Back to back Big 10 road games for the Cornhuskers. Last year, Nebraska lost 5 games by a total of 30 points. This year, Nebraska has won four games by a total of 32 points (Oregon, Northwestern, Indiana and Purdue).
Nebraska enters this game averaging 32 points per game and has had a very balanced offensive attack rushing for 204 yards per game along with passing for 225 yards per game. Led by quarterback Tommy Armstrong Jr, Nebraska’s offense can stretch defenses vertically and pound them between the tackles with their heavy offensive line.
Armstrong is completing 53% of his passes for 1,764 yards with 11 touchdowns and 7 interceptions. Armstrong struggled last year in the first year in Mike Reilly’s offensive scheme. The team was -12 in turnover margin and much of that came on Armstrong who threw 16 interceptions in 2015. However, the offensive staff forced him into becoming a pocket passer which took away from his athletic ability as a quarterback. Last year, he rushed for 400 yards with 7 rushing touchdowns. This season, the offense is more productive and entering this game, Armstrong has utilized his legs outside the pocket. On the year, he has rushed for 419 yards with 7 rushing scores.
Nebraska has rushed for 153 yards per game in the team’s last three games against Indiana, Purdue and Wisconsin. They must be able to run the football on Saturday night to dictate the tempo and keep the Buckeyes offense off of the field.
Running back Terrell Newby is leading the team with 588 rushing yards averaging 4.9 yards per carry with four scores.
Nebraska’s wide receivers can be the X-Factor for the offense on Saturday night. Stanley Morgan Jr and Jordan Westerkamp have combined for 39 receptions for 619 yards with 5 scores. Add in Alonzo Moore and the Cornhuskers have the ability to put pressure on the Ohio State secondary , which can open up running lanes for Armstrong if the Buckeyes play man to man coverage.
Ohio State utilizes blitzes off the edge and succeeded against Oklahoma on the road in Norman. However, Armstrong has great mobility that can break contain and create big yardage on broken plays.
Defensively the Cornhuskers are allowing 18 points per game and is very solid solid in run support giving up 136 rushing yards per game. The biggest improvement has come in the secondary that is allowing 205 passing yards per game to opposing offenses. Last year, the secondary was the weak point of the unit allowing 294 passing yards per game. This year, they are a confident group that has limited big plays over the top and held Wisconsin to 114 passing yards in last week’s 23-17 loss in Madison.
The defense has recorded 19 sacks and is holding opponents to 31% on their third down conversions. Nebraska is +5 in turnover margin and must be able to force turnovers on the road in Columbus.
The Buckeyes are scoring 42 points per game and are rushing for 272 yards per game on the ground along with passing for 220 yards per game through the air.
Quarterback J.T Barrett has engineered the offense and has made big plays with his legs and arm in leading the team to a 7-1 overall record. Barrett has completed 63% of his passes for 1,675 yards with 17 touchdowns and 4 interceptions. On the ground, he has rushed for 531 yards averaging 4. 3 yards per carry with 6 touchdowns.
Running back Mike Weber leads the team with 770 rushing yards averaging 5.9 yards per carry with 6 scores. Weber is a tough inside runner that has the speed to catch the edge of the Cornhuskers defense.
Ohio State has rushed for 187 yards per game in the team’s last three games against Wisconsin, Penn State and Northwestern.
Wide receiver Curtis Samuel leads the team with 44 receptions for 539 yards with three scores.
Defensively, the Buckeyes are giving up 15 points per game and are very good at shutting down the run allowing 123 yards per game on the ground. The secondary is giving up 171 passing yards per game and is holding opposing offenses to 31% on their third down conversions.
Ohio State has done an excellent job at winning the turnover battle each week and is +10 in turnover margin entering this game (+7 at home).
Ohio State has recorded 18 sacks on the year.
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