Eleven Warriors Roundtable: Friday Night 'Cat Fight

By Chris Lauderback on October 18, 2019 at 10:10 am
Justin Fields has been Ohio State's most valuable player so far this season.

Well this feels weird. 

Friday night is usually reserved for underprivileged teams but tonight Ohio State takes on the Fighting Fitzgeralds in Ryan Field because we all must kneel before the Big Ten throne. 

Coming off an open date, the Buckeyes look to remain perfect after running over their first six opponents by an average score of 49-9. 

To get your mind right for tonight's festivities, we welcome 11W stalwarts Ramzy Nasrallah, Kevin Harrish and David Wertheim to the roundtable. 

Who would you tab as Ohio State’s most valuable player through the first six games and why? Who is your runner-up?

Ramzy: It’s Fields, who has been close to supernatural as a first-time starter, leader and program newcomer. He’s 1a; Chase Young is 1b for loosening up offensive schemes for every one of his teammates. 2a is JK Dobbins and 2b is Jeffrey Okudah.

David: It has to be Justin Fields. Quarterback is the most important position on the field by far, and Fields has been a Heisman contender this year up to this point. As expected, he is the true dual-threat weapon that Dwayne Haskins and J.T. Barrett were not, and he has certainly lived up to the hype he garnered when he was the #1 overall recruit just a few years ago. Thayer Munford and Chase Young are probably tied for the runner-up. If Munford has to sit for this game, it will be interesting to see how Nicholas Petit-Frere can perform. We will really get a feel of how valuable Munford really is.

Kevin: As confident as I am in Chris "The Dragunov" Chugunov, it's Justin Fields. Without him, Ohio State's national title hopes are absolutely sunk, and I don't think you can say that about any other player on the roster because there's depth everywhere else. That said, Chase Young is close to that level because of the way he impacts the game without even having to make a play. Entire offensive gameplans are designed around him, and I think it would drastically, drastically alter Ohio State's defensive dominance if he weren't spearheading the pass rush, since everything starts up front.

Which player’s impact – good or bad – has surprised you the most so far this season? Why?

Kevin: I think the obvious answer for most people should be Damon Arnette, based on the criticism he's received (I mean, just read the comments), but even though he's exceeded even my expectations so far, I've been an Arnette truther for a couple years already, so I'm going with Cameron Brown. I never would have guessed he'd be the first corner off the bench after Arnette, Jeff Okudah and Shaun Wade, but he's looked great and has already had to play meaningful snaps.

David: Pete Werner and Baron Browning have been better than I thought. I figured the linebackers would improve off a horrendous showing last year, but they have improved more than I, and probably many Buckeyes fans, thought they would this early. The play of Damon Arnette has been another plus.  I've been a little disappointed in Binjimen Victor thus far (I've said that for the last three seasons, though).

Ramzy: I was not prepared for how effective Josh Myers flanked by Wavy Dub and Jonah Jackson would be. They’re just absolutely humiliating everyone. Once they adjusted to what Sparty threw at them early on it got boring pretty quickly. On the opposite end of things, there were so many areas to be critical of last season - and every one of them is better this season while none of them are worse. Fields doesn’t have to throw for Haskins-type numbers with the rushing game roaring back into classic form again.

Northwestern isn’t winning this game but their defense is at least respectable ranking No. 26 in total defense (319 ypg) and No. 14 in pass defense giving up just 177 yards per game. Justin Fields comes into the contest averaging 216 passing yards with 18 touchdowns. Will Ohio State’s aerial attack shred the Wildcats or might the Buckeyes decide to focus more heavily on the run game?

Ramzy: Yes, Chris - nerds tend to be smart. The Wildcats are going to succumb to extreme balance on Friday night, because that’s what Ohio State does. They kill at the time and place of their choosing with the weapon that feels right in the moment.

Kevin: Northwestern's defense doesn't give up a ton of big plays, so I think it's going to be a solid balance. And while I do respect the Wildcat defense, it's going to be realllllly hard to hold Ohio State at bay when your offense keeps making your defense trot right back onto the field, and that's what I see happening tonight.

David: I am interested to see whether Thayer Munford is able to play. If not, I wonder if Ryan Day will decide to be a little more conservative in the pass game with Northwestern's rushers having a (likely) easier time with Nicholas Petit-Frere. I don't really care how they decide to score, as long as they score. They could have 500 rushing yards and 0 passing yards for all I care as long as they win the game.  

Ohio State hasn’t lost to Northwestern since a 33-27 overtime stinker way back in 2004. Besides that loss, what was the most disappointing life event you experienced that same year?

David: 2004-05 was a rough year for 6-year-old Dave. There were some family issues that year, plus my best friend at the time moved away to Florida from Cincinnati. The most disappointing, though, had to be the Yankees blowing a 3-0 lead to the Red Sox in the 2004 ALCS. What a nightmare.

Ramzy: I was at that game in Evanston, which ended up being the first of a three-game slide against what is currently a B1G West slate. Many bad things happened in 2004 - in addition to an Ohio State football losing streak for the ages - but I think we can all agree the most disappointing life event of the year was that Hoobastank song.

Kevin: Ah damn, that was the year I moved from Ohio to Georgia where I would then spend my most impressionable years watching Ohio State lose back-to-back national titles to SEC teams. I like Georgia much better these days after the Bulldogs decided to roll the dice with Peach State Andy Dalton and give us the generational quarterback instead.

The Buckeyes come into the game as 28-point favorites. Does Ryan Day’s squad cover the hefty spread? Give us your final score and game MVP. 

Kevin: Well, I imagine Northwestern would have to score multiple times to get the cover, and I'm not convinced that's happening. I've got 42-0 Ohio State with J.K. Dobbins as my game MVP.

Ramzy: Buckeyes cover, Silver Bullets feast. Final 38-7, two TDs from Baby Giraffe, Okudah pads his INT total, Young bests Rashawn Slater more than he’s stalemated, Fields continues his Heisman chatter and Dobbins rushes for over 150 despite 8-inch high grass on Ryan Field.

David: No. Ohio State doesn't cover. I think they win 42-17. Dobbins scores three times to win MVP honors.

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