Ohio State vs. Army: Seven storylines to follow

Buckeyes 5-1 in Urban Meyer era after a loss

The Ohio State Buckeyes should have avoided social media at all costs this week. At the very least, they should have donned eclipse glasses before checking their mentions on Twitter.

Any player who did sneak a peak saw the worst of the fan reactions following the 31-16 loss to Oklahoma. A few responded to the critics.

“Don’t jump on the bandwagon when everything start clicking,” wide receiver Parris Campbell wrote on Twitter.

“Y’all have given up on us fast,” wide receiver Johnnie Dixon wrote.

“It’s not a journey if you don’t face some adversity along the ride,” quarterback Tate Martell wrote.

WILSON REACTS: Offensive coordinator blames himself for loss

The Buckeyes (1-1) have lost only seven times in the past six seasons. On the other hand, they have lost two of their last three games if you count the 31-0 loss to Clemson in the Fiesta Bowl. The victories should pile up fast in the next few weeks with a trio of opponents — Army, UNLV and Rutgers — who may challenge the Buckeyes for a quarter or a half but have little chance to pull an upset.

Here are seven storylines to follow in the Week 3 matchup against Army (2-0) at Ohio Stadium:

1. Short game: Army likes to run the ball. It ranks second in the country with 417.5 rushing yards per game. In fact, there's a small chance it won't attempt a pass. It threw the ball twice in its opener against Fordham and eight times last week against Buffalo.

“They try to shorten the game,” Ohio State offensive coordinator Kevin Wilson said. “It’s always running plays. The clock’s always running, running, running. If you don’t execute on offense and you don’t shut them down on defense, you could play a quarter and have one drive.”

2. Big weapons: Army's two key runners are quarterback Ahmad Bradshaw (34 carries for 324 yards) and running back Darnell Woolfolk (31-186).

Fifteen other players have carried the ball at least once. Fourteen players have runs of 10 or more yards.

“It’s a very unique set of challenges when you play a triple-option football team,” Ohio State defensive coordinator Greg Schiano said. “It’s purely discipline, assignment football, and then you have to physically do your job once you do your assignment. If one piece is out of place, it’s a potential big play.”

3. Defensive adjustments: Ohio State's defense has a lot to prove after allowing Oklahoma to score 28 points in the second half. Coach Urban Meyer saw defenders trying to do too much. That was the biggest problem.

Meyer said players were telling themselves, “I’m going to go stop this play instead of covering my guy.”

4. Running tandem: Mike Weber carried the ball only three times against Oklahoma. J.K. Dobbins rushed 13 times. Expect them to share the load more equally this week, though Meyer said Thursday Dobbins will start for the third straight game. Dobbins has rushed for 253 yards and averaged 6 yards per carry.

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A hamstring injury has slowed Weber. Meyer said he will be more available this week.

“Hamstring’s are tough,” Meyer said, “but he’s practicing pretty good.”

5. Bouncing back: Ohio State is 5-1 in the Meyer era after a loss. Its average margin of victory in those games is 28.8 points.

“You have to regroup from the loss because it’s a long year,” defensive end Tyquan Lewis said. “The main focus is beating Army and getting back to what we do.

6. Repeating history: Ohio State hopes to do with the Oklahoma loss what it did with the loss to Virginia Tech in 2014. The Buckeyes beat Kent State 66-0 one week after losing to the Hokies, starting a 13-game winning streak that culminated with a victory over Oregon in the national championship game.

THIS WEEK: Army unique challenge for Buckeyes

“We know what it was like,” center Billy Price said. “We’ve been here before. We’ve been here after losses. It’s no fun at all. There’s a high expectation here set by fans, set by the coaches and even more so by the players.”

7. Series history: This is the first meeting between Ohio State and Army. The Buckeyes are 5-1 all time against the service academies with five victories against Navy, most recently in the 2014 season opener, and a 23-11 loss to Air Force in the 1990 Liberty Bowl.

Army seeks its second straight 3-0 start. It has won five straight games, counting the last three games of the 2016 season.

“We know we are in for a real battle and test,” Army coach Jeff Monken said, “and it is going to take our very best effort out of every one of our guys and coaches to stay in the ballgame with these guys.”

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