This is not a game that Ohio State head coach can be happy is on his team’s schedule. It is the definition of a trap game as Army brings its unique offense to the Horseshoe. Ohio State is expected to win this game at a canter, so Army has nothing to lose and everything to gain by giving it a real go in Columbus. It is hard to imagine that the Buckeyes’ administration would have agreed to this clash if they had any inkling that the Black Knights would be this solid in 2017.
Here are the three keys to this one:
Keep the rushing game going
It is a little ironic that the way Army is going to attack Ohio State is not the area in which the Buckeyes are weakest. Somehow unbelievably after two weeks of the season Ohio State ranks last out of 130 teams in the Football Bowl Subdivision in passing yards allowed. After Indiana threw for 420 yards through the air in the opener, Oklahoma went for 386 yards passing last week. Army though, cannot take advantage of this as the Black Knights are last in the nation in passing offense with just 8.5 yards passing per game.
What Army can – and will – do is run the ball. The Black Knights are second in the FBS in rushing offense with 417.5 yards per game and Jeff Monken and his staff thinks the wishbone offense can move the ball on Ohio State. Ahmad Bradshaw has become the go to guy running the ball from his quarterback position and if he can find creases in an OSU front not used to dealing with the triple option blocking schemes then the Black Knights will score points.
As good as the offense has been through two weeks, Monken is not happy with the turnover numbers. Army has averaged two turnovers a game and their quarterback has been involved in all four giveaway so far in 2017. The surest way to lose to a highly skilled and ranked opponent on their own turf is to provide them with plenty of balls. Army simply cannot afford to be anything other than perfect with the ball control aspect of their offense as they have to shorten this game and give Ohio State as few possessions as possible. Winning the turnover battle would be huge, but Monken will just be happy if his offense doesn’t give the ball back to the Buckeyes.
Just keep plugging away
The worst thing Army can do here is to get behind early by a couple of scores and try to chase the game. Last week against Buffalo the Black Knights were down by a couple of touchdowns until the fourth quarter, but they stuck to the game plan and eventually turned it around as Darnell Woolfolk scored on a couple of late touchdown runs.
Army is catching OSU in a bad mood after their season altering loss to Oklahoma. Playing at home they will want to storm out of the blocks and have this game in bed by half time. If Army can stop that from happening then the natives will get restless and the Black Knights will be in with a shot.