TreVeyon Henderson Ohio State Buckeyes Running Back

50 For 50: Buckeyes Back To The Ground Game

Welcome to our daily feature that I am calling “50 for 50” where I attempt to get us to Big Ten Media Days — which are 30 days away — with a daily sampling of what we can look forward to this upcoming college football season.

We will do this via the following categories: the 50 biggest individual matchups for the Buckeyes this season, the 50 most important college football games this season, 50 Buckeye things to look forward to this season, 50 national predictions, 50 Big Ten predictions, and 50 predictions involving the Buckeyes.

Previous: Day 20 |

Biggest Buckeye Matchups

Ohio State QB Will Howard vs. Purdue SAF Dillon Thieneman

Dillon Thieneman was the No. 988 player in the 2023 recruiting class according to the 247Sports Composite, but he started every game at free safety for Purdue last year, leading the Boilers with 106 tackles. He also finished second in the Big Ten with six interceptions. His ability to cover ground and make plays around the ball is going to be a significant factor for Ohio State’s starting quarterback (we’ll assume it is Will Howard for this exercise). Howard threw interceptions in eight of the 12 games he played last season, so it’s not like he’s immune to turnovers. Thieneman will also be a run stopper when Howard opts to keep the ball on a read play. Purdue shouldn’t pose much of a threat to the Buckeyes this year but that’s never stopped them from beating Ohio State before.

Most Important Games

Jacksonville State Gamecocks at Liberty Flames, October 30 (Weds)

Somebody from a Group of Five conference is going to make the College Football Playoffs this year, and Jacksonville State’s matchup at Liberty will give us all an opportunity to watch a couple of possibilities. Liberty is the favorite in this game, but a win by Jacksonville State could eliminate the Flames from the CFP’s committee rankings. Even without the stakes, this should be an exciting, up-tempo offensive game worth watching on a random Wednesday night (7:30 pm CBS Sports Network).

Things To Look Forward To

Emeka Egbuka reminding folks of who he is.

A year ago at this time, Emeka Egbuka was expected to be on an NFL team right now after being a first-round draft pick in the 2024 draft. Instead, last season featured an injury that derailed Egbuka’s year, but it has brought him back for a senior year that people aren’t talking enough about. As a sophomore in 2022, Egbuka finished third in the Big Ten with 74 receptions, 1,151 yards, and 10 touchdowns. He was second in the Big Ten in receptions of at least 20 yards (19) and 40 yards (5) behind Harrison’s 20 and 6, and tied for the lead with 10 receptions of 30+ yards. Plays are going to be made this year. Egbuka also has an opportunity to become just the second Buckeye ever with two 1,000-yard receiving seasons (Marvin Harrison, Jr.).

National College Football Predictions

If Notre Dame wins their opener, they’ll go undefeated.

Notre Dame’s home schedule this year cannot be a thrill for season ticket holders. They’ll get to watch games against Northern Illinois, Miami (OH), Louisville, Stanford, Florida State, and Virginia. They play just three true road games, along with Georgia Tech, Army, and Navy at various big ballparks. They open the season at Texas A&M, close it at USC, and have a game at Purdue in the middle of September. If they win in College Station to start the season, they’re going to go into USC with an 11-0 record. The only thing keeping them from finishing the regular season undefeated at that point (other than possibly USC beating them fair and square) is the fact that they won’t need the win to make the playoffs and since they can’t get a bye, they may let down their guard and fall to a rival who needs the win more than they do.

Big Ten Football Predictions

Gopher Darius Taylor will outrush Tar Heel Omarion Hampton again.

After carrying the ball just once in Minnesota’s season opener last year, Darius Taylor ran the ball 86 times for 529 yards in the Gophers’ next three games. He then played in just one more game during the regular season due to injury and then capped the year with 208 yards rushing in the bowl game. One of those early games was a 138-yard performance in a 31-13 loss at North Carolina. Tar Heels running back Omarion Hampton rushed for 1,504 yards last year, but just 46 yards against Minnesota. Everybody will be watching this season opener on a Thursday night and the majority of the hype will be with Hampton, but don’t forget about the guy who outrushed him in this game a year ago.

Ohio State Football Predictions

The Buckeyes will rush for 200 yards per game this season.

Ohio State has not averaged 200 yards rushing per game for a season since 2020, but they are going to get back to their running ways this season. Last season was their worst rushing performance in 20 years and they didn’t have CJ Stroud at quarterback to bail them out. While some may criticize Ryan Day’s commitment to the run, when the Buckeyes had a running threat at quarterback in 2019 and 2020, Ohio State led the Big Ten in rushing by a wide margin. This year, that running threat returns. No, it won’t be as dynamic as Justin Fields, but there will be enough of a threat to concern a defense. It also won’t hurt to have TreVeyon Henderson and Quinshon Judkins handling the bulk of the carries.

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