Ohio State has one of the best defensive lines in college football, while Oklahoma has one of the best offensive lines in college football.
Those two units will lock horns this evening when the second ranked Buckeyes collide with the fifth ranked Sooners at Ohio Stadium.
Both units had impressive outings in their first games of the season. In a 49-21 drubbing of Indiana, Ohio State’s defensive linemen combined for seven tackles behind the line of scrimmage, including five sacks, and completely shut down Indiana’s running game, holding them to just 17 rushing yards on 29 attempts. Oklahoma, meanwhile, scorched UTEP 56-7 in their opener, and moving the ball up and down the field at ease behind that imposing offensive front, putting up 676 yards while allowing only one sack.
Ohio State coach Urban Meyer, though, knows that all those yards would not have been possible without the work done up front by the Sooners’ offensive line and he knows his Buckeyes will have their hands full Saturday night.
“You see all the yards that a team like Oklahoma puts up, sure the quarterback, receivers, everybody is really good players, but they control the line of scrimmage, that’s what makes them so good,” Urban Meyer said Wednesday night.
Ohio State defensive coordinator Greg Schiano says the matchup between Ohio State’s defensive line and Oklahoma’s offensive line will be “a battle of strength on strength.”
When the two teams met last season in Oklahoma, Ohio State’s defensive line was able to control the game. The Buckeyes prevailed that day, 45-24. While the Sooners did manage to gain 404 total yards of offense and limit Ohio State’s defensive line to just a single sack, Oklahoma quarterback Baker Mayfield was under pressure most of the night. He was able to avoid a lot of sacks with his elusiveness and mobility, but the pressure still got to him. He was intercepted twice that day, completing just 53 percent of his passes and finishing with a rating of 22.8. One of his two interceptions was returned for a touchdown, which gave Ohio State a 14-0 lead in the first quarter of that game and they never looked back.
With all five of its starters returning from last year, Oklahoma’s offensive line, which consists of players who have performed among the nation’s best at their respective positions, should be stronger this year.
Having said that, Ohio State’s defensive front is also expected to be stronger than it was one year ago, having returned all of its top players from last season as well.
Oklahoma left tackle Orlando Brown, who stands 6-foot-8 and weighs 345 pounds, is the reigning Big 12 Offensive Lineman of the Year.
Also gaining attention on the Oklahoma offensive line was right tackle, Bobby Evans, who was named to Pro Football Focus’ national offensive team following a dominating performance on opening day against UTEP.
Meanwhile, Ohio State defensive end Tyquan Lewis, who had two sacks and was named Ohio State’s defensive player of the game in its season opener, was last year’s Big Ten Defensive Lineman of the Year.
For their impressive season-opening performances, Lewis’ teammates, end Nick Bosa and tackle Dre’Mont Jones, were named to PFF’s Week 1 national defensive team.
The play of all five of Oklahoma’s starting offensive linemen has been highly touted. Brown did earn his spot as the Big 12’s top offensive lineman last year, but the Sooners’ other four starters up front were each all-conference honorable mentions. Left guard Ben Powers and center Erick Wren did not start against Ohio State last year, but they did start every game for the Sooners from that point forward, and the Sooners’ offensive line play ended up improving significantly. That makes this matchup even more enticing.
Both units are itching to get at each other and prove who really is the best, as was made clear by Ohio State defensive end, Nick Bosa.
“We’re excited just because they’re hyped up as the best offensive line, and we’ve been hyped up as the best defensive line for so long that it’s starting to get annoying,” Bosa said. “It’s time to prove it. But when you’re facing an O-line with a potential first-round left tackle, this is where you show what you’ve got.”
Both units will have their opportunity to show what they got when they face off against one another tonight at 7:30 p.m. In a game that will be nationally televised on ABC, the matchup between Oklahoma’s offensive line and Ohio State’s defensive line should draw widespread attention from NFL scouts and college football fans alike.
[Featured image by Sue Ogrocki/AP Images]