Stacking Up the Ohio State Offense Against the Nebraska Defense

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Ohio State finally opens their highly anticipated 2020 season on Saturday afternoon as the Buckeyes host the Nebraska Cornhuskers at Ohio Stadium.

Our coverage of Ohio State football continues with a preview of how the Ohio State offense might measure up on paper against the Nebraska defense.

Ohio State Scoring Offense vs. Nebraska Scoring Defense

Advantage: Ohio State

Look it may be difficult to get a true feel on the 2020 teams defined solely by last year's statistics. But ahead of tomorrow's anticipated depth chart release, the Buckeyes are a clear favorite on paper when their offense is on the field.

Ohio State's offensive line is very arguably better this year than they were last fall. They have three returning starters and two extremely capable newcomers on that first group up front. LSU and Alabama were the only teams that averaged more points per game than the Buckeyes last year (both by less than two points) and the Buckeyes are returning their best player from that unit. Justin Fields leads a high-octane offense that has reloaded at skill positions and is healthy entering the season.

Nebraska loses six defensive starters from last year's team, most of whom are in the front seven. The 'Huskers have really struggled on the road the last couple seasons, and even though there won't be 100,000 cheering at The Shoe on Saturday, I think Ohio State won't have any trouble scoring at least 30. They have talent and they're improving under Scott Frost, but I don't see this weekend going well for them.

Ohio State Rush Offense vs. Nebraska Rush Defense

Advantage: Ohio State

The biggest question mark on the Buckeye offense this offseason is replacing the 2,000 yard production from J.K. Dobbins in the backfield last year. While the team was holding its breath back in March when Master Teague suffered an Achilles injury, he is now healthy and will pair with Oklahoma grad-transfer Trey Sermon in the backfield. 

Teague ran for 789 yards last year as a backup to Dobbins and earned Third Team All-Big Ten. Sermon ran for 2,000 yards and 25 touchdowns over the last three seasons down in Norman, so he has plenty of game experience as well. Behind an NFL-caliber offensive line, I don't think the Buckeyes will have many issues running the football.

Defensively, there are some question marks for Nebraska in the run game. They lost all three starting defensive lineman from last year and only senior linebackers Collin Miller and Jojo Domann are projected to return as starters in the front seven. They have good size, but they're going to have their hands full on Saturday.

Ohio State Pass Offense vs. Nebraska Pass Defense

Advantage: Ohio State

This is perhaps an area where Nebraska could slow the Buckeyes down a bit, but a healthy and motivated Justin Fields gives the Buckeyes the edge. Fields threw only three interceptions in 14 games last year, two of which were in the season finale. Most of the time, he was unstoppable. He completed throws at all levels of the field and was often in perfect sync with his receiving crew.

That group of receivers looks a little bit different this year - they are noticeably younger. But with Chris Olave and Garrett Wilson back to provide consistent options for Fields, along with the entire group of tight ends returning, I think Fields will have a great day Saturday.

Nebraska's secondary is easily their best returning unit on defense. Senior corner DiCaprio Bootle, junior safety Cam Taylor-Britt and senior safety Marquel Dismuke are all legit Big Ten defensive backs and could make things tough on Fields at times. Nebraska also returns five of its top six tacklers from last year. Considering they've had an awfully long time to prepare for this game, I'm sure they won't be easily fooled by any wrinkles the Buckeyes have in store.

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