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Previewing The Enemy: Ohio State Buckeyes

It might not be ahead of the prime-time White Out matchup we’re used to, but it’s still Ohio State week in Happy Valley.

The No. 2 Buckeyes (7-0, 4-0 Big Ten) are coming to town to take on No. 13 Penn State (6-1, 3-1 Big Ten) with major conference championship implications on the line. It’ll be the first time the Buckeyes play in front of a Beaver Stadium crowd since the infamous 27-26 finish in 2018.

Before the Stripe Out begins, let’s take a closer look at what could be the Nittany Lions’ toughest test yet.

The Team

Surprise, surprise! Ohio State is undefeated seven games into the season with a win over Notre Dame and dismantlings over Wisconsin, Iowa, Rutgers, and Michigan State. The Buckeyes are up to No. 2 in the AP Poll and have an odds-on Heisman favorite in quarterback C.J. Stroud. This is just their second away game of the season.

Ryan Day has been Ohio State’s full-time head coach since the 2019 season and has led the Buckeyes to two Big Ten titles in his three seasons at the helm, including two College Football Playoff appearances.

Kevin Wilson is in his sixth season with Ohio State and is the team’s offensive coordinator after previously serving as Indiana’s head coach. The Buckeyes’ whopping 49.6 points per game is the second-most in the country, and Stroud leads the nation in passing efficiency.

Jim Knowles is in his first season as defensive coordinator after operating in the same role at Oklahoma State for three years. His defensive front is allowing less than 150 passing yards per game, good for third in the country

Offense

Stroud, the most efficient passer in the country, is the star of the show for Ohio State. He’s completed 70% of his passes for more than 2,000 yards and a Big Ten-best 28 touchdowns through seven games.

Marvin Harrison Jr. and Emeka Egbuka are Stroud’s two biggest weapons through the air. Egbuka paces the Buckeyes with 735 receiving yards and has added seven scores on the season. Harrison’s 10 touchdowns are the most on the team.

Former Penn State commit Julian Fleming has posted six scores and 327 yards in 2022 as well. His 19.2 yards per catch lead the team.

Miyan Williams has worked his way into a star role at running back, amassing 516 yards and nine rushing touchdowns through seven games. His 6.97 yards per carry are third-best in the country. TreVeyon Henderson, however, leads the team with 80 carries but has logged 474 yards on the ground.

Cade Stover leads the way for Ohio State’s tight ends, as he’s amassed 231 yards and a pair of scores this season. Although Stover’s the only tight end consistently involved in the passing game, both Gee Scott Jr. and Mitch Rossi have a touchdown.

James Franklin said offensive lineman Dawand Jones, who was recruited by the Nittany Lions, jumps out on tape. He clocks in at 6′ 8″ and 359 pounds. The Buckeyes have allowed the least amount of sacks in the Big Ten with five.

Defense

The Buckeyes’ defensive front has been all-around impressive in 2022. Its 14.9 points allowed per game is the fifth-best mark in the country and 24.5 third-down conversion percentage is second best.

Safety Ronnie Hickman, another guy Penn State tried to recruit, is the first person that Franklin said stood out on tape. He has 23 tackles and one interception this season. Hickman is joined by Lathan Ransom, who leads the secondary in tackles with 29. He also has an interception and a forced fumble this year.

Cornerback Denzel Burke leads the team in passes defended with four and has 11 tackles this season. Safety Tanner McCalister paces the team in interceptions with four.

Ohio State’s linebackers lead the way in tackles. Tommy Eichenberg paces the group with 57 stops and has added 2.5 sacks, seven tackles for loss, and an interception. Steele Chambers is right behind him with 35 tackles and a sack to boot. The senior set a career high-mark in tackles with 11 against Rutgers.

Cody Simon rounds out the room with 26 tackles, one sack, and one pass defended. Like Hickman, Simon is a native of New Jersey. Franklin also said linebacker J.T. Tuimoloau impressed him after watching film.

Franklin noted that defensive tackle Taron Vincent stood out to the team on tape, but he is yet to record a sack this season. Fellow tackle Michael Hall Jr. leads the way with 4.5 while defensive end Javontae Jean-Baptiste has three of his own.

Hall also leads the defensive line with 15 tackles this season and leads the team with an impressive 7.5 tackles for loss. End Jack Sawyer has two sacks and 14 tackles in just his second year with the team.

Special Teams

Noah Ruggles handles the kicking for the Buckeyes, as he’s drilled all 47 of his extra points this season. Additionally, he’s 6-for-7 on field goal attempts. Sophomore Jesse Mirco does the punting for Ohio State, averaging 44.9 yards per punt, which is the fifth-best mark in the conference.

Emeka Egbuka is Ohio State’s primary return man, averaging 7.3 yards per punt return on seven tries.

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About the Author

Ryan Parsons

Ryan is a redshirt senior majoring in business and journalism from "Philadelphia" and mostly writes about football nowadays. You can follow him on Twitter @rjparsons9 or say hi via email at [email protected]

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