackle and a pass break-up, but that won’t last long.
Ohio State wins by 50+
Arkansas State is 0-10 against B1G schools, and their last 3 games against Top 10 teams were a 55-6 loss to No. 8 USC in 2015, a 57-7 loss to No. 1 Alabama in 2018 and a 55-0 loss to No. 3 Georgia in 2019. It is entirely possible that OSU is a little unfocused, a little beaten up, and sleep-walks through this game. But after a dynamic Week 1 victory, it’s as likely that they come out and blast Arkansas State into the ground. OSU’s last 50-point win was in Week 4 against Akron last year, but they’ll reach that notch again this week.