Nebraska faces its toughest test yet this season when it takes on Ohio State Saturday night at Memorial Stadium. Usually, when looking at the players to watch, there are a few clear choices and then maybe one who might not be as well known.
That is not the case for Ohio State, as picking only four players to watch seems like too few. Either way, here are four Buckeyes to watch:
Justin Fields, QB
The Buckeyes have a recent tradition of excellent quarterbacks, and sophomore Justin Fields has taken that torch this season as he has been nothing short of excellent. Through four games, Fields is completing 69.5% of his passes for 880 yards, 13 touchdowns and no interceptions.
While the competition so far has been subpar, going four games without throwing an interception is impressive. For a Husker team that leads the Big Ten in turnovers forced and interceptions, it should be an interesting storyline to follow if they can pick off Fields.
The other part that makes Fields so tough to defend is his ability to run. Fields is a true dual-threat quarterback as he has 150 rushing yards on 34 carries with six touchdowns on the ground. So far this season, Nebraska has not faced a great dual-threat quarterback like Fields. While defensive coordinator Erik Chinander loves to blitz, he will need to be smart about when he blitzes as Fields is the type of quarterback who can escape pressure and turn it into a positive play.
J.K. Dobbins, RB
It feels like J.K. Dobbins has been at Ohio State forever, yet he’s still only a junior. Dobbins is one of the premier running backs in the Big Ten and may be the best running back the Huskers see not named Jonathan Taylor. Dobbins is currently averaging a ridiculous seven yards per carry and has a total of 477 rushing yards on 68 carries with 5 touchdowns.
In last year’s matchup, Dobbins ran all over the Huskers as he had 163 yards on 23 carries with three touchdowns. The Huskers’ run defense has improved since last year, but so has Dobbins. Nebraska did a decent job containing another good running back in Reggie Corbin last week, and will need to improve on that showing to prevent Dobbins from having a repeat performance of last year’s game.
Chase Young, DE
Last week, Nebraska went against a solid Illini pass rush that ranked near the top of the conference in sacks. This week, the Huskers go against the statistically best pass rush in the Big Ten conference which is led by stud junior defensive end Chase Young.
A projected top-5 pick in this year’s NFL draft, Young enters the game with 14 tackles, including seven sacks. He is one of the only players in the country that can take over a game as a defensive player. Nebraska fans remember a certain defensive tackle who had that same kind of effect that Young can.
The Huskers did a good job of containing Illinois last week, limiting them to only two sacks on the day. They will need to play even better this week to slow down Young and company from getting to sophomore quarterback Adrian Martinez.
Jeffrey Okudah, CB
In college football, there are very few players you can classify as lockdown corners. Junior cornerback Jeffrey Okudah is one of those few.
Okudah is arguably the best cornerback in the conference and one of the best in the country. He is projected to be taken in the first round of this year’s NFL draft. Okudah is so good at his job, he rarely gets thrown at, which is why it’s not as surprising that he got his first career interception just last week against Miami (OH).
Ohio State’s rich tradition at the cornerback position includes names currently in the NFL like Marshon Lattimore and Bradley Roby. Okudah is the shutdown corner this year for Ohio State, and because of that, Nebraska will need to plan accordingly.