Reasons to believe Ohio State can beat Alabama


(OSU SEASON RECAP: How they got here)

The Buckeyes will take on Alabama in the Sugar Bowl on Thursday night with a trip to the national championship on the line. Ohio State goes into the game as underdogs, but there are reasons to be optimistic if you’re a Buckeye fan.

Urban Meyer knows how to prepare for bowl games. If you give Urban Meyer almost a month to prepare for a game, you know he’ll find a way to beat you, or at least make it very interesting. His teams are 7-2 in bowl games including 2-0 in the national championship. There are few coaches that know how to prepare teams for big games like he does.

The Buckeyes defensive line. Bosa and Bennett have imposed their will on opposing offensive lines all season long. Alabama quarterback Blake Sims isn’t exactly a Heisman trophy candidate and if they can find a way to disrupt Sims consistently, Roll Tide may be rolling home.

The Ohio State rushing attack. Alabama has one of the best rush defenses in the country thanks to their strong front 7. They’ve held opponents to 2.8 yards per carry during the season, but they weren’t facing the Buckeyes. Ohio State’s strength is their rushing attack led by Ezekiel Eliot. They average 261 rushing yards a game this season and don’t plan to stop for the “powerhouse” that is Alabama. It’s important for Cardale Jones to prove that he can throw the ball early in the game so Alabama can’t put 8 or 9 guys in the box to stop the run.

Ohio State has SEC speed. Urban Meyer’s goal when he became coach of the Buckeyes was to model them after an SEC team, and that’s exactly what he did. These Buckeyes aren’t slow like the ’06 and ’07 teams that were blown out in the National Championship by much faster SEC teams. The Buckeyes are fast and have the speed on offense and defense to play with anybody. Meyer built the Buckeyes to beat SEC teams like Alabama, now it’s their chance to actually do it.

Alabama can’t defend the deep bomb. Alabama’s weakness on defense is in their secondary. They play defense trying to force teams to beat them over the top, and many teams have. Auburn and Mizzou both have had recent success with long go routes. Alabama allowed ten 20 plus yard pass plays in the last 2 games of the season. Good thing that’s exactly what Cardale Jones’ specialty is. The Alabama secondary will have a tough time covering the deep pass, so expect Jones to take shots deep early and often.

Blake Simms isn’t great, but Amari Cooper is. I believe Cooper is the best player in all of college football and will be the best player on the field tonight. But if Sims can’t get him the ball, it doesn’t matter how good Cooper is. Sims has struggled at times and was almost pulled in their win against Auburn. It is important that the Buckeye’s defensive line gets Sims out of his comfort zone early. If he gets off to a bad start it could be a long day for the Alabama offense.

The Buckeyes get turnovers. Ohio State is a plus 9 in turnover margin while Alabama is minus 1. Ohio State has to win the turnover battle to win the game. It’s as simple as that.

Cardale Jones. We’re all impressed on how Jones looked in his only start against Wisconsin. He stood in the pocket and fired bullets all over the field. He noticeably poised and comfortable on the big stage. Wisconsin’s defense had no answer for him. But how much can we really know from one start? Not much. But, that’s the problem Alabama’s defense has – they don’t know how to prepare for Jones. Hopefully Cardale has a game similar to the one against Wisconsin, but the truth is we don’t know how he’ll perform. That’s why this game is so intriguing to me. One thing Jones needs to improve on is the option. He struggled with executing the read option against Wisconsin and missed out on a couple big plays because of it. He needs to tighten up the screws and execute the read option if he wants to beat Alabama’s front 7. I expect them to defend Jones more like a pocket quarterback than a duel threat quarterback. This one is going to fun, Buckeye fans. Go Buckeyes!

(OSU SEASON RECAP: How they got here)


Nick Saban and Urban Meyer will meet for the 4th time in their careers as Alabama takes on Ohio State in Thursday’s Sugar Bowl. The coaches discussed the Playoff matchup on Tuesday.

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