In perhaps the most high-profile and playoff-impacting game of the weekend, Urban Meyer’s No. 3 Ohio State Buckeyes – who returned just six starters this season – will square off against No. 14 Oklahoma (1-1) in a showdown of two sledgehammer programs Saturday night.
Need some viewing advice? Expect the unexpected.
“Based off of what I’ve seen so far – and granted they’ve played Tulsa and Bowling Green – they look really sharp, especially for a team that (had) a lot of question marks,” former Ohio State standout Eddie George said on CBS Sports Radio’s Tiki and Tierney. “When you’re losing that many guys to the draft, you don’t know what you have, especially at the receiver position. Defensively, it seems to me that they’ve reloaded. They have talent all over the football field, but they don’t have the experience. So we’re going to find out on Saturday night in Norman, Oklahoma, just where they are. If they can go on the road in a hostile environment against a team that is vying for a national championship with their backs against the wall and a must-win for the Sooners, no doubt about it – if they can weather that, then this tells me that Urban Meyer might have one of his best teams yet that people just don’t know about. They have talent all over the field. Raekwon McMillan, Mike Weber at the running back position, a slew of wide receivers, a ton of weapons. The one marquee name they do have is J.T. Barrett, who we know is a proven product. Two years ago, he was offensive player of the year. I think Ohio State has an opportunity to really show the nation who they are. It’s going to be an interesting year for them.”
George, who won the Heisman Trophy in 1995, also weighed in on former Ohio State standout Ezekiel Elliott, who was limited to 51 yards on 20 carries in his NFL debut against the Giants last Sunday.
“He came in with a lot of fanfare, a lot of expectations,” George said. “Listen, he’s a beast. I’ve watched him from his sophomore year at Ohio State up until this point. He’s a mature running back, a violent runner. He has to understand the nuances of the game. Preseason speed is different from regular-season speed, and regular-season speed is different from the playoffs. That being said, he’s earning his stripes. I think he’ll adjust to it. You’re just not going to go out there and run everybody over. I think he has to learn how to set up his blocks, be a little bit more patient and take what the defense gives you. Not every play is going to be a home run. You have to set up your runs – and that stuff takes time. . . . From Week 1 to Week 2, yes, it’ll settle down, and he just has to settle down and allow the game to come to him versus feeling like he’s got to be the leader and break home runs.”
George also discussed his former coach Jeff Fisher, whose Rams lost 28-0 in their Los Angeles debut on Monday. Brandon Tierney wondered how Fisher still has a job after a series of mediocre seasons.
“There’s a lot of other coaches out there probably wondering the same thing,” George said. “If you’re not Bill Belichick, I think every coach deserves to have an opportunity. Jeff, if you look at his body of work, it’s filled with a lot of 8-8 (seasons). A couple of winning seasons here and there. But his philosophy, what he’s been able to do, what he’s proven over time, it can happen. What he inherited at the Rams was not a great situation. The quarterback situation has been unstable for quite some time. He’s had to retool and rebuild the defense. The drafts that he’s had since he’s been there have been pretty phenomenal with Tavon Austin and Todd Gurley. Once they shore up and find that playmaker at the quarterback position, this team can really get on a run. Listen, guys, we’re in Week 1.”
George also pointed out how difficult it is to coach a team amid a relocation.
“I’m not making excuses for him, but I certainly understand what that team is going through behind the scenes because they’re a tired team trying to find footing and trying to find stability to put forth a great product,” George said. “But I think in the next few weeks you’re going to begin to see a different team. We’ll have to wait and see.”
The Rams (0-1) host the Seahawks (1-0) this Sunday at 4:05 p.m. ET.