Coming off a 38-7 victory over Army, the Ohio State Buckeyes are still in the process of developing consistency on all sides of the ball. While true freshman running back J.K. Dobbins has been a bright spot for the team offensively, the passing game is still a work in progress. Senior quarterback J.T. Barrett established himself as the all-time leader in touchdowns in the history of the prestigious Big Ten, yet is still facing scrutiny about whether the team would be better with redshirt freshman quarterback Dwayne Haskins at the helm.
Defensively, the Ohio State secondary improved against Army, but skepticism remains, as the Black Knights' triple-option attack did not test the Buckeyes through the air, as Army only completed two of the total eight passes the team attempted against Ohio State. Oh, and head coach Urban Meyer is not too pleased with his kickoff team on his special teams units, saying, "We don't have a kicker that can kick the ball."
The next opponent for the Buckeyes? The UNLV Rebels, coming off a bye week. The Rebels are 1-1, having lost their season opener to FCS member Howard (43-40), while dismantling Idaho 44-16 in week two.
UNLV is led by junior running back Lexington Thomas, who is averaging nine yards per carry this season. True freshman quarterback Armani Rogers (6.7 ypc) also is a running threat, while coming off an impressive game against Idaho that saw him set a school record with a pass that turned into a 94-yard touchdown.
UNLV at Ohio State
Kickoff: Saturday, Sept. 23 at 12 p.m. ET
TV Channel: Big Ten Network
Spread: Ohio State -40
Three Things to Watch
1. Ohio State's defense vs. UNLV's offense
As cliché as this appears, Ohio State needs this game against UNLV to figure out what went wrong two weeks ago versus Oklahoma. Playing Army's triple option forced Ohio State to completely focus upon the Black Knights' running game, as mentioned earlier. UNLV favors a zone read offensive scheme, which will test both Ohio State's run and pass defense.
2. J.K. Dobbins as the focal point of Ohio State's offense
Through three games this season, Dobbins has emerged as Ohio State's best offensive player. Look for Dobbins to get plenty of touches, both as a runner and a receiver.
3. Continued development of Parris Campbell as an offensive weapon
A high school running back, Campbell has shown signs of brilliance when the ball has been in his hands this season. Feared as a kickoff returner, Ohio State has begun working on getting Campbell the ball on jet sweeps and short passes, letting Campbell use his remarkable acceleration in the open field. Campbell had a touchdown against Army negated due to a holding call, but look for the Buckeyes to continue to devise ways to get him the ball.
Ohio State realizes that the team needs to play much, much better to get back into The College Football Playoff discussion. While UNLV will give it their best effort, the Rebels simply do not have the depth of athletes the Buckeyes have, and this one will get out of hand quickly in Columbus, as reflected by the oddsmakers' beliefs.