Arkansas State Red is coming off a dominant 58-3 win over Grambling. For a team that only went 2-10 during the 2021 season, the win represented a step in the right direction for head coach Butch Jones and his team. However, now the Red Wolves have the unenviable task of facing Ohio State in Columbus this Saturday.
Ohio State is also basking in the positive feelings of a game one win, as the Buckeyes defeated the Notre Dame Fighting Irish, 21-10. Ohio State came into this contest with questions about how well the Buckeyes would play defensively, and those concerns were answered as they held the Irish scoreless in the second half.
Arkansas State at No. 3 Ohio State
When Arkansas State Has the Ball
Red Wolves quarterback James Blackman had a strong beginning to the 2022 season, completing 15 of 20 passes for 210 yards and two touchdowns, while also adding two scores on the ground. Blackman, a former Florida State transfer, was aided by strong performances on the ground from Johnnie Lang (13 att., 124 yds., TD), AJ Mayer (7, 74, 1), and Brian Snead (12, 57, 1). Snead is a familiar name to Ohio State fans, as he was a member of Ohio State's 2018 recruiting class, before being dismissed by the university in December 2018. Overall, Arkansas State was able to rush for 339 yards versus Grambling, an FCS program.
The strong Arkansas State running game will be tested by the suddenly resurgent Ohio State defense. Led by linebacker Tommy Eichenberg (9 tackles, 3 TFLs, 2 sacks) the Buckeyes shut down Notre Dame's running game, holding the Irish to 76 yards on 30 carries, just 2.5 yards per attempt.
When Ohio State Has the Ball
Ohio State quarterback C.J. Stroud had a solid game versus Notre Dame, completing 24 of 34 passes for 223 yards and two touchdowns. What was impressive in Stroud's performance was how he played without the services of his star wideout, Jaxon Smith-Njigba, who missed the vast majority of the game due to a hamstring injury. Smith-Njigba will likely be held out of Saturday's contest as a precautionary measure.
The other receivers, such as Emeka Egbuka (9 rec., 90 yds., TD), Marvin Harrison Jr. (5, 56 yards), and Xavier Johnson (2, 34, 1), all stepped up in Smith-Njigba's absence. It will bear watching to see which receiver(s) Stroud will continue to try to build a rapport with if his favorite target remains out.
The running game also came up big against the Irish with TreVeyon Henderson (15 att., 91 yds.) and Miyan Williams (14, 84, TD) helping to wear down the defense late in the game. Look for head coach Ryan Day to try and emphasize the running game to take some of the pressure off of Stroud.
Arkansas State was able to limit Grambling to just a field goal and overall stifled the Tigers on defense, holding them to 101 yards for the game. It will be highly unlikely that the Red Wolves will be able to duplicate those efforts against the Buckeyes' high-powered offense.
There is a reason why the oddsmakers have such a large point spread for this contest, as there is little to no belief that Arkansas State will be able to come remotely close to staying with Ohio State in the Horseshoe on Saturday. The real question is whether the Red Wolves can cover the nearly seven-touchdown spread. Look for the Buckeyes to build a comfortable lead and then liberally substitute backups on both sides of the ball throughout the second half.
Prediction: Ohio State 42, Arkansas State 7
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