Sports Today: Nebraska could be the perfect next test for Ohio State

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Sports Today: Nebraska could be the perfect next test for Ohio State

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AP Photo/Jay LaPrete
Ohio State receiver Parris Campbell, left, escapes the grasp of UNLV linebacker Gabe McCoy on his way to scoring a touchdown during the first half of an NCAA college football game Saturday, Sept. 23, 2017, in Columbus, Ohio.

On paper, Nebraska represents exactly the challenge Ohio State needs next. 

Advanced stats (via FootballStudyHall.com) show a defense that is great at limiting big plays (20th in the country) but bad at preventing solid gains (112th in opponents’ success rate). 

That’s consistent with what Urban Meyer described this week when he described the Cornhuskers’ base 3-4 scheme as something straight out of the NFL with two-gap defensive linemen and eight players in coverage. 

“It’s a type of defense that you’re going to have to work for everything,” Meyer said. "You’re not going to have many shots down the field on the way they play. They’re very sound in what they do. Their secondary, they keep everything in front of them and they rally up and run to the ball very, very well and they kind of give you the short stuff.”

Well, then it’s pretty convenient that’s the philosophy Ohio State has spent much of its time preparing to beat since losing to Oklahoma. 

You know all those screens and short passes and RPOs? They’re designed to work against a team that won’t load the box and give Ohio State’s receivers a chance to win one-on-one matchups down the field. 

Of course, there’s no guarantee this is actually what Nebraska will do. If the Huskers throw OSU a curveball, they would not be the first. 

Nebraska's offense is very pedestrian on paper but has some potential if it puts everything together. 

Their pro-style scheme (if that means anything anymore) also provides a good primer for the second half of the season when Ohio State will face Michigan, Michigan State, Iowa and potentially Wisconsin. There are always going to be differences, but at least it's closer to those teams than what the Buckeyes see most other weeks… 

On the bright side, they are well-acquainted with playing without the former Notre Dame star, who has been hurt more than he’s been healthy during his NFL career.

I don’t find it to be a coincidence Tyler Kroft managed to do a pretty good Eifert impersonation against the Browns two weeks ago. 

Some teams have schemes that are built around the tight end, but more often they are not the point of the spear but rather a change of pace when the better players are taken away by a defense. 

As good as Eifert is, you’d still rather have the ball in the hands of A.J. Green, Gio Bernard, Joe Dixon, etc… 

This week the Dayton basketball spotlight fell on two players who are familiar for different reasons. 

Area fans should know something about Trey Landers because he played his prep basketball at Wayne. 

They are familiar with John Crosby for his ups and downs backing up Scoochie Smith last season. 

Both figure to be in much larger roles this season, one that has an amazingly high unknown factor at this point for a program that has recently known so much success. 

Both sounded like they are in good spots mentally when we spoke to them Monday. 

“I think this season I’m going to go through some ups and downs maybe, but I’m going to get better from it,” Crosby said. “By the end of the season, you’re going to see the best John Crosby you’ve seen, and it’s going to be like that so on and so forth for the rest of my career.” 

Landers spoke of wanting to be a glue guy, something that is always refreshing to hear from someone, especially early in their careers.

“I’ve had conversations with coach (Anthony Grant),” Landers said. “The offensive stuff will come for me, but I really want to be that defensive guy for this team and that glue guy and energy guy.”

Dayton is going to have a lot of size — which could make them unique and hard to play against — but college basketball is still a guard’s game. 

I am going to be fascinated to see what Crosby and Landers bring to the table in this transitional season. 

MORE FLYERS COVERAGE

Of course, the women’s teams are getting cranked up, too, and a pair of former Fairmont standouts were subjects of our coverage this week. 

Welch and the Raiders are picked second in the Horizon League preseason poll in a vote of coaches, media and sports information directors.

They return all five starters from a team that won a share of the league crown and finished 25-9 overall. Co-champ Green Bay was picked first.

Ohio State lost a starter to graduation and some depth to transfer in the offseason, but the Buckeyes return All-American point guard Kelsey Mitchell and center Stephanie Mavunga, who averaged a double-double last season before being sidelined by an injury.  

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