A top-25 battle with early College Football Playoff implications kicks off early Saturday afternoon: Ohio State vs Oregon.
The second week of the 2021 college football season features a marquee matchup of reigning conference champions. No. 3 Ohio State plays host to No. 12 Oregon at Columbus, Ohio’s Ohio Stadium in what should be one of the biggest games of the day. For the first time since the 2015 College Football Playoff championship game, the Buckeyes and Ducks will meet on the gridiron. These are two proud programs with great histories. Getting them to start the day is a massive win for college football fans. However, history has shown this series has been a one-sided affair.
Ohio State enters this early-season game having won all nine of the previous meetings between the two schools, though the first five came between 1958 and 1968. This will be only the fifth time the schools have met since the 1983 season.
Ohio State overcame a slow start in its opener against Minnesota last week, pulling away in the second half to win 45-31. It was a similar story for the Ducks, which had a tough time in a 31-24 win over Fresno State. Without a 30-yard touchdown run from quarterback Anthony Brown in the final three minutes, Oregon was flirting with going to overtime with the Bulldogs.
Ohio State vs. Oregon: Need to know
Can C.J. Stroud take a step forward? One of the reasons Ohio State got off to a slow start vs. the Gophers was that new quarterback C.J. Stroud needed time to settle down. It wasn’t a shock to see a player look nervous while making their first career start in a hostile road environment and Stroud looked off on his early throws. He was overthrowing open receivers and it cost the Buckeyes early.
In the second half, Ohio State did a better job of giving Stroud easier throws to an impressive array of weapons and then let them do the work. Receiver Chris Olave picked up a bunch of yardage after the catch on two touchdown receptions and freshman running back TreVeyon Henderson went 71 yards to the house on a screen. I’d expect the Buckeyes to take a similar approach with Stroud to ease him into the game and then work in some deep shots after he settles in.
Oregon may rely on rushing: Minnesota had a clear strategy against Ohio State: keep the Buckeyes’ offense off the field. That’s why Minnesota ran the ball 50 times and it was effective even if they averaged only 4.1 yards per carry. The game plan gave the Gophers a chance to win and I think Oregon will take a similar approach on the road. With Brown at QB, the Ducks aren’t built to get in a passing shootout, so expect to see more of running backs C.J. Verdell and Travis Dye.
Kayvon Thibodeaux’s status: One of the worst moments of the opening weekend was seeing Oregon’s star defensive end suffer an ankle injury. You never want to see anybody get hurt, but losing a player who might be the No. 1 pick in the draft next spring takes on added significance, particularly ahead of a huge game. Oregon coach Mario Cristobal said this week that Thibodeaux is “day-to-day” with the ankle sprain. If Thibodeaux isn’t able to go on Saturday, it’ll be a severe blow to Oregon’s chances of slowing down the Ohio State offense.
How to watch Ohio State vs Oregon live
Date: Saturday, September 11 | Time: 12 p.m. ET
Location: Ohio Stadium — Columbus, OH
TV: Fox | Live stream: fuboTV (Try for free)
The hook is scary, but I expect a big performance from the Buckeyes. They struggled for a time last week, but it was the first game of the season and it was on the road. Returning home with a game under their belt, the offense won’t take as long to find a groove. And Oregon just isn’t explosive enough offensively to keep up for the entire 60 minutes. Prediction: Ohio State (-14.5)