Alabama’s historically great rushing attack has been just as good this year this year, statistically, but it hasn’t been the same. In the past, Alabama has had a smash mouth rushing attack lead by multiple first round caliber offensive linemen. Mark Ingram, Trent Richardson, Eddie Lacy; these guys are all power backs that ran behind a powerful offensive line. Now Alabama doesn’t have the offensive line to just line up and run the ball right up the middle, instead they have had plenty of success running off the tackles. Don’t get me wrong, TJ Yeldon and Derrick Henry are powerful guys too, but much like trent richardson, and Eddie Lacy, they have the ability to make cut back to the weak side if they see a hole. The bottom line is that the running backs really have to make plays for themselves this year, as opposed to lining up and knowing there is going to be a huge hole to hit exactly where it is supposed to be. Fortunately for Alabama, TJ Yeldon and Derrick Harvey have been great at making guys miss, and making plays for this offense.
Enter Joey Bosa.
These men are the four defensive linemen for Ohio State. These guys are led by Joey Bosa, who has 20 tackles for a loss, and 13.5 sacks (he’s had a lot of opportunities to do his famous “Bosa Shrug”). This true sophomore from Fort Lauderdale, Florida will be the X-factor in this game. Not necessarily statistically either. He causes a lot of problems for opposing offensive lines by simply dominating in one-on-one match ups, and even making plays when he is double teamed. There is no question that Bosa will be double teamed for most of the game, and that will create opportunities for the rest of the front 7. Joey Bosa has been so good this year that he is drawing comparisons to J.J. Watt.
When Bosa is double teamed, it will create a lot of opportunities for Joshua Perry, Ohio State’s linebacker who leads the team in tackles. I expect a big game from Perry because Alabama’s offensive line will not be able to get to the second level due to the fact that two of them must block Bosa to slow him down.
If Joey Bosa is to be shut down, there will be major problems for Ohio State’s defense. It would be fair to assume that one of the safeties is going to shade over to Cooper’s side of the field. The threat of Amari Cooper basically takes the opponent Free Safety completely out of run support, thus if Bosa can’t continue to perform like a ferocious animal, then Ohio State’s defense will have problems
It’s tough to address the Alabama defense against the Buckeye offense because no one really knows what Ohio State is going to get out of Cardale Jones. So it would be silly to try to throw out any predictions on that subject. I expect the Ohio State offense to be competent at least, and I think it will come down to how well Alabama can move the ball. Just watch big number 97 when Ohio State’s offense is on the field. His performance will have a direct correlation with the final score.
Credit all authors of images used in both article and as cover image : Blake Giusti