The Buckeyes and the Gators. It should be a fierce matchup. Although, it’s going to a major challenge for Florida. They’ve got to feel bitter over how overtime ended a week ago. One play and their shot at victory was over. That’s difficult for any team to stomach. Ohio State’s riding the wave, considering the fact they’re undefeated and their defense has been the best by a wide margin this season. We’ll see how Ohio State can keep it up and how Florida can combat it.
Let’s be honest, this Ohio State offense hasn’t had much of a challenge. Short fields will do that for you, and that’s what Xavier Garcia-Allen has been the beneficiary of. He hasn’t had to work too hard offensively. In part because halfback Frost Carlson seemingly generates a play or two of 30+ yards a game nowadays. Add in a little play action and the play of receiver Speedy Johnson from a week ago and this offense is set. Receivers Lawrence Lexington and Willow Hayes each come up with some critical catches on third down as does tight end Jacob Flores, who also does a great job in helping Carlson come up with those big runs.
That said, don’t forget to credit this Ohio State defense. Seven turnovers in two weeks is nothing to scoff at, nor is corner Tom Pence’s performance from a week ago. He won defensive player of the week for it, and he didn’t even register a tackle. He did, however, have an interception and force a fumble which he recovered and cashed in six points on. That was last week. Safety Kevin Brackett had an interception a week ago, and linebacker Martavis Marriott was all but living in TCU’s backfield. This defense is scary.
The Gators did not sleep well after last week. They couldn’t have. Quarterback Kingston Fox didn’t look bad, although he probably would like to forget his two interceptions. Still, close to 300 yards and three passing touchdowns is a nice night for a freshman quarterback. Still, halfback Avery Jordan would love to forget that fumble in overtime, which essentially cost the Gators the game. And it’s unfortunate, because he didn’t have a bad night. He put up 100 yards and a couple touchdowns. Receiver Nick King answered the bell in a critical moment, although he and fellow receiver Darren Pegues took a backseat to Cole King and Johnathon Taite. The receiver and tight end – respectively – both had eight catches a week ago. Question is, who will Fox target tonight?
Florida’s defense, I gotta give them credit. They hung in there til the very end. They gave up a lot of yards through the air, but I doubt they’re concerned about that tonight. Linebacker Xavier Halle has been racking up tackles, although a week ago, defensive end Mohammad Dmour was making plays in the backfield. The safety duo of Othello Jones and Elliot Wells may have another high tackle count, much like in week one. Expect to see them in the box pretty frequently tonight.
HB Frost Carlson vs. LB Xavier Halle
Halle has not faced a halfback quite like Frost Carlson. Robert Davis is the closest comparison, and he was dealt with by Florida’s safeties with greater regularity. But Carlson adds another layer to the offense that is quite different from Davis’ approach and that’s something Halle has got to be willing to attack. If he doesn’t, Ohio State could be in for plays of seven yards or more with consistency. That’s dangerous.
I’ll be honest, I’m not sure if Florida is ready for this defense. By that same token, though, Florida’s offense is different than anything the Buckeyes have seen this season. Even still, that hasn’t really mattered to them yet. Ohio State has been generating turnovers with regularity. I think they even snatched Miami’s turnover chain back in week one. As if the turnovers weren’t enough, they’re ferocious and don’t give up yards easily. The tricky situation is how balanced Florida can get offensively. If that gets established for the Gators, we’ll be in for a close ball game and I think that’s how this pans out.
OHIO STATE 31, FLORIDA 28