The 2016 season is finally here. All of the prognostication within the various football preview magazines will be laid to the side. College football returns in all its glory and splendor in Ohio Stadium at 12pm EST, televised by The Big Ten Network, with Bowling Green taking on the Ohio State Buckeyes.
September 3rd is shaping up to be one of the best in terms of overall quality games ~ Oklahoma takes on Houston. UCLA travels to Texas A&M. LSU will venture to the not-so frozen tundra of Lambeau Field to play Wisconsin. Alabama and USC highlight the prime time contest on Saturday night.
Personally, I believe Ohio State is taking on a perfect opponent in Bowling Green. Yes, playing a high-profile opponent is appealing, but Bowling Green is a decent team that will challenge this very talented but very inexperienced Ohio State squad. In my estimation, this is the kind of opponent that is just what the doctor ordered.
Bowling Green is no stranger to Ohio Stadium, having played in 1992, 1997, 2003, and 2006. While the 1997 and 2006 games were comfortable wins for the Buckeyes, the 1992, and especially the 2003 games, were not. Urban Meyer left Bowling Green for Utah prior to the 2003 season, but left behind a talented team that outplayed the Buckeyes in every respect except the final score. Urban Meyer will be preaching that message to every member of his coaching staff and team leading up to this contest. Bowling Green defeated Indiana in 2014, and won on the road at Maryland and at Purdue in 2015. Ohio State cannot, and should not, take Bowling Green lightly.
There are three distinct areas I will be focusing upon when toe meets leather in Ohio Stadium at 12pm…
- Ohio State LT Jamarco Jones ~ Jones won the starting left tackle position coming out of spring practice. A highly-touted recruit, Jones has played sparingly in 2014 and 2015, and was groomed to replace Taylor Decker at this spot. How will Jones do at protecting quarterback J.T. Barrett's blind side?
- Ohio State WR Noah Brown ~ Brown returns to action for the first time since the 2014 season. While Brown was the talk of fall camp in 2015, Ohio State fans should be excited to see if Brown can live up to the expectations that have built up over the past year.
- The rebuilt Ohio State secondary ~ Gareon Conley returns at one cornerback, but all of the other players listed on the depth chart for Bowling Green will be making their first start. With a Bowling Green offense that will be throwing the football early and often, led by experienced quarterback James Knapke, how well the Ohio State secondary covers and tackles will be of paramount interest.
Ohio State has listed eighteen freshmen on its initial depth chart. This is a young team, but as former Ohio State head coach John Cooper liked to say, "If a dog is going to bite you, it will bite you as a pup...". While there may be some mistakes made, look for this team to fly around on the field and to wreak havoc. Bowling Green will keep it interesting for a while, but Ohio State's superior speed and depth will be too much for the Falcons in the second half. I have it Ohio State 42, Bowling Green 17.