Ohio State football: Buckeyes must win battles in trenches against Michigan
All week long, our Land of 10 reporters following the Buckeyes will address pressing questions on the minds of the Ohio State fan base with our new daily feature. To ask Austin Ward a question, follow along on Twitter and suggest a topic right here. Check back Monday through Friday as we dive into the Ohio State Question of the Day. Go here to see all of our previous answers.
What part of the Buckeyes’ game are you concerned could be a blind spot/weakness against TTUN?
— Nick Frankowski (@NickFrankowski) November 20, 2017
On paper, Ohio State looks equipped at just about every position to handle what Michigan will throw its way on Saturday. There’s a reason, after all, that the Buckeyes are heading up there as a double-digit favorites. But I do think there is a position group with something to prove and a massive challenge on deck. And while the offensive line has once again built itself into a powerful, reliable unit, it has to be on top of its game against a talented Michigan front that already has piled up 36 sacks this season.
The Buckeyes have proven they can handle themselves against top-flight rush defenses, including a dominant performance just two weeks ago in the blowout of Michigan State. And with tailbacks in Mike Weber and J.K. Dobbins running wild lately and quarterback J.T. Barrett efficiently operating the zone-read attack behind Billy Price and the rest of the physical offensive line, there’s no reason to expect that Ohio State won’t generate rushing yardage. The real test will be in passing situations and ensuring that Barrett has clean pockets, doesn’t get hit and has time to throw downfield.
Ohio State has done that quite well this season, and heading into the matchup at the Big House, no Big Ten team has allowed fewer sacks than the 16 it has given up through 11 games. But the league’s two most prolific pass-rushing teams happen to be the last ones on the schedule for the Buckeyes, with the Wolverines checking in one spot behind Wisconsin — with the West Division champion awaiting in Indianapolis with the Big Ten title on the line.
The true measuring stick is how a unit performs in the biggest games against the best opponents. And that puts Ohio State’s offensive line squarely under the microscope with the stakes currently at their highest.
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