As a 40-point underdog, UNLV won’t find many weaknesses in Ohio State. While the Rebels offense is predicated on running the ball, this may be a matchup to see what quarterback Armani Rogers can do.
Ohio State has surrendered 37 pass plays of 10 yards or more. That’s tied for eighth most in the nation. The Buckeyes rank in the bottom half of the country in opponent completion percentage and yards per attempt.
The Ohio State secondary, which lost three players in the first round of the NFL draft, is not the strength of the team. The run defense, which ranks 28th in the country in yards per carry, is.
“You’re not going to be able to sit there and run the ball right at a front like that,” Tony Sanchez said. “They’re pretty stout up there. We’re going to have to run some to win the football game, there’s no doubt about that. But we definitely have to take advantage of some of those talented receivers we have. We’re going to have to put them in some one-on-one situations and give our guys the ability to make some plays.”
Ohio State is coming off a win over Army, one of the most run-heavy team in college football. Army ran for 259 yards against Ohio State, but they needed 58 carries to do it. Ohio State held the Black Knights to their lowest yards per carry of the season.
While UNLV doesn’t run the option, the Rebels still prefer to run the ball as much as possible. Through two games UNLV is averaging 48 rushes per game compared to 18.5 passes.
“We know we’ve been a pretty successful run football team, and that’s who we are and they way we’ve built ourselves. But we have a talented receiving core and if you are going to have an opportunity in a game like this, you’re going to have to stretch the field,” Sanchez said.
Against Idaho, UNLV used the run game to set up the pass. Idaho was afraid of the deep ball, and gave UNLV’s receivers 10 yard cushions. But the big play came off play action when Devonte Boyd stretched the field.
Against Ohio State, UNLV might need to use the pass to setup the run. UNLV should expect all opponents to stack the box,as the Rebels rank fifth in the country in yard per carry at 7.3 and are averaging over 10 rushing plays per game of 10 yards or more.
If Ohio State starts with an extra defender creeping towards the line of scrimmage, UNLV will need to loosen up the defense with deep passes.
But so far UNLV hasn’t really let Rogers throw the ball down field. He has only attempted 35 passes in two games; 27 college quarterback are averaging 35 passes per game.
Against Idaho, the freshman quarterback threw 16 passes. 11 of them traveled less than 10 yards in the air. He did hit on both of his attempts that traveled more than 20 yards in the air, including the 94-yard touchdown to Boyd.
Hitting on a few early big plays to Boyd or Kendal Keys would prevent Ohio State from selling out to stop the run and give UNLV a numbers advantage on the ground.
Something Ohio State has not seen this season is a dual threat quarterback. Both Indiana and Ohio State’s quarterbacks had negative rushing yards, while Army attempted eight total passes.
Rogers’ legs, who had nine designed runs called for him against Idaho, could be a wrinkle that creates some big plays for the Rebels.
Armani Rogers Rushes vs. Idaho
- Designed Runs: 9 carries, 65 yards (7.2 yards per carry)
- Scrambles: 5 carries, 32 yards (6.4 yards per carry)
UNLV will need heroic efforts across all units to be competitive against one of the nation’s best. But offensively UNLV needs Rogers to keep Ohio State’s defense honest to have a chance.