The Oklahoma Sooners take on the Ohio State Buckeyes during prime time on Saturday evening, and who better to help us get to know the Buckeyes than Land-Grant Holy Land’s managing editor, Alexis Chassen? Here’s what Alexis had to say about Ohio State and other stuff.
1. Ohio State looked a bit vulnerable on both sides of the ball in the first half before dominating down the stretch against Indiana. Is there any part of last Thursday's performance that truly has Ohio State fans worried?
The biggest concern is the deep passing game on offense and the secondary on defense. Quarterback J.T. Barrett overthrew a couple of passes, but some gimmie-type touchdowns were negated due to drops – notably by Parris Campbell (even though he did make up for it in the second half). Since the receivers were an issue last season for the Buckeyes too, I think fans are a little more hesitant to see how the offense develops over the next few games. The defense has always been OSU’s bread and butter, so the “Next Man Up” mantra holds true for the cornerbacks and safeties.
2. The matchup between Ohio State's defensive line and Oklahoma's offensive line is going to one of the best position battles in college football this season. What should Oklahoma fans know about tOSU's defensive line, and what are some names to remember for Saturday?
Ohio State’s defensive line returns the most firepower from last season. Against Indiana, Sam Hubbard and Dre’Mont Jones combined for nine hurries, four hits and a sack. Not to mention reigning Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year Tyquan Lewis, who racked up 2.0 sacks against IU. Those three playmakers are followed closely by young guys Nick Bosa and Jonathan Cooper, who can come in and disrupt things without any misstep.
3. Are there any particular matchups that Ohio State likely thinks it can exploit on Saturday? Which position group are you most confident can succeed for Ohio State?
This will be a chance for the next round of secondary talent to step up, similar to the group last year. Mayfield is a good quarterback, but he also threw two interceptions against the Buckeyes last season. If Kendall Sheffield and Jordan Fuller can follow-up on their Week 1 performance, they might be the next ones to force a Sooner turnover.
In terms of exploiting though, I’d have to say the running backs could be a big problem for Oklahoma’s d-line. Mike Weber wasn’t even on the field in Week 1 for the Buckeyes and they still claimed 292 rushing yards – No. 19 among FBS schools. Oklahoma had the No. 32 best rushing defense in Week 1, so it won’t be a cakewalk, but with both Weber and true freshman J.K. Dobbins getting carries, the rushing attack will be a big focus of the Ohio State offense.
4. Are Ohio State fans worried at all about this game? How much of a challenge do most folks up there think it'll be for tOSU, and does last season's result factor into that at all?
Last year’s results have a bit of the opposite effect. Ohio State is no stranger to teams out looking for revenge, and more than once has failed to stop it from happening. A big factor for this game is that it’s at home which will be a huge help for the Buckeyes, not to mention it’s the home opener which means for exaggerated fanfare and pomp anyway. Fans aren’t exactly expecting a trouncing, but do think it’ll be a hard fought 60 minutes to victory.
5. What makes a game day in Columbus unique, and what's your favorite thing about the game day atmosphere?
Is everything a little too broad? Seriously though, Ohio State’s campus on game day is special. There’s an undeniable energy that envelopes you from the second you park your car and join the sea of Scarlet and Gray heading toward the The ‘Shoe for a few (or 12) hours of tailgating before kickoff. The best part is the Skull Session at St. John Arena -- The Best Damn Band In The Land (ya, I said it) performs and someone from the team speaks to fans, before they all head over to the stadium to suit-up.
6. Folks who are traveling up to Columbus from Oklahoma and further south will want to know where to eat and drink. Where should folks head for their first meal in Columbus, and where should they go on a Friday night to enjoy themselves? Where should people go to find good local beer, and where should they go if they're trying to get wild?
One of the best things about Ohio State’s campus is that most food places are open until 4 a.m. and it’s absolutely magical. Most of the food on campus though is best at 4 a.m. for a reason, so I’d stick to places around campus first.
South of campus, along High St, is the Short North. There is a wide variety of food options from upscale (Hyde Park) to quick bite (White Castle) and a plethora of bars. For those Sooners who want to sample a little of what the local Columbus beer scene has to offer, a good start close to the campus area would be North High Brewing and Seventh Son just to the east of campus. Other great options not too far from campus to check out would be Four String Brewing in Grandview and Land Grant Brewing (no affiliation with this wonderful blog) in Franklinton. If you don’t want to venture that far from campus (or are staying somewhere on Olentangy River Rd) you can check out the Lennox Shopping Center, which features a few restaurants (Champps, Johnny Rockets), a movie theatre, coffee shop and shopping options.
7. Once game day arrives, where will OU fans find the best tailgating?
Well, this weekend will be a bit more chaotic than normal. Ohio State has undertaken a big renovation project that will impact parking and making your way to the stadium. Most importantly, the Polo Lot is closed and so is North Cannon Drive between 10th and 12th avenue (so you can’t cut through the Medical Center campus).
This construction will likely force a lot of tailgating to the lots around Ohio Stadium. Fans trying to get to campus would probably be better off taking the Ackerman Rd exit and parking in those lots right off the freeway (tons of signs to get you to the right place). There are usually always little hubs of people for both teams, and these lots are where the big trailers and serious tailgaters park. LOOK FOR AN OU FLAG – I’m sure you’ll find one!
8. Outside of eating, drinking and football-related stuff, what else is there to do in Columbus?
Eating, drinking and football are like the holy trinity of Columbus, but there are some other things to do. There is a highly recommended Segway tour of downtown Columbus – yes, even locals do it and love it – and the Columbus Zoo is just north of campus for a family friendly adventure.
9. What are some fun facts about The Ohio State University and the football program that you think Oklahoma fans should be made aware of?
Urban Meyer has been at Ohio State since 2012, and led the team to a 12-0 inaugural season, and is 62-6 during his time with the Buckeyes. The only better winning percentage of his career was during his two-year stint at Utah (22-2).
The halftime show is bound to be epic for the home-opener. Not only will it – as always – feature TBDBITL, but they’ve been known to throw a little (or a lot) of shade during their performances too. And you can expect them to have some type of retort for Clemson’s band’s mediocre attempt of a jab during Week 1.
10. We know that both of these schools obviously have rich football tradition, but I'm ready for some smack talk. In your personal opinion, what makes Ohio State football better than Oklahoma football?
Urban. Freaking. Meyer. I mean, it all starts with him, but he brings incredible assistants, a recruiting acumen that gets better every season, and the best damn fans in the land. Being a Buckeye isn’t just something we proclaim on Saturday, it’s engrained so deep in our veins that we live it 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. Plus we won the FIRST CFP National Championship, and are about to win another one in just a few months!
11. By how much does Oklahoma win, and why?
Ummmm, Ohio State is going to win, because it’s the 2017 home opener and Meyer and staff had a few extra days to prepare for this matchup, since they played on Thursday last week.
12. Having experienced something similar back in 2010, did the citizens of Ohio sympathize with Oklahomans after Kevin Durant decided to become a cupcake and run away?
Deep, deep – deep, deep – down I think there was definitely sympathy about Durant’s decision, but Cavs fans took so much crap about being upset when Bron Bron left that some fans had a bit of a “ha – it’s not us this time” reaction. Although, Durant going to the Golden State Warriors was a bit of a kick in the crotch for Cleveland fans too.
13. If Ohio State could schedule a home-and-home series with any program in the country, who would you want them to choose?
I’d love a home-and-home with Florida because rubbing in the fact that Ohio State has Urban Meyer now is always a good time, plus if their game against Michigan was any indication, it wouldn’t be too nerve-wracking leading up to the matchup.
14. How much does Michigan suck, and why?
They are the worst! Their head coach wears the worst khakis, has sleepovers with recruits, and stars in super bizarre rap videos. Plus, he protects his depth chart better than the offensive line protects their quarterback.
15. Same question, but with Texas this time.
Texas sucks pretty badly too (and in a whole other way from how they actually played in Week 1 – yikes!). I’m still bitter about the home loss to Texas in 2005 (which ruined my plans for the evening, by the way). Aside from that, I still kind of support Tom Herman, but clearly he’s in for a much bigger challenge than he faced at Houston.