football
{{ timeAgo('2017-10-12 11:00:00 -0500') }} ago

Tale of the Tape: Nebraska

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We are getting to the point of the season where stats actually start to mean something. Everyone (for the most part) has finished their non-conference season and played two or three league games. Now, it is impossible to say everyone is on an equal playing field when some conferences play eight league games while others play nine (like the Big Ten). Plus, you just don't know how each team is going to go about plotting its non-con schedule and if they are going to play strong teams or weak ones.

The Buckeyes and the Huskers both played a major out of league foe and then a pair of weaker opponents in the non-con. The Buckeyes went 2-1, losing to a then-top-five team at home in week two. The Huskers went 1-2, dropping a road game at Oregon, a down Oregon team but still a tough trip none the less. The troubling loss was a home loss to lightly regarded Northern Illinois team that has dropped a pair of games itself.

Saturday's game just shows two teams heading in very different directions. The Buckeyes know they have zero margin for error but are still in the mix for a potential playoff berth if they can maneuver a back-loaded Big Ten schedule over the next several weeks. On the other hand you have the Huskers who have already seen the dismissal of their Athletic Director and their head coach has one of the hotter seats in college football with a 3-3 record and mediocre product on the field.

All of this noise will go silent however once the ball is kicked in Lincoln (Neb.) on Saturday night (7:30 pm EDT - FS1) and the game is settled on the field. The odds makers like Ohio State's chances to win this game by several scores but we need to take a closer look at the Huskers to see what makes them tick, where they are clicking and where they are missing as we go to the Tale of the Tape.

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Tanner Lee has run into some issues this season
Associated Press
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Ohio State Defense vs. Nebraska Offense
Ohio State Stat Rank Nebraska Stat Rank

Rushing Defense

120.5 YPG

29th

Rushing Offense

148.5 YPG

79th

Pass Eff. Defense

110.86

26th

Passing Offense

235.8 YPG

63rd

Scoring Defense

15.7 PPG

10th

Scoring Offense

27.8 PPG

77th

Ohio State Defensive Backs vs. Nebraska QB/WR/TE

The Ohio State secondary will welcome Denzel Ward back after he missed most of the Maryland game after a 'questionable' targeting call resulted in his ejection from the contest. He is Ohio State's best corner and will have his hands full with a Nebraska team that throws the ball 49-percent of the time on offense. Damon Arnette will miss the first half of the game as he serves the second half of his targeting ejection, one that was much more obvious and much more of a correct call. This could mean more time for Jeffrey Okudah as he has come on as of late for the Buckeyes while Kendall Sheffield continues to show signs of improvement from a slow start to the season. The safeties are not getting talked about as much as they should with both Damon Webb and Jordan Fuller both playing very well. Part of the lack of talk is because the Buckeyes have faced several teams that either do not throw the ball or cannot throw the ball and the safeties have been called more for run support (not that it mattered against Maryland, the Terps could not move the ball on the ground or via the pass, penalties were the biggest gainer for Maryland. This game will be the first test for the Ohio State secondary of a team that has a pulse in terms of throwing the ball. That does not mean that the Huskers will have a lot of time to throw the ball (see more in the DL section) but the framework is there for a lot of work in the pass game.

While the Huskers may throw the ball 49-percent of the time, 61-percent of their offensive yards have come through the throw game and that all starts with Tanner Lee. He has continued the great tradition of throwing interceptions in Lincoln (Neb.) with 10, but in all fairness and all joking aside, several of those should be put on the stat lines of his receivers with drops, tips and just some bad luck falling upon Lee. The Nebraska QB is averaging 234 yards passing per game but is a dismal 54-percent in completion percentage. There are three major targets at receiver that the Buckeyes will have to contend with and Stanley Morgan, Jr. is the most prolific with 30 catches for 510 yards (by comparison, Ohio State is led by Parris Campbell with 26 catches for 399 yards). Morgan has five touchdowns and Demornay Pierson-El is next up with four. He has 24 grabs of his own and 363 yards. The third 'main' weapon is JD Spielman, the nephew of former Buckeyes great Chris. He has 20 catches and 275 yards. Beyond that it is pretty much spread out among several other pass catchers and only one touchdown has gone to anyone not in that top three cut. This really will determine the type of success that Nebraska will have in the game. If Ohio State is able to lock down the pass game, it is going to be a long night for the home team. If Ohio State is unable to cover these guys, there could be some moments reminiscent to the Indiana game, a game where Ohio State yielded 420 yards in the air but still won the game easily 49-21. EDGE: Ohio State


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