Ohio State 45, Arkansas State 12: Scarlet & Gray Matter analysis
Observations on Saturday's Ohio State-Arkansas State game by Joey Kaufman:
The game at hand
• Short-attention span synopsis: No hangover from Week 1. It was a Rose Bowl redux between C.J. Stroud and Marvin Harrison Jr. An explosive passing game reemerged even without its top target. But a tuneup game involves tuning. Yellow flags sprinkled Ohio Stadium’s new artificial turf, and Arkansas State found holes in a secondary.
• Pregame buzz: Consider the atmosphere in the morning hours around the Horseshoe a 180-degree turn from the previous week. Though the stadium approached capacity by kickoff, traffic was light and the surrounding parking lots that swelled with tailgaters in the leadup to the season opener against Notre Dame were far less crowded. It’s no surprise the get-in price for tickets on resell websites started around $20 after being put up for hundreds of dollars for the first game.
• Spread the wealth? The folks who laid the 44½ points must have winced when Jaxon Smith-Njigba emerged from the southeast tunnel in a sweatsuit a half-hour before kickoff. If the Buckeyes were to cover a lofty point spread, the heaviest they have been favored in a game since hosting Akron in another non-conference game last September, they needed all their weapons on offense, most especially their star receiver, to be available.
• Strategically speaking: The Buckeyes’ opening script leaned a bit more on their running game, a carryover over from their success on the ground in last week’s fourth quarter. Stroud handed off three straight times to start the game, paving the way for them to take some deep shots later on the drive. Still, another Saturday saw them throw more often than they ran.
- •How the team sees it: Nice to stretch out our passing game legs.
- •How the pollsters will see it: Beating up on a Sun Belt team won't unseat Georgia at No. 2.
- •How Buckeye Nation will see it: That was good bang for our buck.
Hey, what did Ryan Day say?
- What he said: "There were a lot of things that I would like to see done better, but there were also a lot of good things too, and what we don’t want to do is take winning for granted."
- What it means: Penalties won't ruin my Saturday night.
They said it
- Pregame chatter: Gary DiNardo, on the Big Ten Network pregame show: "It's Arkansas state, and it's Toledo. They can beat both of those teams without a running game, without a passing game, without a good defense. They have to get ready for Wisconsin."
Numbers for dummies
6-0: Ohio State’s record against Group of Five conference teams since Ryan Day took over in 2019, all victories by an average margin of 41 points.
7: Passing plays of 30 or more yards from Ohio State.
14.6: Yards per pass attempt averaged by Stroud, the highest mark of his career.
3: Receiving touchdowns for Harrison, the second three-touchdown performance in his last three games.
86%: Percent of Stroud’s passing yards that landed in the hands of Emeka Egbuka and Harrison.
4: Number of times the Buckeyes held Arkansas State to field goals over its four trips to the red zone.
12: Tackles for loss by Ohio State, twice as many as in the season and the most since a win at Indiana last October.
5: Defensive tackle Mike Hall’s tackles for loss through five games, including three on Saturday.
85: Penalty yards by Ohio State, the most it’s committed over its last 11 games.
15:28: Gap in time of possession between the teams as Red Wolves kept the ball away from the Buckeyes at times.
The matchups between Ohio State and teams from the Mid-American Conference over the past three decades have been one-sided. The Buckeyes are 28-0 against the league since making its teams a part of their non-conference scheduling rotation in 1992. Toledo isn’t likely to fare any better, but the Rockets, who were picked to finish second in the MAC’s West division in the preseason, have gotten off to a 2-0 start with blowout wins over Long Island and Massachusetts, outscoring them by a combined 92-10 margin.
Joey Kaufman covers Ohio State football for The Columbus Dispatch. Contact him at email@example.com or on Twitter @joeyrkaufman