The Nebraska Cornhuskers take on the 5th ranked Ohio State Buckeyes Saturday afternoon in a noon Big Ten showdown at The Horseshoe in Columbus, Ohio. This rivalry has been dominated by the Buckeyes in recent outings with the Cornhuskers last win coming in 2011 in a 34-27 home victory. Nonetheless, as they have done in five of their last six meetings versus Nebraska, Ohio State was able to cover in this contest as 10-point dogs. And while Nebraska was able to cover in 2018 as 17-point underdogs, the Buckeyes dominated them on the road in last season's blowout matchup as 17.5-point favorites. Currently, the line is in favor of Ohio State (-26, up from 25 at opening) while the total stands at 67.5 points, up from 64.5 points at opening.
Cornhuskers need a great start to 2020After Nebraska started their 2019 season an impressive 3-1, the Buckeyes quickly and swiftly dashed their motivated and hopes in a 41-point drubbing which saw the road team go up 28-0 at the break thanks to a dominating rushing attack behind former running back J.K. Dobbins that accumulated a whopping 371 yards on the Cornhuskers defense. Nebraska ended the season giving up 188 yards per game to opponents in 2019, ranking them 95th in the nation. In 2020, the defense will be a bit young and inexperience, particularly on the defensive line, however, the Cornhuskers will certainly rely on their talent in the secondary to prevent the big play.
Senior safety Marquel Dismuke (42 tackles), junior Cam Taylor-Britt (29 tackles, 2 INT's, 1.5 sacks, 4 ff), along with senior Dicaprio Bootle (17 tackles, ff) will be in charge of insuring that the damage from opposing passing attacks are minimal. It should be mentioned that Ohio State's QB Justin Fields went 15-21 for 212 yards along with three touchdown tosses in last year's matchup versus Nebraska. Expect the passing attack for the Buckeyes vs the secondary for Nebraska to be a competitive and interesting story line for this contest.
WE ARE BACK ☠️🎈 pic.twitter.com/OAd3GK0RG7— Nebraska Football (@HuskerFBNation) September 16, 2020
Nonetheless, the secondary will only be as effective as the pass rush up front. Much of the defensive line from 2019 has departed, leaving senior Ben Stille (13 tackles, 3 sacks) to lead a bunch that, as stated, was dismal in stopping the run last year. However, the linebacking corps possesses talented Will Honas (41 tackles, 1 sack) along with Collin Miller (36 tackles, sack, 2 ff) as they will attempt to utilize their experience to assist in the maturing of the team's young defensive line.
Offensively, Adrian Martinez will be the man under center in 2020 as he is coming off a season to where he started ten games for the Cornhuskers. However, he must have a much more efficient campaign this year as he completed less than 60% of his passes for just under 2000 yards in addition to posting ten touchdowns alongside a dismal nine picks. Must note that Martinez threw three of those picks versus the Buckeyes in 2019 while completing just 47% of his passes for a total of 47 yards. Wan'Dale Robinson (453 yds, 5 TD's) should be his favorite target after J.D. Spielman (898 yds, 5 Td's) transferred to TCU. Robinson serves as a duel threat at receiver as well as at running back and will certainly be utilized throughout the contest.
Fortunately, Nebraska has a veteran offensive line to which running back Dedrick Mills (868 yds, 10 TD's) can locate some holes. Important to note that the Cornhuskers had the 30th ranked rushing attack in the country last year. Also, Nebraska put in 184 rushing yards in last year's matchup with Martinez and Mills combining for around 150 for the contest.
Buckeyes' offense will lead the way in 2020Behind QB Justin Fields who threw for a just under 3000 yards in 2019 along with throwing for a remarkable 40 touchdown tosses next to just one pick (68% completion rate), the Buckeyes seek to overwhelm Nebraska's defense early and often in this contest. Important to note that the junior rushed for 471 yards (4 ypc) for a total of ten rushing touchdowns as well. Junior Master Teague III (840 yds, 4 TD's) is all set to become the feature back for an Ohio State rushing attack that racked up a total of 273 yards per game last season, ranking them 5th in the nation.
The passing attack will miss the services of K.J.Hill along with Binjimin Victory, who departed for the NFL; However, Chris Olave (799 yds, 11 TD's) along with Garrett Wilson (385 yds, 5 TD's) are each primed to give defenses headaches this year.
🗣 Introducing “Voices,” a new web series empowering our student-athletes to use their platforms.— Ohio State Football (@OhioStateFB) October 15, 2020
In Episode 1, the Buckeyes spoke out to help bring back the 2020 season, redefining the culture of #Fight. #GoBuckeyes
🎥 Watch the full episode: https://t.co/HZdEYwex6X pic.twitter.com/0W1MHueq6N
Defensively, the Buckeyes were one of the best in the nation in ranking in the top six in the nation all just about all major defensive categories. However, after losing Chase Young, Jeff Okudah, and Damon Arnette to the NFL, the Buckeyes will be seeking someone to step up within their young secondary, that is aside from senior Shaun Wade, who recorded 17 tackles, two sacks, and two forced fumbles in 11 starts in 2019. However, the onslaught on Martinez and the offense in Ohio State's blowout win last season started up front with pressure from the defensive line and linebacking corps.
One can expect the Buckeyes to possess one of the best defensive lines in the country with Zach Harrison (13 tackles, 3.5 sacks) leading the charge while end Jonathan Cooper also seeks to put his injured past behind to become much more of a critical piece for Ohio State. The linebacking corps will also get after Nebraska's offense with Tuf Borland (25 tackles, INT, sack) and Baron Browning (24 tackles, 4 sacks) on the prowl.
Stats & Trends
- Cornhuskers are 0-4 ATS in their last 4 games in October.
- Cornhuskers are 1-4 ATS in their last 5 road games.
- Cornhuskers are 2-7 ATS in their last 9 games overall.
- Buckeyes are 5-1 ATS in their last 6 games as a home favorite.
- Buckeyes are 9-3 ATS in their last 12 games as a favorite.
- Buckeyes are 9-3 ATS in their last 12 conference games.
While Nebraska certainly have some strengths working in their favor that may allow them to be competitive in this contest early on, the fact is that the Buckeyes are experienced and talented on both sides of the ball. And much like they were able to consistently bring the pressure to Martinez and the passing game for Nebraska last year, expect the same type of philosophy in this contest from Harrison along with Borland and Browning within the linebacking corps.
Despite Fields throwing for just 212 yards in last year's matchup, he posted three touchdowns while also rushing for 72 yards and a rushing score as well. In fact, the team only needed a punishing rushing attack to take out the Cornhuskers in the contest. Expect Ohio State to dominate in the trenches versus a young defensive front to get their running game going early versus Nebraska. In all, look for the Buckeyes to pull away and cover the points in their first game of 2020.